Showing posts from January, 2017

Birmingham Public Library Will Not Host Local Authors Expo in 2017

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) will not be holding its annual Local Authors Expo and Book Fair in 2017, BPL Interim Director Sandi Lee announced today.

The popular event, which features 100 authors from across metro Birmingham as well as writing workshops, has been hosted by the Friends of the Birmingham Public Library each February in the Central Library for a decade. Lee said BPL is tabling the Local Authors Expo this year, and is planning to retool the event in the future.

"We are exploring other avenues to highlight our local authors in bigger and better ways," Lee said. "We are looking forward to working with the authors and our communities to showcase the writing talent in the Birmingham area."

Use It or Lose It—Practice a Foreign Language (or American Sign Language) with Other People

by Kelly Laney, Springville Road Regional Branch Library

On Tuesday, March 21, at 6:30 p.m., there will be an organizational meeting for a new program at the Springville Road Regional Branch Library. We hope to put together small groups of people who want to practice a foreign language (or ASL) either with native speakers for whom English is a second language, or with other people who also want to learn. At the first meeting we will see who wants to practice which languages and set up times convenient for each language group to meet at the library for conversational practice sessions. We will also demonstrate the Mango Languages database.

Depending on the number of language groups and the interest shown, a monthly meeting for all participants may be organized to assess progress, share tips, work out glitches, and make sure all necessary resources are available. No prior experience or instruction in a foreign language is required; basic instructional materials will be ava…

Bards & Brews Fundraiser to Be Held at Central Library on February 3

What: Bards & Brews All Star Show
When:  Friday, February 3, 2017
Where:Central Library, Fiction Department, 1st floor
Details: Music by Clutch starts at 6:30 p.m.; poetry performances begin at 7: 00 p.m.

The future of Bards & Brews, the Birmingham Public Library’s (BPL) popular spoken word poetry and beer tasting event, is in jeopardy due to lack of funding, and the public is being asked to help.

A dedicated group of BPL staff and community supporters are working to keep Bards & Brews alive and vital. The Central Library will host a special All Star Bards & Brews featuring previous slam winners and crowd favorites on February 3 in which attendees will be asked to pay-what-they-can to enter. The library is planning another Bards & Brews fundraising event at an off-site location later in 2017. More details on that event will be announced at a later date.

Craft beer has been donated by Grayton Beer Company of Florida. Donations via cash, check, or credit card will be ac…

Another Perspective: Artwork by E. Bruce Phillips, Jr. Exhibit at Central Library January 27-February 26, 2017

What:Another Perspective: Artwork by E. Bruce Phillips, Jr. exhibit
When: January 27-February 26, 2017, during library hours
Where: Central Library, Fourth Floor Gallery
Details: Opening reception scheduled for Saturday, February 11, 2:00-4:00 p.m., Fourth Floor Gallery. Free and open to the public.

E. Bruce Phillips’ work is an exploration of the connection between humans and the environment as reflected in man-made structures. He is known for use of circles, straight lines, and what Phillips calls his own “curvilinear markings” as a form of artistic expression. Color and texture, the richness of architecture and spatial relationships, and the marriage of precise perspective with the mystery of abstract add layers of complexity that are inherent to our relationship with our physical surroundings.

Phillips’ newer works include photography which seeks to capture the distinctive style and architecture in downtown Montreal or New Orleans, the gritty crumbling buildings and bridges of Ameri…

The Gift of a DNA Genealogy Test Kit

This past holiday season was filled with TV commercials advertising DNA genealogy testing kits from FamilyTreeDNA, AncestryDNA, and 23andMe. You might have received a DNA genealogy testing kit as a Christmas present, and it started you thinking about your family and their heritage. Wouldn’t it be great if there was someone to guide you on navigating DNA genealogy testing services and share about their real life experiences?

Paul Boncella of the Southern History Department will explore the offerings of the three major DNA genealogy testing services (FamilyTreeDNAAncestryDNA, and 23andMe) this Saturday, January 28, from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m., in the Arrington Auditorium. He will teach you how to make full use of their websites and make the most of your DNA test results. This is the first Beyond the Basics of Genealogy workshop of 2017 and is appropriate for anyone thinking about testing their DNA for genealogical purposes or those who have already tested their DNA using one of thes…

Money Matters – Where to Invest Your College Money Workshop Scheduled for February 1 at the Central Library

What: Where to Invest Your College Money workshop
When: Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Time: 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Where:Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC), 4th floor

Upcoming Dates/Workshops
3/1/2017 – Your Credit Report
4/5/2017 – Saving Through Tax Refunds
5/3/2017 – Five Keys to Investing Success
Time: 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Place: Central Library, Regional Library Computer Center

I think everyone would agree that getting accepted into the college of your choice is a thrilling event and a cause for great celebration. Unfortunately, having to face up to the task of paying for college is not nearly as joyous. According to the College Board, the average annual cost, including room and board, of attending a public university during the current school year of 2016-2017 is $20,092. That, of course, seems like nothing compared to the cost to attend a private university, which is $45,365. What’s even more frightening is that if you calculate college cos…

Free Tax Prep Assistance and Forms at Birmingham Public Library

Check back for updates.

