Saturday, January 30, 2016

African American History Month

African-American History Month

2016 marks the end of a historic period in African American history as President Barack Obama, the first African American president of the United States, concludes his second term in office.  We are a few days away from the beginning of African American History Month and many students will be looking for information to write essays and reports.  A good place to start is the African American History Month subject guide.  This guide provides links to reference books, DVDs, websites, and databases about African American history.

The library subscribes to two databases that focus specifically on African Americans: African-American History Online and Oxford African American Studies Center.  The list of reference books includes titles for both older and younger students (juvenile reference books).  For information about Birmingham, be sure to browse the library's digital collection, The African American Experience in Birmingham.  The collection, which is organized by subject, includes newspaper articles, books, audio recordings, and photographs.  If you are interested in library programs related to African American History Month, take a look at our calendar of events, pick up a copy of the Black History Month 2016 brochure, or contact your local branch.  

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Information is Out There

Whether you’ve been a fan for years or decades, or if you’re a total newcomer, you’ve probably heard about the new season of The X-Files.  At the very least you've heard the creepy, eerie theme song.  In the new season's two-part premiere Monday and Tuesday, viewers caught a quintessential episode full of pre-established mythology, alien bodies, and intense conversations about the existence of extraterrestrials. Or maybe it’s some kind of government conspiracy -- that’s the question the show has asked for 23 years.

The X-Files is a series about two FBI Special Agents, Dana Scully and Fox Mulder, who take on cases of unexplained phenomena and uncover secret plots and conspiracies of their own up to the very top of the FBI. The original series ran from 1993 to 2002, with two films - one in 1998 and the other ten years later in 2008, and the 2016 “revival” is designed for viewers of the original series as well as newcomers. It’s a healthy combination of overarching mythology episodes as well as monster-of-the-week episodes that are fine as standalone watching experiences.

Special Agents Mulder and Scully investigating a possible conspiracy.  The internet is much more sophisticated now than in 1993...

When you inevitably become curious about the different conspiracies covered in the show, you’ll want to visit the Social Sciences department at BPL's Central location. We have plenty of books and DVDs on topics ranging from UFOs to spirits, the paranormal to extraterrestrial life, and even government conspiracies.

Happy watching, and remember: the truth is out there.

The UFO phenomenon : fact, fantasy and disinformation by John Michael Greer (2009)

Signs on the earth : deciphering the message of Virgin Mary apparitions, UFO encounters, and crop circles by Richard Leviton (2005)

Flying saucers are real by Donald Keyhoe (2011)

Contactees : a history of alien-human interaction by Nick Redfern (2010)

UFOs and government : a historical inquiry by Michael Swords et al. (2012)

Tracking the man-beasts : Sasquatch, vampires, zombies, and more by Joe Nickell (2011)

UFOs : myths, conspiracies, and realities by John B. Alexander (2011)

Witness to Roswell : unmasking the government's biggest cover-up by Thomas J. Carey and Donald R. Schmitt (2009)

Paranormal : my life in pursuit of the afterlife by Raymond Moody with Paul Perry (2012)

Abducted by aliens : UFO encounters of the 4th kind (2014)
Area 51 [videorecording] : America's most secret base (2002)

Conspiracy? (2009)

Is it real? Supernatural (2006)

Out of the blue (2012)

L. Christina Tidmore
Business, Science & Technology/Social Sciences
Central Library

The Birmingham Public Library is Kicking Off New Sessions of 1-2-3 Play with Me at Five Library Locations

adult and child involved in a craft at the Avondale Library
Participants enjoying 1-2-3 Play with Me
Avondale Regional Branch Library, October 2015
BPL on Flickr

Playing with your baby is not only important for bonding, but is also an educational experience for your child. We are providing a special time and place for you to come to the public library and spend one-on-one time playing with your child. This five-week program involves children birth through age 3 and their parents or caregivers. The library will have age appropriate toys, books, and art activities just for you and your child. Also, we have invited special guests from the community to join us each week to answer your questions about parenting.

1-2-3 Play with Me emphasizes the role of parents as the first teachers of their children, facilitates early intervention and teaches strategies for healthy child development and early literacy. 1-2-3 Play with Me is the signature event for Family Place Libraries and is a community project grant recipient of the Junior League of Birmingham.

Central Library – February 9-March 8 –  every Tuesday at 10:00 a.m.
Avondale Branch Library – February 10 – March 9 – every Wednesday at 10:00 a.m.
Springville Road Branch Library – February 11-March 10 – every Thursday at 10:00 a.m.
Five Points West Branch Library – March 22-April 19 – every Tuesday at 10:00 a.m.
North Birmingham Branch Library – March 23-April 20 – every Wednesday at 10:00 a.m.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

16 Films Co-Starring Alabama

"No self-respecting Southerner uses instant grits." 
My Cousin Vinny, 1992

This month's blog contribution is dedicated to two things that I personally love: Alabama football and movies. I was wondering how I could combine these two favorite things into one post and then it hit me. In honor of the University of Alabama winning its 16th National Football Championship title, the most national championships won by any other team in college football history, I have decided to list 16 movies that were either filmed in Alabama, reference Alabama, relate to Alabama, or has a plot set in Alabama. Now granted, most of these titles are oldies but they are goodies. All of the movies are available in the Public Libraries in Jefferson County and may be checked out for seven days.
  1. 4 Little Girls
  2. 42
  3. Big Fish
  4. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
  5. The Butler
  6. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  7. Crimson Tide
  8. Failure to Launch
  9. Forrest Gump
  10. My Cousin Vinny
  11. The Rosa Parks Story
  12. Selma
  13. Sweet Home Alabama
  14. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
  15. To Kill a Mockingbird
  16. Tuskegee Airmen
Andrei T. Jones
Five Points West Regional Branch Library

Monday, January 25, 2016

Southern History Book of the Month: Lankford's Horse Book

book cover
Lankford’s Horse Book
James M. Lankford

When thinking of the lives lost in the Civil War, few of us remember the cost in animal lives as well as human. According to one article titled “The Horse in the Civil War,” the death toll for horses was staggering:
The total number of horses and mules killed in the Civil War mounts up to more than one million. In the beginning of the war, more horses were being killed than men. The number killed at the Battle of Gettysburg totaled around 1,500. The Union lost 881 horses and mules, and the Confederacy lost 619.

