Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Alabama Public Library Service Conducting Online Survey and Town Meetings for Five-Year Plan Feedback

The Alabama Public Library Service (APLS) will host an online survey at your public library through November 18 to assist in gathering information to develop APLS’ next five-year plan. This plan is needed in order to receive federal funds. The survey may be taken online at or at one of the 225 public libraries around the state.

APLS will also conduct town meetings at seven locations throughout Alabama during November. Agency director Nancy Pack said, “These meetings will provide an opportunity for community leaders and all citizens to explain what they think about Alabama’s public libraries, what they value in libraries, and what they think libraries should provide. Their voices will be heard by those who will write the next Five-Year Plan for Library Development in Alabama.”

The meetings will be held at these locations and times:
November 1, 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Baldwin County Cooperative Building Auditorium
November 2, 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Ozark-Dale County Public Library
November 3, 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m.,Tuscaloosa Public Library
November 3, 4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m., Homewood Public Library
November 14, 4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m., Athens-Limestone Public Library
November 15, 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Boaz Public Library
November 16, 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Lewis Cooper Jr. Memorial Library

Why is it important to make your voice heard?
The Alabama Public Library Service is the state library agency. It serves all citizens of Alabama through services provided to local libraries and state employees.

APLS receives over $2.3 million in Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) federal funds each year from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the federal agency that governs these funds. Allocated by Congress, these dollars are used
to supplement the APLS Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, provide grants to individual libraries, provide statewide projects and databases (Learning Express, Chilton, Ancestry Library Edition), and provide additional resources for all Alabama citizens.

By legislation and laws, the expenditure of these funds must be in accordance with the goals and objectives of the APLS five-year plan. This plan must be approved by the IMLS. The current plan expires on September 30, 2017. Information received from citizens, library administrators, and local state and national leaders will be addressed in the development of the next five-year plan covering October 1, 2017-September 30, 2022.

To learn more about APLS, visit their website.

Springville Road Library's Afterthoughts Book Group to Focus on Emerging Technology

by Kelly Laney, Adult Department, Springville
Road Regional Branch Library

There are so many exciting new technologies in the world that it’s tough to keep abreast of them all. The Afterthoughts, a nonfiction reading group which meets at the Springville Road Regional Branch Library, has come up with an interesting solution for their November 15 meeting: each member of the group will choose one or more emerging technologies for light research, then get together to share their findings.

Copies of books and articles will be available in the adult department so that patrons can pick up one or more and read about whatever interests them. 3D printing (especially new research that involves printing with human cells for medical use), virtual reality goggles as teaching tools, new technologies in archaeology, the effect of the usage of personal “smart” devices by our military personnel, and zero-net-energy construction are some of the topics we’ve pulled, but any new technology is acceptable. Our world and lives are changing rapidly, and what we only dreamed about yesterday could be available tomorrow. Come join our discussion and find out what’s on the cutting edge.

The Afterthoughts meets on the third Tuesday of every month at 2:00 p.m. in the meeting room at the Springville Road Library. Light refreshments are served and all adults are welcome to attend. Participants are not required to read or share on any topic; everyone’s welcome to attend just to hear about new technologies.

For more information, please call Kelly Laney at 226-4083. Visit the Birmingham Public Library's calendar of events for upcoming Afterthoughts meetings and other programs scheduled at the Birmingham Public Library.

Money Matters – What Every Woman Should Know About Money Workshop Scheduled for November 2, 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

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 – Where to Invest Your College Money
3/1/2017 – Your Credit Report
4/5/2017 – Saving Through Tax Refunds
5/3/2017 – Five Keys to Investing Success

For more information about the workshop series and other financial literacy resources available at BPL, please contact Jim Murray of the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department by e-mail at or by calling 205-226-3691.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Southern History Book of the Month: The Shadow Tiger: Billy McDonald, Wingman to Chennault

by Mary Anne Ellis, Southern History Department, Central Library

The Shadow Tiger: Billy McDonald, Wingman to Chennault 
William C. McDonald III & Barbara L. Evenson

One of the more memorable experiences of my teen years was the opportunity to interview an African American veteran of World War I for a school assignment. Though I would now ask many more questions (and have better questions to ask), I can remember a feeling of awe as he gave his reminiscences of the war and his life afterwards, including the deadly Spanish flu epidemic of 1918. It was a privilege to speak with him and it is one of my treasured memories since our World War I veterans are all gone.

Now that veterans of World War II are going the way of their Great War predecessors, every scrap of information about their lives and careers is valuable—and as I looked through The Shadow Tiger, I was thinking, “Why have I not heard of this man before?” The Shadow Tiger is William McDonald’s account of the life and exploits of his father, Billy “Mac” McDonald, from his childhood in Fairfield, Alabama, to his dreams of becoming a flyer like Birmingham’s only World War I flying ace, Jimmie Meissner, through his career as an instructor for the Chinese Air Force, to combat pilot and wingman for Claire Lee Chennault of the Flying Tigers. The book is put together almost like a scrapbook, packed with illustrations and excerpts from Mac’s personal letters and journals, so that reading it is almost like hearing him tell his own story. Some of the excerpts are lighthearted glimpses of encounters with different cultures, such as a Chinese dinner in which one of the dishes was elephant trunk with mushrooms, accompanied by deer tendons with ham, bear paws, and bean sprouts. But one letter during an assault on Nanking by the Japanese strikes a far more serious note:
There probably is one of the greatest Wars coming up in this part of the world that can be imagined. At present the situation looks serious one day and calmed down the next and it is practically impossible to guess what is going to happen. It is quite possible that a World War will be the outcome—naturally we are hoping for the best and hoping that our Diplomatic Corps can take care of the situation by wielding the pen . . .
This letter is dated September 1, 1937—years in advance of either the German invasion of Poland or the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. McDonald’s letter was chillingly prophetic.
And when the next world war did come, he had just applied for leave because he had been in China for four years and felt like he needed some time at home, but since two pilots were already on home leave, he had to wait. This was on November 31, 1941:
When Pearl Harbor and the attack on Hong Kong and the Philippines happened, Mac flew into Hong Kong from Rangoon about 10:00 pm.

