Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Money Matters – Protecting Yourself Against Targeted Fraud Workshop Scheduled for December 7

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 Library/Regional Library Computer Center/4th floor

12/7/2016 – Protecting Yourself Against Targeted Fraud (This program has been rescheduled for December 14)
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, November 29, 2016

Lives Touched by the Birmingham Public Library: Adrienne Stroud Moves from Homeless to Homeowner Thanks to Assistance from BPL

Adrienne Stroud talking to staff at the Business, Science and Technology Dept.

Adrienne Stroud was homeless for over two months during the summer of 2014. Today, she is a homeowner. Stroud gives much of the credit to Birmingham Public Library (BPL) staffers who provided assistance and access to information that helped turn her life around.

“The Birmingham Public Library helped me find a homeless prevention program to get off the streets, and put me in touch with people who help those who’ve lost jobs,” Stroud said. "A lot of people aren’t aware you can call the library to get information and take advantage of valuable programs for free.”

Stroud is one of 1.5 million lives a year touched in a positive way by resources and workshops available for free to the public at BPL’s 19 locations. Stroud in particular credits Jim Murray, head of the Business, Science and Technology Department at the Central Library, and Robert Jones, a librarian in the department, for taking time out to help her.

“A lot of people use the Yellow Pages,” Stroud said. “I am legally blind so I called the library to find resources I needed. The library was an invaluable resource for me that helped me move from a homeless shelter at the Salvation Army to become a homeowner.”

Stroud is now in her 18th month of taking classes at Lawson State Community College, and has also taken some coursework at Miles College, thanks to educational assistance programs for students she learned about from BPL. She said has built friendships with BPL staff like Murray and Jones, whom she still keeps in touch with today.

“I feel as if the Birmingham Public Library is a part of my extended family,” Stroud said.

See videos and more information about how to help BPL assist patrons like Stroud at View BPL's homelessness resource page at Also. consider making donations to BPL as part of #GivingTuesday, a national day of giving taking place on Tuesday, November 29, 2016.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Patrons Win Thanksgiving Giveaways from Smithfield, North Birmingham Libraries

Jesse Allen, one of the lucky winners of the Thanksgiving basket giveaway

Three patrons who checked out books at the Smithfield Branch Library during November won Thanksgiving baskets as part of a giveaway at the library November 22.

The winners are: Jesse Allen, who checked out The Color Purple; Charles Smith, who checked out a Willy Wonka book; and Demetrius Hayes, who checked out To Kill a Mockingbird. All three patrons won Thanksgiving baskets from the Smithfield Library that included a turkey, canned goods, bread rolls, celery, tomatoes, and other vegetables.

Allen said he was surprised to find out that he had won one of the Thanksgiving baskets. “I’m really excited because I never win anything,” Allen said. “Thanks to the Smithfield Library. I visit this library all of the time because I live in the community.”

Felicia Cooper’s decision to drop by the North Birmingham Regional Branch Library last week to check out Debbie Macomber’s novel, The Inn at Rose Harbor, has paid off in more ways than just giving her a good book to read.

Cooper’s name was drawn as winner in the library’s “Thanks for Being Our Patron" turkey drawing She received a 12-pound turkey, which Cooper says was unexpected.

“I’m very excited; it’s the first time I’ve ever won anything,” Cooper said in a phone interview. She has been a regular patron of the North Birmingham Library since childhood. “It’s my favorite library,” she said.

Birmingham Public Library Accepting Donations During #GivingTuesday on November 29

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) is accepting donations as part of the #GivingTuesday campaign.

#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Donations help BPL’s 19 locations to serve nearly 1.5 million people a year throughout Birmingham, granting them access to information, programs, and resources at no cost.

BPL has been educating the public for over 129 years, as noted in a national spotlight feature in the Atlantic.

The Robotics Marathon, held recently at the Central Library as part of Teens Engineer Birmingham, is among many free activities held in BPL’s 19 libraries daily. The afterschool program teaches engineering skills to dozens of teens weekly at the Southside, Woodlawn, and Central Libraries.

Because of the generous contributions of people like you, BPL can continue its mission of enriching the lives of Birmingham citizens like Calvester Sanders and the teen engineer participants featured below:

Redmont Hotel employee attends free computer classes at BPL
UAB engineering student teaches teens in afterschool program 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Giving Back at the Birmingham Public Library: UAB Engineering Student Allaire Doussan Teaches Birmingham Teens about Robotics

Allaire Doussan and fellow engineering students at a recent robotics program

University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) engineering student Allaire Doussan participated in a robotics program at her high school. When she found out the UAB School of Engineering was teaching a summer engineering program at the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) last year, she volunteered to be a part of it to help give back to area teens who shared her joy of robotics and engineering.

A year later, Doussan has advanced from volunteer to a paid UAB internship helping teach students who participate in BPL’s weekly afterschool Teens Engineer Birmingham program at the Woodlawn, Southside, and Central Libraries.

“It has been great and rewarding teaching the kids,” said Doussan, a biomedical engineering major. “They seem to really enjoy learning.”

As part of the program, Doussan and fellow UAB students assist Dr. Abi Yildirim, director of outreach for UAB’s School of Engineering, in teaching robotics, soldering, and other engineering-technology skills. She also helped with the October Robotics Marathon Weekend held at the Central Library. Doussan said she has noticed changes in the students since BPL expanded the program to three libraries and added extra equipment such as 3-D printers, thanks to a $50,000 grant the library system won in 2016 from the UAB Benevolent Fund.

“They seem more eager to learn,” said Doussan, adding she wishes her hometown library had a robotics program like this. “At the beginning, they were more skeptical. Now they enjoy it.”

As a UAB student intern, Doussan helps BPL System Teen Librarian Lance Simpson in curriculum development, directly teaching the kids, and sharing advice on how the library can better serve the students. Doussan said the experience will help her future goals as an engineer, especially if she goes into teaching one day.

