Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Birmingham Public Library Student Mock Trial Program Heading into Home Stretch

Teen participants learn how trials work to pepare for the mock trial on March 16.
Teen Librarian Lance Simpson listens at the back of the class. For more photos
of the Spring 2017 Mock Trial Program, visit the BPL Flickr page.

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 Student Mock Trial Program classes, held in the second floor Teen Zone Learning Lab of the Central Library, are taught by distinguished Birmingham area attorneys. Classes began January 19 and conclude with a mock trial on Thursday, March 16. During the mock trial, students will utilize the skills taught in the preceding weeks by assuming the roles of a trial—from prosecutor and defense attorney arguing a case, to a judge, jury, and witnesses.

For more information, call Simpson at 205-226-3655 or e-mail him at lmsimpson@bham.lib.al.us. You may register online through the BPL event calendar. Read more about the program at

Schedule for Spring 2017 Student Mock Trial Program (held Thursdays, 3:30-5:00 p.m.)
Remaining sessions (held in the Central Library's Teen Zone except the mock trial) are:

Week 7 (March 2) - Courtroom Technology & Preparation for the Mock Trial
Week 8 (March 9) - Preparation for Mock Trial
Week 9 (March 16) - Mock Trial

Monday, February 27, 2017

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

Poet Blaque Diamond took the stage at the February All Star Show

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 www.bplonline.org/about/contributions/ 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 the door or online for the March 3 Bards & Brews. Beer tasting will be available courtesy of Grayton Beer Company of South Walton County, Florida, and The J. Clyde will be serving the beer. Blues guitarist George Griffin will provide musical entertainment beginning at 6:30 p.m., with poetry beginning to flow at 7:00 p.m. with poet Brian “Voice Porter” Hawkins serving as host.

Hawkins is among several poets and community supporters helping BPL staff raise money for the popular spoken word event. A grant that funded Bards & Brews for six years has run out, and BPL is in need of the public’s help to keep the monthly program going, Hawkins said.

The public can make donations to support Bards & Brews at www.bplonline.org/about/contributions/ or send donations to Birmingham Public Library, Development Department, 2100 Park Place, Birmingham, AL 35203. For more information about Bards & Brews, call Brandon C. Smith of the Eastwood Branch Library at 205-591-4944 or email him at bcsmith@bham.lib.al.us.

Follow Bards & Brews on Facebook and look for more news on fundraising efforts on the BPL website at http://www.bplonline.org/programs/BardsBrews.aspx.

Read more about the effort to raise funds for Bards & Brews at the link below that ran in the Birmingham Times: https://www.birminghamtimes.com/2017/02/bards-brews-poets-urge-public-to-support-librarys-popular-spoken-word-event/.

Friday, February 24, 2017

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. inside Central Library's Arrington Auditorium, author Michael W. Fitzgerald will discuss his book, Reconstruction in Alabama: From Civil War to Redemption in the Cotton South.

Reconstruction in Alabama is the first new study of this critical period in Alabama’s history to be published in decades, said Jim Baggett, head of BPL’s Archives & Manuscripts Department. Fitzgerald, professor of history at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, explores the impact of Reconstruction and its aftermath from the Civil War to the civil rights movement. Books will be available for purchase.

The Birmingham Bound author series recognizes authors who researched their books in the Birmingham Public Library Archives. Historians, journalists, and other writers from around the world have produced hundreds of books using the Archives’ collections and these books include five recipients of the Pulitzer Prize.

Both programs are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Jim Baggett at 205-226-3631 or jbaggett@bham.lib.al.us.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Digital Dixie 2: A Beyond the Basics of Genealogy Workshop

Beyond the Basics of Genealogy

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 will learn tips and tricks to navigate these digital sources with ease, locate new information on your ancestor, and reinvigorate your family history research. For anyone who is stuck with a “brick wall” in their genealogy research or feels like they have looked at all the genealogy sources in these selected Southern states, this workshop is not to be missed. This Beyond the Basics of Genealogy workshop continues our survey of digital resources across the South, but you need not to have attended Digital Dixie to attend Digital Dixie 2 as it is a stand-alone workshop.