The first thing he said to me was, “Damn! Am I glad you didn’t let me go home as I requested about 10 days ago. If I were home now I would be the unhappiest man in Alabama.”
There is now a permanent exhibit in honor of Billy McDonald in the Air Force Enlisted Heritage Hall at Maxwell Air Force Base. There is much that might be said of his distinguished career, but perhaps the best words to honor him come from his friend and colleague Lt. General Claire Lee Chennault: "Williamson and McDonald are outstanding pilots . . . I would choose these two men to accompany me into combat, and that is the highest compliment a combat formation leader can pay."

If The Shadow Tiger interests you, come and meet the author! William C. McDonald III will be at Central Library on Thursday, November 10, at 1:00 p.m., in the Arrington Auditorium. Copies of the book will be available for purchase.

Who are the veterans in your life? Listen to their stories while you can.

For more information:
Billy McDonald feature article in the Jefferson Journal
“Three Men on a Flying Trapeze” historical marker
Maxwell Air Force Base Enlisted Heritage Hall
Claire Lee Chennault at Arlington Cemetery
The Last WWII Vets of the Flying Tigers

Friday, October 21, 2016

Registration Open For November 2016 Computer Classes

Registration is now open for staff and the public for the November 2016 Class Schedule. During this month, we include classes on a variety of topics including computer skills, career guidance, and genealogy. 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 November 2016 Class Schedule to bring to a Computer Commons staff member on your next library visit. Please note that the November 2016 Class Schedule pdf can be sent to us as an email attachment.

Expanded Mango Languages Learning System Offers More Languages, ESL Courses, Foreign Film Tutorials, and More

by Carrie Campbell, Arts, Literature and Sports Department, Central Library

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) now offers a greatly expanded package of the Mango Languages online language-learning system to patrons.

Mango is free to all BPL patrons and can be accessed anywhere with an Internet connection. Each lesson combines real life situations and audio from native speakers with simple, clear instructions. The courses are presented with an appreciation for cultural nuance and real-world application by focusing on the four key elements of language learning: vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, and culture.

Mango now offers access to:
  • 60 foreign language courses
  • 17 English courses taught completely in the user’s native language
  •  the opportunity to learn through foreign film with Mango Premiere™
  • a variety of specialty mini courses, like Pirate, Medical Spanish, romance courses, and many more

Mango can be accessed at the library, remotely, or even on-the-go with apps for iPhone®, Android™, Kindle®, and Nook®. Stay tuned for more information on how to accomplish this!

Quick Tip: How do I sign up for Mango on my computer?

There are two ways to access Mango:

From home (remotely)
1. Go to
2. Click on the Mango icon under Spotlight.
3. Click on Mango Languages.
4. Enter BPL card number and PIN for authentication.
5. You will now be directed to the Mango login page, where you can log in or create a profile with your e-mail address and password.

Inside the library
1. Follow “from home” directions above.
2. You will not be asked for your BPL card number.
3. You will now be directed to the Mango login page, where you can log in or create a profile with your e-mail address and password.

BPL card holders can access Mango through the library website at For more information, contact Carrie Campbell at 205-226-3679.

Coalesce: Collaborative Work by Joseph and Misty Bennett Exhibit Scheduled at Central Library November 3-December 30, 2016

What: Coalesce: Collaborative Work by Joseph and Misty Bennett exhibit
When: November 3-December 30, 2016, during library hours
Where: Central Library, Fourth Floor Gallery

"These collaborative works started out as an experimental conversation between two artists.”

These are the reflective words of artists Joseph and Misty Bennett. From November 1 through December 30, 2016, the Birmingham Public Library will showcase the work of both artists in the Central Library’s Fourth Floor Gallery. A process was developed wherein one artist would begin a drawing, then hand it over to the other, and they would continue to pass it back and forth until both felt there was nothing more to add. It was a reactionary and spontaneous way of working, which led to a sense of discovery and a deeper understanding of self for each artist.

Come meet the artists at the opening reception from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 12, at the Central Library’s Fourth Floor Gallery. Both artists are faculty in the University of Montevallo Art Department.

Le Mont Saint-Michel Revisited

by David Blake, Fiction Department, Central Library

Le Mont-Saint-Michel is an island commune in Normandy, France

The Archangel Michael told Aubert, Bishop of Avranches, to build a great abbey on a tall rock island out in the tidal flat. Aubert hesitated and Michael appeared to him again. But the stone needed to build the abbey was in quarries miles away, the island was out in the bay, and the bay had 12-foot tides. When the Archangel came a third time, he pushed his finger into Aubert’s skull, and Aubert built the abbey on top of the rock island—literally on top. He did not have the pinnacle knocked off to create a flat space to build upon. No, he built up the island and created a great flat space for a large church, a banqueting hall, and a cloister, all up at the level of the island’s pinnacle stone wrestled into place with oxen and vast human labor, as things were done one thousand years ago.

Mont Saint-Michel took generations to complete. It became one of the great Christian strongholds of the Middle Ages. Many stories and important people are wound into its history. Fortunately, we have the great American historian Henry Adams to collect and tell those stories in his timeless Mont Saint Michel and Chartres, recently blogged here.

Since then, a friend and I visited the island, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and have these photographs to share.

Recovering the Classics Contest Winners Announced

The winners of the Birmingham Public Library’s Recovering the Classics contest are:

1st: Metamorphosis by Julie Borden
2nd: The Time Machine by Eric Poland
3rd: Cyrano de Bergerac by Veronique Vanblaere

1st: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Alexandra Foreman
2nd: A Tale of Two Cities by Zoe Jacks
3rd: The Secret Garden by Emma Thornsberry

Adult Honorable Mentions
Frankenstein by Hillary Floyd
The Secret Garden by Amber Orr

Youth Honorable Mentions
Around the World in Eighty Days by Elle Squires
Moby Dick by Hunter Criddle
The Three Musketeers by Cecilia Kong
Arabian Nights by Rachael George

To view more winning covers in BPL's Recovering the Classics contest, visit

About the contest: The Birmingham Public Library partnered with Books-A-Million to host a contest for Alabama artists of all ages and abilities to design a cover for a classic book. Over 50 people submitted their cover designs to be judged in the adult and youth divisions. Prizes included the artist's cover design on a classic book created by Books-A-Million's Espresso Book Machine, Books-A-Million gift cards, and Recovering the Classics posters. The three judges were David Blake, librarian and head of the Fiction Department at BPL; Gary Chapman, professor of painting and art at the University of Alabama at Birmingham; and Meredith Knight, studio programs coordinator at the Birmingham Museum of Art.