“Acquiring new skills and perfecting it is helpful in my future career,” Doussan said. “I love working with the kids, seeing them grow and understanding things better from their perspective. I love being able to put a smile on their faces.”

Search "Teens Engineer BHM" on the BPL calendar to see when and where this group meets next.

See the video link below of Lance Simpson’s presentation, which won BPL the UAB Benevolent Fund grant.

Redmont Employee Attends Free Computer Classes at BPL to Improve Job Performance

Calvester Sanders credits free beginner computer classes at Central Library
for taking her from being afraid to use a computer to mastering it on the job

Before June 2016, Calvester Sanders had no knowledge of how to use a computer. Today, thanks to two months of free basic and advanced computer classes she took during the summer at the Central Library, Sanders is no longer afraid to use a computer.

“The classes helped me tremendously,” said Sanders, supervisor of housekeeping at the Redmont Hotel downtown. “Before I took them, I couldn’t even turn on a computer. Now I’m familiar with computers and not afraid of them anymore. I can communicate with my staff using the computer now. I now know how to print out documents.”

Sanders is one of 1.5 million lives touched in a positive way by resources and workshops available for free to the public at BPL’s 19 locations. She is appreciative of her supervisor, Redmont Hotel General Manager Nicole Schrader, who found out about Central Library’s free computer classes and signed her up, knowing the computer skills gained would help Sanders communicate better with her staff.

“If the library still offers those classes, I encourage anyone to go and take them,” Sanders said. “Thanks to the Birmingham Public Library.”

Free computer classes are offered several times a month at many of BPL’s 19 locations. To find the library computer class nearest you, visit the BPL calendar at and under Event Category click on Computers & Technology.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Turkey Giveaway Contest at North Birmingham Library

Check out a book from the North Birmingham Regional Branch Library and you may win a free turkey.

The North Birmingham Library is hosting a contest called “Thanks for Being Our Patron" Turkey Drawing. Adults who check out one adult book or audiobook may enter the drawing. The winner’s name will be pulled on Tuesday, November 22, at 1:30 p.m. Patrons do not have to be present to win.

For more information, call the Adult Department at 226-⁠4025.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Southern History Book of the Month: Christmas with Southern Living 2016: The Complete Guide to Holiday Cooking and Decorating

by Mary Anne Ellis, Central Library, Southern History Department

Christmas with Southern Living 2016: The Complete Guide to Holiday Cooking and Decorating
By editors of Southern Living Magazine

A Christmas book in November? Well, why not? It never hurts to get an early start on the holiday season, with “early” meaning anything after Labor Day. If you’re the one in charge of a major holiday celebration, and especially if you’re already a fan of the magazine, then the Christmas with Southern Living book series is something you should check out. Our department has just received the 2016 version and even if you don’t feel your crafting and cooking abilities are in the Martha Stewart category, you can still revel in the gorgeous photography and cherry-pick the best ideas that will fit your celebration and skill level. And who knows? Some of the decorating schemes and recipes are fairly simple and you may find something you’d like to try. On page 39 there is a recipe for Salted Brown Sugar Butter that is only three ingredients: unsalted butter, brown sugar, and flaky sea salt:

You will find endless dishes in which to use this butter, from topping cooked carrots and roasted root vegetables to slathering on dinner rolls and muffins.

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon flaky sea salt

1. Beat butter and brown sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer 3 minutes or until light and creamy; fold in sea salt.
2. Place mixture on large piece of plastic wrap. Bring one side of plastic wrap over mixture. Hold down other end of plastic wrap. Place flat edge of a baking sheet or other sturdy, flat object next to butter on plastic wrap. Using your other hand, hold end of baking sheet and push bottom of baking sheet away from you into base of butter mixture, forming a 6 x 2-inch log. Chill two hours or until firm.

Well, I’m sold. Something tells me this will find its way into my recipe file and my roasted root vegetables will be all the better for it, not to mention my waffles and my oatmeal. And don’t miss the “50 Years of Sweets” section, commencing with Brown Sugar-Cocoa Fudge from 1966 all the way to Coconut Snowballs in 2015.

If decorating the house is more your speed, there are also some striking arrangements of greenery in copper pots and festive white floral embellishments for your mantelpiece—and who knew you could find so many uses for pine cones? So even if the season is always extra-busy for you, make some time for Christmas with Southern Living and you might find a decorating idea or recipe that will become one of your personal classics for the holidays and all year long.

For more information:
Southern Living
Southern Living Facebook
Holiday Decorating
Holiday Recipes

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

“It’s Fruitcake Weather”: Dolores Hydock to Perform "A Christmas Memory" on December 4

What: "A Christmas Memory" performed by Dolores Hydock
When: Sunday, December 4, 3:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor
Details: Free and open to the public

The Christmas season doesn’t really begin until you have experienced Birmingham storyteller Dolores Hydock’s incredible one-woman performance of "A Christmas Memory," Truman Capote's poignant reminiscence of his boyhood in rural Alabama.

As an added treat Birmingham Breadworks will join us to share their own fruitcake creations. In "A Christmas Memory" Capote lovingly describes making fruitcake with a favorite relative. Birmingham Breadworks will offer a new twist on an old holiday favorite.

For more information on the program contact Jim Baggett at or 205-226-3631.

And catch up with Dolores Hydock at

There is always a full house for this performance, so come early and enjoy refreshments.

Learn more about Birmingham Breadworks at

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Free Affordable Health Care Workshops to be Held at the Birmingham Public Library Beginning November 16

Representatives of Alabama Regional Medical Services will present several free affordable health care workshops in partnership with the Birmingham Public Library (BPL). The workshops will be held at different city libraries the next four Wednesdays, beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, November 16, 2016, at the Pratt City Branch Library.