It is the great misfortune of horses that they can be saddle-broken and tamed. If the horse was more like an ox, not suited for riding, the war would have been drastically different.
This may account for a guide to horse care like Lankford’s Horse Book. Published in 1883, James Lankford’s guide to the care of sick and injured horses comes from a time when the horse played a major role in transportation and labor. Furthermore, the Horse Book was published in Atlanta, Georgia; in 1883 the memory of Sherman and the March to the Sea would still be fresh and after the carnage of the Civil War horses may have been scarce in that part of the country, so knowing how to care for your horse would have been critically important. Readers of Gone with the Wind will remember how Scarlett shot the Yankee deserter and how pleased she was to have acquired his horse along with the money in his wallet.

Some of the remedies and procedures in the Horse Book would probably horrify modern veterinarians. Along with milder treatments involving substances like soapsuds, salt, vinegar, and mustard, Lankford’s cures also include ingredients such as kerosene oil, tobacco juice, arsenic, sulphur, and turpentine. You would think any horse that wasn’t near death would get up and run away if he saw someone approaching with such a “cure” in mind. Here is a sample remedy:
Cure for Colic
Boil one quart of strong tobacco juice to a deep yellow color. When milkwarm, put into it, if convenient, one gill of whiskey or spirits of any kind. If you can’t get the spirits, grind four or five tablespoonfuls of mustard, put into the bottle of tobacco juice, and drench the horse or mule, which will cease the rolling, as the mixture will make it very sick; but you will find that it relaxes the whole system, and the horse or mule is well as soon as it gets over the effects of the tobacco juice, which may be one hour . . . I learned this remedy during our last war, and have never used any other. I have not seen a horse or mule die with colic since I learned the remedy.
Along with colic, Lankford addresses other conditions that sound pretty alarming, such as Horse Strangles, Blind Staggers, Lampers, and Gleet. At least they sound scary to me, since I’m no horsewoman. But there is also advice on how to buy a good horse, telling a horse’s age by his teeth, how to care for a mare in foal, and how to break a colt.

Lankford’s Horse Book is a fascinating glimpse of an era when horses played a larger role in our everyday lives and a reminder to be grateful for advances in medicine, whether for horses or for humans! If you’d like to examine this item for yourself, it’s part of the rare book collection in the Southern History Department.

For More on Horses:

“History of the Horse”

“Civil War Horses”

“The Faithful Steeds”

“From Horse Power to Horsepower”

“Horse Diseases A-Z”

Mary Anne Ellis
Southern History Department
Central Library

Central Library to Host Small Business Seminars in February and March 2016

The Birmingham Public Library, in conjunction with the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) and the City of Birmingham’s Office of Economic Development, will be hosting a free seminar, Steps to Starting Your Business, on February 1 and March 7. The seminars will be held from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. on each day in the Arrington Auditorium, which is located on the 4th floor of the Linn-Henley Research Library. Each seminar will cover the same topics, but those who are interested are welcome to attend more than one day. Topics covered will include crafting a vision statement, identifying sources of funding, determining the legal structure of your business, devising a business plan, and investigating sources of business and economic information. Please register for the seminars by contacting Valencia S. Fisher in the Economic Development Office at or by phoning 205-254-2799.

Seminar presenters will be veteran mentors from the local chapter of SCORE. SCORE is a national nonprofit association consisting of volunteers with business skills and experience who want to share their knowledge with prospective entrepreneurs and small business owners. For over 50 years, SCORE mentors have helped millions of Americans start and grow their own businesses.

For further information about the seminars or about resources available at the Birmingham Public Library relating to small business development, please contact Jim Murray in the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department at or by phoning 205-226-3691.

SBA Disaster Loan Center Set Up at Powderly Branch Library to Help Those Affected by Recent Tornado 

SBA logo

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has set up a disaster loan outreach center inside the Powderly Branch Library to help those affected by a recent tornado that damaged homes and businesses in southwestern Birmingham.

The library is located at 3301 Jefferson Ave. SW. The center began offering assistance on Wednesday, January 20, said Loretta Bitten, branch manager of the Powderly Library. The SBA will have loan representatives available to answer questions at the Powderly Library Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., and on Saturdays between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. until February 4, 2016.

For more information, call the SBA disaster center at 1-800-659-2955.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Book Review: Catch Me If You Can

book cover
Catch Me If You Can: The True Story of a Real Fake
Frank Abagnale with Stan Redding

I first encountered Frank Abagnale as a chapter in a book about impostors. His story grabbed me, but it wasn’t enough. I naturally proceeded to Abagnale’s book about his young life in crime. It too was enthralling. But, as the author of the impostors book said, Abagnale made his life from lying. How much of the book can we believe?

Let’s assume the book is basically true. On the cover is the legend, “The true story.” But it’s basically, not entirely, true. Abagnale has gone on record stating that co-author Stan Redding has exaggerated parts of the book at the behest of the publisher and that he, Abagnale, has accepted this as the price of publishing. We do know that Abagnale is an ex-con who was jailed in several countries for fraud-related offenses. And we know that, in the sixties and early seventies, when the criminal events in the book take place, an FBI agent was put in charge solely to track and arrest Abagnale. Presumably the various leading security companies that hired Abagnale as a consultant after he served his prison time made their decision to hire him based on his expert knowledge of fraud, which of course implies that he did in fact commit fraud on or somewhere near the extremely high level he claims to have done so in the book. And Abagnale maintains throughout the book he was a shameless crook and he has no reason to crow about all the misdeeds he committed. So all of the things tilt the balance toward “true,” if not true. Are you confused now? You have a right to be.

If Catch Me is even largely true, it reveals that Abagnale was an actor on an uncommon level, to say the least. He risked not bad reviews but going to jail. He worked without a net. He broke down the fourth wall. He reminds me of the comment Andre Gregory’s theatre guru Jerzy Grotowski made in My Dinner With Andre about how everyone’s acting so well in real life now that the theatre seems irrelevant. Abagnale, and all good impostors, push acting into new and groundbreaking territory. What they do is reminiscent of Grotowski’s paratheatrical work, but even Grotowski probably never held up criminals as exemplars. Ethical behavior, of course, is another story.

Abagnale’s writing style is odd. It seems to be made up of many different styles, stitched together to create an unseamless whole, mirroring the different selves Abagnale assumed while engaged in his life of fraud. This oddness doesn’t really slow the story down but it does make it a bit clunkier than it needed to be.

Let’s assume it’s mostly made up. There are a few events in the book that obviously don’t gel. For example, Abagnale claims that when Swedish authorities arrested him after his French prison stint, they didn’t put him in restraints but did warn him that if he tried to escape they’d shoot him. This seems blatantly contradictory, to say the least, not to mention impractical. Abagnale claims he impersonated four persons—an airline pilot, a college teaching assistant, a physician, and an attorney, giving the names he went under while in those roles. But a San Francisco Chronicle reporter published a piece showing that he could find no evidence of the existence of persons with these aliases in these jobs at the times Abagnale related. Abagnale countered that he didn’t want to embarrass and humiliate the people he hoodwinked and so he chose to use aliases. Does the book work as fiction? Yes it does. This memoir (or “memoir”) has what a certain kind of novel needs: a good story with a compelling narrative, plausible and vivid details, believable character motivations, vivid image-making, and a dramatic conclusion.

