Showing posts from June, 2016

Who Uses Microfilm Anyway?

As you read that title, you may be asking yourself these questions: “What is microfilm?” or “The library still has microfilm as I haven’t used that since I was in elementary school?"

Microfilm is the most popular type of microforms. It is created as a camera takes a picture of an item, reduces the size of the image, and it is printed on film. This film is considered a preservation standard, and it will last 500 years. Birmingham Public Library (BPL) has an amazing microforms collection totaling 700,000 items, and you may be thinking that no one uses this obsolete medium anymore. Patrons use on average over 700 items a month, and this is the only way patrons can access older editions of local newspapers. The Microforms and Government Documents staff created an obituary index to help patrons locate the obituary of a deceased ancestor, as most of the Birmingham newspapers are not indexed until the 1970s. Each month they add new entries, and it is an ongoing project. BPL’s obitu…

New Urban Fiction

Urban Fiction has become one of the most requested genres at the library.Raw, gritty, urban stories featuring tough African American characters trying to survive by any means necessary.The novels are like hip-hop songs in prose form.If you can’t wait to get your hands on the latest titles, here’s a sample of new summer releases.Descriptions are from the publisher.

I Can Touch the Bottom  by Michel Moore
When he is released on parole, Stackz wants nothing more than to mind his own business and rebuild his empire. However, when he is forced to kill again, he links up with Ava, an eyewitness to the scene unfolding before the slaughter of her sister's boyfriend. Having one major thing in common— murder— the pair becomes inseparable, hoping love can conquer all. Their belief that they can live a happily-ever-after existence is soon shattered when his victim's crew wants the ultimate revenge:  They want Stackz's life, and they'll take Ava's as well if she gets in t…

Powderly Library Proud to House Bloody Sunday Commemorative Painting

The Powderly Branch Library is very proud to have a limited edition print of Steven R. Skipper's DNA Ingrained displayed in its meeting room. Skipper visited the Powderly Library on October 16, 2015, to donate the framed print. The painting includes scenes of the attack on civil rights marchers crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, and it also pays tribute to other heroes in the civil rights movement.

After the movie Selmawas nominated for an Academy Award, Skipper did some research and discovered that there was no art work honoring the marchers on Bloody Sunday. With this in mind, he wanted to pay honor to the marchers, and thus the painting was created. The title of the painting means “the DNA of our ancestors is ingrained in the concrete on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.” This is a beautiful painting with a deep, historical meaning.

Hugh Hardy
Powderly Branch Library

Recognize and Prevent Heat Exhaustion/Stroke with These Tips

Summer is upon us all again. As we all have just experienced the summer solstice and the beginning of summer’s heat, a few tips and warning signs to keep in mind when out in the sun.

From the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), when the body suffers from extreme heat, damage may occur to the brain or other vital organs. Individuals who are more susceptible to heat are the elderly, youth (0-4 years old), those who are overweight, those who have a fever, those who are dehydrated, those who have heart disease, those who have mental illness, those who have poor circulation, those who have sunburn, and those who use prescription drugs or alcohol.

Illnesses that are related to heat are the following:
Heatstroke: a life-threatening illness in which body temperature may rise above 106° F in minutes; symptoms include dry skin; rapid, strong pulse; and dizziness.

Heat exhaustion: an illness that can precede heatstroke; symptoms include heavy sweating, rapid breathing, and a fast,…

Birmingham Public Library Storytellers Entertaining Hundreds of Children This Summer

Storytellers play a vital role at the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) throughout the year, spreading the joy of reading to thousands of kids at schools, churches, and in many of the 19 libraries across the city. They are very active at many of BPL’s 500-plus summer reading programs this year.

On June 21 at the Wylam Branch Library during a program called Take Me Out to the Game, Five Points West Regional Branch Library storytellers Candice Hardy and Fontaine Alison entertained kids from Faith Chapel Christian Center summer camp as they told the story of an alligator who wanted to join fellow animals in a game of baseball. With Alison holding an "alligator" and campers playing the role of animals such as a skunk and parrot, Hardy recited a tale of a baseball game like no other, soliciting laughs.