During the workshops, Alabama Regional Medical Services experts will present facts on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the national health insurance program better known as Obamacare. No registration is required. Alabama Regional Medical Services is a Birmingham company certified in the ACA,

Four workshops will take place at BPL locations between November 16 and December 7. They are free and open to the public; no registration necessary. The schedule is as follows:

November 16, 1:00 p.m., Pratt City Branch Library
November 23, 10:00 a.m., Smithfield Branch Library
November 30, 10:00 a.m., North Birmingham Regional Branch Library
December 7, 10:00 a.m., Springville Road Regional Branch Library

Monday, November 14, 2016

Save a Turkey, Feast on Books—Birmingham Public Library Hosting Online Book Feast Reading Challenge, November 14-28

What: Book Feast reading challenge for grades K-12
When: November 14-28, 2016
Where: Any Birmingham Public Library
Details: Register online at

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday for fun activities such as cooking, eating, shopping, watching football, and spending quality moments with friends and family. The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) has a new program in place to help make sure that Birmingham city school children don’t leave out one of the most important and fun activities: reading.

BPL is encouraging students in grades K-12 to join its inaugural online Book Feast reading challenge. Once students register, they will have the opportunity to select their own avatar, set up the theme for their account, and read to earn virtual badges and awards.

Janine Langston, coordinator over youth programs for BPL, encourages participants to visit their favorite BPL location to check out books and receive an achievement code in order to earn a special badge. All participants will be entered into a drawing for a prize gift pack. Prizes will be awarded at each of the 19 BPL locations.

“If you are a teacher, this is a great way for your students to earn extra credit during the Thanksgiving holiday,” Langston said. “If you are a parent, it is a great way to slow down for some one-on-one time with your child. Enjoy reading a book together. Pass along the love of reading with friends and family.”

Black Friday Is Almost Here

Crowd of shoppers

One of the most exciting events of the year is about to take place next week.  Every year I think about it, plan for it, discuss it with my friends and coworkers, and wait with great anticipation for its arrival.  It’s not the Iron Bowl, it’s not Thanksgiving, it’s BLACK FRIDAY!!! 

There are few things more exciting than buying a flash drive at 6:00 am on Friday morning for pennies on the dollar.  Finding these incredible deals takes planning.  If you’re like me, you head to The Summit on Wednesday evening when the Thanksgiving edition of The Birmingham News first becomes available.  Forget finding one on Thanksgiving Day, it won’t happen.  The anticipation of taking that 10-pound newspaper home to uncover the great deals can only be compared to waiting in line to ride a roller coaster.  You know it will be thrilling and can’t wait for the experience.

The Birmingham News

Although nothing compares to flipping through ad after ad to see which pharmacy has the best prices on Christmas presents, you don’t have to wait that long.  There are a number of great websites which give you a sneak peek at the Black Friday ads.  Not only that, several will allow you to join a mailing list for updates to information on the website.  Some allow you to follow them on Facebook and Twitter for updates along with providing apps for your mobile devices.  With all these tools at your disposal, you can feed the need you have to immerse yourself in the Black Friday experience. 

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m not a morning person, so all the deals you have to camp out for are long gone by the time I make it to the store.  My coworker is dismayed by my reluctance to go early enough to get in line for a wrist band.  This reluctance in no way diminishes my Black Friday experience.  Many retailers allow you to buy the products online; not the wristband products, but other discounted items in the ads.  Not to mention that many retailers have online specials as well.  Finally, we must not forget about the elephant in the room, my dear friend, 

Check out these websites to get a jump on your Black Friday planning.  I am a librarian, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t also list a number of books for your consideration.  You can read while you’re waiting in traffic, but NOT if you’re driving.  Distracted driving is dangerous.  Happy Shopping!

Central Library to Host Small Business, Foreclosure Prevention, Hiring Workshops on November 14

If you are looking for a job, desiring to protect your business from cyber criminals, or desiring tips on how to fight off foreclosure, make plans to visit the Birmingham Public Library’s downtown location on Monday, November 14, 2016. The Central Library will host three free workshops: The Hiring Process for Jefferson County, How to Avoid Foreclosure, and Cyber Security Made Simple.

See details about the workshops below:

Cyber Security Made Simple, Monday, noon-1:00 p.m., Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor
Presented by Sawyer Solutions, a Pelham-based information technology company, this seminar will offer tips for small business owners on how to make their websites more secure from cyber criminals and hackers. 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.

Hiring Process for Jefferson County, 2:15-3:15 p.m., Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Regional Library Computer Center, 4th floor
The workshop will cover the process of applying for Jefferson County jobs, and how to master pre-employment tests including oral interviews. To register for the workshop and to find out more information about small business resources available at BPL, contact Jim Murray of Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department at or 205-226-3691.

D&E’s Foreclosure Prevention Workshop: Preserve Your Home, Monday, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor 
Have you fallen behind on your monthly mortgage, and feel the pressure of potential foreclosure? Then make plans to take advantage of some valuable advice at this free workshop. 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 workshop is free, but registration is required. To register, please complete the form on the D&E website:

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 at or 205-226-3691.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Chef E to Share Tips on Cooking Healthy Holiday Meals at West End Library on November 15

Chef E cooking healthy
What: Eating Well Fall Cooking with Chef E 
When: Tuesday, November 15, 2016, 11:30 a.m.
Where: West End Branch Library
Details: Free and open to the public; no registration necessary

Do you need tips on healthy cooking of good holiday meals? Then mark your calendar to visit the West End Library next week as a popular Birmingham chef holds a free cooking demonstration.

Eating Well Fall Cooking with Chef E will take place November 15, 2016, at the West End Library. During the workshop, Erica Threatt, better known in Birmingham as Chef E, will share tips on how to prepare healthy, delicious dishes for the holidays.

Chef E has worked closely with the Birmingham Public Library for several years, sharing exciting cooking tips and recipes. She is the owner of The Caring Chef, a personal chef business that provides the metro Birmingham community with healthy cooking classes.

