Saturday, May 30, 2015

Teen Book Review: None of the Above

None of the Above
I.W. Gregorio

At 18, Kristin Lattimer discovers something shocking: although she has feminine features, she has male chromosomes and a hidden pair of gonads. In other words, she's intersex. When she makes the mistake of trusting her friends with this secret, word spreads quickly throughout the school. Friends turn into tormentors, and her boyfriend, Sam, publically humiliates her for "lying" to him about her true gender. Suddenly adrift in a hostile environment, Kristin struggles to come to terms with her new identity, and with the loss of the people she once thought were her friends. While Gregorio's characters aren't exactly memorable, the heroine's struggle certainly is. This gripping, issue-driven debut successfully makes Kristin's dilemma relatable to all readers, and takes pains to correct common misconceptions about this little-talked-about condition. Recommended for Ages 16-18 for sexual content.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Summer Reading Kickoff Party at Inglenook Branch Library

Summer reading, here we come! With over 30 programs, the Inglenook Branch Library will ensure that the Inglenook community is always engaged and entertained. These events will be kicked off with a party on June 1 at 3:30 p.m. The party will consist of summer reading registrations, activities, games, motivation from community leaders to read, promotion from the 98.7 Kiss FM Radio Station, and light refreshments. The Birmingham Public Library Literacy and Outreach Department will also be on hand to sign folks up for library cards.

If you would like to motivate your child to read over the summer and prevent the summer slide, or even motivate yourself, stop by the Inglenook Library on Monday, June 1, for inspiration!

Karnecia Williams
Inglenook Branch Library

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Local Artist Shares A-maze-ing Technique of Drawing in One Continuous Line in Free Workshop

Octopus. Pen on paper
Birmingham artist Cory Casella creates“one-liners,” exquisitely intricate pen drawings produced with a single continuous line that never crosses itself…His works boggle the brain and the eye as you try to figure out how they were done.

And he’s willing to share his secrets so you too can attempt your own “one-liners.” On Saturday, June 6, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Casella will teach his technique in the Story Castle, 2nd Floor at the Central Library located at 2100 Park Place. The event is free; however registration is requested. Call 226-3670 to participate. Casella explained why he restricted his drawing to a one-line act. “I have found for me that my creativity is born from constraint. Having the constraint of only having one line allows me to focus on making shapes and shadows in interesting ways.”

Snail. Pen on paper
Casella is a User Experience designer for a local software company, Alden Systems. He graduated from Birmingham Southern College in 2005. He participates regularly in the Birmingham Art Crawl which is held downtown on first Thursdays of each month.

Casella’s works along with those of Melissa Shultz-Jones and Paul Cordes Wilm are are showcased in the exhibit, The Amazing Art of Local Curiosities, at the Central Library's Fourth Floor Gallery until June 26, 2015. All three are Birmingham artists with very unique perspectives.

On Wednesday, June 16, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m., Shultz-Jones will lead a free “Hero Art” session for children and accompanying adult family members in the Story Castle on the Central Library. Registration requested; call 226-3655.

And check out these resources from the library to polish your drawing skills:

Southern History Department's Book of the Month: To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird
By Harper Lee

Any coward can fight a battle when he's sure of winning; but give me the man who has pluck to fight when he's sure of losing. That's my way, sir; and there are many victories worse than a defeat. — George Eliot

My first reading of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was when I picked up a cheap paperback edition of the book—I can remember how it felt in my hands, with the brittle pages ready to crumble at the edges—with Gregory Peck on the cover. And that is all I remember about that afternoon, except for what was happening between the covers of that paperback, for the novel completely captured me. I had not seen the film and this was before the days of the Internet, or a time when the book would appear on school reading lists far and wide, so I came to it blessedly free of the sort of pop-cultural osmosis that would have spoiled the story for me before I ever had a chance to read it.

The plot is relatively simple: Atticus Finch, a white lawyer in Depression-era South Alabama, defends an African American man named Tom Robinson who is charged with rape. Told from the point of view of Finch’s young daughter Jean Louise, AKA “Scout” Finch, the story strips away the polite social veneer from bigotry and race hatred in the fictional small town of Maycomb, Alabama. In the course of the novel, Scout and her brother Jem learn to the full, as no child should have to learn, the extremes to which prejudice can drive some of their otherwise friendly neighbors. And yet, lest anyone should think the story is unremittingly grim, it also shines with compassion for all sorts of marginalized people on the fringes of society, such as the Finch’s reclusive neighbor “Boo” Radley, the ogre of local gossip and a beacon to Scout and Jem’s insatiable curiosity.