Note: Currently the Government Documents Department at the Central Library has federal forms and booklets for 1040A and 1040Z; and just forms for 1040. Alabama state forms and booklets are expected to arrive in February. 

As a service to the community, the Birmingham Public Library provides some copies of current federal and Alabama tax forms, instructions, and publications. The following forms/booklets are available at most library locations: Federal—1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ forms only; State—40 and 40NR forms and instruction booklets. Please call the library location to make sure that the form(s) you need is available. All other forms and instructions can be found online at

Federal Forms
IRS forms and publications
Request IRS forms by mail

State Forms
Alabama Department of Revenue

General Resources
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) - This governmental site has United States federal income tax forms, information, and tips. Includes warnings about tax frauds and…

Southern History Book of the Month: Dead Towns of Alabama

by Mary Anne Ellis, Southern History Department, Central Library

Dead Towns of Alabama
W. Stuart Harris

Despite the gloomy-sounding title, W. Stuart Harris’ Dead Towns of Alabama is a lively history of our state’s villages, forts, and other communities that have been depopulated through various circumstances such as war, forced relocation of their inhabitants, natural disasters, financial crashes, or simply the inevitable march of time. The book was originally issued for the American Bicentennial observances in 1976 under the auspices of the Alabama Bicentennial Commission, and now that celebrations of the upcoming Alabama Bicentennial are about to begin, this is an excellent time to take a look through Dead Towns. It lends itself well to browsing; you can open it just about anywhere for a brief history of a vanished community.

Take the mysterious Maubila (also spelled Mabila or Mavila), where the Hernando DeSoto expedition met in battle with Chief Tuscaloosa:
The site of one of the mos…

The Road to Super Bowl LI

Super Bowl LI is almost here.  We will find out tomorrow who will be competing for the NFL’s ultimate prize.  In the AFC, we have the usual suspects: New England and Pittsburgh.  The NFC is another story.  It’s no surprise that Green Bay “ran the table” and found their way into the NFC Championship game, but I don’t think many people counted on the Atlanta Falcons to make it.  Last year, the Carolina Panthers had an unbelievable run to the Super Bowl and expectations were high that they would produce another good season.  It didn’t happen this year.  Despite their struggles in the playoffs in the past, the Atlanta Falcons find themselves at home playing for a chance to make it to the Super Bowl for the first time in almost 20 years.
The Dallas Cowboys had a fairy tale season.  They had the best record in the NFC (13-3) which provided them with a bye week and home-field advantage for the playoffs.  Led by two Pro Bowl rookies, running back Ezekiel Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott, …

Registration Open For February 2017 Classes

Registration is now open for staff and the public for the February 2017 Classes. 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 February 2017 Class Schedule flyer to bring to a Computer Commons staff member on your next library visit. Please note that the February 2017 Class Schedule can be sent to us as an email attachment.

Get Organized in 2017

by Karnecia Williams, Inglenook Branch Library

Raising children who are involved in sports can be one of the most enjoyable yet demanding aspects of parenthood. Parents are often left exhausted after washing smelly clothes several times a week, ensuring that their children attend practices, and traveling to games that are sometimes a little farther away than their taste. They accomplish all of their children’s sports needs while also helping them manage school. This is only one example of how busy our lives can be especially when we are caring for others. Well, as in anything involving multiple tasks, organization is a necessity. Fortunately, there are a plethora of resources available at the Birmingham Public Library that can not only help sports parents maintain their sanity and streamline their tasks, but others who are busy in other ways. Check out the books below!