Because this workshop will be concentrating on digital resources, feel free to bring a laptop, tablet, or phone, so you can follow along as we navigate from website to website. This is completely optional, and you can connect using the library’s Wi-Fi. Digital Dixie 2 will be take place on Saturday, March 4, from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m., in the Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor, Linn-Henley building, Central Library. Registration is requested, and you can register online, e-mail us at askgenlocal@bham.lib.al.us, or by phone at 205-226-3665.

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

Sweet Home Exhibit

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 www.bplonline.org/ALMaps.

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 years of Alabama history. It includes over 50 maps which have been carefully selected from the library's world class cartography collection. Jay Lamar, head of the Alabama Bicentennial Commission, called Sweet Home: Alabama's History in Maps, "one of the most exciting, beautiful, and stimulating exhibitions I have ever seen. People will discover things about Alabama that they never knew or imagined by experiencing these lovely, remarkable maps."

The library has been the grateful recipient of several large collections of rare, valuable, and exquisitely drawn maps. These donations were made by Rucker Agee, Dr. Charles Ochs, John C. Henley III, and Joseph H. Woodward II. "Birmingham is incredibly fortunate to have such a large collection of beautiful maps," said Mary Beth Newbill, head of the library's Southern History Department which houses the map collection. Newbill hopes the exhibit will be exciting to "map lovers, genealogists, and anyone interested in Alabama history."

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

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

Branch head Saundra Ross and Marie Nash (2nd and 3rd from left) are the creative team
responsible for the innovative programs at the North Avondale Branch Library, both for adults
and children. Here they are presented with an Innovative and Cool Award by board members
Eunice Rogers (far left) and Gwendolyn Amamoo.

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.

Hands On Youth Activities participant
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 really excited about the new girls mentoring program. During the February 14 meeting Cocoa and Cupcakes, volunteers spoke to young girls from Hayes K-8 School about how to build self-esteem, she said.

Children's Picture Book Club
The North Avondale Library in 2016 won two Innovative and Cool Awards from the Birmingham Public Library Board of Trustees for both the Cowboy, Boots & Books program and an adult coloring program called Love to Color @ My Library.

The library also hosts two book clubs, one for adults called Chapter Chatters and one for youth called The Children’s Picture Book Club. Last year, North Avondale Library patrons also built a community quilt won by a 10-year-old girl who lives in the community. It was a partnership with Juliette Watts, founder of Hands On Youth Activities Programs Inc., a nonprofit which has done quilting, flip-flops and other hands-on craft workshops at the North Avondale Library since 2015.

To learn more about the North Avondale Library, visit them on Facebook and Flickr. Visit the BPL event calendar and search Location: North Avondale Branch for a list of upcoming programs.

The Butler Did It

by Maya Jones, West End Branch Library

In the Heat of the Night movie tie-in book cover
for the 1967 film starring Sidney Poitier
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 series. In her most recent series, Hannah McCabe is a police detective and the series takes place in the near future 2019 & 2020. Her sleuth, Lizzie Stuart, is a university professor and crime historian. The books in her Hannah McCabe series are The Red Queen Dies (2013) and What the Fly Saw (2015). There are five books in the Lizzie Stuart series.

John Ball is creator of the Virgil Tibbs series and winner of the Edgar Award for his first book in the series, In the Heat of the Night. Don’t forget to watch the films with Sidney Poitier after you read the book.
In the Heat of the Night (1967)
They Call Me Mister Tibbs! (1970)
The Organization (1971)
You can also watch the TV series In the Heat of the Night (1988-1995) with Howard Rollins as Virgil Tibbs and Carroll O’Connor as Chief Gillespie on the WGN America channel.

Karen Grigsby Bates is an NPR correspondent and is the author of the Alex Powell series. Alex Powell is a journalist who has an interest in mysteries. There are only two books in the series: Plain Brown Wrapper and Chosen People.

Eleanor Taylor Bland’s African American detective Marti MacAlister moves from Chicago to work in a small town in Illinois. There are fourteen books in the series.