Mockingbird is also—and frequently—laugh-out-loud funny, especially to anyone who has grown up in similar surroundings. At first reading, I knew these people as I knew my own family: the neighborhood ladies who jealously guard their secret cake recipes, the aunt who is scandalized by Scout running around in overalls and wishes her niece would try to be more of a “lady,” the bewildered young school ma’am who faces children unlike any she had ever imagined teaching. Throughout the story, Lee’s control of her material is impeccable, balancing humor with tension until the climactic courtroom battle over Tom Robinson and its frightening aftermath. Yet as the novel draws to its close, the tone is elegiac, wistful, and calming:

Neighbors bring food with death and flowers with sickness and little things in between. Boo was our neighbor. He gave us two soap dolls, a broken watch and chain, a pair of good-luck pennies, and our lives . . . Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley front porch was enough.

To Kill a Mockingbird was made into a film in 1962 and starred Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch. If you have never seen the film, it will air on Turner Classic Movies on Saturday, May 30 and is very much worth seeing—but as the old saying goes, “Read the book. Don’t wait for the movie!”

Stay tuned for the publication of the recently-discovered sequel: Go Set a Watchman, which is due for publication in July of 2015.

For more on To Kill a Mockingbird and Harper Lee:

The Big Read
Harper Lee’s Maycomb helped shape those of us . . .” on
Harper Lee’s Novel Achievement” on
Go Set a Watchman on JCLC catalog
Go Set a Watchman on Amazon

Mary Anne Ellis
Southern History Department
Central Library

Monday, May 25, 2015

Teen Summer Reading Programs

The Adventures of Moore Magic – Tricks of the Trade - First you see it, now you don't. Unmask the mysterious world of magic with Larry Moore. The impossible becomes possible and the unbelievable believable—it will blow your mind!

Pratt City Branch – June 2 – 1:00 p.m.
Springville Road Branch – June 3 – 10:00 a.m.
Powderly Branch – June 4 – 1:30 p.m.
Central – June 8 – 2:00 p.m.
North Birmingham Branch – June 9 – 2:00 p.m.
Avondale Branch – June 11 – 2:00 p.m.
Wylam Branch – June 18 – 2:00 p.m.
Five Points West Branch – July 1 – 2:00 p.m.
West End Branch – July 8 – 1:00 p.m.
East Ensley Branch – July 9 – 2:00 p.m.
Smithfield Branch – July 14 – 10:00 a.m.

Unmask the Artist in You with Cherie Hunt - Local artist, Cherie Hunt, will provide step-by-step instructions for participants to complete their very own canvas masterpiece.

Smithfield Branch – June 9 – 10:00 a.m.
Pratt City Branch – June 11 – 1:00 p.m.
East Ensley Branch – June 23 – 1:00 p.m.
West End Branch – June 24 – 1:00 p.m.
Powderly – June 25 – 1:30 p.m.
Springville Road – June 26 – 4:00 p.m.
North Birmingham – June 30 – 2:00 p.m.
Southside Branch – July 7 – 10:30 a.m.
Avondale Branch – July 9 – 2:00 p.m.
Five Points West Branch – July 15 – 1:00 p.m.
Wylam Branch – July 16 – 2:00 p.m.
Woodlawn Branch – July 28 – 3:00 p.m.
Ensley Branch – July 30 – 10:00 a.m.

Hunger Games - The odds will be ever in your favor when you join Dynamic Education Adventures to explore the science of survival through the eyes of Katniss Everdeen. Participants will make Mockingjay pins as well as their very own mini bow and arrow.

Five Points West Branch – June 10 – 1:00 p.m.
Wylam Branch – June 11 – 2:00 p.m.
North Avondale – June 23 – 1:15 p.m.
Powderly – June 25 – 1:30 p.m.
West End Branch – July 1 – 1:00 p.m.
Smithfield Branch – July 7 – 10:00 a.m.
Central – July 15 – 10:00 a.m.
Ensley Branch – July 16 – 10:00 a.m.

Hoops for Fitness - Challenge yourself to super fitness with hula hoops.

Springville Road Branch – June 15 – 2:00 p.m.
North Birmingham Branch – June 16 – 2:00 p.m.
Central – June 18 – 2:00 p.m.
East Ensley – July 2 – 2:00 p.m.
Pratt City – July 7 – 1:00 p.m.
Ensley Branch – July 9 – 10:00 a.m.
East Lake Branch – July 9 – 3:00 p.m.

Visit for information on Birmingham Public Library branches and for all of BPL's programs.

Children's Summer Reading Events

Backyard Heroes - Did you know that most superheroes have strengths and abilities inspired by real animals? Join us as the Alabama 4-H Coosa River Science School reveals some super astonishing facts about a few of our favorite reptiles, amphibians, and birds of prey. Who knows what super animal may be living in your backyard!

