Showing posts from October, 2015

Sports in October

I love October.  One of the main reasons I love October in Birmingham is that the weather is finally cooling down.  I think it’s the best month of weather we have during the year.  We typically have bright sunny days with low humidity and comfortable temperatures.  I always recommend that people who have never been to Birmingham visit in October.  It's a great time to visit Railroad Park.  The fountain in Linn Park also gets changed to pink in preparation for the Komen North Central Alabama Race for the Cure®.

Besides the good weather, I love October because I can turn on any channel and find sports.  October is the month when all the sports I enjoy are being played at the same time.  This week, I have watched college football, NFL football, NBA basketball, and the World Series.  Like baseball, I tend to watch NHL hockey during the playoffs, but if I feel inclined, the NHL season is back in full swing right now.  October is a great month for sports fans. 

Game 3 of the World Ser…

From Page to Stage: Seussical – A Reader’s Theater Workshop for Children

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL), in partnership with the Birmingham Children’s Theatre (BCT) and Junior League of Birmingham (JLB), would like to invite you to attend From Page to Stage: Seussical — A Readers’ Theater Workshop for Children.

In anticipation of the upcoming BCT performance of Seussical, BPL will be hosting free workshops at several of its area libraries. Children, aged 7 to 12, will learn how storybook characters come alive through the magic of theater. JLB members will coach the children and introduce them to similar literature located in their local library. Each child will receive two free tickets (one child and one adult ticket) to the BCT Seussical production in December 2015.

Horton the elephant hears a small sound coming from a tiny speck of dust and discovers a whole world of people called Whos! Horton vows to take care of them because a person’s a person no matter how small. All the animals, however, think Horton is crazy. Can Horton convince them there re…

Coming Soon...Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Don’t you just love Star Wars? I know I do. There is no bigger Star Wars fan than I. In fact, I have an entire room in my basement dedicated to Star Wars. Included in my collection/memorabilia is a 27-slot acrylic display case housing 27 Star Wars action figures: I have an X-wing fighter; a Millennium Falcon; and a life-size poster of my favorite Star Wars character, Yoda. I have seen the entire 6-movie saga several times and I am eagerly awaiting the new release, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, which will open in the U.S. on December 18. This newest episode, set 30 years after the events of Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, is sure to be a total thrill ride and I plan on being there, front and center, popcorn in hand, on opening night.

The collection that the Birmingham Public Library houses on Star Wars is enormous. Included are books, audiobooks, and DVDs on Star Wars and the Star Wars universe. In case you haven’t seen the first set, BPL has all six of the first movies in …

Central Library Will Use $10,000 Grant from Best Buy Foundation to Expand Services in Its STEM-Focused Afterschool Program for Teens

Thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Best Buy Foundation, the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) is planning to add new services in its STEM-focused afterschool program for teens in its Central Library.

Since the summer of 2015, Central Library at 2100 Park Place has been collaborating with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Engineering to provide a weekly STEM-focused technology-based afterschool program for teens. BPL's system teen librarian, Lance Simpson, and grants writer, Carrie Campbell, joined with School of Engineering's director of outreach, Dr. Abidin Yildirim, and community volunteer, Keiah Shauku, to write a grant seeking funds to expand the program’s offerings.

Best Buy Foundation officials approved a grant for $10,000, which will be used to purchase microcomputers, robotics kits, and an array of other technological tools to facilitate teaching engineering concepts in the weekly afterschool program.

“Our partnership with UAB kicked off over the…

Book Review: The Prado

The Prado
F. J. Sanchez Canton

The Prado Museum, in Madrid, is one of the brightest jewels of Western culture and F. J. Sanchez Canton was its director, having worked there, as a scholar, for over five decades. The Prado is his authoritative introduction to the institution’s rich history and its unparalleled collections. One of the miracles of Spanish history is that its kings, the most powerful rulers of the Renaissance, were avid and distinguished art collectors. Even more miraculous is that their royal collections were never broken up and dispersed. The king’s centuries of patronage and careful purchases became the core collection of the Prado, which they established.

