Showing posts from July, 2016

School Supplies Giveaway Coming Soon

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) is partnering with the Rotaract Club of Birmingham and Birmingham City Schools to host a giveaway of school supplies as the 2016-17 school year kicks off.

Beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 6, 1,000 bookbags filled with school supplies will be given away—250 each at four Birmingham Public Library locations. Participating locations are:

North Birmingham Regional Branch Library
Springville Road Regional Branch Library
Five Points West Regional Branch Library
Avondale Regional Branch Library

This is the ninth year the Rotaract Club of Birmingham, a young professionals civic club affiliated with the Rotary Club of Birmingham, has hosted the school supplies giveaway, said Marcus Carson, a member of its board. Carson said individuals and organizations wanting to support the give-away can do so by giving to the Rotarac Club of Birmingham Foundation on their website. The Rotaract Club of Birmingham is the largest Rotaract Club…

Central's Temporary Hours

Due to air conditioning issues in the East Building of the Central Library, the Central Library will have temporary new hours until the air conditioning is repaired.

For the week of July 25-29, the Linn Henley Research Library and the first floor of the East Building (Fiction Department and Circulation Department) will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The second and third floors of the East Building will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Please check back for updates.

Money Matters – Your Spending, Your Savings, Your Future Workshop Scheduled for August 3, 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 help you 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

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 – Dealing With Debt
2/1/2017 – Wher…

New TV Shows Test Limits of Competitors

This has been a fun and exciting summer of television.  I have been a fan of American Ninja Warrior  for several years now, but this year, the networks have taken the competition shows up a notch.  I have added two new team competition shows, American Grit  and Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge, to my list of favorites and hope they will return next year.  American Grit  actually premiered in the spring, but ended in June.

American Grit – Four teams of four, guided by military personnel (“The Cadre”), embark on challenges that mirror actual military training.  Some of the challenges included breaking down camp and setting it back up in another location;  building a shelter, purifying water, and making a fire using very basic supplies; and using a compass and map to navigate to a checkpoint out in the forest, then navigating back to the starting point.  The team who wins the challenge gets a reward and is also safe from having a team member eliminated.  The Cadre for the other teams must…

Pratt City Library Hosting Workshops on Women's Self-Defense, Hospice, and Elderly Abuse

The Pratt City Branch Library is hosting the free workshop Damsel in Defense on Tuesday, July 26, from 4:30-5:30 p.m. The self-defense program is being offered as part of the Birmingham Public Library (BPL)’s 2016 Summer Reading.

Exercise your right to protect yourself with Damsel in Defense. Instructor Bobbie Floyd will equip, empower, and educate women on self-defense with simple strategies, said Deborah Drake Blackmon, branch manager of the Pratt City Library.

The Pratt City Library also has two other summer reading workshops coming up designed to educate the public about two other issues: hospice care and elder abuse.

On Wednesday, July 27, from 11:00-11:45 a.m., Melanie Johnson of Gentiva Hospice will discuss caregiver stress and burnout in the workshop Learn About Hospice Care and How it Can Help You.

On Thursday, August 11, from 11:00-11:45 a.m., Johnson will return to lead a seminar on elder abuse and how many cases of elderly abuse are overlooked. In the workshop, Johnson …

Small Business Seminars “Double Header” to be Held at Central Library on Thursday, July 28

It’s not only baseball season, but also small business season at the Birmingham Public Library (BPL)! BPL is partnering with SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) to host a special “double header” of seminars on Thursday July 28, 2016, in the Arrington Auditorium of the Central Library beginning at 12:00 p.m. The seminars are free, but registration is required. To register, please visit the Birmingham SCORE website and click on the seminar title in the Upcoming Events section.