North Birmingham Branch – June 3 – 10:30 a.m.
West End Branch – June 4 – 11:00 a.m.
Wylam Branch- June 9 – 10:00 a.m.
Springville Road Branch – June 10 – 10:00 a.m.
Pratt City Branch – June 11 – 10:00 a.m.
Powderly Branch – June 15 – 10:00 a.m.
Woodlawn Branch – June 16 – 10:00 a.m.
North Avondale Branch – June 16 – 1:00 p.m.
Smithfield Branch – June 17 – 10:00 a.m.
Five Points West Branch – June 18 – 10:00 a.m.
Inglenook Branch– June 19 – 9:30 a.m.
Central – June 22 – 10:30 a.m.
Avondale Branch – June 23 – 6:30 p.m.
East Lake Branch – June 25 – 10:00 a.m.
East Ensley Branch – June 25 – 2:00 p.m.
Southside Branch – June 26 – 9:30 a.m.
Titusville Branch – June 30 – 10:30 a.m.
Eastwood Branch – July 10 – 10:45 a.m.
Central – July 14 – 10:30 a.m.
Ensley Branch – July 21 – 10:00 a.m.

Zoo to You! - We're going to the zoo, zoo, zoo. How about you, you, you? You can come too, too, too. We're going to the zoo, zoo, zoo. Join us as the Birmingham Zoo takes a scientific look at some of nature's lesser-known heroes. Discover what makes these animals heroes in their own communities and how they use their super adaptation powers to survive.

Smithfield Branch – June 3 – 10:00 a.m.
East Lake Branch – June 4 – 10:00 a.m.
Titusville Branch – June 9 – 10:30 a.m.
East Ensley Branch – June 11 – 2:00 p.m.
Eastwood Branch – June 12 – 10:45 a.m.
Wylam Branch – June 16 – 10:00 a.m.
Woodlawn Branch – June 23 – 10:00 a.m.
Avondale Branch – June 24 – 2:00 p.m.
Pratt City Branch – June 25 – 10:00 a.m.
North Avondale Branch – June 30 – 10:30 a.m.
North Birmingham Branch – July 1 – 10:30 a.m.
Powderly Branch – July 6 – 10:00 a.m.
Springville Road Branch – July 8 – 10:00 a.m.
West End Branch – July 9 – 11:00 a.m.
Southside Branch – July 10 – 9:30 a.m.
Central – July 13 – 10:30 a.m.
Five Points West Branch – July 14 – 10:00 a.m.
Inglenook Branch – July 17 – 9:00 a.m.

Moore Hero Magic! - Discover the “Power of Reading” with Magic Man Larry Moore as he presents stories and tricks that are bound to leave you wanting "Moore."

Five Points West Branch – June 4 – 10:00 a.m.
Eastwood Branch – June 5 – 10:45 a.m.
Woodlawn Branch – June 9 – 10:00 a.m.
North Birmingham Branch – June 10 – 10:30 a.m.
Avondale Branch – June 10 – 2:00 p.m.
Pratt City Branch – June 16 – 10:00 a.m.
East Ensley Branch – June 16 – 2:00 p.m.
East Lake Branch – June 18 – 10:00 a.m.
Southside Branch – June 19 – 9:30 a.m.
Inglenook Branch – June 22 – 10:00 a.m.
Springville Road Branch – June 24 – 10:00 a.m.
West End Branch – June 25 – 11:00 a.m.
Powderly Branch – June 29 – 10:00 a.m.
Wylam Branch – June 30 – 10:00 a.m.
Smithfield Branch – July 1 – 10:00 a.m.
Titusville Branch – July 7 – 10:30 a.m.
North Avondale Branch – July 15 – 1:00 p.m.
Central – July 20 – 10:30 a.m.

Superhero Science Show - Dynamic Education Adventures will make you want to grab a cape, spin a web, put on a utility belt, and leap tall buildings in a single bound! This is a program filled with superheroes and the villains who plague them. Participants will learn about flight, super-strength, managing matter, and more.

Powderly Branch – June 8 – 10:00 a.m.
Five Points West Branch – June 9 – 10:00 a.m.
North Avondale Branch – June 9 – 1:30 p.m.
Smithfield Branch – June 10 – 10:00 a.m.
West End Branch – June 11 – 11 a.m.
Southside Branch – June 12 – 9:30 a.m.
Central – June 15 – 10:30 a.m.
Titusville Branch – June 16 – 10:30 a.m.
Springville Road Branch – June 17 – 10:00 a.m.
Avondale Branch – June 17 – 2:00 p.m.
Woodlawn Branch – June 18 – 10:00 a.m.
East Ensley Branch – June 18 – 2:00 p.m.
Eastwood Branch – June 19 – 10:45 a.m.
Wylam Branch – June 23 – 10:00 a.m.
North Birmingham Branch – June 25 – 10:30 a.m.
Inglenook Branch – June 26 – 9:30 a.m.
Pratt City Branch – June 30 – 10:00 a.m.
East Lake Branch – July 9 – 10:00 a.m.
Ensley Branch – July 14 – 10:00 a.m.