All that said, I wanted the book to be at least mostly true. Not because I wanted all the marks to be ripped off or because I wanted Abagnale to be punished so much as this: if it were mostly true, it would be better because someone who did all that for real is more interesting than someone who made it up. Because the book would be what it mostly claims to be. I wanted to be baited, but I was ambivalent about being switched. Baiting and switching is as old as the hills and as American as apple pie, but it’s not something I enjoyed going through. Did Abagnale fool some people, pay his debt to society, and then fool me through his book? Has he really repented? I’ll never fully know.

You can get enormous nonfiction satisfaction out of the book as well as enormous fiction satisfaction. Or enormous both. It all depends on how you look at it. What a jerk this guy Abagnale is. But what a seductive one. I’d like to meet him.

Note: Catch Me If You Can isn’t quite the same thing as the enjoyable Spielberg movie based on it and carrying the same title.

Richard Grooms
Fiction Department
Central Library

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

From Page to Stage: Tuxedo Junction - A Reader’s Theater Workshop for Children

From Page to Stage event poster

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: Tuxedo Junction – A Readers’ Theater Workshop for Children.

In anticipation of the upcoming BCT performance of Tuxedo Junction – A Celebration of Erskine Hawkins, BPL will be hosting free workshops at several of its area libraries. Children, age 7 to 12, will learn how stories 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 Tuxedo Junction production in February 2016.

You’ll tap your toes and dance in the aisles as BCT presents Tuxedo Junction, a musical based on the early life of legendary jazz musician, and Birmingham native, Erskine Hawkins. Honoring Black History Month and the first inductee in the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, join us on the journey of a musician and athlete who learned that life is about making choices—and experience live jazz music along the way.

Workshop space is limited, so contact your participating library location to register a child for the workshop. Libraries and dates are as follows:

Avondale Regional Branch Library - Sunday, January 24, 2:30 p.m.
Central Library - Sunday, January 31, 2:30 p.m.
East Lake Branch Library - Saturday, January 23, 2:30 p.m.
Five Points West Regional Branch Library - Sunday, January 24, 2:30 p.m.
Pratt City Branch Library - Saturday, January 23, 2:30 p.m.
Southside Branch Library - Saturday, January 30, 2:30 p.m.
Springville Road Regional Branch Library - Sunday, January 31, 2:30 p.m.
West End Branch Library - Saturday, January 30, 2:30 p.m.

For street addresses, phone numbers, and directions for a Birmingham Public Library location, visit

Children's Book Review: Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye (Ages 10 and up)

book cover
Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye
Tania Del Rio

Twelve-year-old Warren is an orphan. His father died when he was very little and he doesn’t even remember his mother. Warren is being raised by his lazy Uncle Rupert and his dreadful Aunt Anna Conda (and I use the term raised very lightly because Warren does much of the work himself). Warren is living in his forefathers’ legacy, The Warren Hotel, which has been passed down from father to son for thirteen generations. Since Warren isn’t old enough to run it on his own, his uncle has been placed in charge but he’s done a rotten job of maintaining it. To make matters worse, Uncle Rupert’s new wife treats Warren dreadfully. She has exiled him to the attic and she doles out cruel tasks and punishments for our young hero. She only married Uncle Rupert to gain access to the mythic “All-Seeing Eye” which is said to have magical properties and be hidden somewhere inside the hotel. There hasn’t been a customer in years until one day…a mysterious guest arrives. The lone guest has a face covered in bandages and communicates by using pictures on cards. When a deluge of destructive guests arrive out of nowhere to search for the All-Seeing Eye, it’s up to Warren to find the treasure and protect it before it falls into the wrong hands.

This middle grade title has eccentric gothic elements that bring to mind titles like A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Incorrigible Children of Aston Place. It has a quirky tone and strange premise that is sure to please kids who enjoy the unusual. There are illustrations are rendered in striking black and red ink on every page and it does so much to set the tone and give the book personality. Honestly, the illustrations add more to this tale than the text, so if you have a child who is drawn to visually stimulating books, this is the one for you.

Mollie McFarland
Springville Road Regional Branch Library

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Coloring for Adults Returns to Central Library on January 19

event poster

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL)’s Coloring for Adults workshop is returning to the Central Library. The workshop will take place on Tuesday, January 19, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., in the Youth Department’s Story Castle at the Central Library.

On January 8, a Springville Road Regional Branch Library program called Color Me Calm attracted a bigger-than-expected afternoon crowd, and included a short discussion of studies supporting the benefits of coloring for adults. Coloring For Adults offers a relaxing activity that proved popular during its debut in early November, drawing large crowds to the Central Library in November and December, said Karyn Davis-West, public coordinator for the Birmingham Public Library.

Free colored pencils, coloring sheets, crayons, and light refreshments will be provided. The program comes as industry leader Crayola has launched Crayola Color Escapes, a line of adult coloring kits featuring 11 by 17-inch black and white illustrations by artist Claudia Nice, plus a collection of colored pencils and colored markers. The Crayola line also features 8 by 10-inch coloring books for $10 featuring themed illustrations (Folk Art Escapes, Whimsical Escapes, Patterned Escapes, and Elegant Escapes).

For more details on the Coloring for Adults program and other activities planned throughout BPL, go to and click on the calendar.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

They’re Doing What at the Library?!

photo of adults coloring at library program; credit abc33/
Photo credit: abc33/ "Adult coloring workshops bring a sense of calm to Central Alabamians"

I have to admit, the first time I heard about the coloring for adults program at the library, I was a little…taken aback. What on earth does a room full of adults sitting around coloring have to do with libraries?

Then I started reading up on it and quickly realized that the benefits of adults spending some downtime coloring (or doing crafts) are so numerous and varied that it fits perfectly with the library’s mission of providing the highest quality library service to the community for lifelong learning, cultural enrichment, and enjoyment. I used the library periodical databases to find studies and research that showed that coloring can be a simple form of art therapy, improve memory, and participants were less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment if they colored regularly. Not only that, but the act of socializing with other adults also improves memory and cognitive functioning, and reduces high blood pressure and depression.* That’s useful information that our community needs!