"Alabama has amazing artists, and the judges had a very difficult decision narrowing down the winners," said Laura Gentry, chair of the Recovering the Classics Committee. "We are excited to share their re-imagined book covers for classic books."

Recovering the Classics is a crowdsourced collection of original covers for classic books in the public domain created by illustrators, typographers, and designers of all stripes. Its partners include the Creative Action Network, Harvard Book Store, Plympton's DailyLit, the White House, the New York Public Library, and the Digital Public Library of America.

Foreclosure Prevention Workshop to Be Held at Central Library on October 25

What: D&E’s Foreclosure Prevention Workshop: Preserve Your Home
When: Tuesday October 25, 3:00-5:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor

Home ownership is a tremendous responsibility and sometimes the pressure of making monthly mortgage payments can be quite a heavy burden to bear. If you have become concerned about your mortgage payments and are fearful that foreclosure is a real possibility, then plan on attending D&E’s Foreclosure Prevention Workshop: Preserve Your Home at the Central Library.

The workshop will provide information about home retention, foreclosure options, and special programs offered to Alabama homeowners. In recent years, the Obama administration has implemented a number of initiatives to assist homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure and otherwise struggling with their monthly mortgage payments. The majority of these programs are administered through the U.S. Treasury Department and the Housing and Urban Development (HUD). So, empower yourself and your community by learning more about your options regarding foreclosure!

Established in 2000 and headquartered in Forest Park, Georgia, D&E, A Financial Education and Training Institute, Inc. is a nonprofit, 501 (c)(3) HUD approved counseling organization that is dedicated to developing and empowering communities by working with individuals and families to provide access to financial education, resources, and programs. D&E’s team of banking and financial industry professionals believe that by giving people the knowledge and tools to make better financial decisions, they can positively impact the foreclosure crisis.

For further information about the workshop, as well as other personal financial management resources available at the Birmingham Public Library, please contact Jim Murray of the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department at or 205-226-3691.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Central Library Hosting How to Use Legal Strategies to Protect Your Business Seminar on October 27

What: How to Use Legal Strategies to Protect Your Business seminar
When: Thursday, October 27, 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor
Details: The seminar is free but advance registration is required. To register, go to the Birmingham SCORE website at and click on the seminar title in the Upcoming Events section.

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) will host several small business seminars through November 2016 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.

For more information 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 email at or by calling 205-226-3691.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Learn How People Interact With Your Business Online at Central Library’s Google Insights and Analytics Workshop on November 9

What: Google Insights and Analytics workshop
When: Wednesday November 9, 2016, 12:00-1:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library/2nd Floor/Youth Department/Story Castle

Are you getting the most out of your website? Do you understand how people are finding your business online and how they are interacting with you once they get there?

For answers to these questions, please join the City of Birmingham’s Office of Economic Development and Zeekee, a local digital marketing firm, on November 9 at the Central Library for a workshop that will introduce you to the free tools Google offers that allow you and your business to get a better handle on customer behavior.

Google's Insights and Analytics tools are powerful and free. Google Insights is part of the Google My Business program and shows you how people interact with your Google listing. Google Analytics is by far the most used analytics tool on the planet and gives you data on how people interact with your website.

Zeekee presenters will teach you how to utilize these free Google resources to help you make the most of your online customer interactions. It's highly recommended that you have your website and your Google My Business listing set up prior to the event.

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

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Holiday Reads

Christmas time is here.  What?  Hold the phone.  It is NOT Christmas time.  Oh, but yes.  If you haven’t seen Christmas decorations in your local store yet, give it a week.  Two at the most.  The Halloween masks and candy will be replaced with bows and wrapping paper.  To get you into the holiday spirit (Bah! Humbug!), publishers are releasing their Christmas-themed titles just in time for gift giving season.  Descriptions are from the publisher.

The holidays have arrived, and Hannah and her good pal Lisa have agreed to provide all the goodies for the town’s annual production of A Christmas Carol. But before anyone can say “Bah, humbug!” a Santa-sized sackful of trouble ensues. Like the fact that Lisa’s husband will be playing Mr. Claus to his ex-girlfriend Phyllis Bates’ Mrs. Claus. Or that before the curtains even go up Phyllis is found dead in the snow—wearing a costume that the real Mrs. Claus would put on the naughty list. Soon after the suspects pile up faster than snowdrifts in a blizzard, while a merry murderer remains on the loose. With clues even harder to find, it might take a visit from ghosts of Christmas past to wrap up this mystery in time for the holidays . . .

Two years have passed since the terrible car accident that took the life of John Baxter's daughter, Erin, her husband and three of their four daughters. Prompted by grief, and missing his daughter, John has invited a stranger for Christmas Eve dinnerKendra Bryant, the transplant recipient who now has Erin s heart. Meanwhile, Kendra Bryant has been struggling these past few years to find purpose in the tragedy that gave her a second chance. She believes the invitation to see the Baxters and witness their unwavering faith in God can instill peace and happiness back into her life.

Friendly and bubbly, Julia Padden likes nearly everyone, but her standoffish neighbor, Cain Maddox, presents a particular challenge. No matter how hard she’s tried to be nice, Cain rudely rebuffs her at every turn, preferring to keep to himself. But when Julia catches Cain stealing her newspaper from the lobby of their apartment building, that’s the last straw. She’s going to break through Cain’s Scrooge-like exterior the only way she knows how: by killing him with kindness.

A Shoe Addict's ChristmasA Shoe Addict's Christmas  by Beth Harbison (Oct. 25)
Noelle is not a fan of the holidays and to make matters worse, she is at a crossroads in her life when it seems that love and adventure are no longer possible.  When she stays late at her job in a department store on a snowy Christmas Eve she accidentally gets locked in after closing.  She isn't too concerned about the prospect of spending the night in the store...until a woman appears out of nowhere and tells Noelle that she's her guardian angel.  Soon Noelle finds herself camped out in the shoe department facing several "ghosts" of Christmases past, present, and future...Will visiting the holidays of yesterday and tomorrow help Noelle see the true spirit of Christmas?

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Halloween Events at Birmingham Public Library Include Super Heroes Costume Party, Movies, Storytimes, and Giveaways

Even adults are getting into the Halloween mood at the Birmingham Public Library (BPL). On Friday, October 21, 2016, at 7:00 p.m., the Birmingham Public Library Young Professionals (BPLYP) are hosting a Super Heroes Save the Library costume party at the Central Library.