Visit for information on Birmingham Public Library branches and for all of BPL's programs.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Popular Urban Street Market in Historic Woodlawn Scheduled for June 20

Photos from Woodlawn Street Market on Facebook

Everyone in the Birmingham and surrounding areas is invited to attend the next Woodlawn Street Market on Saturday, June 20, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The event will be held right in the center of historic Woodlawn on 55th Place. This will be the first Woodlawn market of the year and more than 40 vendors are expected to participate and display their wares and crafts.

“Woodlawn Street Market has almost become the embodiment of renewed energy within Woodlawn, and it’s drawing people in,” said Bekah Fox of Woodlawn-based recording studio and record shop, Communicating Vessels. ”The street market is changing perceptions about our neighborhood, even inciting new levels of engagement amongst merchants. New and old businesses now consider their neighbors partners in a much larger effort to launch this community forward. The change is happening from within, and events like the Woodlawn Street Market showcase that vibrancy for the region to see.”

REV Birmingham is still seeking vendors for the event. Applications can be completed at the link below. The vender application deadline is June 5, 2015.

Pamela Jessie
Woodlawn Branch Library

Ready to Buy a New Home? Find a Cheaper Mortgage

A few months ago, NPR had a great piece on new mortgage-finding tools from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Many home buyers only talk to one lender. This can lead to a loss of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the mortgage. It is well worth a borrower's time to research the best mortgage rate available.

Birmingham Public Library has several books to make your home buying experience easier.

Home Buying Kit for Dummies by Eric Tyson and Ray Brown
How to Have a Stress Free Mortgage : Insider Tips from a Certified Mortgage Broker to Help Save You Time, Money, and Frustration by Linda Fleischmann
Keep Calm... It's Just Real Estate : Your No-stress Guide to Buying a Home by Egypt Sherrod, host of Property Virgins

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Book Review: Imogene in New Orleans

Imogene in New Orleans
Hunter Murphy

For those of you who don’t already know, Hunter Murphy is one of Birmingham Public Library's own. He started with BPL in the Business and Economics Department at Central, which is where we met and worked together lo, these many years ago. I can’t pretend to be unbiased—when the author is your friend it tends to color your perceptions. That said, I’ll do my best to be fair: I LOVED THIS BOOK!

If you “know what it means to miss New Orleans” you’ll enjoy this romp through its courtyards and squares. The descriptions of the city and the French Quarter are dead on. Even old friends of the Crescent City may discover facets of life they've only imagined and their appreciation for N’awlins will deepen.

When Jackson, Billy, and Billy’s mom, Imogene, discover one of their friends dead in his art gallery, the action begins. Suspects and suspicions abound until it seems almost everyone (except Imogene and the boys) have something to gain by his death. The mystery is compelling, but the most enjoyable part of the novel is the dialogue between the characters. Jackson and Billy are long-time partners, but their relationship is just a relationship—not a device or the focus of sturm und drang. This is not a mystery about a gay couple; it’s a murder mystery with delightfully quirky Southern characters, some of whom happen to be gay. Imogene is a feisty matron who is determined to prove her independence and cleverness. Her down-home speech and stubbornness are instantly recognizable to anyone who has ever dared to tell their Southern mama what to do and not do. Billy is a tiny bit of a hypochondriac (who doesn't count at least one of these in their circle of friends?) and Jackson is the one who must comfort, direct, safeguard, and protect his family while trying to find out who murdered their friend. And since no true Southern story can take place without a dog, there’s Goose, the bulldog—or possibly he’s a four-footed carpet sweeper ever on the alert for crumbs.

This is a delightful whodunit, with charming characters, beignets, horse-drawn carriages, jazz music, murder, intrigue, corruption, night clubs, chases, good friends, hustlers, artists, parades, and a spoiled bulldog. Let Imogene, Goose, and the boys gently lead you on their comical search for the killer!

Kelly Laney
Springville Road Regional Branch Library
(Copies are available for check-out from BPL.)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Children's Book Review: Listen, Slowly (Ages 8-12)

Listen, Slowly 
Thanhha Lai

Mia is a California girl through and through. Her Vietnamese heritage isn't quite as important to her as her beach-bound hometown and circle of friends. She loves her family and everything, but to a twelve-year-old on summer vacation, friends and first crushes trump everything. Mia’s parents just don’t understand the misery they are putting her through when they put her on a plane for Vietnam. Her father insists that she is the one best suited to accompany her grandmother to search for her long-lost husband, but she doesn't even know the language!

Mia’s grandmother is a selfless figure who risked everything to leave her home and start a new life for her family. Even though Mia owes everything to her, she can’t help but resent the fact that she has been uprooted for a hopeless quest. As expected, the trip is miserable. The heat is outrageous, Mia didn't pack the right clothing, the mosquitoes are out of control, and she has to use dial up to get on the Internet! Initially, Mia is full of self-pity and complaints. Something changes when she finds herself befriending her cousins and absorbed in the mystery of her missing grandfather. Slowly but surely, Mia becomes a little wiser, kinder, and more mature. It’s a wonderful journey seeing a foreign land through the eyes of an American tween. Mia initially identifies as a uni-cultural American and by the end she is fully engaged with her Vietnamese heritage.