Doubleheader Details
Central Library, July 28
How to Use Legal Strategies to Protect Your Business
12:00-1:00 p.m.
Whether you are forming a new business or already running an established business, this seminar will help you develop a legal plan to protect your assets and investments. The presenter for the seminar is Josh Andrews, a local Birmingham attorney who specializes in legal issues that are of concern to small business owners and entrepreneurs.Boost Your Sales
1:00-2:00 p.m.
Are you a small busi…

Southern History Book of the Month: Alabama Biography: An Index to Biographical Sketches of Individual Alabamians, a W.P.A. Project

Alabama Biography: An Index to Biographical Sketches of Individual Alabamians in State, Local, and to Some Extent National Collections, a W.P.A. Project
Sponsored by the Birmingham Public Library

On the Ready Reference shelf in the Southern History Department, there is a thick book bound in black, with a spine title reading W.P.A. Index to Alabama Biography—which is why most people wouldn’t recognize the long jawbreaker of a title listed above. Generally known in the department as simply “the W.P.A. Index,” this is one of our most frequently used sources for Alabama research:
This index to biographical material about Alabamians was begun as a library sponsored W.P.A. Project during the 1930’s. The W.P.A. folded up before the work was completed. The manuscript or typescript was turned over to Southern Collection in this state. Southern staff has found it useful and a great time saver in thumbing through many individual books—books often without indexes or poor ones. (From the preface)…

Registration Open For August 2016 Classes

Registration is now open for staff and the public for the August 2016 Computer Class Schedule. During this month, we include a Basic PC class, Excel 2010, Hiring Process for Jefferson County, as well as our popular downloadables class. All classes are held in the Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC) of the Central (downtown) Library. PRE-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 August 2016 Computer Class Schedule to bring to a Computer Commons staff member on your next library visit. Please note that the August 2016 Computer Class Schedule pdf can be sent to us as an email attachment.

Copies for the 21st Century

Ever made a bad copy on a copy machine? We have all been there as the copy may have smeared text, words cut off, thick black lines, and poor image quality. Because none of the books in the Southern History Department can be checked out, our patrons make a lot of copies as they conduct local history and genealogy research.

The Southern History Department applied for a major grant from the Alabama Public Library Service, which administers Alabama’s allocation of federal money received through the Library and Science and Technology Act. With the grant money, we purchased a KIC Click Mini overhead book scanner for the Southern History Department. Because of the overhead design, you can capture an image deeper within the folds of the book and the curvature of the spine of a tightly bound book. It also saves wear and tear on the binding of the books as you no longer have to flip the book over and flatten it to make a copy.

You will be able to scan in both color and black and white, print, …

Central Library Hosting How to Use Legal Strategies to Protect Your Business Seminar on July 28

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) will host several small business seminars in 2016 beginning in April and ending in November that will take place at the Central Library. The small business seminars are being offered by BPL in partnership with the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) and the City of Birmingham’s Office of Economic Development.

Seminar presenters will be veteran mentors from the Birmingham chapter of SCORE, a national nonprofit comprised of volunteers willing to share their business knowledge and experience with prospective entrepreneurs and small business owners. For over 50 years, SCORE mentors have helped millions of business owners start or grow their business.

How to Use Legal Strategies to Protect Your Business is presented by Josh Andrews, a Birmingham lawyer specializing in legal issues of concern to small business owners. It is scheduled for Thursday, July 28, from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m., in the Central Library’s Arrington Auditorium, located on the four…

Book Review: The Notebooks of Lazarus Long

The Notebooks of Lazarus Long
Robert A. Heinlein
Illuminated by D. F. Vassallo

The character Lazarus Long is the star of two Heinlein novels, Methuselah’s Children and Time Enough for Love. He also appears in The Cat That Walks Through Walls, The Number of the Beastand To Sail Beyond the Sunset, the story of Lazarus’ mother. Lazarus is rich, wise, and extremely long-lived. He attributes his wealth to the fact he knew to never draw to a pair of deuces, and his long life to never giving anyone the chance to shoot him in the back. The Notebooks of Lazarus Long are a collection of Long’s aphorisms for wealth, happiness, long life, and love. They are also funny.

“Rub her feet” is among the best of Heinlein’s aphorisms. It appears many times in Long’s Notebooks and in the novels. “Don’t try to have the last word. You might get it” is clearly key to a long life. Wealth and love are well-served by “Money is a powerful aphrodisiac, but flowers work almost as well,” as is human happiness by …

Central Library Hosts Computer Coding Camp for Middle and High School Students

More than a dozen Birmingham area teens now have insight on how computer coding is used to create movies and video games, thanks to the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) and community partners.

On July 11-15, the Central Library hosted the Steel City Hackers Coding Camp for middle and high school students. Generously funded by a UAB Benevolent Fund Local Agency Grant, the coding camp offered local teens a week-long opportunity to learn how to code and create their own movies and video games.