Attendees who come dressed as their favorite super hero will enjoy a night of music, drinks, and dancing while helping raise awareness of the important resources provided by BPL’s 19 library locations and providing money for public programs. Buy tickets at $10 in advance online at

The BPLYP's costume party is among several activities celebrating the spooky holiday taking place at many BPL locations across Birmingham during the month of October. From a fall festival at the Smithfield Library to storytime with Ms. Eve at the Avondale Regional Branch Library, from a Hallo-Read Fall Celebration at the North Avondale Branch Library to scary movies at various libraries, there are plenty of fun events to enjoy.

In addition, all 19 BPL locations across Birmingham will be giving away free treats to library patrons on Halloween, Monday, October 31, 2016.

To see more Halloween programs at BPL in October, visit the BPL calendar of events and search for "seasonal" under Event Category.

Happy Halloween from the staff at the Birmingham Public Library!

Central Library to Host Google Workshop for Small Business Owners on October 25

What: Google Workshop for Small Business Owners
When: Tuesday, October 25, 2016, 12:00-1:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor

Did you know that 97% of consumers look for local goods and services online?

And only 37% of businesses have claimed a local business listing on a search engine.

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.

The Birmingham Public Library and the City’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.

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.

For more information about the workshop and other resources for small business development available at BPL, please contact Jim Murray of the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department by e-mail at or by calling 205-226-3691.

Let’s Put Birmingham on the Map!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Findmypast: Our Newest Genealogy Database


Findmypast is a family history and genealogy database that offers access to a collection of over 2 billion historical records covering the United States, England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and other parts of the globe. Our subscription marks the return of electronic access to PERiodical Source Index (PERSI), one of the most helpful tools in genealogy research. PERSI indexes by surname and location genealogy and family history periodicals from around the world, and Findmypast is the only genealogy database that provides digital images to select periodicals indexed in PERSI. Digital images of articles in the PERiodical Source Index will be increasingly accessible (18,000 images added this summer), which means you can find the citation in PERSI and link to a digital image of the article.

Our genealogy community might not be as familiar with Findmypast as it is a British owned genealogy company whose website has recently been made available to libraries in the United States. However, this company has been leading the way in family history for years as it was the first company in the world to publish the complete birth, marriage, and death indexes for England and Wales online. Findmypast contains over 1,000 exclusive records collections with its strength being European records. It is the only online place to gain access to the 1939 Register, which is the only surviving overview of the civil population of England and Wales spanning the period 1921-1951 as the 1931 census was destroyed during an air raid on London and the 1941 census was never taken.

Highlights of Findmypast’s Collections
  • U.S. Census Complete 
  • UK census collection, 1841-1911 
  • 1939 Registers 
  • Ireland census collection 
  • PERiodical Source Index (PERSI) 
  • Births, deaths & marriages 
  • Parish records, including 40 million baptisms, marriages and burials from across England and Wales dating back to 1538 
  • Military collections, including U.S. Military and British Army Records, 1760-1915 
  • Local English, Welsh, Irish and Scottish records dating back to 1700, including school admissions, workhouse registers and apprenticeships records. 
  • Immigration and naturalization records 
  • Local and social histories 
  • Passenger lists Griffith’s valuation 1847-1864 for Ireland 
  • Irish petty session and prison registers 

We are excited about this newest addition to our genealogy databases, and the Southern History Department will debut its Findmypast class on Wednesday, October 19, 2016 from 9:15-10:15 am in the Computer Lab, 4th floor of of the Linn-Henley building.  To register, please call 205-226-3680 as space is limited.

Patrons can use Findmypast on any networked computer at the Central Library, and there are shortcut icons located on the computers in the Southern History Department. Although this database is in-library use only, patrons can register for a free account enabling them to build their family tree and save their personal records to use at home, working in tandem with the library's subscription to provide maximum access.

Laura M. Gentry
Southern History Department
Central Library

Happy Birthday Miss Fancy: Avondale Remembers the Queen

Postcard from the Birmingham Public Archives, file # 1081.3.99

Today would be Miss Fancy's 145th birthday.

Miss Fancy, the legendary Queen of Avondale, may be Avondale’s most famous local celebrity. She’s the cover girl for the Avondale Brewing Company, where she has a special ale named after her. A restaurant on Fifth Avenue is named Fancy’s on 5th in her honor. A current fundraising campaign is raising money to put a life-size statue of her in Avondale Park.

She is the subject of a subplot in Fannie Flagg’s novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, a short documentary Mr. Todd’s Fancy, and Miss Fancy, a play featured in Theatre Downtown’s 2016 season.

If you don’t live in Avondale or were born after 1930, you may not have heard of her, but for those old enough to remember her, Miss Fancy was beloved. Whenever my father meets people around his age from Avondale, he immediately asks if they remember Miss Fancy. They all do.

Miss Fancy (1871-1954) was a gentle Indian elephant who served as the star attraction at the Birmingham Zoo (when it was located in its original site at Avondale Park) from 1913 to 1934. She was known to routinely stroll through the streets of Avondale, Forest Park, and Woodlawn. Children loved to ride Miss Fancy; she would carry 5 to 7 on her back at a time. She sometimes visited the Avondale Elementary School, where the children would run outside to feed her their lunches. She would sometimes wander through the neighborhood eating out of her neighbors’ gardens. One little girl fondly recalled waking up to find Miss Fancy peering in her bedroom window.

My dad was 4 years old when he met Miss Fancy, shortly before the financial pressures of the Great Depression forced the city to close the zoo and sell the animals. Afterwards, he used to dream about riding an elephant all over Shades Valley. When I told him that, after a brief return to the circus, she had lived out the remainder of her life in a zoo in Buffalo, he said, “I wish I had known that when she was still alive. I would have gone to visit her. I loved that elephant so much I would have hopped on a bus to go see her.”

Mr. Todd’s Fancy is a short documentary about Miss Fancy and her trainer, John Todd.
Some of the interviews were filmed at the Avondale Library.

Read about Miss Fancy's life in Avondale through newspapers of the day at Birmingham Public Library's Digital Collections. More information about the campaign to raise money for a statue of Miss Fancy in Avondale Park is available at

Ellen Griffin Shade
Avondale Regional Branch Library

Former BPL Director George R. Stewart Inducted into UA College of Communication and Information Sciences Hall of Fame

George Stewart working on a map in BPL's collection

For 37 years in his career at the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) and with the Jefferson County Library Cooperative, George R. Stewart touched thousands of lives of librarians across metro Birmingham.