Velazquez and Goya each worked for decades as their king’s painters, producing scores of important paintings. Titian, Rubens, and Tiepolo all worked as painters for the Spanish kings, for years each, producing some of their most important works with direct royal patronage. Painting by painting with color illustration,…

Neighborhood Libraries Set to Begin Winter Hours

Seven of the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) System’s libraries will begin their winter hours on Monday, November 2, 2015. Neighborhood libraries including East Ensley, Ensley, Inglenook, North Avondale, Powderly, Woodlawn, and Wylam will maintain this temporary schedule through Friday, March 4, 2016.

The hours of operation will be Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m., and from 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. On Wednesdays, the libraries operate from 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. All other BPL locations will maintain their regular schedules.

For additional information on BPL locations and hours of operation, please visit our website at

Smithfield Library to Close for Magic City Classic on October 31

This year marks seventy-four years for the Magic City Classic, an annual rival between Alabama A&M University and Alabama State University, two of Alabama's most prominent historically black universities. The game is played at Legion Field in Birmingham, and some of the festivities held in conjunction with the game include an events parade, gospel concert, pep rally, and the "Battle of the Bands" between the two schools' marching bands.

Located in the center of the classic festivities is the Smithfield Branch Library (formerly the Booker T. Washington Library and the first library for blacks in the state of Alabama), a vital link and iconic landmark located in one of Birmingham’s most historic districts. Because the streets around the library are blocked off for the game, the library will close at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, October 30, and will reopen Monday, November 1. All other Birmingham Public Libraries will be open for regular hours of operation.

It’s time for f…

The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels

How many of you grown-ups remember The Baby-Sitter’s Club series? I devoured every single book when I was in elementary school. (There were over a hundred to choose from!) The series is about a group of middle school girls who have founded a babysitting business. The books follow the girls on their various jobs as well as taking some time to deal with the individual characters and their issues (things like divorce of a parent, diabetes, school trouble, first crushes, etc.) Looking back, I am not sure if it would be quite as appealing to a kid today; the cover art might look a little old fashioned or the way the kids talk might seem a bit hokey.

If you want to share these engaging stories with the next generation, I suggest you try them in graphic novel form! The Baby-Sitters Club has been given a little update from Raina Telgemeier, the best-selling author of Smile. All of your favorite characters and stories are there, but the girls have been drawn in fun and modern detail. They are…

BPL Celebrates 120 Years as a Federal Depository Library

On October 8, 1895, the Birmingham Public Library was designated as a Federal Depository Library. We have proudly maintained our partnership with the Government Publishing Office for the last 120 years.

As the largest publisher in the world, the United States Federal Government realized the need to make government publications available to the people as early as 1813. Over the years, government information and how we access it has changed tremendously. Once government publications were available only on paper, now many federal agencies publish online and paper documents are quickly becoming a thing of the past. One thing remains the same, however, and that is our mandate as a Federal Depository Library. We are proud to offer government information to the public in a timely manner and with excellent customer service.

Alabama has 22 Federal Depository Libraries. However, most of them are university or government agency libraries. Birmingham Public and Gadsden Public Library are the on…

Days of Glaze: Exhibit, Readings of Andrew Glaze’s Work by Local Poets

Andrew Glaze, a new member of the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame, puts the South in the spotlight in only the way a true southern poet can.

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) presents an exhibit of photographs and memorabilia of Andrew Glaze, Alabama’s Poet Laureate. The exhibit opens on November 6 and runs through December 31 at the Central Library located at 2100 Park Place.

Further celebrating Glaze’s newest published collection of poetry, local poets will honor Glaze in two readings in November: BPL’s Bards & Brews Open Mic on November 6, 2015, at the Central Library (honorary readings during half-time) and The Nitty Gritty Magic City poetry group on November 8, 2015, at Desert Island Supply Co.

