Showing posts from February, 2017

Birmingham Public Library Student Mock Trial Program Heading into Home Stretch

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) is heading into the home stretch of the inaugural Spring 2017 Student Mock Trial Program. BPL is partnering with the Birmingham Bar Foundation and the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of Alabama to put on the program that exposes teens to the criminal justice system.

On Thursday, February 23, at the Central Library, students learned how lawyers prepare closing arguments at trials. In three weeks (Thursday, March 16), the students will participate in a mock trial in a Jefferson County courtroom.

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.

All of the Stu…

Bards & Brews Open Mic Poetry Performance Scheduled for March 3 at Central Library

What:  Bards & Brews Open Mic Poetry Performance/Beer Tasting
When:  Friday, March 3, 2017. Music by George Griffin begins at 6:30 p.m., poetry at 7:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Fiction Department, 1st floor
Details: Free and open to the public. Attendees must be at least 18 to enter and 21 to participate—ID is required.
How to Donate: Call Brandon C. Smith at 205-591-4944. Donations are being accepted at the door, online at or by mail at The Birmingham Public Library, Development Department, 2100 Park Place, Birmingham, AL 35203.

The Birmingham Public Library will host its popular spoken word event Bards & Brews March 3 at the Central Library. This event, designed to raise funds to help keep Bards & Brews alive, will be open mic, allowing both novice and veteran poets to sign up to share their spoken word talent.

Like the February 3 Bards & Brews All-Star event that featured a lineup of past winners, donations will be accepted at…

Birmingham Bound Presents A Mind to Stay: White Plantation, Black Homeland

What: Author talk and book signing by Sydney Nathans, author of A Mind to Stay: White Plantation, Black Homeland
When: Monday, March 13, 2017, 6:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Arrington Auditorium
Details: Free and open to the public. Books will be available for purchase.

A historian who used the Birmingham Public Library Archives Department to research a book about African Americans who moved from being slaves to homeowners will hold a book signing and talk at the Central Library in March. Sydney Nathans, author of A Mind To Stay: White Plantation, Black Homeland, will speak on March 13. In A Mind to Stay, Nathans tells the rare story of African Americans who moved from being enslaved to becoming owners of the very land they had worked in bondage, and who have held onto that land from emancipation through the civil rights era.

Nathans' author talk/book signing is among two taking place in March as part of BPL’s Birmingham Bound author series. On Monday, March 20, at 6:00 p.m. insi…

Digital Dixie 2: A Beyond the Basics of Genealogy Workshop

Do you have ancestors from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, or Texas? If you answered yes, you need to attend Digital Dixie 2 on Saturday March 4, 2017, 10-11:30 a.m., in the Central Library's Arrington Auditorium. In this Beyond the Basics of Genealogy workshop, you will discover digital genealogy resources that you never knew existed from these Southern states and learn search strategies to find untapped information and locate your ancestor. Digitization has changed the amount of genealogy resources available, and it is even easier to do genealogy at a distance. However, not all digital genealogy resources exist in popular genealogy databases, such as Ancestry or FamilySearch, and Digital Dixie 2 is about those digital genealogy resources that are located in places online you may not have ever thought to look.

Digital Dixie 2 will cover how to locate digital collections, how to search effectively, and how to track and organize your digital research. You w…

Sweet Home: Alabama’s History in Maps Exhibit Available March 1-April 30, 2017

What:Sweet Home: Alabama’s History in Maps exhibit
When: March 1-April 30 during library hours
Where: Central Library, Fourth Floor Gallery
Details: Opening reception held March 5, 3:00-5:00 p.m., Fourth Floor Gallery. Free and open to the public.

Sweet Home: Alabama’s History in Maps is an exciting new exhibit from the Birmingham Public Library. The exhibit opens in the Fourth Floor Gallery of the Central Library on Wednesday, March 1, and runs through Sunday, April 30. The public is invited to attend an opening reception for the exhibit on Sunday, March 5, 3:00-5:00 p.m., in the Fourth Floor Gallery. The entire exhibit is also available online at

Timed to coincide with Alabama’s upcoming bicentennial, this exhibit tells the history of our state by introducing patrons to maps that depict Alabama’s development from the earliest days of exploration through the present day. Partially funded by a grant from the Alabama Humanities Foundation, the exhibit explores 450…

Thinking Outside the Box—North Avondale Library Hosting Cowboy, Boots & Books, Awesome On Purpose Girls Mentoring Programs

With her library adjacent to Hayes K-8 School, North Avondale Library Branch Manager Saundra Ross strives to come up with programs that fill a need and introduce young people to a world outside their environment.

Two new programs being offered at the North Avondale Branch Library fit that mold. At 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 22, the library will host Cowboy, Boots & Books in which a black Birmingham cowboy will talk to students about what it is like to be a cowboy. On Tuesday, February 28, at 9:00 a.m., the library will host the weekly Awesome On Purpose mentoring session designed to build a positive self-image in young girls and teenagers.