Birmingham Public Library Board Names Innovative and Cool Award Winners for November

Birmingham Public Library Board and Innovative and Cool Award winners

Students participating in afterschool programs at the Inglenook Branch Library will soon get to play classic 1980s-era video games as the library is purchasing the new retro Nintendo Entertainment System Classic Console.

On December 7, the East Ensley Branch Library will hold an afterschool craft session in which students will make Christmas ornaments and decorations for hospice patients at a Birmingham nursing home. At the Five Points West Regional Branch Library, new programs are being added to Active Living, a senior citizens group who gather on Wednesdays to participate in exercise classes, cooking demonstrations, and assorted craft workshops.

And the Wylam Branch Library is adding two new programs: wreath making and holiday decorations for adults, and purchasing new board games for youth who attend afterschool programs there on weekdays.

Those four libraries are the latest recipients of the Birmingham Public Library (BPL)’s Innovative and Cool Award, presented during the November 7, 2016, BPL Board of Trustees meeting. The award was established in April to encourage library staff to come up with unique ideas to serve the Birmingham community.
The Birmingham Public Library Innovative and Cool grant recipients for November 2016 are as follows:

Inglenook Branch Library – purchase of Nintendo Entertainment System Classic Console
The Nissan slogan “Innovation that excites” is being used by the Inglenook Library as staff implements new ideas to better serve the community. With November being National Gaming Month, the Inglenook Library will use this award to purchase the retro Nintendo Entertainment System Classic Console being released November 11. This system has 30 classic games from the 1980s. The funds will be used to purchase the gaming console and allow children to experience retro games from the 1980s and hold a BPL Tecmo Bowl tournament,” said Michael Fagin of the Inglenook Library, who wrote the grant application.

East Ensley Branch Library – afterschool Christmas ornaments and decorations program for hospice patients in Birmingham
This grant will be used to purchase craft supplies to make holiday decorations and Christmas ornaments that will be donated to hospice patients at St. Martin’s in the Pines. Hospice representative Katrina Pigler will help make the crafts on Wednesday, December 7, 2016, and speak to the youth about the importance of giving. “Hopefully, the ornaments made by the children will show the families of the patients that others are thinking of them during the holiday season,” said Cynthia Phillips, a library assistant III who wrote the grant application.

Five Points West Regional Branch Library – Active Living senior adults program
For six years, the Five Points West Library has offered senior adults a program called Active Living that meets every Wednesday (except the first Wednesday). This grant will help offer more activities, which include exercise classes, cooking demonstrations, crafts, movies, gardening, games, and guest speakers. About 25 women participate in the program each session.

“When I ask for suggestions of what they would like to do, they simply tell me that anything I choose they will enjoy because coming to Five Points West Library is the highlight of their week,” said Monica Cottrell, a library assistant II who wrote the grant application. “This award will be used to continue to provide the ladies with entertaining, informative programs they look forward to having each Wednesday.

Wylam Branch Library – two grants: adult wreath and decoration program, and purchase board games for afterschool children's program
The Wylam Library has offered an adult program on the second Wednesday monthly for several years, and will use the money to buy wreaths and holiday decorations. Past programs have included genealogy, jewelry making, candle making, a painting class by Cherie Hunt, and downloadable media. “Each participant could express their creativity and take home the wreath to enhance their home decor,” said Connie Tolbert, library assistant III at the Wylam Library.

The second grant will be used to buy games such as Jenga, Uno, Trouble, and Connect 4 for students involved in Wylam Library’s afterschool programs “It is good to know that these simple pleasures we enjoyed as children are still entertaining in spite of all the technology,” Tolbert said.

For a complete list of BPL events, programs, and classes, visit

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Veterans Day Observed, 2016

by David Blake, Fiction Department, Central Library

On Friday, November 11, 2016, crowds coming from all over the metro area, the country, and perhaps even some international visitors, will converge in Birmingham for the 69th annual National Veterans Day parade which starts at 1:30 p.m. Birmingham can take pride in the fact that the National Veterans Day was originally established here in 1947. Raymond Weeks, other local veterans, and interested parties established Veterans Day to replace Armistice Day, which only focused on veterans of the Great War (World War I). National Veterans Day was signed into law in 1954 by President Eisenhower only seven years later. It was designated to take place annually on November 11 to honor all U. S. veterans from all wars involving U. S. troops. Many parades take place on this date, but Birmingham’s parade is the oldest and is still the largest.

We are now acknowledging the 100th anniversary of the Great War and much attention is being given to its commemoration both in the United States and abroad. The Central Library display shown above is just one small example.

It was called the Great War because dozens of countries and their colonies were engaged in battle. It was the first war in which bombs were dropped from the sky, killing civilians and soldiers alike. It was considered to be great, by many, as an ethical imperative and a mandate to counter what was widely considered to be evil military escalations from Germany, including genocide. Another term for the war was “the war to end all wars,” which invoked the notion of Armageddon and the biblical prophecies of end times. “The war to end all wars” dropped in usage as it became evident that another major worldwide war was looming in the late 1930s.

One hundred years ago . . . the Great War.

Veterans Day is not a name you will likely see worldwide. Many nations, especially in Western Europe, use the expression Remembrance Day for a holiday to remember their fallen military citizens. Almost all countries call it Remembrance Day in their own languages.

John McCrae
The Poppy Tradition

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

These are the first words of the famous poem, "In Flanders Fields," written by a Canadian soldier, John McCrae, following the death of a close comrade in 1915 at the horrific Battle of Ypres in Belgium. With the American entry into the war in 1917, Charles Ives wrote a song also titled "In Flanders Fields" (based on the poem) that became famously popular in the States. Americans began wearing paper poppies on their lapels to honor their fallen countrymen and soon the tradition spread. Remembrance poppies are now worn all over the world.

Back to Birmingham . . .

To learn more about Friday’s parade, other Veterans Day events or its history, visit

Whether you can attend the parade or not, be sure to take a moment of silence to remember the men and women in uniform who have put their lives in peril to preserve our precious freedoms.