By providing our patrons with opportunities to gather together, meet new folks, enjoy light refreshments and soft music in a safe setting, as well as providing the materials needed, we give everyone in our community the chance to relax, de-stress, connect with their community, and reap all the benefits offered by the session. People who don’t know all the great things available at our libraries have an opportunity to come in and see for themselves that we have the popular reading and reference sources we’ve always offered, as well as friendly and knowledgeable staff to assist them. That’s one of the greatest things about the library—everyone is welcome, regardless of socio-economic status, age, gender, race, or nationality, and almost all of it is free. It’s a chance to meet people in your community you might miss in other avenues of your life. You can also find out what’s going on in your community at your local library, so if you want to get involved in new activities, check out local opportunities here. With free computer access (including Wi-Fi  if you have your own device) you can apply for a job, research your family tree, connect with family and friends through e-mail, update your Facebook page, write your novel (all your research materials are right there, after all), or price check items online.

Come visit your local library and meet your neighbors and your librarians. Give yourself a break from the chaos and pick up a book or DVD, participate in a craft program, attend a lecture, or get the answer to almost any question you have. Librarians may not know the answer, but they probably know where to look to find it—and there’s no charge for reference answers! Come test our information professionals and see what the 21st century library has to offer. If you got a new coloring book for Christmas, you can bring it along for one of the coloring for adults sessions—but we’ll always have what you need on hand.

(*Sifferlin A. "The Health Perks of Arts and Crafts for Adults." Time.Com [serial online]. April 9, 2015;:N.PAG. Available from: Academic Search Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed January 9, 2016.)

Kelly Laney
Springville Road Regional Branch Library

MLK Memorial Lecture and Food Drive Slated for Central Library on Sunday, January 17

event poster

What: The 13th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Lecture and Food Drive, free and open to public
Who: Birmingham lawyer David Gespass discussing “Voting Rights from Selma to Columbiana: Not Always Onward, Not Always Upward”
When: Sunday, January 17, 2016, 3:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Arrington Auditorium in the Linn-Henley Building, 2100 Park Place, Birmingham, AL 35203

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) will host its 13th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Lecture on Sunday, January 17, at the Central Library, 2100 Park Place in downtown Birmingham. The lecture will be held at 3:00 p.m. in the Arrington Auditorium in the Linn-Henley Research Library a day before the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday.

In conjunction with the King lecture, the Birmingham Peace Project and the Birmingham Islamic Society will host a food drive benefiting Greater Birmingham Ministries. Bring non-perishable food items such as pasta, lentils, spices, beans, cooking supplies, and canned goods to the Central Library Atrium between 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. on January 17.

This year’s speaker, human rights attorney David Gespass, is author of the National Lawyers Guild brief to the Supreme Court defending the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County vs. Holder. He began his law practice in Washington, DC in 1971 and spent a year working in Japan with the National Lawyers Guild Military Law Office.

The food drive is being held for the first time in conjunction with the Martin Luther King Lecture, said Jim Baggett, head of BPL’s Department of Archives and Manuscripts.

"We're excited to partner with the Birmingham Peace Project and the Birmingham Islamic Society to collect food for Greater Birmingham Ministries,” Baggett said. “Poverty and hunger were important issues to Dr. King and it's fitting to honor his memory in this way."

Gespass is the immediate past president of the National Lawyers Guild, the oldest integrated national bar organization in the United States. He has also served as editor-in-chief of the Guild Practitioner (now NLG Review), the Guild's intellectual journal. Gespass was a founder and steering committee member of the Military Law Task Force and has been a member of the advisory board of the National Police Accountability Project since its founding in 1999.

Gespass’ practice includes police misconduct and prisoner rights' litigation, Social Security disability, and personal injury. He is a founding member and past chair of the Birmingham Peace Project and has practiced law in Birmingham since 1978 as a partner in Gespass and Johnson.

For more information on the Martin Luther King lecture’s co-sponsors, visit Birmingham Peace Project at and the Birmingham Islamic Society at

For more information on the King lecture, contact Jim Baggett, head of the Birmingham Public Library Archives Department at or by phone at 205-226-3631.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Podcasts For The Spirit

Winter Image

The winter season can be a quiet, beautiful time, giving us the opportunity for thought and reflection. Just pause and think about the beauty in nature.  During this time of year, look around you at the bright red holly berries, dramatically dark sky with shimmering stars, vivid sunsets with deep red, gold and purple hues, and finally stop and enjoy the comforting warm scent of fresh pine.  We hope you take some time out to relax and enjoy nature during this season.  What better way to improve your spirit than sitting and observing the quiet beauty found in nature?  Spending quiet time outdoors, at night, gazing at the stars can dramatically improve your mood.

Try these tips for coping with stress during this time of year:
  1. Try volunteering your time helping others.
  2. Seek community, religious or social events for support and comfort.
  3. Spend time outdoors.
  4. Remember healthy habits including a good diet, physical activity and getting a good night's sleep.
  5. Accept family and friends for who they truly are.
  6. Remember your budget
Patrons often ask librarians for book recommendations, as well as movie and audio recommendations.  Now, with digital media, we can offer podcast recommendations.  Podcasts are audio, radio or video episodes available for free online.  They usually are one hour-long and come out about once a week.  You can subscribe to a podcast or download individual episodes to your computer, tablet or other mobile device. I would like to recommend a few outstanding podcasts that deliver lessons on spirituality and creativity.  Listen to these podcasts for helpful discussions on thinking deeply, reducing stress, boosting your creativity, finding your true self, and discovering happiness.

The Daily Boost - This podcast is described as "the world's most popular daily motivation program."  Find inspiration, master life skills, reduce stress and stay motivated.  What better way to start the New Year?

A Quiet Mind with Robert Jackson - This self-improvement podcast will inspire, motivate and change the way you approach life.  Listen for practical ways to improve your well-being.

The Greater Good Podcast -  In this podcast, researchers and thinkers discuss the roots of morality, happiness and compassion.  This is an intelligent and inspirational podcast that will change your life approach.

Stuff To Blow Your Mind - This podcast explores the wonders of the universe including cosmic mysteries, neurological tidbits, evolutionary marvels and other science fascination.

I hope you enjoy listening to these podcasts and discover some new favorites.  Spend quiet time this winter season to remember what truly matters.