Alabamians can truly claim Glaze as their own. While born in Nashville, Glaze grew up in Birmingham. He attended local Birmingham schools Lakeview and Ramsay.

After graduating from Harvard and completing four years abroad in France with the US Army Air Force, he returned to Birmingham…

Lee Appointed as Birmingham Public Library’s Associate Director

At its October 2015 meeting, the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) Board voted to appoint Sandra “Sandi” Vick Lee as its associate director. Lee begins her new duties on October 31, 2015.

Lee is a graduate of Huffman High School, holds a Master’s of Arts Degree in Education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Studies from the University of Alabama. Lee has worked for the BPL system for 21 years. She began her career as a storyteller at the Springville Road Regional Branch Library, and later moved to the Central Library where she served as the head of the Youth Department.

For the past 10 years, Lee has served as a coordinator for the library. At the Central Library, she served as the Public Services Coordinator where she was responsible for public programming. She also supervised the daily operations of the public service departments. Lee currently serves as the Eastern Region and Adult Services Coordinator.

Marvin Whiting Award Presented at Auburn

The Society of Alabama Archivists and the Birmingham Public Library presented the 4th annual Marvin Yeomans Whiting Award at the society’s annual meeting at Auburn University on October 16. The award is named for the Birmingham Public Library’s first archivist and recognizes an individual, institution, or organization that has made a significant contribution to the preservation of local history in Alabama.

The 2015 award was presented to Bobby Joe Seales, who has served as president of the Shelby County Historical Society and executive director of the Shelby County Museum and Archives for 16 years. He will retire from both positions on November 1, 2015. Under his leadership the museum and archives has grown into one of the finest county archives in Alabama, and is visited by thousands of people each year. As president of the historical society he has helped increase membership from fewer than 200 people to approximately 1,000 today.

Bobby works in partnership with the University of …

Every Hero Has A Story

Chrishaun Brown, a young man who attends Inglenook K8 School and frequents the Inglenook Branch Library, came to my office one day after school asking to speak to me. I obliged and welcomed him with open arms. Excitedly, he began telling me about an issue that infuriated his brother. He said that he first listened to his brother and then spoke to him, calming him down and helping him see the logic in the decision that he was about to make to satisfy his fury. At the end, Chrishaun said, “I thought about what ya’ll have been saying all summer, ‘Every Hero Has a Story.’” I was blown away! This young man not only felt confident enough to share his story, but also had the courage and the intellect to apply the summer reading theme and all the lessons that he’d learned from the activities and programs centered on it to helping his brother manage and properly deal with his anger. He also demonstrated how a hero, even from a modest act, can emerge and impact larger events, actions, and outc…

Southern History Book of the Month: Experiment in Autobiography: Discoveries and Conclusions of a Very Ordinary Brain (Since 1866)

Experiment in Autobiography: Discoveries and Conclusions of a Very Ordinary Brain (Since 1866)
H.G. Wells

H.G. Wells is regarded as one of the major authors of science fiction and one of the most brilliant minds of his generation, famous even to the average man on the street because of the 1938 radio broadcast of War of the Worlds by Orson Welles and his Mercury Theatre Company. But did you know that H.G. Wells visited Birmingham, Alabama, in October of 1940? And that we have autographed works by Wells in the Birmingham Public Library’s Rare Book collection?

One of these works is his Experiment in Autobiography, in which he playfully (or perhaps seriously?) asserts that “The brain upon which my experiences have been written is not a particularly good one. If there were brain-shows, as there are cat and dog shows, I doubt if it would get even a third class prize.” Third class for the author of The Time Machine, War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, and literally dozens of other works …

Birmingham Mayor Issues Proclamation Honoring Friends of Libraries Week in Birmingham

Birmingham mayor William Bell has proclaimed the week of October 18-24 in Birmingham as Friends of Libraries Week. The mayor presented the proclamation to Birmingham Public Library director Angela Fisher Hall and Friends of Birmingham Public Library Foundation president Regina Ammon during the city council meeting on Tuesday, October 20.