The Smart But Scattered Guide to Success: How to Use Your Brain's Executive Skills to Keep Up, Stay Calm, and Get …

Book Review: The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll: The Search for Dare Wright

by Richard Grooms, Fiction Department, Central Library

The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll: The Search for Dare Wright
Jean Nathan

It’s a commonplace that it’s more interesting to read about dysfunctional families than well-adjusted ones. And it’s especially true that it’s less embarrassing and squeamish to read when the biographer is tactful, judicious, and sympathetic. Jean Nathan manages all this with The Secret Life. As with the Maylses’ Grey Gardens documentary about the Beale sisters, Big and Little Edie, Nathan’s book doesn’t make you feel like she’s exploitative or that you’re a voyeur. Reading about overbearing Edie (yes, Dare’s mother is also a called Edie), sheltered daughter Dare, and fragile brother Blaine is a route to understanding and compassion, not ridicule. The author threads a very difficult needle. This is a roundabout way of saying that you can have your cake and eat it too.

Dare Wright was one of the most popular children’s book authors of the fifties and sixties…

Boom! Train Explosion in Woodlawn area of Birmingham

Have you ever heard a loud noise and wondered what is the world could have made that sound? Today, we head online to social media and media outlets as the news is almost instant. One hundred years ago in 1917, that was not the case, and the citizens of Birmingham had to wait until the next morning to read in the newspaper what really happened.

On January 7, 1917, readers of The Birmingham Age-Herald and The Birmingham News discovered that there had been an explosion on Birmingham special train of the Southern Railway near Woodlawn. Ambulances rushed to Terminal Station, and carried the wounded to local hospitals. The explosion killed 3 people and injured 15 people. The explosion was not an accident, but a deliberate act perpetrated by Louis Walton.

How did this happen? Passenger Louis Walton carried a small bag into the train’s lavatory, and the lavatory was the site of the explosion. Several witnesses on the train saw Walton with a glass bottle possibly containing nitroglycer…

Book Review: The Education of Henry Adams

by David Blake, Fiction Department, Central Library

The Education of Henry Adams
Henry Adams

You may have heard of the film trivia game, “seven degrees of separation which references Kevin Bacon.” Henry Adams is the "Kevin Bacon” of the history of the United States. He led a remarkable life and was connected through friendship and family relation to our most important historical figures from the Revolutionary era (through his grandfather John Quincy Adams) to the Kennedy administration (through his friendship with a young Eleanor Roosevelt). But The Education of Henry Adams is not a tell-all series of anecdotes about the scores of interesting people he met and knew. Rather, it is an introspective look at the useful and difficult self-education that emerged from his dealings with the important figures of his era, roughly the last half of the nineteenth century.

The heart of this autobiography is the decade of young Henry Adams’ unpaid service as personal secretary to his father, Ch…

Play the Martin Luther King, Jr. Trivia Game at Five Points West Library

Do you know what Martin Luther King Jr.'s original first name is?

Test your knowledge on the foremost modern American  civil rights Leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by participating in our trivia contest.

There are two ways to play:

Visit the Five Points West Regional Branch Library branch to experience a trivia tour! Answer the trivia questions correctly and enter to win a prize.

Or you can visit the Five Points West Library Facebook page and enter daily for a chance to win a prize online.

There will be two prizes awarded, one for online patrons and one for the trivia tour in the library. The drawing will be held Friday, January 20, 2017.

Birmingham Public Library, Birmingham Bar Foundation to Host Student Mock Trial Program

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) and the Birmingham Bar Foundation, in conjunction with the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of Alabama, are joining forces to host the Spring 2017 Student Mock Trial Program.

The program is designed to introduce 30 students from grades six through 12 to the critical thinking, technology, and advocacy skills utilized in trial practice, said Lance Simpson, teen librarian for BPL. After learning and developing these skills, the program will culminate in a mock trial conducted in a courtroom. During the trial, program participants will assume the roles of lawyers, witnesses, and judge.

“We are excited to announce a new mock trial program for middle and high school students that will take place at our Central Library,” Simpson said. “We will have an informal meeting to provide an introduction to the program for interested students and parents on Thursday, January 19, from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.”

All of the Student Mock Tr…

The Princeton Review's Full SAT/ACT Essentials Available Online Now

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Complete a full length practice test and see your score.See the areas in which you need to improve.Watch videos to learn important test taking strategies.Take practice drills to help raise your scores.
We know preparing for college can feel overwhelming. Fortunately SAT/ACT Essentials is available 24/7, so you’ll be able to fit study time into your busy schedule. But getting into your dream school takes more than great test scores; don’t forget the tutors at can also help you raise your GPA through …

Birmingham City Councilor Lashunda Scales donates $25,000 to Springville Road Library

Birmingham City Councilor Lashunda Scales has donated $25,000 to the Springville Road Regional Branch Library as part of her District 1 Holiday Gala held recently at Huffman High School.

