Showing posts from June, 2015

Teen Book Review: The Swoop List: Give It Up

Give it Up
#1 Sanaa
The Swoop List Series
Stephanie Perry Moore

When Sanaa wakes up for another day of school, she just can’t seem to shake the feeling that the day is somehow…off. She makes it to school and she finds out exactly where here feelings of dread are coming from. She’s been added to the "swoop list" and everyone in school is pointing and staring at her. What is this list? Where did it come from? And why is Sanaa #1 on the list?

Stephanie Perry Moore is a popular African American writer who writes in the adult, teen, and juvenile fiction genres. She is well known for her captivating fiction series, and The Swoop List is no exception. Over the course of five fast-paced and engaging books, the author takes a look at the cruel side of high school, where rumors take flight and are taken as fact, whether they’re true or not. The series focuses on five girls from different backgrounds and social circles that suddenly have one very devastating thing in common: the…

Reading Program Aims to Bond Families through Books

In April and May, the Five Points West Regional Branch Library ran a series of programs called Prime Time Family Reading Time. At 6:00 p.m. we started with a light dinner for 25 families. After dinner, the group divided into preschool and elementary school groups for storytime. A storyteller and a scholar presented the stories and discussed them with the parents and children. The purpose of this program was to engage parents and children by discussing the stories and encouraging the families to take the example of sharing the stories home with them. This is also a way for the families to bond by reading and learning together. Hopefully, this program has encouraged the families to become active library users for years to come by showing them the resources the library has to offer.

Our next Prime Time Family Reading Time programs will be held in the fall, September 22-October 27, at 6:00 p.m. Please call the Youth Department (205) 226-4017 at the Five Points West Library for…

Summer Reading Is Not Just for Children—Adults Get in on the Fun

Timothy Burkett has been an avid reader all his life. Growing up in Birmingham, he attended George Washington Carver High School and won several city-wide awards for his science fair projects. When he participated in an Upward Bound program at Yale University, he found his niche as a playwright. When his life took a few unexpected turns, Burkett continued to feed his mind by reading. Today, at 65 years of age, he is participating in Summer Reading and making plans to Escape the Ordinary as a member of the adult reading club.

Since December 2014, Adult Summer Reading and BPL Eastern Region Coordinator, Sandi Lee, has been hard at work organizing outstanding programs for audiences. Along with her counterpart, Janine Langston, coordinator for youth services and the western region, the two have worked with other staff to provide more than 500 programs for summer reading participants. The goal of Summer Reading is to encourage individuals (especially children) to read for pleasure and t…

Library's Historical Maps Highlighted Online

Birmingham Public Library's (BPL) historical maps were recently highlighted in Cartographic Perspectives: Journal of the North American Cartographic Information Society. The article, written by former BPL Director George Stewart, discusses the history of the library's map collection as well as current efforts underway to catalog, conserve, digitize, and make all the map images accessible to the public.

The entire article is available online.  Many of the maps are available for viewing in BPL's Digital Collections Database

Southern History Book of the Month: Their Blood Runs Cold: Adventures with Reptiles and Amphibians

Their Blood Runs Cold: Adventures with Reptiles and Amphibians
Whit Gibbons

Two recent close encounters with snakes at my home (though luckily not in my home) gave me the idea that it was time for some natural history in the Southern History Book of the Month selections. Now available in a new 30th Anniversary edition, Their Blood Runs Cold is a lively look at the world of reptiles and amphibians: frogs and toads, lizards, turtles, salamanders, alligators, and—of course—snakes, which tend to evoke stronger emotions in us than any other member of the reptile family. Gibbons is obviously fascinated with them and though he certainly encourages a healthy respect for snakes, he tries to discourage the response of dread and horror by recounting the way his own feelings about them developed:
The first snake I can remember was a green snake that lay outstretched on the largest limb of a redbud tree in Alabama. We smashed it many times. To death. Making sure. Taking no chances.

I don’t really …

What’s Knitting Got to Do with the Library?

Why do libraries offer programs? What do craft, computer, exercise, gardening, magic shows, and cooking classes have to do with books? The short answer can be found in the BPL Mission Statement: The mission of the Birmingham Public Library is to provide the highest quality library service to our citizens for life-long learning, cultural enrichment, and enjoyment.

In other words, libraries provide information to improve people’s lives. Sometimes we do this by offering programs that reflect local interests, current events, or national trends. These programs can be on anything that provides new experiences, entertains, enriches, and/or educates.

A broader answer might be that libraries build and strengthen the community. Libraries have become more about people, specifically bringing people of different backgrounds, races, ages, genders, socio-economic levels, and nationalities together in a neutral space to explore common interests. This leads to discussion and sharing between these div…

The Benefits of Exercising—More Than Just Losing Weight

There is more to exercise than just losing weight. Do you often feel tired, lack energy, stressed, having sleepless nights? Well, if so, I have the perfect solution for all of these symptoms: exercise!