If you listen to podcasts, tell us about some of your favorites.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Scott Adams Strikes Again

The popularity of the Dilbert cartoons has become a worldwide phenomenon. Many of us start our day by reading the latest comic strip. Does it seem that sometimes Scott Adams is following you around at work? There are two new Dilbert hardcover books to enjoy: Go Add Value Someplace Else and Optimism Sounds Exhausting. Who is your favorite character? If it’s Wally, you will really enjoy Optimism Sounds Exhausting. If you are a mega fan like me, you will reserve them both as soon as possible. Both are available at the Birmingham Public Library.

book cover
Ideal for Wally-centric fans

Fact: Did you know that the Dilbert comic strip is not actually based on Adams's own corporate experiences, but on the numerous e-mails he receives each day about the office dramas of his devoted fans?

book cover
Ideal for garden-variety cubicle dwellers everywhere

Some of my favorite Dilbert quotes:

“If your lips are extended beyond your nose, then you are about to do something rude.”
“If a loud noise is about to come out of your body—and it is not language, then you are about to be rude.” (possible burp, sneeze, or worse)

Elevator Etiquette
1. Never face the back. It makes people nervous
2. Never stand next to a person if there are only two of you.
3. Don’t try to crush people by pushing the “close” button. I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work.

Reserve your copies today!

Lorraine Walker
Five Points West Regional Branch Library

Book Review: Valazquez

Las Meninas painting by Diego Velazquez
Las Meninas (The Maids of Honor), Diego Velazquez, 1656

Dawson W. Carr

Francisco Goya was an established painter with royal patronage before he ever saw the great paintings by his countryman from Spain’s golden age, Diego Velazquez. This was not unusual. The great paintings we take for granted as part of our cultural heritage were all behind closed doors in the palaces of the kings and their courts. Now, royal collections have been moved to museums and images of the paintings are available to everyone through lushly produced books, such as the National Gallery, London’s Velazquez, edited by Dawson Carr.

Diego Velazquez painted what is widely believed to be the finest painting ever painted, Las Meninas, the little girl, the Infanta in her impossibly wide skirt, with the young attendants, her little dog, a dwarf, Velazquez himself, and her parents looking on, seen in the mirror behind her. His portrait of the canny Pope Innocent X is similarly acclaimed as the finest portrait ever painted. It earned Velazquez a golden chain and the papal dispensation to become enobled, a cherished goal of the painter. The pope is casting Velazquez a calculating gaze as he considers a written request, perhaps the very request made by Velazquez himself. It is widely agreed that his Rokeby Venus is among the best female nudes. Through his paintings of the king, equestrian portraits, and paintings of the everyday life of workers and servants we possess a visual understanding of life at the center of one of the greatest empires the world has known.

The National Gallery of London’s Valezquez gives us several ways into its subject. There are long form essays on the political and cultural milieu into which Velazquez entered as a young man. At least as regards art Spain was a meritocracy; the son of immigrants, Velazquez became an intimate of the royal family. There is a long essay on his painting technique and there are many essays on individual paintings often with enlarged details of particular interest to the essayist. The images of the paintings are exquisite. Short of a visit to the Prado in Madrid, the National Gallery’s Velazquez is the finest way to be dazzled by this great art and to learn more about one of the most fascinating eras of Western history.

The book is available in the Birmingham Public Library’s central location.

Check it out.

David Blake
Fiction Department
Central Library

Friday, January 08, 2016

Apps for the New Year!

It is the time of year that many of us are thinking about developing new habits, breaking old habits, achieving goals...basically starting fresh for the new year.

My smartphone has become an invaluable tool in my work as well as in my personal life. So naturally, I have found some apps that I hope to incorporate into making some positive changes in my life in 2016 which include become healthier and having farther-flung adventures.

Here are a few of the apps that I plan to use in achieving some of my personal goals in the coming year:


My workout music playlists are all pretty stagnant. I have had J Dilla and Run the Jewels on a loop for so long that my heart rate rarely spikes whenever I jam out to their records while on my favorite cardio machine. Spring is a free app that creates playlists for you based on artist, genre, and beats per minute. So it is basically Spotify for gym rats, but without the risk of a ballad finding its way into your mix in the middle of a heated stepmill session.


Charity Miles
This is the perfect app if your 2016 goals include increasing your level of fitness and contributing more to charity -  this app does both! Charity Miles tracks your miles logged walking, hiking, or biking and their corporate partners will donate cash based upon your mileage to your chosen charity from the Charity Miles approved list. Everybody wins!  (I suspect a lot of fundraising efforts will begin taking the path of smartphone apps in the future.)


Yoga Studio
Practicing yoga is another goal of mine for 2016. This app is $3.99, but saves me the embarrassment of having to wear yoga pants in public. Which is priceless. Also, it is a little bit cheaper than an actual yoga class - a single yoga class.  The app contains 65 full length yoga routines ranging from beginner to advanced and you can also design your own routine by creating a playlist from the included video segments.


Travel is another major goal of mine for 2016 and I plan to travel south of the border to Latin America later this year. I took two years of a foreign language in high school as well as in college, but of course it is not a language spoken widely in this hemisphere and I need to start rehearsing Spanish as soon as possible. City of Birmingham residents can access Mango online for free with their library cards and the app is free to use on your smartphone once you have created an account with the service.


This is a great app for finding cheap airfare. Flights to Peru from the Ft. Lauderdale for less than $200? Yep, I found such a flight. Instead of spending my idle time searching Facebook, I plan to spend much more time in 2016 looking super cheap flights to far flung locales.


Airbnb is available as a standalone website that allows you to book inexpensive and interesting homes and apartments to rent for the night. Having the app is great for when you are on road trips and you decide to change your itinerary in the middle of a trip.  Yep, a big road trip is on my goal list for the year so this app is a must!


Uber has come to Birmingham and the excitement from local denizens has been palpable.  l was as excited about as is anyone and I downloaded the app, but I am more likely to utilize the service when in other towns that have arrived in via planes, trains, or the Megabus (the absolutely cheapest way to travel) and am trying to save some money in comparison to renting a car.


And speaking of renting a car. Instead of renting from the major players like Hertz and Enterprise, this app plugs you into a network of private individuals willing to rent out their personal cars for the day. Everything from a 90’s era Oldsmobile ‘98 to a Cadillac CTS can be had for reasonable prices. I should clarify that there are definititely some outrageous prices here  as well, but either way you should still come out much cheaper than if you borrowed a car from a rental car company.

Gaia GPS
This is an excellent GPS and mapping app for your phone - it is a bit pricey at $19.99, but definitely worth the money if you trek into the wilderness or remote areas with maps that are less than perfect. This app saved my hide back in October in the Middle Prong Wilderness and without it I would have almost certainly spent a night out with the wolves and bears of North Carolina. The app effectively turns your smartphone into a GPS unit. You can even download apps to use offline in areas with no data or phone signals.

Coloring for Adults to Be Held at Springville Road Library January 8, Central Library January 19

photo of adults coloring
Adults coloring their stress away in the Youth Department's Story Castle

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) is expanding its popular Coloring for Adults workshop—this time not only at the Central Library but also at the Springville Road Regional Branch Library in response to demand.