At Southside Branch Library on June 3 and June 17 respectively, Avondale storyteller Cassandra Scott (Ms. Cas) generated laughter from toddlers attending a program called On Your…

Southern History Book of the Month: House Detective: A Guide to Researching Birmingham Buildings

House Detective: A Guide to Researching Birmingham Buildings
Ann McCorquodale Burkhardt
Edited by Alice Meriwether Bowsher

So you’ve bought a historic house—or one you think is historic. It’s old. It has interesting architecture. It’s chock-full of “vintage” details and the neighbors talk about the people who used to live there, all the way back to your great-grandparents’ time. You decide you want to find out more about the history of your house or possibly obtain a historical plaque or marker for it. But how do you start? With House Detective!

For such a small book (less than 60 pages), House Detective is full of information about how to research your home’s history and is one of the Southern History Department’s most frequently-consulted sources. It began as a brief work assignment for Burkhardt:
. . . Go downtown, look through the holdings of the library, the courthouse, and City Hall, and determine which records would be useful in researching Birmingham buildings and neighborhoo…

Tickets Still Available at All Birmingham Public Library Locations for Free June 24 Teen Tailgate Party for Ages 11-17

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) is excited to host Score Big with the Cotchery Foundation, a summer reading tailgate party at the Central Library.

Jerricho Cotchery, a graduate of Phillips High School in Birmingham and veteran NFL receiver, has teamed up with BPL to host yet another amazing series of events promoting the 2016 BPL Summer Reading program. Qualified "Get In The Game, Read” participants age 11-17 will have the opportunity to attend a free teen tailgate party at the Central Library on Friday, June 24, 2016, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Teens can pick up free tickets in advance at any of Birmingham’s 19 library locations.

Cotchery, who turned 34 on June 16, will speak at the Five Points West Regional Branch Library at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, June 24. Since being drafted into the NFL in 2004, Cotchery has played with the New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, and most recently with the Carolina Panthers, who appeared in the 2016 Super Bowl. His 200 career receptions and 15 g…

Series Review: The Sunday Philosophy Club

The Sunday Philosophy Club Series
Alexander McCall Smith

Isabel Dalhousie is a piece of work, a happy, complex, intelligent, and amusing piece of work, the narrator and protagonist of Alexander McCall Smith’s ten book (and counting) series, The Sunday Philosophy Club. As with McCall Smith’s 44 Scotland Street series (see this recent blog piece) we are in contemporary, bourgeois Edinburgh, but, in this case, on the south side of town, near the university, and it takes place entirely from one person’s point of view: Isabel’s.

Isabel Dalhousie is the editor of the Journal of Applied Ethics. She’s a philosopher and most of the internal dialog of these books is Isabel’s internal debate about right action in her daily life, applied ethics. She struggles with temptation to fall short of her standards, particularly the temptation to shade the truth or to wish ill of other people. The Sunday Philosophy Club is a gentle satire of high-minded Edinburgh and its vaunted intellectual traditions.


UAB’s Regions Institute for Financial Education to Offer Money Matters Workshop Series at Central Library on First Wednesdays Beginning July 6, 2016

It’s never too late to start building a better understanding of your personal finances and begin developing a plan for the future. To assist you in this endeavor, the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) is partnering with the staff of the Regions Institute for Financial Education at UAB to offer a series of Money Matters workshops at the Central Library on the first Wednesday of each month from July 2016 to May 2017. Please join us on the dates below to take part in discussions about a variety of money management issues and learn ways to achieve your economic goals.

When: First Wednesday of the month
Time: 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Place: Central Library/Linn-Henley Research Building/Richard Arrington Auditorium

7/6/2016 – Income, Savings, and Assets
8/3/2016 – Your Spending, Your Savings, Your Future
9/7/2016 – Risk and Protection
10/5/2016 – Family Money Skills
11/2/2016 – What Every Woman Should Know About Money
12/7/2016 – Protecting Yourself Against Targeted Fraud
1/4/2017 – Deali…

Book Review: Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life

Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life
Steve Martin

This one came to me by an odd route. I’m not a typical Steve Martin fan. Though I adore his seventies stand-up and SNL appearances, I’ve deliberately missed most of his movie career (there are some winning exceptions) and don’t get his New Yorker humor pieces (though I have to admit I don’t respond to most written New Yorker humor). But it may have been Martin’s connection that prompted the magazine to run an excerpt from Born Standing Up, Martin’s memoir of his slow road to comedy success. That I did like. Nine years later (I told you this was circuitous) I bought a cheap copy of the book and quickly started reading it. It far exceeded my expectations. Soon I was marking favorite lines and making margin notes. I was mesmerized. There wasn’t a wasted sentence.