He played a role in getting a Library of Information Science program established at the University of Alabama, integrating the workforce at BPL, and helped convince the Jefferson County Commission to allow the creation of the Jefferson County Library Cooperative that tied nearly 40 libraries in the county together under one umbrella.

On Thursday, October 6, 2016, Stewart received one of the highest honors in the library profession in Alabama as he was inducted into the University of Alabama College of Communication and Information Sciences Hall of Fame. The award recognizes his leadership and significant contribution to the field of Library and Information Science education.

Stewart was featured in an article on the University of Alabama website. See link below:

Stewart's career spanned 33 years with the BPL System and an additional four years as director of the Jefferson County Library Cooperative. BPL Interim Director Sandi Lee said Stewart was a mentor to many at BPL and remains active at BPL as a map consultant in the Southern History Department in the Linn-Henley Research Building.

“The Birmingham Public Library is extremely proud of Mr. Stewart,” Lee said. “We are glad to see him be recognized in the UA College of Communication and Information Sciences Hall of Fame for his many accomplishments.”

Pat Ryan, executive director of the Jefferson County Library Association, said she is among many lives Stewart has touched in libraries across metro Birmingham. She said Stewart mentored a myriad of librarians in Jefferson County and Alabama as director of the BPL System and while serving in professional organizations.

“I worked at BPL for several years early in my career and every time I would see Mr. Stewart (the director) at that time, he inquired as to how I was and when I was going to begin work to complete my MLS,” Ryan said. “Once I started the MLS program, he always asked about my progress.

Ryan said even today she has not forgotten his friendliness and encouragement, adding that she tries to model those traits in her own encouragement to younger librarians.

“I am not sure without his encouragement I would have had the courage and confidence to follow the MLS path which set me on the road to a library career I would never have dreamed I would attain,” she said. “Basically, he changed my life by caring. And I know there are many others that could speak to a similar experience."

As an administrator for BPL, Stewart recognized the need for a Library and Information Science program in the state and served on the committee to secure initial accreditation for the School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS) at the University of Alabama.

Upon retirement, he and his wife Nancy began working with a non-profit library consulting organization and he still works with BPL two days or more a week. Stewart has continued his efforts to champion education and promote SLIS with the creation of the George R. Stewart Endowed Scholarship, awarded annually for a student in SLIS based on scholastic potential and financial need.

Stewart's efforts to improve the lives of others through library and information services continue to benefit SLIS, countless students, and millions of visitors to the Birmingham area.

Stewart grew up walking distance from the Central Park Library in Birmingham, Alabama, in a working-class section of town, where his father was a carpenter and craftsman. He loved to read and was taken by his mother to their local branch in the first grade to get his library card.

By high school, Stewart was familiar with the library, and in 1960 was offered a job at the Central Park Library as a page, shelving books and working the reference desk. He was soon given additional responsibilities and promoted to library assistant.

A 1966 Samford University graduate, Stewart worked in the Southern History Department of the Central Library during college and during the completion of his master's degree in history in 1967. He loved the work, and with a little good fortune and guidance from library director and mentor Mr. Thornley, Stewart was quickly promoted again to department head and was encouraged to pursue his MLS.

At the time, the closest MLS program was located at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, so Stewart commuted to classes and continued working for the library. Stewart was appointed to the associate director position in 1969, pending forthcoming completion of his MLS at Emory. In January 1976, Stewart was named director of the Central Library, a position in which he served for an additional 16 years.

When Stewart began working at BPL in the 1960s, libraries in Alabama were segregated, a status he didn’t approve of and in his career actively worked to alter. Even as library services began to integrate, library staffs were still segregated across the state.

When Stewart became director at the Central Library, he helped create a more equitable and rewarding work environment, including a unified pay scale—"equal pay for equal work"— without consideration of race or gender. He also insisted that new staffing policies included full integration of the library staff, allowing all people the opportunity to work at BPL.

As director, Stewart began attending the Jefferson County Commission meetings, building positive working relationships with elected officials, and began to introduce the idea of countywide cooperative library services. When Jefferson County Commissioners asked Stewart to investigate ways to improve library service for the entire county, Stewart took the opportunity to prepare a long-range plan for a countywide system.

Under Stewart in 1978 was born the "One County, One Library Card" Jefferson County Library Cooperative (JCLC) that is still enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of local residents today. While serving as director of BPL, Stewart was integral in the planning and gathering the funds to build many new libraries in Jefferson County. He also developed the first systemwide Internet access and first digitally accessed databases in the state. Stewart also partnered with the Cartographic Lab at UA to digitize and catalog tremendous map collections amassed by the BPL.

In a true tale of "romance in the library," Stewart met his wife of 52 years, Nancy, one day after scolding Nancy and her girlfriends for being too loud in the library.

"I was the page at the library desk, and I will never forget when she came in with an umbrella, an armload of books, and enough personality for several people. She and her friends were making too much noise, so I told her she could be quiet or she could leave... so she left. But she came back! Soon, I asked her to join me on my afternoon breaks across the street at the drugstore soda fountain, and like became love."

Stewart and Nancy have two sons and four grandchildren and continue to enjoy their life together as partners in good times and in bad. After an accident in 2010 left him unable to walk, Stewart credits Nancy with having the strength needed to bring him to a place of acceptance as they adjusted their home and their life to this new normal. Their story is featured in a book aptly named, The Romance of Libraries (Lefebvre, 2006, The Scarecrow Press).

"Our lives have been blessed. It is hard to imagine what my life might have been like if that noisy little gal had not come into the Central Park Branch so long ago," Stewart said.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Online Genealogy Help Now Available at All Libraries

Popular Internet resource lets you discover your roots in the library

All locations of the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) have a new resource that uses technology to make tracing family trees easier. Ancestry® Library Edition, a Web-based reference tool distributed by ProQuest, will allow you to start exploring your roots by searching a surname. Anyone can come into the library to dig into Ancestry Library Edition's millions of records—as far back as the 1400s.

The library is responding to a growing interest in family history that’s captured not only Birmingham but America as a whole. A new nationwide survey* shows 73% of Americans want to learn more about their roots, up from 60% in 2000. Twenty-five percent of those surveyed became interested after searching for a family surname online, pointing to the increasing popularity of Internet-based genealogy.