Teens used ALICE, a computer programming environment designed to teach code and offered free to the public by Carnegie Mellon University. In addition to gaining a better understanding of the importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, teens learned the importance of algorithms and the building blocks for learning and applying other computer programming languages.

“This program fit well with our mission to provide 21st century informal education programs at the library,” sai…

Central Library Hosting Pokémon Go Workshop Saturday, July 23

The Central Library is hosting a free Intro to Pokémon Go workshop Saturday, July 23. The workshop, from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. in the Story Castle on the 2nd floor, is an effort by the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) to educate people about the popular mobile game sweeping the country—and to promote safety at the same time.

The workshop is being organized by Jennifer Hancock, a library assistant in the Central Library Youth Department who is an avid player of the game. Since its introduction less than two weeks ago, Pokémon Go has become the most popular app of all time, surpassing the Candy Crush Saga that hit its height of popularity in 2013.

“Starting off with a basic overview of the app itself, we are then going to take a Poke-walk in Linn Park, pick up some Poke-stops, check out a Poke-gym, and hopefully catch some Pokémon in their natural environments,” Hancock said. “We will learn tips and tricks to catching, transferring, training, and evolving our Pokémon in a hands-on approa…

Birmingham Barons to Hold Birmingham Public Library Night on Wednesday, July 20

The Birmingham Barons baseball team will be holding Birmingham Public Library (BPL) Night on Wednesday, July 20, 2016. Library staff will have a table promoting programs and services available at 19 city libraries, said Sandi Lee, interim director of the Birmingham Public Library.

The Barons will be hosting the Montgomery Biscuits at Regions Field, 1401 1st Avenue South in Birmingham. The game is slated to begin at 7:05 p.m. You can purchase tickets online at or at the gate. For more information, call the Barons office between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at 205-988-3200.

Libraries in Birmingham, Nationwide, Opening Their Venues to Pokemon Go Players

While some venues across the country are shooing away participants of Pokémon Go, the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) system is welcoming patron players of the popular virtual game that is sweeping the country.

Several of Birmingham’s 19 libraries have seen patrons come in trying to catch Pokémon while playing the game on their smart phones. Among them is the Eastwood Branch Library, which has found itself to be a PokeStop (location where Pokémon Go players can pick up much needed supplies and collect Pokémon), according to branch manager Brandon Crawford Smith.

Smith said the Eastwood Library, located in a shopping center just off Montevallo Road, has seen both new and regular patrons coming in to play Pokémon Go.

“We had a table full of Pokémon Go players at Eastwood (earlier this week) and an excited gym goer from Planet Fitness popped her head into the branch to ask us whether we knew we were a PokeStop,” Smith said. “I expect a lot of people who frequent our neighboring busines…

End-of-Summer-Reading Celebration at Inglenook Library

On Friday, July 22, 3:30 p.m., the Inglenook Branch Library will bring its summer reading program to a close. Mad Skillz Dance Company will lead the program with dance moves that everybody will be able to move to. A ceremony honoring and rewarding the summer reading participants who completed the program will follow. Door prizes and light refreshments will be provided as well. So stop by the Inglenook Library and get your dance on!

Karnecia Williams
Inglenook Branch Library

Debut of Documentary A Cut Above: A Story About a Father and Son at the Central Library, July 17

The Central Library will host the debut film screening of A Cut Above: A Story About a Father and Son on Sunday, July 17, 3:30 p.m.

The 13-minute documentary deals with a Birmingham barber reconnecting with his biological father after years of no communication. This is the debut film for Kalisha DigiMedia. The founder of the production company, Kalisha Whitman, is a 31-year-old former reporter for NBC 13. Whitman is an Emmy-winning journalist who has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Alabama Broadcasters Association for her work.

A Cut Above was born out of Whitman’s natural curiosity. Whitman said she came up with the idea while sitting in the chair of her longtime barber, Taqee Salaam. An interesting man walked in and had a brief conversation with her barber.

“I asked Taqee about the man and he told me the man was his biological father,” Whitman said in an interview. “It was a fascinating story and the journalist in me kicked in. I asked if he would allow me to docu…

Southern History Department Hosting Several Genealogy Workshops Beginning July 16

July marks the return of Southern History Department's popular Beyond the Basics of Genealogy workshop series,Let's Talk About: Oral History.

Relatives and family friends are important sources of information. In this introduction to the oral history series, you will learn how to gather information from those who have difficulty remembering or are troubled by the past and reluctant to share it.