York Minster

Recently I came across a moving tribute to those who have fallen in military service on our behalf. It is found in the Cathedral Gardens of York Minster in York, England, and it is specific to the losses of the Great War (World War I).


Veterans Day Observed, indeed.

From Page to Stage: A Christmas Carol: The Musical – A Reader’s Theater Workshop for Children, November 19-December 4

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

In anticipation of the upcoming BCT performance of A Christmas Carol, BPL will be hosting free workshops at several of its area libraries. Children, aged 5 to 12, will learn how stories come alive through the magic of theater. JLB members will coach the children and introduce them to similar literature located in their local library. Each child will receive two free tickets (one child and one adult ticket) to the BCT A Christmas Carol production in December 2016.

Ebenezer Scrooge is a prosperous curmudgeon who believes personal wealth is far more valuable than the happiness and comfort of others. With an infuriated "Bah! Humbug!" Scrooge summates his feelings of Christmas tidings and charitable giving, but he's forced to face his selfish ways when three ghosts on Christmas Eve lead him through his Past, Present, & Future. Thanks to their guidance, Scrooge recognizes his faults and greets Christmas morning with a cheerful "Happy Christmas" before spending the day reconnecting and sharing love with those that mean the most to him.

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

Avondale Regional Branch Library: Sunday, November 20, 2:30 p.m.
East Lake Branch Library: Saturday, November 19, 2:30 p.m.
Five Points West Regional Branch Library: Sunday, November 20, 2:30 p.m.
Pratt City Branch Library: Saturday, November 19, 2:30 p.m.
Southside Branch Library: Saturday, December 3. 2:30 p.m.
Springville Road Regional Branch Library: Sunday, December 4, 2:30 p.m.
West End Branch Library: Saturday, December 3, 2:30 p.m.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Central Library to Host Seminar on Cyber-Security for Small Business Owners on November 14

What: Cyber-Security Made Simple small business owners workshop
When: Monday, November 14, 2016, noon-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

On November 14, the Central Library will host a program for small business owners titled Cyber-Security Made Simple. The program is sponsored by the local chapter of SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives), a nonprofit organization committed to providing mentoring to small business owners and entrepreneurs. The program presenters will be computer specialists from Sawyer Solutions, a Pelham-based information technology company.

Frequently, small business owners think that, due to the size of their operations, they will not fall victim to the same kind of data hackers and online intruders that threaten big corporations. A recent survey conducted by Nationwide Insurance Co., however, indicated that nearly 65% of small businesses in the United States have experienced a computer information security breach. Many small business owners continue to operate under the assumption that they are not a cyber-target and, therefore, do not take the necessary steps to properly secure their IT systems. Unfortunately, the consequences of this oversight can be devastating.

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 e-mail at or by calling 205-226-3691.

Central Library Hosting Veterans Day Talk, Book Signing about Birmingham WWII Pilot

(l-r) William "Billy" McDonald, Claire L. Chennault, and John "Luke Williamson
Florida Air Races, Miami, 1935

Author visit and book signing by William "Billy" McDonald III, author of The Shadow Tiger: Billy McDonald, Wingman to Chennault
When: Thursday, November 10, 1:00-2:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor
Details: Books will be available for purchase and at the event

As a young child, William “Billy” McDonald III heard his father share fascinating tales of his adventures as a World War II fighter pilot for the United States. Now thanks to determination—and some luck—McDonald is sharing the story with the world through the publishing of a book that his father first started 52 years ago.

McDonald recently co-authored The Shadow Tiger: Billy McDonald, Wingman to Chennault along with Barbara L. Evenson. In honor of Veterans Day, he will hold a talk about his dad, a World War II aviation hero from metro Birmingham, on November 10 at the Central Library.

Read more about the book, tapped as Southern History's Book of the Month in October, at the link below:

All 19 locations of the Birmingham Public Library will be closed on Friday, November 11, in honor of Veterans Day and to celebrate the life and sacrifices of military heroes like Billy McDonald.

The Shadow Tiger covers a fascinating period in aviation and world history through the eyes of the young flyer, Billy “Mac” McDonald. The book has over 500 images, including photos, letters, documents, and maps. Through these, McDonald tells his own story, detailing the ordinary and extraordinary adventures of his life, says his son, William C. McDonald III.

The book also reflects a personal journey for McDonald’s son and his family. McDonald’s son spent five years organizing and selecting items from the family archives, talking to those who remembered his father or the era, and researching in books, articles, online, and in archives. He then drafted a 600-page manuscript.

Mac, CNAC Chief
Pilot, China
Billy McDonald III, in an interview, said that his father originally wanted to write a book about his flying adventures in 1964. After his father suffered a medical ailment that left him unable to talk in 1977, it looked like the book would never come to fruition. But in 2010, McDonald’s sister discovered in her basement a box containing thousands of his father’s personal letters and journals. Many were wet, and McDonald painstakingly dried out the letters, and over the course of five years put them together in a book which eventually became The Shadow Tiger, released in September 2016.

McDonald jumped from U.S. Army cadet to wingman in Claire Chennault’s famed aerobatic flying group, Three Men on a Flying Trapeze.

In China, he moved from instructor for the Chinese Air Force to combat pilot flying Chennault’s legendary Hawk 75 Special against the Japanese over Nanking in 1937. He began by ferrying world-famous passengers like Hemingway and high-value cargo like gold for the China National Aviation Corporation and then flew gasoline and gunpowder over The Hump (Himalayas) for Chennault’s Flying Tigers and the Chinese Army. Through it all, controversial and legendary aviator Claire Lee Chennault remained his mentor, often his boss and always his friend, indelibly shaping his life, explains the author.

Co-author Barbara L. Evenson spent over a year helping edit, organize and produce the book, which she believes is “the most complex and fascinating narrative I’ve worked with in 40 years of publications experience.”