The benefits of regular exercise are enormous and hard to ignore. It doesn’t matter the age or sex, we all can benefit from exercise and physical activities. The only drawback is getting permission from your doctor if you have chronic health issues or haven’t exercised for a long time.

Here are some quick and long lasting benefits of regular exercise:
As you start burning calories for fuel, you get an almost immediate mood boost.Exercise and physical activity deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and help your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. Just don't exercise too close to bedtime, or you may be too energized to fall asleep.Regular physical activity can leave you feeling energized a…

Books That Celebrate the Dads in Our Lives

Father's Day was inaugurated in the United States in the early 20th century as a complement to Mother’s Day. The first observance of a Father’s Day was held on July 5, 1908, in Grafton, West Virginia, in the Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South. Grace Golden Clayton was mourning the loss of her father who had died in December 1907 due to a mining disaster. The Monongah Mining Disaster killed 361 men, 250 of them fathers, leaving almost a thousand fatherless children. Clayton suggested to her pastor that he preach a sermon to honor all those fathers. Although heartfelt and moving as the idea was, the event was ultimately unsuccessful.

History credits Sonora Dodd as the driving force behind the creation of what we know as Father’s Day. At the time Dodd’s own father, William Jackson Smart, was a Civil War veteran and a single parent raising six children. After hearing a Mother’s Day sermon, she told her pastor that fathers should have a holiday and suggested Ju…

Registration Open For July 2015 Computer Classes

Registration is now open for staff and the public for the July 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).
Complete name, address and phone information. PLEASE PRINT.Place a check mark in the check box next to the class(es) you would like to attend.Return the entire form to a staff person in the Public Computer Services department.You may also send an email to or use the online form to register.

Get to Know the BPL Young Professionals Board Members: Dionne Clark

What is your full name, age, and occupation? 

My name is Dionne Clark, and I’m 34 years old. I am the Programs Director at Alabama Humanities Foundation.

Why did you get involved with the BPLYP?

I was interested in joining the BPLYP because I have a sincere appreciation for literacy education, and cultural and educational programming. The library has always been a vital aspect of my personal, academic and cultural growth.

Which is your favorite (or most frequented) library branch of the Birmingham Public Library system? 

I spend a lot of time at the Central Branch. My daughter loves the youth section (especially the animals), and I meet a small group of ladies there to run weekly.

Would you rather read on an e-reader or a book?

I really want an e-reader, but I still value a tangible text. I hope that my future e-reader will increase my reading, and allow me to easily access books wherever I go. I always purchase books that I find that I will refer to in the future, or plan to use for edu…

Great Outdoors Month


Birmingham Reads Initiative Connects Libraries and Reading to Reducing City’s Violence

A new reading initiative launched by the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) system can shed light on ways to bring a community together to address violent crime. Birmingham Reads will provide citizens with free copies of the book Don’t Shoot: One Man, a Street Fellowship, and the End of Violence in Inner-City America by David M. Kennedy. Designed as a program where books are distributed, read, and then returned to libraries to be passed on to other readers, Birmingham Reads gets underway on Monday, June 15, 2015. Citizens can ask for copies of the book at the circulation desks of the 19 libraries located in the city limits of Birmingham. Limited quantities are available. Birmingham Reads is an initiative launched to coincide with the city’s new Violence Reduction Plan unveiled on June 2 by Mayor William A. Bell and Police Chief A.C. Roper.

As a department of the city, library staff work to build collections and programs that reflect the immediate needs of Birmingham and its citizens.…

Summer Reading in Full Swing at Area Libraries

Everyone can be a superhero at the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) and staff at all 19 library locations have been preparing for this time of the year since December. BPL’s commitment to outstanding summer reading experiences for children, teens, and adults is reflected in the many and varied offerings for all ages and interests. Participants can discover new books, make new friends, learn a new skill, and enjoy family-friendly programs by participating in themed reading celebrations including Every Hero Has a Story for children; Unmask! for teens; and Escape the Ordinary for adults.

The goal of summer reading is to encourage participants (especially children) to read for pleasure and to read often. BPL is offering special programs and incentives during June and July to motivate patrons of all ages, from children to adults, to read what they enjoy. Once participants read the number of books in their set goal, they are eligible for rewards. Reading rewards range from admission tickets…

Audiobook Month and the Return of Travis McGee

June is the month in which we celebrate audiobooks. Why audiobooks? In this day of tablets, smart phones, etc., they not only let us try new authors and genres, but they also allow us to multitask while doing it. They are also a fun way to revisit old favorites. Speaking of old favorites, where, you ask, does Travis McGee fit into this scenario?

McGee is a fictional character from writer John D. Macdonald. He was featured in at least 21 novels. McGee earns his money by taking on lost property jobs. He only works when he’s low on cash. His residence is also non-traditional, he resides on a houseboat.