Ancestry Library Edition is available at every BPL location. To get the most out of the experience, come prepared with a list of ancestors to research. Once connected to Ancestry Library Edition, you'll find a friendly opening screen that asks for the name of the person to be searched. Key in the name, click on "Search" and Ancestry Library Edition scans its vast selection of U.S. federal and state census data, birth, marriage, and death records, military records, Social Security death records, and immigration lists. It also includes an extensive collection of information from the U.K., including images, census records, and civil registrations. Additionally, probate records dating back to the 1500s are included from England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. The information you find are pieces of a puzzle that you'll assemble. These records have "clues" to the past—places where ancestors lived, names of relatives, birth or death dates, etc.—that lead to more information. Names can be added to form the "tree" or searched to find more clues.

Genealogy is a wonderful hobby for anyone who wants to know more about where they came from, and BPL is delighted to provide resources that are simple enough for beginners, yet provide deep and broad content sets that will help veteran genealogists advance their research.

Ancestry® Library Edition is brought to you by the Alabama Public Library Service with federal funds issued by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

* Survey by Market Strategies, Inc.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Lecture on the Gay Bar in American History Led by Dr. Nancy Unger at Central Library on October 16

What: From Jook Joints to the Stonewall Inn to Orlando's Pulse: The Gay Bar in American History – A lecture by Dr. Nancy Unger of Santa Clara University
When: Sunday, October 16, 2016, 3:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor
Details: Free and open to the public. For more information contact Jim Baggett at
205-226-3631 or

For more than a century, gay clubs and bars have served as havens and sanctuaries as well as party spots and hook-up sites. They've been the centers of solidarity, community, and education. But as evidenced by the June 12, 2016, attack on The Pulse, an Orlando nightclub where a gunman killed 49 people and wounded 53 people in a hate crime, gay bars and nightclubs have also been the sites of violence and persecution that ultimately led to great advancements in pride, rights, and freedoms.

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) is hosting a richly illustrated talk highlighting the history of a long and colorful American tradition central to the LGBTQ community: the gay bar. From Jook Joints to the Stonewall Inn to Orlando's Pulse: The Gay Bar in American History, a lecture by Dr. Nancy Unger of Santa Clara University, will take place on Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016, at 3 p.m. in the Central Library’s Arrington Auditorium.

The program, free and open to the public, is being presented in cooperation with Birmingham AIDS Outreach, Magic City Acceptance Center, and the Magic City Wellness Center. C-SPAN will film the program for broadcast on C-SPAN’s American History TV.

Dr. Nancy Unger
The lecture speaker, Dr. Nancy Unger, is a history professor at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California. She holds a Ph.D. and M.A. from the University of Southern California and a B.A. from Gonzaga University. Unger has written extensively on progressivism in the United States and LGBTQ history and has been published in Time and For more information contact Jim Baggett, 205-226-3631 or

BPL's Digital Library is There for Your After-Hour Needs

All-too-familiar scenario: It’s nine o'clock on a Sunday night when your child suddenly remembers that they need an article on current events for a class on Monday morning. You’ve stopped taking the local newspaper, your printer is out of ink, you’re in your jammies, and the very last thing you want to do is get dressed and go to a store to pay for a magazine you don’t want for a homework project that is not your problem…Birmingham Public Library to the rescue!

If you have access to the Internet and a library card in good standing, this is not a dire situation—BPL's Digital Library is open 24/7, including periodical databases with full-text articles. These articles can be printed,
e-mailed, or shared on social media sites. The results will include the correct way to cite the work, as well as any other information a teacher might request.

Now that the crisis is averted, let’s discuss why you shouldn't just Google an assignment. The Internet is a fabulous tool, and there is a lot of good information available through it, but there are no laws, rules, policies, or regulations to make sure everything (or anything) is correct, current, unbiased, factual, or trustworthy. You might get lucky and find something good—but you also might not. Why gamble? By using the databases, you’re guaranteed that the information you receive will be all of the above, and you’ll also have the correct citation information right there, too.

Some of the links through our databases are paid subscriptions—information you would have to pay for to receive at home but that you get free with your library card membership. Some of them are excellent websites we’ve found that make getting information easy and accurate. There are online encyclopedias, language learning tools, historical sites, newspaper databases, free legal forms, information on investing and business incorporation, car repair, reading skills improvement, and test preps for a huge selection of academic, occupation, and entrance exams. They’re for all ages, too, so no matter what kind of information you need, there’s a database available to help you get it—all through your BPL library membership. Libraries have changed, but we’re still true to our core mission, which is to provide free access to information to everyone. Internet access is available in our buildings.

And if that’s not enough, you can cheerfully point out to your children that since the databases are available 24/7, there’s no reason to wait until Sunday night to do their homework!

If you have questions about how to use any of our information sources, please call your local Birmingham Public Library location, or visit our website at We are the source for information!

Kelly Laney
Springville Road Regional Branch Library

BPL’s Southern History Department Hosting Several Classes in Celebration of Family History Month

October is Family History Month. The Birmingham Public Library (BPL)’s Southern History Department is celebrating by teaching six different classes, including the debut of a new program called Findmypast.

The Southern History Department will also be teaching genealogy classes at several libraries across metro Birmingham. See its October schedule below:

Introduction to Genealogy 
Wednesday, October 12, 2:00-3:00 p.m., Clay Public Library
Want to learn how to do genealogical research? Come to this introductory class that will help get you started on your genealogical journey. For more information or directions, please call the Clay Public Library at 205-680-3812.

Piles of Paper and Digital Dilemmas: Organizing Your Genealogy Research
Tuesday, October 18, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Homewood Public Library
Is your genealogy research out of control with piles of paper and scattered files on your computer? If you answered yes, come learn about different methods of organization and techniques for both paper and digital files and set yourself up for organizational success. We will be meeting at the Homewood Public Library, Room 101 on the lower level. For more information or directions, please call the Homewood Public Library at 205-332-6600.

Introduction to Genealogy
Tuesday, October 18, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Central Library

Want to learn how to do genealogical research? Come to this introductory class that will help get you started on your genealogical journey. This class meets on the first floor of the Linn-Henley Research Library in the Southern History Department.

Findmypast Workshop
Wednesday, October 19, 9:15-10:15 a.m., Central Library
This hands-on class will introduce you to Findmypast, our newest genealogy database. Findmypast is an ever-expanding collection of over 2 billion historical records from around the world. We will cover some of the most popular record collections and tips on how to make your database searches more effective. This class will be held in the computer lab, 4th floor, Linn-Henley Research Library, and space is limited. To register, please call 205-226-3680.