The Shadow Tiger is the story of a remarkable career, and a man who bore witness to some of the twentieth century’s historic events and pivotal characters,” Evenson said. “McDonald tells us the tale in his own words through newly discovered photos, correspondence, and manuscripts, making this book both a primary source for researchers and a thrilling tale of adventure for readers.”

10-Year-Old Wins Community Quilt Drawing at North Avondale Library

(l-r) Juliette Watts, Kendall Glenn, and Saundra Ross

A 10-year-old girl from North Avondale won the drawing for a free community quilt held at the North Avondale Branch Library on Thursday, November 3, 2016.

The giveaway was organized by Juliette Watts of the Hands On Youth Activities Program, a Birmingham-based nonprofit. Thirty-four people ranging in age from 7 to 80 met 74 times over a six-month period to stitch the quilt.

Every time a participant helped, their name was placed in a drawing. Kendall Glenn had her name in the drawing three times, Watts said. Ironically, 10-year-old Myia Pressley, who won a contest to draw the name, had the best chance as her name was in the pot eight times since she helped stitch at eight meetings. The quilt was 66 by 65 squares. You can read more about the North Avondale Community Quilt Project on the Birmingham Public Library website at

Watts, a Community Scholar through the Alabama Folklife Association, specializes in the art of quilting, and was proud to see both young and older participants build new friendships while working on the North Avondale community quilt project. At the unveiling, she gave special thanks to the North Avondale Library and branch manager Saundra Ross for being the host site.

Watts founded Hands On Youth Activities Programs Inc. in 1996, a nonprofit that teaches traditional arts like quilting, crochet, sewing, and cooking to both the young and old. She began offering beginning quilting and other hands-on craft workshops at the North Avondale Library in 2015 and has led traditional arts workshops across the city of Birmingham over the past 20 years.

For more information on Hands On Youth Activities Program, contact Watts by phone at 205-244-1465, e-mail at, or via mail at P.O. Box 611072, Birmingham, AL 35261. See photos of the North Avondale Community Quilt Project and other Hands On Youth Activities Programs on its Facebook page link below:

Friday, November 04, 2016

Birmingham Public Library's Southern History Department Hosting Several Programs in November

Mary Anne Ellis at the Jump into the Gene Pool genealogy class
in August 2016. This is just one of many genealogy classes
offered by the Southern History Department that range from
introductory to advance levels.

November is a month of firsts for the Birmingham Public Library (BPL)’s Southern History Department: the department will be offering a new class on DNA testing services, the Trussville Public Library will be the first location to offer the class on Library Edition in the evening, and Fold3 will be taught on a Saturday afternoon as part of Birmingham Genealogical Society's monthly meeting.

The Southern History Department will also be hosting its first ever book talk on The Shadow Tiger on November 10 at the Central Library. The book by William McDonald III of Birmingham shares the story of his father, Billy McDonald, one of Birmingham's World War II aviation heroes. Read a review of The Shadow Tiger by Mary Anne Ellis, librarian in the Southern History Department.

Here are more details about Southern History’s November programs:
Introduction to Genealogy – Sunday, November 6, 2:30-3:30 p.m., Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Southern History Department

The Bases are Loaded! Genealogical Research with BPL's Databases – Monday, November 7, 2:00-3:00 p.m., Clay Public Library

Piles of Paper and Digital Dilemmas: Organizing Your Genealogy Research – Tuesday, November 8, 2:00-3:00 p.m., Hueytown Public Library

Author Visit with William C. McDonald: The Shadow Tiger: Billy McDonald, Wingman to Chennault – Thursday, November 10, 1:00-2:00 p.m., Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor

Fold3 (Military Database) – Saturday, November 12, 2:00-3:00 p.m., Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Computer Center, 4th floor Library Edition – Monday, November 14, 6:00-7:00 p.m., Trussville Public Library

Introduction to Genealogy – Tuesday, November 15, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Southern History Department

From Cards to Computers: Planning a Research Visit – Tuesday, November 15, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Homewood Public Library

DNA Genealogy Testing Services – Tuesday, November 15, 2:15-3:15 p.m., Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Computer Center, 4th floor. Registration required.

For more details on BPL’s Southern History Department, call 205-226-3665, e-mail or visit You can also like the department on Facebook at

Foreclosure Prevention Workshop to Be Held at Central Library on November 14

What: D&E’s Foreclosure Prevention Workshop: Preserve Your Home
When: Monday, November 14, 2016, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor
Details: The workshop is free, but registration is required. To register, please complete the form on the D&E website:

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 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 by e-mail at or by calling 205-226-3691. Further information about D&E, A Financial Education and Training Institute, Inc., can be found on the organization’s website at

Birmingham Neighborhood Libraries Begin Winter Hours on November 7

Seven of the Birmingham Public Library locations will begin their winter hours on Monday, November 7, 2016.

Neighborhood libraries East Ensley, Ensley, Inglenook, North Avondale, Powderly, Woodlawn, and Wylam will maintain this temporary schedule through early March 2017. The hours of operation will be as follows:
  • Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to noon and from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.
  • On Wednesdays, the libraries operate from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.
  • The seven neighborhood libraries will be closed for lunch from noon to 1:00 p.m. weekdays.
All other BPL locations will maintain their regular schedules.

Book Review: Made In America: An Informal History of the English Language In the United States

by Richard Grooms, Fiction Department, Central Library

Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States
Bill Bryson

I delayed reading Made In America for years because I’d already read Bill Bryson’s The Mother Tongue, a history of English in Britain. I assumed, even after skimming bits of Made, that it’d cover too much of the same territory. Once again, I underestimated Bryson. It of course has been wholly absorbing and stimulating to read. And not quite what the title, or the book’s subject headings, indicates. At least half the book is an unconventional history of America. True, Bryson says you have to know the social context to understand American English, but he uses this as a springboard to write that history of his native land he must’ve always wanted to. He drives a truck through this premise and I was glad to be a passenger.