Charlotte Carter’s Nannette Hayes series features a female jazz musician who solves murders. There are four books in her Nanette Hays series. Carter also has two books in another series which features a trio who solves mysteries in Cook County, Illinois.

Stephen L. Carter burst onto the writing scene in 2002 with The Emperor of Ocean Park the first book in his Elm Harbor series. Carter depicts the lives of upper class African Americans in his mysteries and thrillers. There are three books in his Elm Harbor series. He has two other stand-alone mystery/thriller novels.

Christopher Chamber’s heroine, FBI agent Angela Bivens, is in a catch-22 situation, she’s just won a discrimination suit against the FBI. Because of the suit, she’s not trusted at the agency and she can’t trust anyone. But that’s not going to keep her from solving crimes. There are only two books in the Angela Bivens series.

John William Corrington & Joyce Hooper Corrington are a husband and wife team who’ve written screenplays for television and film. Together they authored the Ralph “Rat” Trapp series. Trapp is a homicide detective in New Orleans and there are four books in the series.

Christopher Darden & Dick Lochte write the Nicolette Hill series. Nicolette “Nikki” is a prosecutor in Los Angeles. There are four books in the series.

Kyra Davis is the author of the Sophie Katz mystery series. Sophie, like her creator Kyra Davis, is a writer and biracial. There are five books in her Sophie Katz series.

Nora DeLoach is the creator of the Mama Detective Series. Sadly, Ms. DeLoach passed in 2001. I had the honor of meeting her at an American Library Association Convention and was impressed by her tenacity in selling her books and her kindness. There are eight books in the Mama Mystery Series.

Grace F. Edwards authors the Mali Anderson series. Mali is a former NYPD police officer who lives in Harlem and is working on a PhD in social work. She lives with her father and helps take care of her young nephew, whose mother was murdered. There are four books in this series.

Clyde W. Ford writes the Charlie Noble mysteries and Shango mysteries. There are three books in the Charlie Noble series and two books in the Shango series.

Robert Greer writes the CJ Floyd mysteries. CJ is a bail bondsman, bounty hunter, and antique dealer. There are eight books in the series.

Gar Anthony Haywood writes the Aaron Gunner detective series. There are currently five books in the series. Haywood has also written two thriller/mysteries under the name Ray Shannon.

Chester Himes is author of a detective series that takes place in Harlem featuring detectives “Coffin” Ed Johnson and “Grave Digger” Jones. Five of his books were made into movies: Come Back, Charleston Blue, Cotton Comes to Harlem, Hot Day Hot Night, A Rage in Harlem, and Yesterday Will Make You Cry.

Walter Mosley is a mystery, science fiction, and literary fiction author. He is best known for his Easy Rawlins and Fearless Jones mysteries set in the 1940s/1950s. He also writes about a modern detective and ex-criminal, Leonid McGill.

Barbara Neely’s character Blanche White works as a domestic in North Carolina. Her first book in the series, Blanche on the Lam, won the Agatha Award in 1992. There are four books in this series.

Jewell Parker Rhodes writes the Marie Laveau mystery series, based on Marie Laveau, a legendary New Orleans Voodoo priestess. There are four books in the series.

Pamela Thomas-Graham’s detective Nikki Chase is an economics professor. She has four books in the series.

Valerie Wilson Wesley’s private detective, Tamara Hayle, is a single mom and ex-police officer. There are eight books in the series.

Paula L. Woods’ LAPD detective Charlotte Justice is the protagonist in her four-book series.

I hope you enjoy these authors and their detectives. If the Birmingham Public Library doesn’t have a book in the series that you are reading, you can always have it ordered through ILL (Interlibrary Loan).

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 Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department by e-mail at jmurray@bham.lib.al.us or by calling 205-226-3691.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Computer Skills Center: LearningExpress Library

Microsoft Word Video Tutorial

How would you like to save $169.00?  You could probably do quite a few things with that money.  Well, if you’re interested in enhancing your computer skills and have a library card, you have access to a number of free online computer classes using LearningExpress Library.  How did I arrive at the $169.00 amount? A local junior college is offering a course in Microsoft Word that costs $169.00.  I’m sure it is very extensive, but with LearningExpress Library, you can take courses in Word 2007, 2010, or 2013 at the basic through advanced levels in the comfort of your home.  There is no need to get dressed, drive across town and sit in a classroom or computer lab.  You also have 24/7 access to the database allowing you to use it at your convenience.  Not to mention, you can pause the video tutorials whenever you need to which is impossible to do with classroom instruction.  The lessons are presented in short segments (most under 5 minutes) making them easy to repeat if necessary.