Thanha Lai’s debut novel was Inside Out and Back Again, which was beautifully written in verse. This is her first novel in prose and it does not disappoint. The writing evokes sights, sounds, tastes, and feelings that make Mia’s visit feel like tangible experience for the reader. I was fully wrapped up in the world just a few pages in. Mia’s voice and personality is just as vivid as the scenery. The nagging self-pity and misery brought up memories of my own feelings at that age. Sure, it was a little irritating, but I could totally identify with her. Mia slowly undergoes a transformation that is sincere and believable. I won’t spoil the ending, but suffice to say the book left me with a deep satisfaction. I felt like I had been through everything myself. I think children fourth grade and up will get a lot out of this title. Mia does indulge in thoughts about boys and body image, but it is all appropriately handled in a way that a preteen can identify with. I can see this title being a perfect summer read for tween girls. (And grown-ups like me.)

Mollie McFarland
Springville Road Regional Branch Library

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Searching for a Hobby

Man gardening

I had a discussion with a 65-year-old about retirement.  He told me that he has no intention to retire because he doesn’t have any hobbies.  “What will I do every day?”  I’m several years away, but I’ve already had people asking me what I plan to do during retirement.  I don’t know for certain, but I know this:  I do NOT plan to continue to work simply because I don’t have any major hobbies.   

This thought process put me on the path to consider hobbies I might enjoy.  My first approach was to think of things my coworkers enjoy doing and ponder if I might enjoy any of those things.  I was quickly able to cross a number of activities off the list.  Not a big fan of outdoor activities, so hunting, fishing, gardening, etc., got nixed.  I know a lot of people who are passionate about golf, but with my personality, every club and the bag would quickly be thrown into the nearest water hazard.  How about hitting the gym to work on that perfect bod?  I have already posted a blog about my inability to commit to exercise, so that might not be realistic.  Man, this is hard.

Man building model ship

So many hobbies require talent, skill, and patience, like woodworking, model building, knitting, and other crafts.  When I worked in the Arts, Literature, & Sports Department, we received a book on creating your own tabletop fountains.  That sounded cool, so I started reading it.  I figured by the time I bought all the materials I needed, I could just buy a fountain that was ready to plug in.  That seemed to be true for many of the craft project books I went through.  I admire people who have the patience and desire to undertake such projects.

Where does all this leave me?  Well, the library has a tremendous number of books and often DVDs on just about every hobby you can imagine.  I will take advantage of the fact that I am here a lot, and figure out something that I’d like to try.  If you are in the same situation, visit your local library and take advantage of the huge selection of materials.  Moreover, please don’t let a lack of hobbies prevent you from retiring!  Good luck!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Adult Summer Reading Program on Facebook

Adult Summer Reading Program 2015 (June 1-August 14)
Welcome everybody! Summertime means reading time.  Don’t let the kids have all the summer reading fun! Join Birmingham Public Library for our Adult Summer Reading Program on Facebook. Summer reading for adults means reading challenges, sharing your reads, finding book suggestions, making book recommendations, great prizes and book fun.
Adult Summer Reading Challenge:
Every Friday at 5:00 p.m.(see dates below), we will draw names from people who have commented on our post (posted Friday morning) and told us the name of a book they have read. You may read any book you like. You must read at least one book during the week to be eligible for each weekly drawing.
June 19 
June 26
July 10
July 17
July 24
Read as many books as you can during the summer because on August 7 and August 14, there will be grand prize winners from all of the entries turned in during the summer.
Follow our Adult Summer Reading Program 2015 Board on Pinterest. If you don't have a Pinterest account, it's very easy to create one.  We will feature all types of book images, recommendations and other book fun on the board as well.
If you’re on social media, you can be in the drawing for special prizes: 1st follow our Adult Summer Reading Program 2015 Board on Pinterest. Then share your favorite summer reading books, summer pictures, using the hashtag #BPLSummerReads on Twitter or Pinterest. Be creative, you might share a book recommendation, your “to be read” summer reading pile, summer reading selfie, etc. We look forward to seeing your pictures!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Teen Book Review: Boy Meets Boy

Boy Meets Boy
David Levithan

Narrated by Paul, a gay teen, this happy-go-quirky tale chronicles one academic year at a very non-conventional high school, where the quarterback/homecoming queen is a transvestite named Infinite Darlene, the cheerleaders ride Harleys, and being straight-out gay is perfectly okay. But even in this oasis of tolerance, Paul still has ordinary teenage problems. First, he starts dating Noah, a quiet, artistic newcomer at school, but finds that he may still have feelings for his ex, Kyle. Then, his best female friend, Joni, starts dating not-so-nice-guy Chuck, and begins drifting away from their close-knit circle of friends. What's a boy to do? A treasured classic in the LGBT community, Boy Meets Boy is a funny, touching story about acceptance of self and the true love our friends and family give us, despite the stupid mistakes we make. Recommended for all walks of life, Ages 13-Up.