And because this is a Bryson take on our history, you get a gadfly approach, a revisionist plea, a wandering look. That’s what I expect of Bryson once he gets into history and he can do this all he wants and I’m thankful. He is like, as the cliché says, the history teacher you liked best (and, if you had one, the History of English teacher you liked best). Bryson has a gift for explaining that one fact that illuminates a whole area that you didn’t even realize you incompletely understood. Case in point: in the section on pre-Columbus visitors to the New World, the author makes it clear that getting here wasn’t as near-impossible as you may have thought. “It would be possible to sail from Scandinavia to Canada without once crossing more than 250 miles of open sea.” Very, very difficult to get here it was. Just not as difficult as I thought. Which explains why so relatively many came.

One of the chief wonders of the book is all the obsolete versions of modern day words scattered throughout. Many of these have a richly antique, or just pleasantly strange, sound to them (and some could provide the framework for a steampunk novel or two). Newfoundland, for instance, used to be called Norumbega. Some of these notable words are listed in the left column below, while the current version is listed in the right column.

San Fernando
Roche Jaune
trackless trolleys
fireless cooker
electric lamp
wireless telephony
picture radio
Atmospheric Cabinet
photographic pellicule
gun operas
Vicksburg (Miss.)
(female) realtor
(photographic) film
movie projector
westerns (films)

You may have noticed old Spanish place-names in the list above. This brings up one of the most light-shedding things the book has to offer: the preponderance of such place-names in North America’s past. The French left their cultural mark on our geographic designations, but “No less a mark was made by the Spanish…Spain’s American dominions at one time stretched across most of the continent.” We forget this because of the smaller number of place-names remaining and because they are mostly west of the Mississippi. Because of this distorted lens, we minimize Spanish influence on our land. And don’t get Bryson started on Native American place-names.

Because he’s such a one for turning tables over, Bryson sometimes errs too much on the side of revising, as when he claims that the American Revolution came “not to secure America’s freedom, but to preserve it.” Or asserting that George Washington “was not a gifted military commander.” Or dismissing the Boston Massacre (overblown and mostly the Yank’s fault). Maybe Bryson’s lived in Britain too long. Jean de la Bruyere famously said that the opposite of what’s generally believed is what is often the truth. Often, maybe, but not usually. Sometimes Bryson sins are those of contextual omission, as when he mentions that, by the early 1800s, slavery was “widely detested in the North” and largely omits the fact that some slavery existed in the North at this time. But, in fairness, he does show that, pre-Civil War, free blacks in the North were hardly free in any meaningful since. Bryson’s openness to newly discovered facts and interpretations usually gives you a fresh, vital, and exciting take on American history and language. Because of this we learn that "stiff upper lip" is an Americanism, that the Victorian practice of covering up piano legs in little skirts is ”unverifiable,” and that panties once “signified undershorts for males.” Bryson lets us know that the notion that most of the immigrants who came here learned English quickly is largely a myth. In the late 19th and early 20th century, “It was possible—indeed, in some cases not unusual—to live an entire life in the United States and never use English.” Bilingual Americans were very common in this era (as they are today). Even Norwegians had forty papers in their own tongue. One reason we think so many Americans have British origins is because so many last names are British (or British-sounding). This is something I knew, but I didn’t fully realize the massive amount of Americans who changed their name to erase their ethnic origins, something they largely wanted to do so they could fit in (or avoid discrimination), and this has vexed genealogists and historians ever since. Like the place-name Anglicizations we’ve seen before, this is another way in which, for various reasons, we’ve homogenized the past in America.

And on it goes, this reassessment, this re-envisioning of America, as Bryson opens us to the fact that early roads in our land were simply trails, the beginnings of the bias against mass transit (much later than you might suspect), how L.A., of all places, had the first public transportation system in America. And that the Colonial Era Indians had a far healthier diet than the Europeans. By the way, “succotash, clam chowder, hominy, cornpone” and very many more familiar dishes were all Indian dishes. Even these food names were, in many cases, corruptions of Indian ones. We learn that American trains used to be much better than European ones. We learn that Piggly-Wiggly was the first self-service grocery chain and that shopping centers were originally intended to slow suburban sprawl and that “Until the early 1800s the average American home existed in near total darkness once night fell.” Sponsors used to not just advertise on radio programs but actually write them. Products such as “aspirin, linoleum…thermos…lanolin, celluloid, dry ice, escalator…and zipper” used to be “capitalized and worth a fortune” but they lost their trademark protection.

These surprising facts weren’t usually discovered by Bryson, but he has a genius at assembling them, getting them to hum, so as to trigger fascination and wonder. And, as with any Bryson book, there’s much more where these came from.

Let me leave you with a couple of items that Bryson trots out. One is an account of the sexual misery the Puritans inflicted on early colonists as well as how, even in the mid-20th century, Puritan writings required “heavy editing,” so profane were their content. No wonder we’re so confused. The end chapter contains the most sensible analysis of political correctness I’ve ever read, something of a miracle. And Bryson, though he doesn’t have our 20-years-later perspective, helps me to more fully understand that that Puritan confusion really does play out in political correctness today. PC is, among many things, a direct descendent of Puritanism. Thanks for the insight, Bill. Not bad for a gadfly.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Community Quilt to Be Given Away at North Avondale Library on November 3

Juliette Watts works on the community quilt

Since May 2, 2016, adults and youth alike have been gathering at the North Avondale Regional Branch Library, sewing one square at a time on what is being called the North Avondale Community Quilt Project. Led by longtime quilter Juliette Watts, 54 people ranging in age from 7 to 70 have gathered weekly, stitching what will end up a 70-by-70 square community quilt.

The group has bonded over the past six months, building friendships and seeing excitement grow as they near the end of a project they have poured countless hours into. To make the project more engaging and interesting, Watts decided to put all of the participants’ names in a pot each time they come to work on the quilt.

Now that the community quilt is finished, Watts will hold a special program at 3:30 p.m. on November 3, 2016, in which the grand prize winner whose name is drawn will win the community quilt. Though Watts told participants that some church, business, museum, or library may want to display the quilt, she said the ultimate decision is up to the winner.