Though Steve Martin has been a big success for four decades, it took him fourteen years to get there. He sacrificed a lot for stand-up-college, close family connections, community of…

NFL Receiver Jerricho Cotchery to Host Teen Summer Reading Tailgate Party at Central Library, June 24

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) is excited to host Score Big with the Cotchery Foundation, a summer reading tailgate party at the Central Library.

Jerricho Cotchery, a graduate of Phillips High School in Birmingham and veteran NFL receiver, has teamed up with BPL to host yet another amazing series of events promoting the 2016 BPL Summer Reading program. Qualified "Get In The Game, Read” participants will have the opportunity to attend a free teen tailgate party at the Central Library on Friday, June 24, 2016, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Teens can pick up free tickets in advance at any of Birmingham’s 19 library locations.

Cotchery, who turns 34 on June 16, will speak at the Five Points West Regional Branch Library at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, June 24. Since being drafted into the NFL in 2004, Cotchery has played with the New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, and most recently with the Carolina Panthers, who appeared in the 2016 Super Bowl. His 200 career receptions and 15 games with 1…

Birmingham Public Library=Innovative

Innovative is a positive word that is used to describe new ideas or methods, and many people think that is one of the characteristics of a leader. Birmingham Public Library is innovative.  To illustrate my point, let’s compare the Birmingham Public Library 100 years ago to today with two examples.

The “Beach Read”
1916: What happened if you wanted to take a book on your summer vacation in 1916? Back then, it was not easy to renew a book over the phone due to the outrageous long distance charges. Returning it through the mail was risky as it could arrive late, become overdue, or get lost in the mail. The library found the solution by granting summer vacation loans. Books could be checked out from June 1st through September 30th without worrying about renewals or overdue fines.

Today: You can request a book from any of the 40 public libraries in Jefferson County and have it sent to the library closest to you. The book can be checked out for 21 days and can be renewed online. Besides phy…

North Avondale Library Shows Support for Woodlawn High Track Star Headed to National Competition

Staff and patrons of North Avondale Branch Library are rallying to show their support for a Woodlawn High School track start headed to a national competition to defend her titles.

On Friday, June 17, Jayla Kirkland will leave for North Carolina for the New Balance Nationals, where she will defend her first-place titles in the 100- and 200-meter dash races she won last year. Later this month, Jayla will fly to Clovis, California to compete in the World Junior Trials. If she makes the World Junior team, Jayla will compete in a world event in Poland this July.

After hearing that Jayla was training next door at Hayes K-8, North Avondale Library Manager Saundra Ross said staff and patrons got together to show their support. Students created a huge support Kayla card and a book display of track books in honor of Jayla. Ross urged the public to stop by the library to sign the card, which will be given to Jayla.

Last year, Jayla brought home the bronze after competing in the World Junior Cha…

Central Library to Host Google Workshop for Small Business Owners on June 29

Did you know that 97% of consumers look for local goods and services online?
Only 37% of businesses have claimed a local business listing on a search engine.

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) and the City of Birmingham’s Office of Economic Development are partnering with Google and Zeekee, a local internet marketing firm, to offer a workshop aimed at helping put every business in Birmingham on the map—including yours—for FREE.

If you are a current business owner and you want to gain control of the information Google displays about your business in Google Search and Google Maps, then this workshop is for you. A Google Trusted Photographer and Trusted Verifier will be present to help your business get online and allow you to choose what people see when they “google” you.

Space for the workshop is limited, so please register with Valencia S. Fisher in the City of Birmingham’s Office of Economic Development at as early as possible to reserve a spot.


Reduced Hours at Springville Road Regional Branch Library

Due to air conditioning failure in the main part of the Springville Road Regional Branch Library, the hours of operation have been adjusted as follows:

Monday-Saturday 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Sunday - Closed

This schedule will be in place until repairs have been made.

If you have reserves to pick up at Springville Road and cannot get in during these temporary hours, please call the Circulation Desk at 226-4081 and the library will route them to the library of your choice. Your holds will not be cancelled during this period.