Liz Winn
Microforms/Gov Docs
Central Library

Author Jerry Armor to Visit Springville Road Library, May 19

Join us at the Springville Road Regional Branch Library on Tuesday, May 19, 6:30 p.m., for a book talk by Jerry Armor, author of A Home for Wayward Boys: The Early History of the Alabama Boys' Industrial School. The book tells the inspiring story of the school, its leaders, and the boys who lived there. A book signing will follow the program. Books will be available for purchase for $24.95. For more information call 226-4081.

Registration Open For June Classes

Registration is now open for staff and the public for the June 2015 Classes.  All classes are held in the Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC) of the Central (downtown) LibraryPRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED FOR ALL CLASSES.
To register for a class: ((Please note that registration does not necessarily guarantee you a spot in the class. You will receive an email confirming your registration for classes.  You may also call to confirm your registration)
  1. Complete name, address and phone information. PLEASE PRINT.
  2. Place a check mark in the check box next to the class(es) you would like to attend.
  3. Return the entire form to a staff person in the Public Computer Services department.
  4. You may also send an email to or use the online form to register.
June 2015 Classes

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Headwaters: A Journey on Alabama Rivers

Headwaters: A Journey on Alabama Rivers
Photographs by Beth Maynor Young; text by John C. Hall

Ah, spring! Time to get out and enjoy the warmth and the sun and the pollen! Recently, my family and I travelled to the wilds of Bibb County to see an increasingly rare sight: the blooming of the flower called the Cahaba Lily.

If you are not into long hikes into nature (like my spouse), then the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge near West Blocton, Alabama, is the place to go. There you can easily drive down the river bank to view one of the largest surviving stands of the Cahaba Lily, a beautiful flower that once was found on almost all Alabama rivers systems. In the 20th century, dams destroyed the habitat of almost all of these, leaving scattered areas of survivors in Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina.

If even a short drive is too much, sit back and relax with this beautifully illustrated book. For armchair travelers, it is wonderful. Covering different Alabama river systems from the Mobile Bay area north to Tennessee, there is a nice group of photos of the lilies. Even though the photos can hardly do justice to the actual scenes, it is a great way to enjoy the gorgeous scenery of our state and perhaps to plan a short trip to one or more of the natural wonders in Alabama.

Go now—the Cahaba Lily blooms between mid-May and mid-June. For many this book would make a nice gift and for anyone it will provide a few hours of escape from the everyday hustle bustle of city life. Hopefully Ms. Young and Mr. Hall will issue another collaboration soon.

Jonathan Newman
Avondale Regional Branch Library

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

How Do I Research My Family History?

The Southern History Department will offer several classes this month that will teach you the skills needed to start researching your family history. Set yourself up for success by taking one of these classes, and your family tree will begin to grow and take shape.

Family Tree

Introduction to Genealogy: If you do not know where to start researching your family history, this class is for you. We will cover such topics as vital records, courthouse and church records, the Federal Census, and more. This month, we will be traveling to Homewood Public Library on Thursday, May 14th at 6:30 pm. This is a great opportunity to attend this class as we only teach it at night infrequently or for special events. The other time the class will be offered will be on Sunday, May 17th at 2:30 pm on the first floor of the Linn Henley building in the Southern History Department. No registration is required. If neither of those times are convenient, please check our upcoming class schedule.

Loaded Bases in Baseball

The Bases Are Loaded! Genealogical Research with BPL’s Databases: In conjunction with the Regional Library Computer Center, we offer a hands-on computer and database class on genealogy which allows to you to practice the material as you are taught in by our instructors. To make it fun, we use a baseball theme in teaching this class, and don’t want you to be left sitting in the dugout. Make use of all our resources in your game plan for family history research. Learn how to locate BPL’s databases & discover the wealth of genealogical information they have to offer. Let us help you knock one out of the park. We will be teaching this class on Tuesday, May 26th beginning at 9:15 am. To register, call us @ 205-226-3680.

Southern History Department
Central Branch
Birmingham Public Library

Monday, May 11, 2015

Book Review: I'll Drink to That: A Life in Style, with a Twist

I’ll Drink to That: A Life in Style, with a Twist
Betty Halbreich with Rebecca Paley

Betty Halbreich is divorced. She works at a department store and is in sales. She lives in an apartment and takes the bus to work and I’ll Drink to That is her story, the story of a working woman, but not the average working woman. Her apartment is on Fifth Avenue on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and she works at Bergdorf Goodman and has a corner office that looks past the Plaza Hotel to Central Park and up Fifth Avenue. She’s a personal shopper and her client list runs from Betty Ford to Betty Cronkite (Walter’s wife), [the late] Joan Rivers and Babe Paley. She routinely advised the costume designers for Sex and the City as it was created and throughout its run. So, if you’re into fashion and in love with grand old department stores, Betty’s story is for you.