This database offers a variety of popular software tutorials at the basic, intermediate, and advanced levels.  Among the available software tutorials are Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, Microsoft Access, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Word, as well as Windows 7, 8 and 10.  If you registered for your library card at a Birmingham Public Library location, the software tutorials can be accessed from home using your library card. From Database Quick Links, choose LearningExpress Library, then type in your name and library card number.  Choose the tab for Computer Skills Center, then click on Popular Software Tools.  You must register for an account in order to launch a tutorial.  Once you have created and logged into your account, choose a tutorial under the headings listed in the left column and you are ready to get started.  

In addition to software tutorials, LearningExpress Library provides a wealth of other resources.  These include test preparation for civil service exams, ACT, SAT, and ASVAB preparation, graduate school admissions exams, resume assistance, GED preparation, and many other wonderful resources that you have to see to believe.  Any Jefferson County library card can be used to access these areas of the database.  LearningExpress Library saves you time and money while allowing you to learn at your own pace.  Please take advantage of this excellent database and all the information it has to offer.  If you would like a preview of the Computer Skills Center, there will be a demonstration of the database on February 28th and March 28th.  Click here for registration information. 

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 Thomas, who was the first African-American woman to have a seat in the Alabama legislature.

This source has entries for institutions as well as people. There’s the Ben Moore hotel of Montgomery, Alabama, which was named after a former slave who was born in Alabama. There’s also a brief but interesting history of the WRMA radio station in Montgomery:
WPKN was Montgomery’s first black radio station . . . Southland Broadcasting Company, which owned the station, was a partnership of Ralph M. Allgood of Montgomery and Grover Wise of Birmingham. Wise was also the owner of the West End Theater in Birmingham . . . In 1952 one black radio station was located in Birmingham, two in Atlanta, and one in Memphis. The station went on the air on 8 May 1953, having changed its call letters to WRMA, the initials of Ralph M. Allgood.
There’s also a wealth of information in the Appendices. These include lists such as Alabama’s Black Officeholders from 1868-1999, Documented Black Resources in Alabama (arranged by county), and an Occupational Distribution, so if you need to find how many were musicians or politicians or physicians or librarians, consult this section.

There are numerous copies of They Too Call Alabama Home throughout the county library system. Some are listed as reference books for others are in the circulating collections, so if you have an interest in African American history and its Alabama connections, seek out this book at a library near you. It’s one of our most helpful resources.

For further information:
African American History Month
Alabama sites play part in African-American history
James Reese Europe
Sonia Sanchez
Louphenia Thomas
Ben Moore Hotel
WRMA Radio Montgomery, AL
Alabama African-American Genealogy Research

Monday, February 20, 2017

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 Representatives Homeland Security Committee. He has also performed extensive counter-terrorism reporting concerning Al-Qaeda, Afghanistan, and Iraq for numerous sources such as Rolling Stone, The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and Newsweek. This is his 7th published book regarding the subject of terrorism, with three among them becoming New York Times bestsellers.

American jihadists form a small percentage of the American Muslim population. They come from a multitude of various backgrounds, spanning races, socioeconomic status, and age. There are no generalizations to be found within this group of individuals. Their average age is 29 and more than one-third are married and have children. Less than 15% have been incarcerated and only approximately 10% experienced mental health disorders. On average, their educational and emotional level is on par with the typical American citizen.

This spawns the question of how these typical Americans became terrorists. Based on the studies of law enforcement officials, terrorism experts, and psychologists that have examined these cases in-depth, the pool of knowledge has increased regarding the motivations of those who turn to terrorism.
Several recruits have been prompted by a need for recognition or a desire to belong to an organization with a higher purpose. Jihad granted them that opportunity. Many of these recruits felt they were taking part in a holy war against the enemies of Islam. They were able to act out a heroic fantasy with the belief that Allah was backing their mission.