The Bases Are Loaded! Genealogical Research with BPL’s Databases
Tuesday, October 25, 2:00-3:00 p.m., Trussville Public Library
Don’t be left sitting in the dugout. Make use of all our resources in your game plan for family history research. Learn how to locate BPL’s databases and discover the wealth of genealogical information they have to offer. Let us help you knock one out of the park. For more information or directions, please call the Trussville Public Library at 205-655-2022.

Wednesday, October 26, 9:15-10:15 a.m., Central Library
This hands-on class will introduce researchers to Fold3, the premiere genealogy database for U.S. military records. We will cover the different records which are included in Fold3 (military and non-military), how to do a basic search, and how to interpret your results. This class will be held in the computer lab, 4th floor, Linn-Henley Research Library, and space is limited. To register, please call 205-226-3680.

Life in 1916
Wednesday, October 26, 2:00-3:00 p.m., Avondale Regional Branch Library
What was life like in Birmingham 100 years ago in 1916? Get a glimpse into the past as the Southern History Department takes you on a journey through the news, stories, and advertisements gleaned from Birmingham newspapers for the year 1916. For more information or directions, please call the Avondale Public Library at 205-226-4000.

For more information on BPL’s Southern History Department, call 205-226-3665, e-mail or go online to You can also like the Southern History Department at

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Birmingham Public Library Young Professionals Presents An Evening of Literary Cocktails

What: Birmingham Public Library Young Professionals – An Evening of Literary Cocktails
When: Thursday, October 6, 7:30 p.m.
Where: The Wine Loft
Details: Free admission, but attendees must be 21+. Event is part of the 2016 Eat Drink Read Write festival. See event schedule at

Did you know certain alcoholic beverages are inspired by literary works? The Birmingham Public Library Young Professionals (BPLYP) board is presenting an evening of literary cocktails at the Wine Loft with complimentary hors d’oeuvres.

The Wine Loft in downtown Birmingham

Several of Birmingham’s top bartenders will compete in a cocktail contest in which they will create cocktails inspired by works of Latin American literature. The judges for the contest include James Little, Anamaria Santiago, and Brandan Stuckey. FunnyMaine, a comedian who is also a DJ at 95.7 JAMZ in Birmingham, will provide entertainment. Follow him at

The event will take place in the heart of October’s Birmingham Art Crawl. This year's EDRW festival is dedicated to the idea that taking a risk and seeking out adventurous foods can result in great culinary experiences. Whether it is trying a Thai restaurant located in a gas station, buying ribs that have been cooked in a 55 gallon steel drum smoker in a parking lot, or foraging for wild blackberries along an old fence line, there are countless opportunities for culinary adventure in our daily lives.

EDRW will end on Friday, October 7, with a Bards & Brews Poetry Slam and beer sampling at the Central Library. Live music begins at 6:30 p.m. with poetry starting at 7:00 p.m.

See more details on the BPL Young Professionals event at

Roderick Royal to Present Mentoring the A.G. Gaston Way at the Birmingham Public Library in October

It’s been 40 years, but Roderick Royal still vividly remembers the day when at age 11, while visiting the A.G. Gaston Boys Club on Seventh Avenue North, he asked the black millionaire who founded the club if he could drive his car. “He said, ‘Sure,’ and as he reached for his keys I asked how much he would pay me. Dr. Gaston told me, 'You don’t get paid for everything you do.' It was the first of many lessons Dr. Gaston taught me and many other boys.”

In October, Royal will share other advice he gained from a friendship that started when Royal was 11 until Dr. Gaston's death at age 103 in a series of talks titled Mentoring the A.G. Gaston Way that he will give at the Birmingham Public Library.

Schedule of Programs
Smithfield Branch Library, Wednesday, October 12, 10:00 a.m.
North Birmingham Regional Branch Library, Thursday, October 13, noon
Five Points West Regional Branch Library, Sunday, October 16, 3:00 p.m.
Pratt City Branch Library, Wednesday, October 19, 6:00 p.m.

After each discussion about lessons both the young and old can learn from Gaston, Royal will sign copies of his new book, A.G. & Me: Intersection Road and Friendship with A.G. Gaston. His 70-page book is available for $16.99 at Books-A-Million and online on the store’s website.

Gaston, who was born on July 4, 1892, is well known for his phenomenal story of rising from poverty in rural Alabama to building a business empire that included a bank, insurance company, funeral home, business school, hotel, funeral home, and other entities. But Royal’s book shows a personal side of the millionaire who was known for his giving spirit (he gave away much of his businesses to employees through establishing an employee stock option plan).

“Through my book, I show a side of Dr. Gaston that not many people know about,” Royal said. “He was a great influence in my life. My hope is that in this lecture other people can help mentor our youth.”

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Learn How People Interact With Your Business Online at Google Insights and Analytics Workshop on October 12

What: Google Insights and Analytics workshop
When: Wednesday, October 12, 2016, noon-1:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library/Linn-Henley Research Library/Richard Arrington Auditorium

Are you getting the most out of your website? Do you understand how people are finding your business online and how they are interacting with you once they get there?

For answers to these questions, please join the City of Birmingham’s Office of Economic Development and Zeekee, a local digital marketing firm, on October 12 for a workshop that will introduce you to the free tools offered by Google that allow you and your business to get a better handle on customer behavior.

Google's Insights and Analytics tools are powerful and free. Google Insights is part of the Google My Business program and shows you how people interact with your Google listing. Google Analytics is by far the most used analytics tool on the planet and gives you data on how people interact with your website.

Zeekee presenters will teach you how to utilize these free Google resources to help you make the most of your online customer interactions. It's highly recommended that you have your website and your Google My Business listing set up prior to the event.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Wordsmiths: Poetry Workshop for Adults Begins October 4

If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. ― Emily Dickinson

What: Wordsmiths: Poetry Workshop for Adults
When: First Tuesdays 6:00-7:45 p.m. First meeting October 4.
Third Saturdays 3:30-5:30 p.m. First meeting October 15.
Where: Central Library, First Floor Conference Room
Who: Volunteer poets lead workshops for beginners to old hands
Cost: Free & open to the public

The Birmingham Public Library announces that after a brief hiatus, its popular Gifts of the Wordsmith workshops will again welcome poets of all ages, experience, and levels of confidence. Renamed “Wordsmiths,” the workshops will offer informal, welcoming programs for poets to improve their writing and enjoy one another’s poetry.