The recognition comes as part of a National Friends of Libraries Week. In making the presentation, Mayor Bell thanked Birmingham’s 19 library locations for providing needed services to citizens.

“In giving the proclamation to the Friends of Libraries Week today, the mayor recognized the Birmingham Public Library’s role in supporting our community and celebrated the Friends role in supporting that,” Ammon said. “We invite you all to celebrate National Friends of Libraries Week and, most importantly, support our world-class libraries here.”

The proclamation, signed by Mayor Bell, reads:

Whereas, the Friends Council of the Birmingham Public Libra…

October Is National Seafood Month

Studies have shown that eating fish and shellfish regularly is very beneficial to our bodies in many ways; here are some great reasons to add more seafood into your diet. Not only can seafood relieve the symptoms of asthma in children, but it has shown signs of preventing it. One study suggests that an extra portion of fish every week can cut the risk of heart disease in half. Eating fish can improve your circulation and reduce the risk of blood clots. Eating fish as a regular part of a balanced diet has been shown to ease the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

If you would like to add more fish to your diet but are unsure of how to prepare it, these cookbooks will make your job much easier:

200 Best Canned Fish and Seafood Recipes: For Tuna, Salmon, Shrimp, Crab, Clams, Oysters, Lobster and More by Susan Sampson

Catch of the Day: a Fish Cookbook by Carol Cutler

The Coastal Living Cookbook: The Ultimate Recipe Collection for People Who Love the Coast by Coastal Living Magazine

Fish &a…

Bards & Brews Open Mic 11/6

Bards & Brews Open Mic
Performance Poetry and Beer Tasting Friday, November 6th, 6:30-9pm
Music by Nabeel
Free and open to the public
Must be 18+ to attend and 21+ to be served ID Required
Free craft beer sampling courtesy of
Good People Brewing Co and Back Forty Beer Co

Registration Open For November 2015 Classes

Registration is now open for staff and the public for the November 2015 Classes.  During this month, we include our popular computer classes, as well as a variety of personal development classes.  All classes are held in the Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC) of the Central (downtown) LibraryPRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED FOR ALL CLASSES.

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.

To register for any class, please email us at or call 205-226-3681.   You may also download and print a pdf copy of the November 2015 Class Schedule to bring to a Computer Commons staff member on your next library visit. Please note that the November 2015 Class Schedule pdf can be sent to us as an email attachment.

Trademark Basics: What Every Small Business Should Know Now, Not Later

The Birmingham Public Library’s Patent and Trademark Resource Center will be hosting a free workshop on Wednesday, October 28, 2015, at 2:00 p.m. Join us in the Library’s Arrington Auditorium for “Trademark Basics: What Every Small Business Should Know Now, Not Later.” This program will be led by Craig Morris of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in Washington D.C.  Mr. Morris’ program will focus on several topics of interest to small business owners who are considering filing for a trademark with the USPTO:
How trademarks, copyrights, patents, domain names, and business name registrations all differ. Why it is important for any new business to select a trademark that will be both federally registrable and legally protectable, highlighting factors critical when choosing a mark. The importance of doing a complete search and whether an attorney should be used. What may happen if another trademark owner believes it has stronger rights in a mark and issues a "c…

Curl Up with Craig Thompson's Blankets and Enjoy a Cool Read

"Rooftops" from the album Northern Liberties by Don McCloskey, 2007
Illustrations from Blankets by Craig Thompson, 2003
The 592-page autobiographical graphic novel Blankets by artist Craig Thompson is heavy on the hands and heart. It begins with the story of a young Craig Thompson who lives in Wisconsin with his Christian fundamentalist parents and his younger brother; both brothers are subjected to harsh discipline by their parents and sexual molestation by a male babysitter. Thompson, feeling like a misfit in school and church, is bullied for his looks, interests, and faith. But the maturing Thompson doesn't allow these negative episodes to define him, because what Blankets is about above all else is a universal message about the large life awaiting you outside the shrunken confines of your current situation and everything that encompasses: the seedy things you deal with alone; the complicated things you ignore; the regrets you have; a first love that consumes you until…

Words from an Art Professor: An Interview with UAB’s Gary Chapman

The best, the brightest, and the boldest.