Travis McGee was my first introduction to audiobooks. I started listening on my commute to work. The character was instantly addictive. The books were available on cassette. I worked my way through all 21 books, from The Deep Blue Good-By (1964) to Lonely Silver Raid (1985). Like the author Walter Mosley, MacDonald used colors in the titles of his books. Unfortunately, MacDona…

Get Ready for the Zombie Apocalypse (or Any Other Disaster)!

Monday, June 15, 6:00-7:30 p.m. Birmingham Public Library, 2100 Park Place Story Castle, 2nd Floor
Be the hero when disaster strikes! Nathan Moore has taught disaster preparedness to many Boy Scouts, and his entertaining but very practical workshop will get you ready to save the day when faced with a tornado, hurricane, or the attack of the walking dead. 
So come out to the Story Castle on the second floor of the Central Library on Monday, June 15, at 6:00 p.m., to learn valuable skills that could save your life or the life of your loved ones. For more information, call 226-3670 or e-mail
Nathan came up with this ingenious take on a serious topic, because, let's face it, zombies are hot...
To find out more about zombies and disaster preparedness, check out these resources at your library:
Disaster preparedness: Crashes, crises, and calamities : how we can use science to read the early-warning signsThe disaster diaries : how I learned to stop worrying and love the apocal…

Book Review: Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932

Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932
Francine Prose

In Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 we spend pleasurable time with three French women as we read their memoirs, diaries, and letters telling tales of glory and terror in the famed artists colony of Montparnasse from the boozy parties of the '20s to the Gestapo’s torture rooms during the occupation. We also read the words of an American ex-patriate writer based on Henry Miller, obsessed with slights and sex, and of a sweet Hungarian photographer, an artist, based on the great Braisson. Pablo Picasso makes a strong cameo appearance, his sketch of a guillotine foreshadowing the horrors ahead.

The Chameleon Club, a left bank transvestite cabaret, is their hangout. Anyone who has spent serious time drinking at a drag club will find Prose’s depiction of the scene to be comfortably familiar. Yvonne, with values inspired by her pet lizard (thus the name), presides over the club singing sadly of her sailor who never returned, …

Roll It Again!

Here’s my latest in a continuing series of pieces on my favorite movies, the ones I watch again and again. Sometimes I think at six, seven times, I’ll probably never want to see a certain movie again, only to have it calling me two, three years down the line. This staying power is something I value more and more as the years go by and I find few repeat-watchers among the current crop of movies-or even among the vast storehouse of older ones. As always, I’ve put the estimated number of times I’ve seen the title at the end of each entry.

Diner (1982). A movie so good, it almost didn’t get released. Apparently, only a last-minute rave from Pauline Kael in the New Yorker saved this one from extinction and shamed the studio into actually releasing it. (Some zealot privately screened it for Kael.) This is director Barry Levinson’s love letter to his youth in Baltimore. The year is 1959. The Fifties are ending. Women are asking more of men. A group of young guys are stumbling from their adole…

A Book Signing with Roe Bonner

I really like being a librarian and my inspiration for becoming one was my love of books. Author signings, visits, and conferences are always exciting because I learn about authors and hear their stories. On May 26, the West End Branch Library had an author signing with former radio personality Roosevelt “Roe” Bonner. Roe was the DJ at WENN Radio, which was owned by A.G. Gaston, from 1978-1996. His book, Behind the Mic: The Rise and Fall of Personality Radio recounts his years as an employee at WENN.

During the book signing, Roe talked about famous people and musicians he met while working at WENN. He spoke so well and eloquently about his book that I wanted to read it immediately. Several people bought the book that day and he gave my co-worker and me a signed copy. When I took the book home that evening and put it in the living room, my mother asked what it was and I told her. I was cooking dinner when my mother started laughing. She was reading Roe's book and was enjoying it. …

Confounded by the Census? Beyond the Basics of Genealogy Returns This Month

First taken in 1790, the U.S. census is probably a genealogist's most-used resource. Beginners and experts alike use the federal census as the starting point for their research. However, many people are still confounded by the U.S. census and are shocked when they discover:
1940 is the most recent census available to the public. Nearly the entire 1890 census was destroyed by a fire. The census taker often misspelled your ancestor’s name. Other information (race, date of birth, age, additional/missing children, etc.) about your ancestor might be incorrect or vary widely from census to census.  Learn the ins and outs of the census, how it’s changed from year to year (and why it matters), and how to interpret your ancestors’ responses in our next Beyond the Basics of Genealogy workshop, Census and Sensibility: Using and Interpreting U.S. Census Records. This workshop will be held on Saturday, June 9th at 10 am in Arrington Auditorium of the Linn Henley building. Registration is re…

Adult Summer Reading Program on Facebook

Adult Summer Reading Program 2015 (June 1-August 14)We just want to remind everyone about the Adult Summer Reading Program 2015 (June 1- August 14th). We hope your plans include awesome books, pool time and summer fun!
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 e…