The workshop will be on Saturday, July 16, 10:00 a.m., in the Central Library’s Arrington Auditorium. Register by e-mailing or calling 205-226-3665. Workshops are free of charge, but registration in advance is requested.

Southern History staffers will be traveling to several locations to present its Birmingham in 1916 program, and will be hosting its popular Introduction to Genealogy class at the Springville Road Regional Branch Library as part of BPL's summer reading program. "The Southern History Department is thrilled to be teaching genealogy a…

Book Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children
Ransom Riggs

Author Ransom Riggs has collected odd old photos for much of his life. He and his editor thought it would be interesting to base a novel around the pictures. That novel became Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. I don’t know of anyone who’s ever done a novel like this before, but the Surrealists and Dadaists illustrated some of their fictions with pre-existing engravings taken from old magazines and catalogs. The text/photo pairings in Miss Peregrine’s reminded me of Max Ernst’s illustrated novels and E.V. Lucas’ What A Life! That girl standing and floating on the cover of Riggs’ book grabbed me, and my liking for the book’s ancestors made me want to read about this peculiar home.

The novel usually follows this format: First, we’re introduced to significant points in the narrative. Then you turn the page and there are illustrations (sorry, vintage photos) showing you what the narrator just described. Each time a signif…

Children's Book Review: Hour of the Bees (Grades 4-6)

Hour of the Bees
Lindsay Eagar

Carolina’s story begins in familiar territory for many of us. She’s a disgruntled tween who’s forced to spend the summer with her family instead of her friends. She is brought face to face with her New Mexican heritage when her parents uproot everything to help her grandfather transition from his beloved ranch to a nursing home. She’s nervous about meeting her grandfather for the first time and terrified that her friends will forget her. What in the world is she going to say to a grumpy old man who is losing his grip on reality? An age-old rift between Carol’s dad and his father only makes the situation weirder. So much for summer fun... The last thing Carolina expects is to form an instant bond with her Grandpa Serge. His dementia recedes as he tells her stories about a magic tree and an immortal village in a land that’s steeped in wonder. Can the crusty, old dust heap that they’re cleaning out truly be the site of so much magic? Carolina starts to ques…

Small Business Seminars “Double Header” to be Held at Central Library on Thursday, July 28

It’s not only baseball season, but also small business season at the Birmingham Public Library (BPL)! BPL is partnering with SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) to host a special “double header” of seminars on Thursday July 28, 2016, in the Arrington Auditorium of the Central Library beginning at 12:00 p.m. The seminars are free, but registration is required. To register, please visit the Birmingham SCORE website and click on the seminar title in the Upcoming Events section.

Doubleheader Details
Central Library, July 28
How to Use Legal Strategies to Protect Your Business
12:00-1:00 p.m.
Whether you are forming a new business or already running an established business, this seminar will help you develop a legal plan to protect your assets and investments. The presenter for the seminar is Josh Andrews, a local Birmingham attorney who specializes in legal issues that are of concern to small business owners and entrepreneurs.Boost Your Sales
1:00-2:00 p.m.
Are you a small busi…

Anderson Cooper, Gloria Vanderbilt, and Oral History

I wish I would have asked insert question here before insert name of person died. We all have uttered those words at one time, and have a tinge of regret when we look back at all those missed opportunities to ask those we love something. Anderson Cooper, journalist and host of CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, had those same thoughts when his mother and fashion designer, Gloria Vanderbilt, nearly died last year from a respiratory infection. Luckily, Gloria recovered, and Anderson decided to ask his mom all the questions he always wanted to ask and capitalize on the time remaining in both their lives. That conversation changed their relationship, brought them closer together, and eventually became their co-authored book, The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and A Son on Life, Love, and Loss.

When reading this book, I was immediately sucked into the private lives of two famous people who interacted and moved in legendary social circles. Before I began page one, I started out knowing a grea…

Who Uses Microfilm Anyway? The Birmingham News and

Imagine you are driving the highway and you see a hand poking out from a closed trunk of a car. This is the stuff of movies, but it actually happened here in Birmingham in 1979. Birmingham News reporters broke this story by following the car, and discovered the person in the trunk had actually been kidnapped. It may surprise you to learn that the media often comes to the Birmingham Public Library to use our microfilmed newspapers and digital microfilm scanners as they research stories.