Betty gets to work early and spends her mornings pulling clothes from the racks for her clients who show up by appointment later in the day to find perfect ensembles. Ultimately, for all of these women, regardless of their money, it comes down to the dressing room mirror, their bodies and Betty, who as often as not will yell at them to take off the clothes they are trying on before they ever peep at the mirror, a terrifying experience. But the goal is to find something that her clients fall in love with, and according to Betty, if you don’t love it right away, you never will—and if an expensive dress doesn't fit you may as well use it as a dust rag. Her clients come to her for clothes that make them feel marvelous and garner the praise of their peers…the one time they ever wear them.

Betty knows what it’s like to shop for clothes to be worn only once. Her father was the president of a big department store in Chicago and Betty grew up in luxury during the depths of the depression. She married a good-looking, young, rich man and raised a family on the Upper East Side with the help of several servants. They enjoyed the finest entertainment of 1950s New York. She only started working after her children grew up and her marriage fell apart. And jobs just fell into her lap. Fashion designers and department store magnates offered her jobs at cocktail parties. She knew how to dress and she understood the needs and insecurities of rich women, and, in her eighties, she still does. In particular she understands the Chanel jacket.

For decades, on TV and in film and in real life, the Chanel jacket has been the go-to fashion accessory connoting wealth and social class. Betty’s clients, whenever they are feeling insecure about their looks, ask, even beg Betty to sell them a Chanel jacket. It’s their security blanket, but Betty won’t let them off that easy and she challenges them to try for a more personal and distinctive look. She’s tough on them and she is even tougher on herself. This is not an easy story, but the gossip’s great.

If you love fashion and the daily life of grand old department stores, I’ll Drink to That is for you, and you may want to also check out Halbreich’s 2011 book, Secrets of a Fashion Therapist.

Shop ‘till you drop at the Birmingham Public Library.

David Blake
Fiction Department
Central Library

Triple Crown Craze: One Jewel Down, Two to Go

A king is seeking his crown.

Thoroughbred racing’s newest star, American Pharoah, tore down the homestretch at Churchill Downs on May 2, winning the Kentucky Derby by a length. The bay colt with the ocean-blue noseband thus victoriously claimed the first jewel of the Triple Crown. Thankfully, this means American Pharoah is more than a prancing, snorting reminder to use spell check. (An Egyptian king, or pharaoh, is misspelled as “pharoah” in his name.) Now, he’s a money-making reminder to use spell check.

On Saturday, May 16, this king’s campaign to conquer the big three of horseracing takes him to the Pimlico racetrack in Baltimore, Maryland. The Preakness Stakes, only two weeks after the Derby, will test his endurance. Not only will he have to beat the biggest threats again, but he must also outrun fresh competitors that didn't race in the Derby.

Only eleven horses have won the Triple Crown, which consists of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. These eleven horses are history makers—a Triple Crown winner isn't a common thing. Affirmed was the most recent horse to win all three races. That was in 1978.

So far, American Pharoah has not disappointed. As the favorite in the 141st run for the roses, American Pharoah made many a gambler’s sacrifices valid. His momma, Littleprincessemma, and his daddy, Pioneerof The Nile, are proudly strutting in their pastures somewhere. After all, their son’s earnings total $2,830,300.

The question remains: will American Pharoah start a new Triple Crown dynasty? Check out these books on horse racing and tune in May 16 when American Pharoah tries to make it a double.


The Most Glorious Crown: the story of America’s Triple Crown Thoroughbreds from Sir Barton to Affirmed

Biographies of the champion Crown winners and accounts of the races that led to each horse’s coronation. Includes DVD Win, Place, Show: the history of horse racing

The Great Black Jockeys: the lives and times of the men who dominated America’s first national sport

Historical account of the black jockeys in a time when the greatest athletes in the land were the property of others.

Homestretch: a celebration of North America’s greatest tracks

Features the horses, people, events, and tracks that have shaped horse racing for over two centuries.

The Kentucky Derby: how the run for the roses became America’s premier sporting event

How a two-minute race became an international phenomenon.


Warriors on Horseback: the inside story of the professional jockey

New book for 2015 incorporates interviews from prominent jockeys, getting their take on their “day job.” Both flat racing and jump racing. History and contemporary.

Inside Track: insider’s guide to horse racing

Handbook for attending your first horse race. What to bring, what to wear, what to look for in a race. Introduction to owners, trainers, and key horse races like the Kentucky Derby.


The Blood-Horse Authoritative Guide to Betting Thoroughbreds

Step-by-step guide explaining the major factors that go into handicapping a race. Learn how to calculate payoffs and distinguish between different types of wagers and much more.

Six Secrets of Successful Bettors: winning insights into playing the horses

Authors interviewed two dozen professional players that consistently win at the racetrack so you can rack in the money too.