The library's evening programs have been postponed, but hopefully these can be rescheduled to take place before the end of the summer.

We sincerely regret the inconvenience this has caused our loyal patrons and we hope to be back to normal hours very soon. In the meantime, you can keep up with the latest news by visiting the Springville Road Library (Birmingham Public Library System) Facebook page.

Avondale Library Presents: On Your Mark, Get Set…Fables!

And they’re off! Join Lee Bryan, That Puppet Guy, for another exciting day at the races as "The Tortoise and the Hare" weaves its way through the tales of "The Lion and the Mouse" and "The Boy Who Cried Wolf."  It’s a night of Aesop’s fantastic fables fun you won’t soon forget. Tuesday, June 28, 6:30 p.m., Avondale Regional Branch Library.

Birmingham City Council 2016-17 Budget Tour Hearings Begin June 14 at Central Library

Do you want to know what is included in the proposed 2016-17 City of Birmingham budget? The Birmingham City Council is holding hearings across the city to educate citizens.

The Council Connecting Community Citizens tour begins Tuesday, June 14, at 6:00 p.m., at the Central Library/Arrington Auditorium.

The other three dates on the tour are as follows:

Thursday, June 16, 6:00 p.m., at Parkway Christian Fellowship, 9753 Parkway EastMonday, June 20, 6:00 p.m., at New Hope Baptist Church, 1740 Cleburn AvenueTuesday, June 21, 6:00 p.m., at Brownsville Heights Event Center, 9225 Airport Road
For more details, go to

Birmingham Public Library Summer Reading for Adults: Belly Dance Lessons, Knitting, and Quilting

If you are an adult looking for fun, free activities this summer, the Birmingham Public Library (BPL)’s 2016 summer reading schedule has plenty of activities to keep you busy.

Although most of the over 500 programs and workshops are geared towards teens and children, adults have plenty of opportunities to exercise their mind, from participating in book clubs to learning how to quilt or knit. Registration is under way now, with forms available in all 19 libraries across Birmingham or online at

Want to try belly dancing? Then attend Belly Dancing for Beginners, a class on the ancient dance being offered at the Springville Road Regional Branch Library on June 24 and July 22. Need to get in shape? Certified fitness instructor Russell Lee is offering several free exercise classes at libraries across the city.

Interested in learning the basics of the Japanese art of paper folding? Register for a class being taught June 18 at the Central Library by calling 205-226-3670…

Panel Discussion on Reducing Violence in Birmingham to Take Place June 18 at Central Library

The Central Library will host a panel discussion addressing how to curb homicides in Birmingham on Saturday, June 18, 2016. The event will feature a talk and book signing by victims’ advocate/community activist Carolyn Johnson, author of When Your Child Is Murdered.

The panel discussion will take place from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. on June 18 in the Arrington Auditorium of the Linn-Henley Research Library. Johnson will then sell autographed copies of her new book after the program between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.

A Bessemer native and graduate of Miles College, Johnson is employed in Birmingham's Violence Reduction Initiative (VRI) program. Since her oldest son Rodreckus, 20, was murdered on November 22, 2003, Johnson has worked tirelessly to help make Birmingham’s streets safer.

Rodreckus left home to attend a birthday party at an acquaintance's house, and was fatally shot while parking his car after a group of boys fighting engaged in a shooto…

Southern History Department Hosting Summer Reading Workshops on Genealogy, Life in 1916

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL)’s Southern History Department is hosting a variety of programs as part of 2016 summer reading activities, including programs on genealogy and a look back via old newspaper clippings of what life was like in Birmingham a century ago during the year 1916. The Southern History Department, located on the first floor of the Linn-Henley Research Library, has one of the world’s largest databases of genealogy records in the country. The department gets visitors from across the globe doing research.