The check from Scales was among several she presented to neighborhood groups, schools, police, and others located in the eastern Birmingham District 1 community Scales represents on the City Council. Birmingham Public Library Interim Director Sandi Lee and BPL Board of Trustees members Willie Davis and Georgia Blair were present to accept the check.

Lee said she is appreciative of Scales’ longtime support of the Springville Road Library. Scales District 1 Holiday Gala is among several community events she hosts in District 1 throughout the year to serve the citizens of her district.

"On behalf of Birmingham City Council District One, it is my honor to invest $25,000 to the Springville Road Library to provide additional resources and tools to better enhance the educational prosperity of all of …

MLK Lecture “A Conversation on Islam in America” to Be Held January 15 at Central Library

What: Begin the Day: The 14th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Lecture – "The First Step: A Conversation on Islam in America"
When: Sunday, January 15, 2017, 3:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor
Details: Free and open to the public

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) is partnering with the Birmingham Islamic Society to host an in-depth discussion on what it is like to be a follower of Islam in the United States. “The First Step: A Conversation on Islam in America” is the topic of BPL’s 14th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Lecture on January 15 at the Central Library.

The MLK Memorial Lecture will feature four young people from Birmingham’s Islamic community sharing their experiences and answering questions about their lives and their faith, said Jim Baggett, head of BPL’s Archives & Manuscripts Department. The Birmingham Public Library has been hosting the MLK Lecture every weekend of the MLK holiday s…

Birmingham Mayor to Give State of the City 2017 Address at Pratt City Library on January 10

Birmingham Mayor William Bell will give his annual State of the City address on Tuesday, January 10, first before a downtown business group luncheon and again during an evening address at the Pratt City Branch Library.

Bell will speak at the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham’s weekly luncheon taking place on Tuesday, January 10, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., at the Harbert Center. That luncheon is for members only and their guests.

The public, however, is welcome to attend Bell’s State of the City address between 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 10, at the Pratt City Branch Library.

The Future of Bards & Brews

It is a new year and time for another Bards & Brews.

Except, the library is facing new challenges this year and we are unable to have a Bards & Brews this month.

Here are the three main challenges the Bards & Brews program is facing in 2017:

1) Last year the state legislature passed a bill (aka the growler bill) that included language that put a big limitation on beer donations by Alabama's breweries. In order to continue serving beer at these events, we are going to have to actually purchase the beer—and it is not possible for us to use library (aka taxpayer) money to purchase beer.

2) The grant cycle for this program has run its course. 2017 is the sixth year of Bards & Brews and our grant funding has essentially disappeared since the program is no longer a novel idea.

3) The Birmingham Public Library has had to re-prioritize budgeting for programs and there is no money for us to pay our servers, provide refreshments, cash prizes for slam winners, and so forth.

From Page to Stage: Einstein is a Dummy – A Reader’s Theater Workshop for Children

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: Einstein is a Dummy – A Reader's Theater Workshop for Children.

In anticipation of the upcoming BCT performance of Einstein is a Dummy, 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 Einstein is a Dummy production in January and February 2017.

As an adult, Albert Einstein changed our view of the universe. But as a boy, he struggled with the same issues any 12-year-old might—keeping up with violin lessons, impressing the girl next door, and, oh yeah, comprehending the fundamental relationship of…

Hoopla Digital Library Available at BPL

Bringing you hundreds of thousands of movies, full music albums, audiobooks, and more, hoopla is a revolutionary digital service made possible by your local library. From Hollywood blockbusters to best selling artists and authors—not just the hits, but the niche and hard-to-find as well—you’ll soon discover that hoopla provides you the freedom you've been searching for to experience, explore, and enjoy what you want, when you want, and where you want. Simple to access and use, without the hassle of having to return the items you've borrowed, all you need is your library card, a web browser, smart phone, or tablet to get started. The freedom you want is here, now. Sign up today.

Birmingham Public Library Receives Donation of 106 Books in Honor of Homicide Victims

The Jefferson County Millennial Democrats has donated 106 children’s books to the Birmingham Public Library in honor of homicide victims killed in the city in 2016.

Each of the 106 books has a victim’s name inscribed inside the front cover in memory of 104 people and two unborn babies who were victims of a homicide last year. The donations were made during a dedication ceremony held Sunday, January 1, 2017, at the West End Branch Library.

At the ceremony, Le'Darius Hilliard, president of the Jefferson County Millennial Democrats, said he "hopes to bring light" to senseless violence in Birmingham through the book donation. Birmingham Public Library representatives and Jefferson County District Attorney Charles Henderson attended the dedication, in which Hilliard said he hopes the books encourage children to pursue education vs. violent behavior.