Ross said it is part of North Avondale Library’s desire to serve the community. “With our cowboy program, the kids will get to meet Todd Morris,” Ross said. “They will make paper cowboy boots and hear him talk about what cowboys do. He will show them how cowboys use rope to lasso cattle, and explain about the spurs on the boots.”

Ross is …

The Butler Did It

by Maya Jones, West End Branch Library

I come from a long line of mystery buffs. My mother loves to read mysteries and watch television mystery series and films. My father loves to watch mysteries but doesn’t read them. I’m always telling him, “Dad, you know this mystery series is based on a book, right?” Ever in hope that one day, he will actually read a mystery and decide that he likes the book better than the television series or movie. It’s not that my father doesn’t read but he likes to read newspapers, journals, and magazines that deal with politics, business, and finance.

Anyway, since we're celebrating Black History Month here at the Birmingham Public Library, I decided that this might be the time to showcase African American mystery writers.

Frankie Y. Bailey is a criminal justice professor at the University at Albany, State University of New York. She has written numerous nonfiction books about crime and is the author of the Hannah McCabe and Lizzie Stuart mystery s…

Money Matters – Your Credit Report Workshop Scheduled for March 1, 2017

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

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…

Computer Skills Center: LearningExpress Library


Southern History Book of the Month: They Too Call Alabama Home: African-American Profiles 1800—1999

by Mary Anne Ellis, Southern History Department, Central Library

They Too Call Alabama Home: African-American Profiles 1800-1999
Richard Bailey

African American History Month is a busy time in the library and this resource gets a workout. Leafing through They Too Call Alabama Home was a re-discovery of this resource for me; I’ve used it on a regular basis to look up answers to questions, but after taking some time to explore it I found plenty of new information (and realized how much I’d forgotten). If someone asks about African Americans with Alabama connections, there are names that instantly come to mind: Henry “Hammerin’ Hank” Aaron, W.C. Handy, Carrie Tuggle, Willie Mays, Coretta Scott King.

But I had never heard of James Reese Europe, AKA The King of Jazz, who was born in Mobile, fought in World War I, and formed his band after he recovered from being gassed in the trenches. I had heard of poet Sonia Sanchez, but never knew that she was born in Birmingham. Or there’s Louphenia …

Book Review: United States of Jihad

by Shea Robinson, Fiction Department, Central Library

United States of Jihad (2016)
Peter Bergen

United States of Jihad: Investigating America's Homegrown Terrorists examines the cases of American citizens that have been charged or convicted with crimes of terrorism. Since September 11, 2001, approximately 330 American citizens have been prosecuted for some form of jihadist terrorist crime. While some of these crimes have occurred within the borders of the US, others have been terrorist conspiracies that took place in other countries. These crimes are categorized as a form of treason since the intent of this radical ideology is to kill Americans. This book examines the circumstances, training, and motivations that led these particular individuals to commit these crimes.

The author, Peter Bergen, is a professor within the School of Politics and Global Studies at Arizona State University. He is also a CNN national security analyst and has testified before the U.S. House of Representati…

Thinking Outside the Box—Inglenook Library's Children's Book Club, Black History Programs Drawing in Young People

Inglenook Library Branch Manager Karnecia Williams believes libraries must think outside the box to show young people that libraries offer more than just books.

Last fall, the library won an Innovative and Cool Award from the Birmingham Public Library Board of Trustees after library assistant Michael Fagin devised an afterschool program in which young people come play retro video games on a new Nintendo video game console. This month, the Inglenook Branch Library is offering several unique activities that have drawn large crowds.

During the month of February, the Inglenook Library is hosting seven different programs exposing teens and pre-teens to various parts of black culture. On February 7, the library hosted Young Leadership Tuesday: Celebrating Black Music. On February 9, it hosted a program about a black entrepreneur, A Taste of History: George Crum and the Potato Chip.

On February 13, Williams invited youth to participate in a filming of the Mannequin Challenge that has drawn o…

Registration Open For March 2017 Classes

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

Readers are Leaders Children’s Book Club at Inglenook Library Tenth in BPL System

As a parent and branch manager of Inglenook Branch Library, Karnecia Williams knows the importance of reading.

Seeing a need, Williams is launching a new book club for children as part of the library’s Black History Month programs. The Readers Are Leaders Children's Book Club hosted its first meeting at 3:30 p.m. on February 15 at the Inglenook Branch Library. Meetings will be held the third Wednesday of each month.

Williams said youth who attend afterschool programs at the Inglenook Library are looking forward to joining the book club.

“I am excited that through the Readers are Leaders Children’s Book Club, we here at Inglenook Library will be able to share with young people the joy of reading,” Williams said. “I welcome parents and young people interested in this club to give me a call at 205-849-8739.”

If you are an avid reader and want to meet fellow book lovers, there are ten book clubs open to the public at library locations across the City of Birmingham. Here is a listing…

Free Concerts Scheduled in February as Part of Black History Month Celebration at BPL

Two singing performances the weekend of February 18-19 are among four free concerts taking place over five days as part of the Birmingham Public Library’s observance of Black History Month.