Affirmed: the last Triple Crown winner

Biography of the 1978 Triple Crown Winner who surprised the nation in out-racing his esteemed rival Alydar.

Barbaro: a nation’s love story

Triple Crown contender Barbaro and his journey from birth to becoming an American icon of resilience. High-winning hopes shattered with a broken leg but renewed with a determined spirit to recover.

Bethany Mitchell
Arts/Literature/Sports Department
Central Library

Friday, May 08, 2015

How to Patent Your Invention

First patent granted in 1790
First patent granted in 1790

Do you have a great new invention? Are you unsure whether or not you’re the first one to think of it? If so, join us from 3:45-4:45 p.m. on Monday, May 11, 2015, in the Regional Library Computer Center. We’ll be talking about patents and how to perform a basic search using databases from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. There are actually three different types of patents: design, plant, and utility. Utility patents are what most people think of when they hear the word “patent” and according to the USPTO, 90% of all patents granted today are utility patents.

The Birmingham Public Library is the only public library in Alabama to be named a Patent and Trademark Resource Center. This means that the staff have been specially trained to help inventors and entrepreneurs begin their patent search. Because patents are only granted to, “any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof,” a thorough search of all existing patents (also call a prior art search) is essential. By searching previously issued patents, you may find that you have a totally new and unique invention or that you need to head back to the drawing board.

Since patents are written using highly specialized legal and scientific language, performing a patent search can seem intimidating. Join us on May 11th as we break down the USPTO’s Seven Step Strategy. This simple strategy is a great way to get started and to become familiar with the patent process. Space is limited, so call us at 205-226-3680 to register today!

M.B. Newbill
Southern History Department

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Updated May 2015 Class Schedule

This is the current class schedule offered at the Regional Library Computer Center. Registration is open to the public and staff beginning the 15th of the month (for the following month’s classes). If the 15th falls on a weekend, the class schedule will be made available the next business day. Please continue to check our blog or Birmingham 365 for upcoming classes and workshops. For a PDF copy, please click on this link: May 2015 Classes .

Please note that the "Job Searching Tips with Jack Norris" class, scheduled previously for Tuesday, May 26, has been cancelled.

*ONLINE REGISTRATION SUBMISSIONS DO NOT GUARANTEE YOU SPACE IN THE CLASS. For immediate assistance or to learn of spaces still available in classes, please contact the Public Computer Services Department during regular library hours at 205-226-3681. Please allow two to four business days for registration confirmation.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Three Birmingham Artists Offer Unique Perspectives in Exhibit

Cory Casella, Melissa Shultz-Jones, and Paul Cordes Wilm are Birmingham artists with very unique perspectives, and their work will be showcased in the exhibit The Amazing Art of Local Curiosities at the Central Library's Fourth Floor Gallery from May 7 to June 26, 2015.

The opening reception will be held on Saturday, May 16, 2015, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., in the Boardroom on the fourth floor.

On Saturday, June 6, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Casella will share his technique of drawing in pen with one continuous line. The event will be held in the Story Castle, 2nd Floor at the Central Library. Registration requested; call 226-3670.

On Tuesday, June 16, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m., Shultz-Jones will lead a “Hero Art” session for children and accompanying adult family members in the Story Castle. Registration requested; call 226-3655.


One Liner Artwork: Cory Casella
Octopus by Cory Casella

Birmingham resident and software-developer Casella’s “one-liners” are a labyrinth of ink; he draws with one continuous line that never crosses over itself, forming intricate landscapes and animals. Though he picks up his pen to take breaks, he also starts from the place he left off.

“I have found for me that my creativity is born from constraint. Having the constraint of only having one line allows me to focus on making shapes and shadows in interesting ways.”

The Common Bizarre: Melissa Shultz-Jones

Southside by Melissa Shultz-Jones
A Birmingham painter and illustrator, Shultz-Jones’s work is largely inspired by the Magic City. Her primary media are watercolor, gouache, and india ink. She layers “striking silhouettes, textures, and intricate patterns to celebrate the singular Birmingham.”

“These works illustrate my love for narratives, especially those storied realms of gods and their milieu,” she said about her art. “Birmingham's homeless population is of particular interest to me. They are monuments on their own corners, and they deserve equal portrait alongside any structure. Isolation, misconception, and alienation unify us all in this ever changing narrative we call Birmingham…”

ALabstraction by Paul Cordes Wilm
ALabstractions: Paul Cordes Wilm

Wilm’s “ALabstractions” is a series of paintings that plays with the shape of the state of Alabama.

Wilm is a Southern painter, born and raised in Alabama who currently lives in Birmingham. His work has been dubbed “Folk-Pop,” and for better or for worse, he decided to continue using these two words to describe his paintings. His works are noticeably colorful, perhaps because he is red-green colorblind. There is a bit of humor and sarcasm in most of his paintings, mainly because he has a slight aversion to capitalism and consumerism. An adamant recycler, he creates his works using 90-100% recycled materials.

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