The Coloring for Adults program will take place Friday, January 8, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., at the Springville Road Library, and on Tuesday, January 19, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Youth Department’s Story Castle at the Central Library. The program offers a relaxing, beneficial activity for adults that proved popular during its debut in early November, drawing a bigger-than-expected crowd despite rainy weather, and another large crowd with a holiday edition in mid-December, said Karyn Davis-West, public coordinator for the Birmingham Public Library.

Free colored pencils, coloring sheets, crayons, and light refreshments will be provided. The program comes as industry leader Crayola has launched Crayola Color Escapes, a line of adult coloring kits featuring 11 by 17-inch black and white illustrations by artist Claudia Nice, plus a collection of colored pencils and colored markers. The Crayola line also features 8 by 10-inch coloring books for $10 featuring themed illustrations (Folk Art Escapes, Whimsical Escapes, Patterned Escapes, and Elegant Escapes).

Here is a link to an article by Gizmodo that discusses how Crayola is positioning its adult coloring book line as a great, cheaper way for adults to relieve stress:

 For more details on the Coloring for Adults program and other activities planned throughout BPL, go to and click on the calendar.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Central Library to Offer Variety of Free Classes in January 2016

sign up form for January classes

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) will be offering a variety of free classes in its Central Library branch, 2100 Park Place, in downtown Birmingham during the month of January 2016.

The class schedule includes how to find funding for your nonprofit, the hiring process for Jefferson County, basic computer skills, genealogy, copyright, and how to research your house history. All of the classes will take place in the Linn-Henley Computer Center on the fourth floor in the Linn-Henley Research Library.

Karyn Davis-West, Central public service coordinator for Birmingham Public Library, said the free monthly classes are among a variety of ways BPL serves the public beyond traditional services. “Many of our patrons have shown a great deal of interest in knitting resources, yet others have shown interest in finding out more information on patents,” Davis-West said. “Two totally unrelated subjects, yet we offer classes on both topics this month.”

Here is a listing by day of the free classes being offered at the Central Library during January 2016:

Hiring Process for Jefferson County Monday, January 11, 2:15-3:15 p.m.
BPL Database, Career Cruising Monday, January 11, 3:30-4:30 p.m.
How to Find Funding for Your Nonprofit Tuesday, January 12, 2:15-3:15 p.m.
Patent Basic Tuesday, January 12, 3:30-4:30 p.m. Tuesday, January 19, 2:15-3:15 p.m.
Databases for Genealogy Tuesday, January 19, 3:30-4:30 p.m.
Basic PC Monday, January 25, 9:15-10:15 a.m.
Keyboarding Monday, January 25, 10:30-11:30 a.m.
Database, Financial Ratings Series Online Monday, January 25, 2:15-3:15 p.m.
Copyright and Fair Use Monday, January 25, 3:30-4:30 p.m.
How to Research Your House History Tuesday, January 26, 9:15-10:15 a.m.
Online Knitting Resources Tuesday, January 26, 10:30-11:30 a.m.
Downloadable Free E-Books/Audio Tuesday, January 26, 2:15-3:15 p.m.
Downloadable Device Training Tuesday, January 26, 3:30-4:30 p.m.

To register for a class, pick up forms at the Central Library. Registration does not guarantee you a spot in the class. If you register for a class and cannot attend, call the Computer Commons at (205) 226-3680 or email No one will be admitted after five minutes past the time the class is scheduled to start.

Steve Flowers to Sign Of Goats and Governors: Six Decades of Colorful Alabama Political Stories

book cover

Join us at the Central Library on Tuesday, January 12, 2016, at 6:00 p.m., for an author talk and book signing by popular political columnist and commentator Steve Flowers.

Few states have as fascinating a political history as Alabama, especially in the post-World War II era. Moving onto and off the state’s electoral stage during this time period of remarkable transformation have been some of the most interesting figures in 20th century American government and politics. Now, the backstage intrigue of Alabama politics receives a lively treatment in Of Goats and Governors: Sex Decades of Colorful Alabama Political Stories, the high-spirited new memoir by former Alabama Representative Steve Flowers.

In addition to his newspaper column, Steve Flowers serves as the political analyst for the University of Alabama radio and television network and the political analyst for WAKA/Alabama News Network in Montgomery. Steve served in the Alabama House of Representatives from 1982-1998 and has been an up close observer and participant in Alabama politics for more than 50 years.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase and refreshments will be provided.

For more information contact Jim Baggett, 205-226-3631 or

Begin the Day: The Thirteenth Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Lecture and Food Drive

event poster

Begin the Day: The Thirteenth Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Lecture and Food Drive
"Voting Rights from Selma to Columbiana: Not Always Onward, Not Always Upward"
By David Gespass
Sunday, January 17, 2016, 3:00 p.m.
Central Library, Arrington Auditorium
Free and open to the public

Food Drive
In conjunction with the King lecture, the Birmingham Peace Project and the Birmingham Islamic Society will host a food drive benefiting Greater Birmingham Ministries. Bring non-perishable food items such as pasta, lentils, spices, beans, cooking supplies, and canned goods to the Central Library Atrium between 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. on January 17.

This year’s speaker, human rights attorney David Gespass, is author of the National Lawyers Guild brief to the Supreme Court defending the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County vs. Holder. He began his law practice in Washington, DC in 1971 and spent a year working in Japan with the National Lawyers Guild Military Law Office. He is the immediate past president of the National Lawyers Guild, the oldest integrated national bar organization in the United States. He has also served as editor-in-chief of the Guild Practitioner (now NLG Review), the Guild's intellectual journal. He was a founder and steering committee member of the Military Law Task Force and has been a member of the advisory board of the National Police Accountability Project since its founding in 1999. His practice includes police misconduct and prisoner rights' litigation, Social Security disability and personal injury. David is a founding member and past chair of the Birmingham Peace Project and has practiced law in Birmingham since 1978, as a partner in Gespass and Johnson.

For more information on our cosponsors visit:
Birmingham Peace Project 
Birmingham Islamic Society 

For more information on the King lecture contact:

Jim Baggett
Archives and Manuscripts Department
Central Library

Coloring For Adults Program

Join us for our popular Coloring For Adults Program.

Coloring is a relaxing and beneficial activity for adults. We supply coloring sheets, coloring supplies and light refreshments. Come by and have a fun evening!

Date: Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Time: 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Place: Birmingham Public Library, Storycastle in the Central Youth Department

Call 205-226-3680 for more information.