The concerts are among dozens of programs taking place at many of BPL’s 19 libraries as part of its celebration of Black History Month in February. Read more at the link below:

Schedule of concerts:
10th Annual Black History Month Concert featuring J.D. Jackson
Five Points West Regional Branch Library
Saturday, February. 18, 2017, 2:00 p.m.

Music of African American Diaspora, a Joint Recital Featuring Jillian Rogers, soprano, and Jeremy McMillian, piano, both doctoral students in musical arts at University of Alabama
Central Library, Arrington Auditorium
Sunday, February 19, 2017, 3:00 p.m.

Wenonah High School Choir Presents Celebrating African American History Through Music
Powderly Branch Library Tuesday, February 21, 5:…

Playaway Launchpad Learning Tablets Now Available for Checkout

The Public Libraries In Jefferson County announced today that Playaway Launchpad tablets are now available at most locations for patron checkout. The Library Cooperative (made up of 40 locations) received a $25,000 federal grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Alabama Public Library Service, Montgomery, Alabama.

Playaway Launchpads are designed especially for youth and are pre-loaded with high-quality, ad-free apps that are both fun and educational. Apps are grouped onto Launchpad tablets by subject area, theme, grade level, and age, making it easy for parents and kids to choose a tablet with the content most appealing to them. Every Launchpad is 100% secure, providing hours of interactive learning and play without the risk of exposure to unintended content. The Launchpad content collection spans subject areas from math and science to critical thinking and creativity, and features themed learning packs including animals, princesses, fantasy, nature, and …

Book Review: The Master of the Prado

by David Blake, Fiction Department, Central Library

The Master of the Prado
Javier Sierra

When Da Vinci, Raphael, and Titian created their revered masterpieces, they were in the first generations of artists to paint in oils. Oil paintings were rare and held to be revelations from God. Painters prayed and meditated for days before engaging their canvases. Raphael was called divine. The Spanish kings ruled a global empire. They collected and commissioned works from these geniuses and their brilliant, extensive collections are in the Prado in Madrid.

Today, we admire these paintings for their beauty and the technical skill they display. We understand they carry messages, some we understand, others perhaps not, but we assume they adhere to the strictures of the Catholic Inquisition. In The Master of the Prado, the fictional narrator recalls days years ago when he was a student in Madrid and Luis Favel appeared to him in the lonely galleries of the Prado. The older man showed him ways to fi…

Birmingham African American Genealogy Group Hosting Black Heritage Fair at Central Library on February 11

What: 18th Annual Black Heritage and Genealogy Fair
When: Saturday, February 11, 11:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Arrington Auditorium
Details: Registration begins at 10:30 a.m. Free and open to the public. Door prizes will be given away.

Thanks to research at the Birmingham Public Library and membership in the Birmingham African American Genealogy group, Philip Owens of Talladega has been able to gain knowledge of his family ancestry.

The Black Heritage Fair will feature African dance and music, African art, exhibits on youth in genealogy, booths displaying how to research black history back to slavery days, vendors, and more. This year’s theme is “Crisis in Black Education,” featuring guest speaker Jackie Smith, a member of the Jefferson County Board of Education.

The Black Heritage Fair is among several events the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) is hosting in celebration of Black History Month across the city in February. For a listing of library events, go to www.bplonlin…

The Popular Teens Engineer BHM Gets Students Excited about Math and Science

by Pam Jessie, Woodlawn Branch Library

In January three Birmingham Public Library locations (Central, Southside, and Woodlawn) resumed their highly successful teen program, Teens Engineer BHM.

Teens Engineer BHM is an ongoing program that focuses on middle and high school students with an interest in math and science. The program was formed as the result of BPL teen librarian Lance Simpson’s partnership with the UAB School of Engineering. BPL applied for and was awarded the UAB Benevolent Fund grant, which has helped to purchase computers and other supplies necessary for the success of the program.

The students at Woodlawn Library thoroughly enjoyed this program in the fall of the school year and are ready to get started this spring. All middle and high schoolers are welcome and don’t worry if you miss a week—the projects are designed so that you won’t “fall behind” on what’s being done. Students are welcome to come when time allows.

Teen Engineer BHM is offered at the follow…

Book Review: Cat Sense

by Richard Grooms, Fiction Department, Central Library

Cat Sense
John Bradshaw

Scientists didn’t use to study domestic cats. They considered it beneath them. That changed a generation ago. Cat Sense brings this research up to 2013 when the book came out. John Bradshaw is an anthrozoologist, that is to say he specializes in animal-human relations. More particularly, he specializes in the domestic cat. About 14 years ago Stephen Budiansky provided this same type of account for general readers in The Character of Cats. It was a revelation for me, discovering that scientists had started studying these felines and that what they’d found out was as interesting as I’d hoped it would be.

Bradshaw’s book would bring me more or less up to date, I thought. I was right. Though Bradshaw isn’t as adept at Budiansky at making everything engaging, he runs a close second. And there’s no one else to turn to anyway. A cat owner himself as well as someone who does field research, he has a well-rounded per…