More than 500 activities and workshops—from device training to exercising, from engineering camps for teens to knitting for adults—are being offered at 19 libraries across the city of Birmingham between now and the end of July. Registration forms are available in any of the 19 BPL locations or online at

You can view the entire event calendar of programs taking place in June and July for adults, teens, and children at the link below:

Try Origami for Your Health or for a Good Time

Origami 101 (for teens and adults) Saturday, June 18, 2:00-4:00 p.m. Central Library, 2100 Park Place
Reservations required; call 226-3670
Origami, the art of paper folding, is more than a cheap way to amuse yourself and the kids on a rainy day. It also has proven health benefits that are more fun (and less expensive) than going to physical therapy or lying on the psychiatrist’s couch. And you’ll have something tangible to show for your efforts.
For many people, origami is a way to relax; a way to forget the day’s stresses. But health professionals have increasingly discovered that folding paper can help those with medical conditions. For patients who have injured their hands or have had hand surgery, folding paper helps improve hand dexterity and builds muscles. And it’s more enjoyable than most traditional physical therapy techniques.
Some mental health professionals “prescribe” origami to those suffering from conditions such as anxiety, ADHD, and depression. Also, people who have an a…

Certified Fitness Instructor Russell Lee Offering Free Exercise Classes as Part of BPL's Summer Reading

If you want to get in shape this summer, take advantage of some free exercise classes being offered at several Birmingham Public Library (BPL) locations during June and July as part of its 2016 summer reading activities. The classes will be taught by certified fitness instructor Russell Lee, who will also give a brief talk on general exercise safety.

The classes are free of charge. Attendees are urged to bring their own exercise mat and towel. Wear suitable attire and tennis shoes.

The objective of the classes, offered for both teens and adults: Promote exercise and help people to realize how essential it is, regardless of age.

A little exercise on a regular basis goes a long way,” Lee said. “Something is better than nothing.”

Exercise With Russell Lee program dates, libraries, and times:

June 9 - Springville Road Library, 10:00 a.m. (adults)June 11 - Central Library, 10:00 a.m. (adults)June 13 - North Birmingham Library, 11:00 a.m. (adults)June 14 - Southside Library, 10:30 a.m. (teen…

Get in the Game – Paint!

We're having a paint party!  Please join us for what promises to be a fun and creative evening. Have you always wanted to transform a blank canvas into a work of art?  Do you love to be creative and have fun with paint?  Well, we have a class for you!

Local artist Cherie Hunt will provide step-by-step instructions for participants to complete their very own canvas masterpiece. Limited to 25 participants. This is an adult program.  Please call 205-226-3680 to register.

Registration required. Get in the Game – Paint! Tuesday, June 21, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Birmingham Public Library, Central Library, Youth Department Story Castle.

Book Review: The Road to Little Dribbling

The Road to Little Dribbling
Bill Bryson

There’s a reason I’ve blogged about more of Bill Bryson books than anyone else’s. He’s a particular pleasure to read, he’s funny (sometimes laugh-out-loud funny), he digs up facts no one else seems able to uncover, and he almost never writes a dull sentence. This adds up to a critical mass that says, “You gotta tell a lot of people about this book.”

So his latest was a shoo-in. In it, the American born, longtime UK resident travels around his adopted home, seeing the what and how of change that’s worth writing up since he did a similar thing twenty years ago in Notes From A Small Island (yes, I recommend it).

This time around Bryson is older, crankier, more confrontational, and more fun to read. He does solid prep research but occasionally slips in his judgements. For instance, in a section where he convincingly goes on about how physically attractive Britain is, he clumsily asserts that “almost none of it [was] undertaken with aesthetics in m…

Knit Away Stress with Adult, Teen Knitting Groups in June

The word “knit” comes from the Old English word “cnyttan,” which means “to tie in a knot.” In modern English, the verb “knit” not only refers to this specific way of crafting, but it also can mean “to unite or cause to unite.”

If you feel like your life’s one big knot, this process of rhythmically looping yarn has been proven scientifically to help you unravel the stresses of the day. So get ready to unwind and feel connected with others who are eager to learn a new craft at the Birmingham Public Library (BPL).

Learn the basics of knitting in BPL's "Learn to Knit" beginner classes for both adults and teens. Choose a time and location convenient to you and call the library to reserve your spot.

Needles and yarn will be provided, but participants may not take needles home.
Wednesday, June 8 ~ 10 a.m. ~~ Ensley (785-2625)
Tuesday, June 21~ 2 p.m. ~~ Titusville (322-1140)

Participants must bring their own needles and yarn.
Wednesday, June 15 ~ 10 a.m. ~~ Southsid…