Gary Chapman, professor of painting and drawing at UAB, has selected work from his most talented students for the Birmingham Public Library's (BPL) latest art gallery, Painting @ UAB: The Students of Gary Chapman. Join the opening reception for the exhibit on November 15 at the Fourth Floor Gallery in the East Building of the Central Library.

The art students range in age from 19-28 and include both UAB alumni and current seniors and juniors. According to Gary Chapman, the gallery will display a “broad range of style and content.” Many of the pieces have taken from two weeks to two months to complete. Some works are still in progress as students prepare for the exhibit's opening.

Gary Chapman discussed his take on art in a feature interview with the ALS department.

Bethany: The students’ artwork represented in this gallery varies significantly in mood, context, and composition. Yet all the artists share the same teacher—you. As such, h…

Best-Selling Author Omar Tyree to Hold Signing of New Book at Smithfield Library Tuesday, October 20

New York Times’ best-selling author Omar Tyree will hold a book signing at Smithfield Branch Library on Tuesday, October 21. Tyree will be greeting patrons and signing copies of his latest book, All Access, between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. Tyree is donating Smithfield Library 20 percent of all book sales.

Tyree has published 28 books that have sold 2.5 million copies combined. Tyree is best known for his gritty urban novels depicting the lives of African American women in such books as For the Love of Money, Leslie, and Diary of a Groupie.

His Flyy Girl best seller, part of a trilogy that sold a combined 1.1 million books, is being turned into a feature film currently slated for release in August 2016, Tyree said in an interview today.

Tyree’s Birmingham stop is in the middle of a 26-city book signing campaign he calls All Access: The Price of Fame Tour. Since All Access was released October 6, he has also held book signings in Delaware, New York City, and Washington, D.C. In coming days…

Book Review: Not on Fire, But Burning

Not on Fire, but Burning
Greg Hrbek

In an America of the possible near future, a series of events leads to the meeting of two young boys. Inclined to be enemies, they could be friends. The question is: What will circumstance permit, and what will the inexorable forces of time and emotion prevent?

One young man is an orphaned Islamic youth who, in an America hardened by another devastating 9-11-style attack, is living in a modern-day internment camp in the Dakotas, where most Muslims were rounded up and isolated. The other is the youngest son of a family who relocated after the attacks, living a somewhat privileged life under the ever-present threat of another attack. Drawing them together is an older man who is an unlikely candidate to be an adoptive father but who decides to adopt one boy, and thus begins a series of encounters that illustrate what happens in our interactions with others throughout our lives. What are our preconceived notions about others based on their race or r…

Halloween Safety with Scaredy Squirrel

Halloween is right around the corner and the library is full of good reading treats, including books about my favorite worry wart, Scaredy Orville Squirrel, aka Scaredy Squirrel. Scaredy is the main character in a series of children’s books written and illustrated by Melanie Watt. In addition to winning several awards, in 2011 Scaredy starred in his very own cartoon series. Scaredy’s initials S.O.S. are a tell-tale sign of his personality. Scaredy dislikes danger, making eye contact and germs—just to name a few. He is a master at identifying his fears, avoiding them when possible, and developing a contingency plan; which usually involves an emergency kit and playing dead till the threat passes.

Are you prepared?

Check out Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween and other Scaredy Squirrel titles at my favorite book place, the Birmingham Public Library.