Registration Open For February 2016 Classes

Registration is now open for staff and the public for the February 2016 Classes.  During this month, we include our popular computer classes, as well as genealogy, patent basics, and employment assistance 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 February 2016 Classes to bring to a Computer Commons staff member on your next library visit. Please note that the February 2016 Class Schedule pdf can be sent to us as an email attachment.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

A Librarian's Guide to Gym Etiquette

The Only Bad Workout is the One You Didn't Do

Happy New Year!!  Like me, I'm sure a lot of you have paid for gym memberships as one of your New Year's resolutions.  Now all we have to do is go.  If you received one as a Christmas present, I hope you looked sideways at the person and said, "Thank you.  I hope you're going too."  As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, it's hard for me to maintain the discipline to work out regularly.  However, since I am on my THIRD fitness center, I will give you, the reading public, some advice on gym etiquette.

Tip 1.  Wipe down the equipment – Most fitness centers advise you to wipe down the equipment when you finish.  Some even provide spray bottles of sanitizer to support the process.  If you know you look like a drowned rat when you get off the cardio machine, please don’t leave it soaking wet for the next person.  Your sweat is not holy water.

Tip 2.  Wait till it's available – You are going maximum speed on your favorite cardio machine and notice someone standing there trying to get your attention.  You manage to get an earbud loose only to have him ask if you are almost finished.  Not only am I not close to being finished, I am going to add another hour to my workout just to annoy you.  Feel free to stalk my cardio machine in the background like it’s prey, but don’t interrupt my workout with nonsense questions.

Tip 3.  When you finish, get up – If you're using a machine like in Tip 2, people understand, but don't tie up a machine that you’re not using.  In a busy fitness center, it's annoying to see someone crank out six reps on a weight machine, then sit there playing with a phone for 15 minutes.  I know you’re waiting to crank out another set, but while you’re downloading music on iTunes, a bunch of other people could have gotten in a set.  In fact, by the time you get ready to do another set, the machine will probably be available. 

Tip 4.  Don't drop your weights – Bang!  What was that noise, what happened?  Calm down, that’s just He-Man over there dropping his weight stack.  AGAIN!!  In fairness to He-Man, most guys who lift a lot of weight never drop the weight stack or barbells.  It’s the grunting, look-how-strong-I-am guys who want everyone to know that it's heavy.  Take some weight off the bar and stop scaring everybody.  You'll lift it one day, but not this day.


Between sets, feel free to come down to the library to check out our collection on health and fitness.  I hope you achieve your fitness goals and the year 2016 results in a healthier you.

Postcards from Miss Iwate #6


I'm feeling so much better after my makeover!

I'm currently on display at the Iwate Prefectural Museum alongside a "Blue-Eyed Doll" from the U.S. The poor thing was washed away in the tsunami of 2011 but later recovered; she was also set on fire during WWII.

Suzuko Iwate

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Birmingham Public Library to Exhibit Political Cartoons

b&w photo of Charles Brooks holding one of his political cartoons
Charles Brooks

In honor of the 2016 presidential elections, the Birmingham Public Library will exhibit Reading Between the Lines: Charles Brooks and the American Presidential Campaign in the Fourth Floor Gallery of the Central Library from January 5 to February 26, 2016.

Alabama’s best-known political cartoonist of the twentieth century, the Birmingham News’ Charles Brooks drew more than 10,000 editorial cartoons and provided commentary on eight presidential administrations, the Cold War, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and Watergate, as well as state and local politics. In 1998, Brooks donated nearly 4,000 of his original drawings, rendered on 11 x 17-inch sheets, to the Birmingham Public Library. These drawings are now preserved in the library’s Department of Archives and Manuscripts and form the basis for this exhibit, highlighting Brooks’ work on seven presidential campaigns from John Kennedy’s 1960 razor-thin defeat of Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan’s 1984 landslide win over Walter Mondale.

The creation of this exhibit was funded by a generous grant from the Birmingham News.

Born in Andalusia, Alabama, Charles Brooks enrolled at Birmingham-Southern College in 1939, applying $200 won in an art contest toward his tuition. As his interest in political cartooning grew, Brooks left Birmingham to study at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts with Chicago Daily News cartoonist Vaughn Shoemaker, a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

After serving two years in the military during World War II, Brooks worked drawing gag-cartoons for a Chicago advertising agency. In 1948 he returned to Alabama and was hired by the Birmingham News as the paper’s first editorial cartoonist. Charles Brooks served as president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (1969-1970) and president of the Birmingham Press Club (1968-1969). The recipient of numerous awards for political cartooning, Brooks’ work is featured in more than 50 books, including encyclopedias and textbooks on history, political science, and economics. In addition to two exhibits at the Birmingham Public Library, his cartoons have been exhibited at the White House, the National Portrait Gallery in London, and the Smithsonian Institution.

Charles Brooks retired from the News in 1985 and died in 2011.

Jim Baggett
Archives and Manuscripts Department
Central Library

Monday, January 04, 2016

Bards & Brews Slam at Central 1/8!

Bards & Brews event poster

Birmingham Public Library's (BPL) popular Bards & Brews poetry performance/beer tasting series returns with its first event of 2016 on Friday, January 8, at the Central Library. Usually held the first Friday of each month, the event will feature free craft beer provided by SweetWater Brewing Company. The J. Clyde will handle the pouring.

The event starts at 6:30 p.m. with live music, beer tasting, and light refreshments. The poetry begins to flow at 7:00 p.m. with Brian "Voice Porter" Hawkins serving as host. The event is made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. Admission is free and open to the public; however, attendees must be at least 18 to enter and 21 to participate—ID is required.

“Bards & Brews brings in the most diverse crowd of any BPL-sponsored programs, and the poetry you hear reflects that diversity,” said Haruyo Miyagawa, department head of Central Library’s Arts, Literature and Sports Department. “You’ll hear hip-hop infused rhythms, romantic ballads, and everything in-between.”

Miyagawa said Bards & Brews has built a loyal following since it started five years ago.

“We've made ardent fans of folks who were skeptical about poetry as entertainment,” she said. “This is not your grandfather’s staid poetry event with the poet reading stiffly before a hushed audience. Guests are encouraged to express their appreciation for a riveting performance or their disapproval for a judge’s low score. At Bards & Brews, poetry becomes a communal experience, harking back to its roots in the oral tradition."

Poets wanting to participate in the slam can sign up on site for $5 each beginning at 6:30 p.m. The next Bards & Brews will be Friday, February 5. For more information, call 205-226-3670, e-mail, visit the Bards & Brews Facebook page, or go online to

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Brings Reading with Ringling Bros.! Program to Birmingham Public Libraries

Reading with Ringling Bros. poster
Library reading program allows kids to DREAM BIG and earn circus tickets! 