“We are very excited about this community quilt project, and can’t wait for the grand finale,” Watts said. “We hope that everyone who participated can be a part of this great day in the North Avondale Community.”

Watts, a community scholar through the Alabama Folklife Association, specializes in the art of quilting, and is proud of participants both young and old who have bonded and built new friendships while working on the quilt project. She is especially thankful to the North Avondale Branch Library for being a host site. This is among dozens of programs taking place monthly via community groups, nonprofits, schools, and individuals partnering with the Birmingham Public Library (BPL)’s 19 libraries located across the city.

Watts founded Hands On Youth Activities Programs Inc. in 1996, a nonprofit that teaches traditional arts like quilting, crochet, sewing, and cooking to both the young and old. “Hand quilting is a forgotten art,” Watts said. “People don’t hand quilt like our ancestors did. We want to keep the art of quilting alive by teaching the young people of today. We also want to teach our youth how to machine quilt as well.”

Watts began offering Beginning Quilting workshops at the North Avondale Library in 2015, when she taught young patrons how to sew a pillow. She later held a workshop in which kids quilted a 16-by-16 square quilt before beginning the 70-by-70 project.

Besides the North Avondale quilt project, Watts has led traditional arts workshops across the city of Birmingham over the past 20 years. Among Watts’ past projects: Special Olympics World Winter Games Scarf Making workshop, Parents Crochet with Your Children workshop, Cherokee Leaf Pounding workshop, Let’s Plant Something, Fishing Expedition, Kids Cake Baking, and others.

For more information on Hands On Youth Activities Program, contact Watts by phone at 205-244-1465, e-mail at, or via mail at P.O. Box 611072, Birmingham, AL 35261. You can also follow the program on Facebook. See photos of the North Avondale Community Quilt Project and other Hands On Youth Activities programs on its Facebook page link below:

Announcing the President 100 Years Ago in 1916

In the age of 24/7 news and social media, the American people will find out who the next president is fairly quickly. In 1916, the Birmingham Age-Herald had an innovative way to let people know who won the election between the Republican candidate, Charles Evans Hughes, and Democrat candidate, Woodrow Wilson. 

If you were in downtown Birmingham, you could find out the results by looking at the side of the Age-Herald building where they would be displayed on a screen. If you were out of town, the Age-Herald put a spotlight on top of its building and used pre-arranged signals to let you know who had been elected president. The searchlight beam would point straight up if Wilson won; if Hughes was the winner, the searchlight beam would point toward north at an angle of 45 degrees. 

The 1916 election was a tight election, and early results in the newspapers predicted Charles Evan Hughes to be the victor, much to the chagrin of Alabama voters and the rest of the South who had overwhelmingly voted for Wilson.

It took three days for the Age-Herald to announce the winner using the spotlight as the public waited on voter results to be calculated all across the country. Wilson was declared the winner in both the popular and electoral vote and re-elected to the presidency. 

Sources: the Birmingham Age-Herald, November, 5, 8, and 10, 1916

Enjoyed this story? It's part of the Throwback Thursday series on the Southern History Department's Facebook page. 

Wednesday, November 02, 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.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Bards & Brews Sister City Connection Open Mic Night to Be Held at Birmingham Botanical Gardens on November 4

What: Bards & Brews Sister City Connection open mic poetry performance/beer tasting
When: Friday, November 4, with music by Josh Wheeler at 6:30 p.m., poetry performances at 7:00
Where: Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Strange Auditorium
Details: Admission is free and open to the public; however, attendees must be at least 18 to enter and 21 to sample beer—ID is required

At the final Bards & Brews of 2016, the spotlight will shine on female spoken word artists as the Birmingham Public Library's spoken word poetry/craft beer event tasting goes on the road this week to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. with light refreshments and craft beer as musical guest Josh Wheeler performs. Poetry begins to flow at 7:00 p.m. with Brian "Voice Porter" Hawkins serving as host. Beer will be provided by Cahaba Brewing Company and SweetWater Brewing Company.

Closing out its fifth year, Bards & Brews has been a popular roving poetry fest and craft beer tasting event at venues such as the Central Library, Avondale Regional Branch Library, Hoover Library, Vestavia Hills Library, Ruffner Mountain, and others. Since its inauguration, Emcee Brian "Voice Porter" Hawkins has deftly guided both novice and veteran poets through an evening of verse with topics that run the gamut from romantic relationships to the local political scene.

For more information, call 205-226-3670 or e-mail, or visit online at Bards &, or

Bards & Brews is made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.  

Teens Engineer BHM Hosts Robotics Marathon Weekend at Central Library on November 5-6

Teen librarian Lance Simpson with
STEM students at Central Library

What: Teens Engineer BHM Robotics Marathon for middle and high school students
When: November 5, 9:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.; November 6, 2:30-5:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Teen Zone, 2nd floor
Details: Free but registration required at or 205-226-3655

Teens Engineer BHM will host its first Robotics Marathon weekend November 5-6. “Hang out with us at the Central Library for a weekend of awesomeness complete with robots, programming, pizza, and our team of UAB School of Engineering students,” said Lance Simpson, system teen librarian for the Birmingham Public Library (BPL). “Our teens are very excited, and so are the UAB students with whom we've been working,” Simpson said. “This program will encourage students to push themselves academically, and prepare them for great success in future STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) careers.”

BPL purchased 3D printers and other engineering equipment to expand the program after being chosen as recipient in February of $50,000 from the UAB Benevolent Fund, a grant program funded by UAB employees. Teens Engineer BHM afterschool program has expanded from the Central Library to the Woodlawn and Southside Branch Libraries. Woodlawn Library’s Teens Engineer BHM program meets on Mondays at 3:30 p.m.; Southside Library's on Tuesdays at 3:30 p.m.; and Central Library's on Wednesdays at 3:30 p.m..

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