Scaredy Squirrel
Scaredy Squirrel at Night
Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach
Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping
Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend

Theatre UAB Troup to Present Music, Bullying, and Literature Programs during BPL Tour

The UAB Department of Theatre has been sending student actors out to entertain people all over the state since the mid-1980s. Thanks to a Hillcrest Foundation grant, Theatre UAB student actors will tour selected Birmingham Public Library branches starting November 13. They will present programs on movie medleys, anti-bullying, and a condensed version of Alice in Wonderland. Learn more about Theatre UAB at

All programs start at 3:15 p.m. 

Kids on the Block
This program dealing with bullies raises questions and offers solutions about this age-old problem. How should you respond when you're being bullied? How can you make bullying stop? All of these questions and more are addressed in this insightful and challenging program.

Wylam Branch Library - November 13, 2015
Five Points West Regional Branch Library - February 19, 2016
Inglenook Branch Library - March 11, 2016
Ensley Branch Library - March 18, 2016
North Birmingham Regional Branch Lib…

Postcards from Miss Iwate #3

Here I am in Harajuku, the epicenter of Japanese youth culture and fashion, with some people I just met! Aren’t we just too cute! Sunday afternoon is the best time-lots of cosplayers, punks, and lolitas.

I’m towards the back on the left!
Click the picture to see our fun outfits!
Miss Iwate

Local Artist Steve Skipper to Present Powderly Library with Painting Focused on Bloody Sunday March

Interested in meeting a local artist internationally known for his college and professional sports-themed paintings? Steve Skipper was the first African American artist sanctioned to do artwork for the University of Alabama, Auburn University, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, NASCAR, the Professional Bull Riders, and the PGA of America.

Mr. Skipper’s most recent work, DNA Ingrained, is his rendering of Bloody Sunday, the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march that turned bloody after law enforcement attacked marchers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Skipper says, “I was so inspired to do this work to give everlasting visual honor to those who paid full price for our right to vote and be productive members of the American experience and society.”

Please join us on Friday, October 16, 10:00 a.m., at the Powderly Branch Library, as Steve Skipper presents a reproduction of DNA Ingrained to the Birmingham Public Library.

Loretta Bitten
Powderly Branch Library

Celebrate Your Family This October with Family History Month!

October is Family History Month, and the Southern History Department is celebrating with a great lineup of class and events. Nearly everyone becomes curious about the family heritage or their ancestors at some point in their lives. Most often, this interest begins with a family story or legend that sparks someone’s curiosity. As people come to the Southern History Department, we love to hear why they decided to start researching their genealogy. Here are some of the most common reasons.
Planning a family reunion I’m descended from a Cherokee princess My ancestors were Pilgrims and came over on the Mayflower I’m related to ____________ (Insert some famous person here) Finding out about the black sheep of the family Crime or murder involving my family or another family secret Genetics and health related questions I’m descended from royalty My family immigrated here through Ellis Island What my last name means or my family coat of arms Genealogy can be great fun as you unravel family…

Bards & Brews to Close Out 2015 Eat Drink Read Write Festival on Friday, October 9

The Birmingham Public Library’s popular Bards & Brews spoken word poetry and craft beer tasting event will close the four-day Eat Drink Read Write festival at the Central Library Friday, October 9.

Doors open at 6:15 p.m., and poets wanting to participate can sign up beginning at 6:30 p.m. The Poetry Slam will begin at 7:00 p.m. Beer will be donated from a number of local breweries, including Cahaba Brewing, Good People Brewing, and Avondale Brewing. Brian “Voice Porter” Hawkins, a performance artist and experienced poetry slam emcee, will host the free evening event.

Poets will compete in a slam for $500 in cash prizes while attendees sample beer, coffee, tea, and snacks. Poems for the first round of the slam must be about food, eating or drinking, said Brandon C. Smith, manager of the Eastwood Branch Library and Coordinator of the 2015 festival.

“This event will be a great way to celebrate our food and culture in Birmingham,” Smith said. “I am pleased that we will be able to…