Wordsmiths poetry workshops are designed for poets to participate as much or as little as they wish. While workshop leaders choose the program, all will include opportunities for poets to share their work with their peers and, if they wish, receive feedback and suggestions. Do bring copies of your poems, but do not feel that you must hand them out or invite comments. Feel free to read . . . or just listen and enjoy!

Participants will hone their lyrical skills with the help of instructors Tina Mozelle Braziel, Alicia Clavell, and Barry Marks. “The creative atmosphere and spirit of community that the Birmingham Public Library provides is the perfect place for workshop participants from all levels to work on their writing in a safe, friendly environment,” Clavell said.

For more information, contact Carrie Campbell, Arts, Literature, and Sports Department at the Central Library, at 205-226-3670 or via e-mail at

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Birmingham Public Library to Host 2016 Eat Drink Read Write Festival October 1-7

What: 2016 Eat Drink Read Write Festival
When: Saturday, October 1–Friday, October 7, 2016
Where: Central Library
Details: Six-day schedule online at

If you’re the type of person who relishes eating adventurous foods, mark your calendar for October 1-7 when the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) hosts its 2016 Eat Drink Read Write festival (EDRW).

This year’s EDRW festival is dedicated to the idea that taking a risk and seeking out adventurous foods can result in great culinary experiences, said Brandon C. Smith, coordinator of the event.

“Whether it’s trying a Thai restaurant located in a gas station, buying ribs that have been cooked in a 55-gallon steel drum smoker in a parking lot, or foraging for wild blackberries along an old fence line, some of the best meals I have ever had involved taking a little risk,” said Smith, manager of the Eastwood Branch Library.

Headlining the 2016 festival is Chef Bryant Terry of Oakland, California, who has built a national reputation as a vegan chef and food activist, Smith said.

Terry is a 2015 James Beard Foundation Leadership Award-winning chef and author known for his activism to create a healthy, just, and sustainable food system. He is currently Chef-in-Residence at the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco. His work has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, NPR’s radio program All Things Considered, and many other publications. Fast Company magazine named Chef Terry one of the “9 People Who are Changing the Future of Food” in its April 2016 issue.

Bryant’s fourth book, Afro Vegan, published by Ten Speed Press/Random House in April 2014, was named by as one of the best cookbooks for 2014. It was nominated for an NAACP Image Award in the Outstanding Literary Work category. Read more about Bryant at his website,

“Chef Bryant Terry is probably the foremost vegan chef in the U.S. right now,” said Smith of BPL. “He is known as being a leader in the area of food advocacy and working to change the conversation on food in our country.”

Here is the schedule of events for the 2016 Eat Drink Read Write festival

Saturday, October 1, 2016, 6:00-8:00 p.m., Central Library
An Evening with Chef Bryant Terry

In illustrating why he is known as a premier food-justice activist, Terry will present a dynamic program in which he will discuss the need for a healthy, just, and sustainable food system as well as his passion for good food. Expect to be entertained with stories of how jazz, reggae, and soul music have influenced Chef Terry’s cooking. His unconventional presentation style with hip-hop interludes will delight you. Several local restaurants will offer samples of adventurous dishes for attendees to enjoy. This event will require $20 paid admission. Tickets are available at

Monday, October 3, 2016, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Central Library
Children’s Adventurous Food Art Reception

Delve into the minds of local children’s interpretations of adventurous food through this juried exhibit of artwork located on the First Floor Gallery at the Central Library. The artwork was done by young patrons of BPL. The Junior League of Birmingham’s Project Yummy Van will provide healthy snacks and educate the young attendees on healthy eating and skills useful in the kitchen. Free admission.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Central Library/Linn-Henley Research Library/Arrington Auditorium/4th floor
Fermented & Foraged Food Panel Discussion
Pete Halupka and Lindsay Whiteaker of Harvest Roots Farm, Forage, & Ferment, Cameron Strouss of Deep Roots Apotheké, and Chef Thyme Randle of the Underground Cooking Academy will discuss fermented and foraged foods in a panel discussion moderated by Birmingham Magazine’s managing editor, Carla Jean Whitley. Attendees will sample kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, and curtido from Harvest Roots, tonics from Deep Roots Apotheké, and lacto-fermented pickled vegetables from the Underground Cooking Academy. Free admission.

Thursday. October 6, 2016, 7:30-8:30 p.m., Wine Loft, 2200 1st Ave. N.
Happy Hour with Literary Cocktails

The Birmingham Public Library’s Young Professionals board is presenting an evening of literary cocktails at the Wine Loft with complimentary hors d’oeuvres. Several of Birmingham’s top bartenders will compete in a contest in which they will create cocktails inspired by works of Latin American literature. Comedian Funny Maine will emcee this event that will take place in the heart of October’s Art Crawl festival. There is no admission for this event, but attendees must be 21 or older.

Friday, October 7, 2016, 6:30 p.m., Central Library
Bards & Brews Slam

The library’s popular Bards & Brews spoken word poetry and craft beer tasting event will close the festival. Poets will compete in a slam for cash prizes while attendees sample beer from craft breweries including SweetWater Brewing, Cahaba Brewing Co., and Band of Brothers, as well as light hors d'oeuvres from Jim ‘N Nick’s, Babalu Tapas & Tacos, and the Ranch House. Voice Porter, a performance artist and experienced poetry slam emcee, will host this fantastic evening at the Central Library, which is presented with assistance from the Alabama State Council on the Arts. Free admission.

The 2016 Eat Drink Read Write festival was made possible by BPL partners including the Birmingham Public Library Young Professionals Board, Deep Roots Apotheké, Dining Out with Comedienne Joy, Coca-Cola Bottling United, Jim 'N Nicks Bar-B-Q, Silvertron Café, Tutwiler Hampton Inn & Suites, Harvest Roots Farm, Forage & Ferment, Michael's Restaurant, Kalisha DigiMedia, Golden Flake, the Junior League of Birmingham, SweetWater Brewing, Cahaba Brewing, Band of Brothers Brewing, Cathead Vodka, Ranch House, Tropicaleo, Babalu Tapas & Tacos, Revolve Kitchen & Brew, Jersey Boys, Edolyn's Pies, Cowboy Chicken, Redeaux's Café at City Hall, and Not Just Catering.

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