Robert Clay, a video producer at, has used our new digital microfilm scanners on several stories. “The digital scanners have been used on multiple projects at, including exposing a 62-year-old cover up of a hazing incident that permanently injured legendary quarterback Bart Starr while he was playing at the University of Alabama. High resolution scans were used in our retelling of a bizarre kidnapping story from 1979 when Birmingham News reporters chased down a car with a hand waving f…

Ten Alabama Artists Highlighted in Central Library Exhibit

What:Ten Alabama Artists: All Media Exhibition When: Opening reception Sunday, July 10, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Fourth Floor Gallery
Admission: Free. For more information call (205) 226-3670

Starting on July 10, 2016, the Birmingham Public Library will feature the work of ten Alabama artists who are also members of the Watercolor Society of Alabama (WSA). The exhibit will feature a variety of media including oil, acrylic, collage, watercolor, ceramics, mixed media, hand-painted lithography, and calligraphy. Ten Alabama Artists debuts in the Fourth Floor Gallery of the Central Library and runs through August 26, 2016.
The public is invited to meet the artists at an opening reception on Sunday, July 10, from 2:00 to 4:30 p.m., in the Central Library's Boardroom adjacent to the gallery. The reception is free of charge. 
The exhibit is curated by Jaceena Shepard of Town Creek, Alabama, a well-known practicing artist, exhibition curator, and art teacher. "These ten art…

Birmingham Public Library to Begin Monthly Money Matters Workshop Series, July 6

If you made a New Year’s resolution to get your financial house in order, now’s a good time for a mid-year checkup. To assist patrons in building a better understanding of personal finance and developing a plan for the future, the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) is partnering with UAB’s Regions Institute for Financial Education.

Beginning Wednesday, July 6, 2016, from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m., at the Central Library, BPL will offer a monthly workshop series called Money Matters. The workshops will be held in the Linn-Henley Research Building’s 4th Floor Arrington Auditorium. The seminar will be led by Dr. Stephanie R. Yates, endowed professor and director of the Regions Institute for Financial Education in UAB’s Collat School of Business.

To learn more about about seminars and other resources about small business development available at BPL, contact Jim Murray of Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department by e-mail at or by calling (205) 226…

Bards & Brews Goes on the Road to Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest, July 8

For the second straight month, the Birmingham Public Library (BPL)'s Bards & Brews poetry performance/beer tasting series is going on the road. On Friday, July 8, Bards & Brews will hold an open mic performance at the Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest. On June 3, the popular spoken word event was held at the Avondale Regional Branch Library.

The Vestavia Hills Bards & Brews will feature free craft beer sampling courtesy of Grayton Beer Company. The J. Clyde will handle the pouring. The festivities start at 6:30 p.m. with live music from The Murder of Jane Crow, beer tasting, and light refreshments. The poetry begins to flow at 7:00 p.m. with Brian "Voice Porter" Hawkins serving as host.

On August 5, Bards & Brews will return to its regular location, the Central Library at 2100 Park Place in downtown Birmingham, with an open mic performance.

The event is made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment …

BPL Seeking Public Input to Help Better Serve Library Patrons in Birmingham

The Birmingham Public Library is in the process of developing a new strategic plan to help its 19 library locations better serve the citizens of Birmingham. This very important document establishes priorities for our library system and guides the provision of programs and services.

Citizen input is very important to this process. Please take a few moments to provide your thoughts and feedback by completing the short survey found at the following link below:

Book Drive to Replenish Little Free Libraries in Birmingham Set for July 2 at Central Library

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL)’s downtown location is hosting a book drive on Saturday, July 2, to help replenish The Little Free Libraries located in community parks across the City of Birmingham.

You can donate new and gently used books for kids ages 3 to 16 this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the lobby of the Central Library. The book drive is being offered in partnership by GPS Educational Services, which distributes The Little Free Libraries, along with the BPL and the City of Birmingham.

The book drive is designed to help GPS Educational Services achieve its goal of improving literacy by providing new books for youth, said Carnelle Howell, director of community partnerships for GPS Educational Services. It is taking place in the middle of GPS Educational Services’ 100-day campaign to distribute books across Birmingham, and as BPL’s 19 libraries throughout the city host over 500 activities as part of its 2016 Summer Reading program.

GPS Education Services has books in…