Now through January 29, children ages 2-12 may visit any Birmingham Public Library location to join the Reading with Ringling Bros. program and earn a FREE ticket to the circus! The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will be performing at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) Arena January 27 through January 31, 2016. Participating children who read five (5) books before the January 29 cutoff date can earn a free ticket to see the Greatest Show on Earth! (while supplies last). This unique library reading program will encourage children not only to read, but also to discover, dream, and learn! For more information, visit

Here's how it works:
  1. Speak with a librarian at your local Birmingham Public branch library to register each child (ages 2-12).
  2. Each child must read at least five (5) books to receive his or her redeemable ticket from the library. 
  3. There is a required parent/guardian ticket purchase upon redemption of the child's card. For each one (1) full-priced adult ticket purchased, you may redeem up to three (3) free kid’s ticket passes. 
The circus reading voucher is valid for all performances except Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and Sunday at 1:00 p.m. See the front and back of the redemption card for more information. Children under 2 receive free admission to the circus.

Want to learn what it takes to soar on the flying trapeze or just what goes into those cream pies that the clowns throw? Or maybe learn some fun facts about one of the more than 100 cities the mile-long circus train visits or how to teach your old dog a new trick? It’s easy! Just visit any Birmingham Public Library location and enjoy the magic of reading.

Get Rhythm with John Scalici in 2016

photo of John Scalici and his drum

Drum roll, please... Join drum circle leader John Scalici for an afternoon of percussion fun as we "Get Rhythm." No experience is required to participate and a limited number of instruments will be provided. Ba-dum-DUM! This program is made possible by a Hillcrest Foundation grant.

Ensley Branch Library - Tuesday, January 12, 3:00 p.m.
Springville Road Regional Branch Library - Wednesday, January 20, 4:00 p.m.
West End Branch Library - Thursday, January 21, 3:30 p.m.
Five Points West Regional Branch Library - Tuesday, February 2, 3:30 p.m.
Smithfield Branch Library - Thursday, February 4, 4:00 p.m.
Powderly Branch Library - Tuesday, February 9, 3:30 p.m.
East Lake Branch Library - Wednesday, February 17, 1:30 p.m.
Avondale Regional Branch Library - Thursday, February 25, 3:30 p.m.
Central Library - Wednesday, March 9, 3:30 p.m.
Woodlawn Branch Library - Tuesday, March 15, 4:00 p.m.
Inglenook Branch Library - Tuesday, March. 29, 3:00 p.m.
East Ensley Branch Library - Wednesday, March 30, 2:00 p.m.
North Birmingham Regional Branch Library - Thursday, April 21, 4:00 p.m.

For street addresses, phone numbers, and directions to Birmingham Public Libraries, visit

Friday, January 01, 2016

New Reads for the New Year

As 2016 approaches you may find yourself wanting to ring in the new year with some new reads. If so, the library’s youth department is the place for you. Here are a few suggestions for our youngest patrons as well as those who are young at heart.

book coverRagweed’s Farm Dog Handbook by Anne Vittur Kennedy
Being a farm dog is a tough job, but luckily, Ragweed’s handbook will tell you everything you need to know. Step one: don’t wake the farmer! You may really, really want to, but that’s the rooster’s job. Of course, if you do wake the farmer, you might just get a biscuit. . . . Full of hilarious dog logic, Ragweed’s Farm Dog Handbook explores the pitfalls—and opportunities!—of a dog’s life on the farm.

book cover
Bear and Bunny by Daniel Pinkwater
The bear and the bunny are friends who like to wander in the woods, look for things to eat, sing songs, and talk things over. One day, the bunny asks the bear, "Why do we not have some kind of pet?" Well, the bear is not sure what a pet is. So the bunny explains that it’s an animal that you take care of and feed, and one that loves you. But a pinecone is not the right pet for a bear and a bunny. And a caterpillar is nice, but it may not be very much fun. After a much-needed nap in the forest, will these two find their perfect pet?

book cover
Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry
When Stick rescues Stone from a prickly situation with a Pinecone, the pair becomes fast friends. But when Stick gets stuck, can Stone return the favor? In this funny story about kindness and friendship, Stick and Stone join George and Martha, Frog and Toad, and Elephant and Piggie, as some of the best friend duos in children’s literature.

Mother Bruce by Ryan Higgins
Bruce the bear likes to keep to himself. That, and eat eggs. But when his hard-boiled goose eggs turn out to be real, live goslings, he starts to lose his appetite. And even worse, the goslings are convinced he's their mother. Bruce tries to get the geese to go south, but he can't seem to rid himself of his new companions. What's a bear to do?

book cover
The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt
I'm not sure what it is about this kid Duncan, but his crayons sure are a colorful bunch of characters! Having soothed the hurt feelings of one group who threatened to quit, Duncan now faces a whole new group of crayons asking to be rescued. From Maroon Crayon, who was lost beneath the sofa cushions and then broken in two after Dad sat on him; to poor Turquoise, whose head is now stuck to one of Duncan's stinky socks after they both ended up in the dryer together; to Pea Green, who knows darn well that no kid likes peas and who ran away—each and every crayon has a woeful tale to tell and a plea to be brought home to the crayon box.

book cover
The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-⁠Roach
By now I think you know what happened to your sandwich. / But you may not know how it happened. / So let me tell you. / It all started with the bear . . .
So begins Julia Sarcone-Roach’s delicious tale of a bear, lost in the city, who happens upon an unattended sandwich in the park. The bear’s journey from forest to city and back home again is full of happy accidents, funny encounters, and sensory delights. The story is so engrossing, it’s not until the very end that we begin to suspect this is a TALL tale.

book cover
Waiting by Kevin Henkes
Five friends sit happily on a windowsill, waiting for something amazing to happen. The owl is waiting for the moon. The pig is waiting for the rain. The bear is waiting for the wind. The puppy is waiting for the snow. And the rabbit is just looking out the window because he likes to wait! What will happen? Will patience win in the end? Or someday will the friends stop waiting and do something unexpected?

book cover
The Story of Diva and Flea by Mo Willems
Diva, a small yet brave dog, and Flea, a curious streetwise cat, develop an unexpected friendship in this unforgettable tale of discovery. For as long as she could remember, Diva lived at 11 avenue Le Play in Paris, France. For as long as he could remember, Flea also lived in Paris, France-but at no fixed address. When Flea fl neurs past Diva's courtyard one day, their lives are forever changed. Together, Diva and Flea explore and share their very different worlds, as only true friends can do.

Book descriptions provided by Amazon.

Carla Perkins
Avondale Regional Branch Library

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