The majority of the militant terrorists outlined within this book subscribe to the branch of Islam known as Salafism. This branch has extremely fundamentalist beliefs and promotes intolerance of Islamic deviancy from the Koran. Though there are millions of peaceful Salafists throughout the world, most of the terrorists within this group developed a politicized view of the religious branch. Their belief in the sanctity of the Islam land inspired them to perform what they viewed as acts of revenge against Americans, their supposed enemy.

I found this book did a commendable job examining the cases of homegrown jihadist terrorism within the US. The work itself was extremely well-documented, which was to be expected given Peter Bergen's extensive credentials. He utilized the research and statistics composed by the New York Police Department and FBI, but did not allow that to bias his observations. For example, in some cases, he implies that the FBI committed acts of entrapment during their sting operations. Additionally, he documents the NYPD surveillance and intelligence gathering methods concerning the targeting of mosques as possible racial profiling and/or an invasion of civil rights. He allows the reader to decide if law enforcement agencies crossed the line with their investigations.

The only aspect of this book that I found inadequate was the lack of inclusion of American women that have attempted to join ISIS or commit domestic terrorist crimes. There has been extensive media coverage regarding women that are joining ISIS in large numbers. I would have enjoyed examining some research chronicling their motivations and experiences.

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.

The Mannequin Challenge.at Inglenook Library

On February 13, Williams invited youth to participate in a filming of the Mannequin Challenge that has drawn over 1,000 views on the Birmingham Public Library Facebook page. On Wednesday, February 15, the Inglenook Library launched a new book club for children as part of the library’s Black History Month programs. The Readers Are Leaders Children's Book Club will meet on the third Wednesday of each month. The February Book of the Month was The People Could Fly by Virginia Hamilton.

On February 14, the Inglenook Library hosted Lego Build: Honoring Black Architects, in which youth used Legos to erect structures inspired by buildings designed by black architects. On February 15, the library introduced its Readers Are Leaders Children's Book Club.

“At Inglenook Library, we believe that libraries should be fun, informative and educational at the same time,” Williams said. “We invite all students, their parents and adults both young and old to come in and join us. For more information about our programs, give me a call at 205-849-8739.”

Here are the remaining Black History Month programs planned at Inglenook Library:
Celebrating and Honoring Black Heroes: Open Mic (open to everyone)
Wednesday, February 22, 3:30 p.m.

Natural Hair Talk Featuring Nyesha Marshall
Monday, February 27, 3:30 p.m.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

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 cenrtc@bham.lib.al.us 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.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

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

Inglenook Library Branch Manager Karnecia Williams talks to members of the
Readers Are Leaders Children's Book Club about the February book of the
month, The People Could Fly

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 of clubs, meeting times, and contact persons at various Birmingham Public Library locations:

The Avondale Library Book Group meets on the third Monday of each month at 6:00 p.m., The book club began in October 2016. For more information, contact Rachel Lopez at 205-226-4000 or rjlopez@bham.lib.al.us.

The Ensley Library Reading Gems Book Club, founded in August 2016, meets every second Thursday of each month at 10:00 a.m. The group discusses both fiction and nonfiction titles. For more information, contact Mary Merchant at 205-785-2625 or mmerchant@bham.lib.al.us.

The Inglenook Library Readers Are Leaders Children's Book Club meets on the third Wednesday of each month. For information, call Inglenook Branch Manager Karnecia Williams at 205-849-8739.

The North Avondale Library Chapter Chatters Book Club meets the last Wednesday each month at 10:30 a.m. am (except in November & December). The group discusses both fiction and nonfiction titles. For more information, contact Saundra Ross at 205-592-2082 or sross@bham.lib.al.us.

The North Avondale Children's Picture Book Club meets the second Wednesday each month at 3:30 p.m. It is comprised of school-age children. The first meeting was held in November 2015 and centered on The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. For more information, contact Saundra Ross at 205-592-2082 or sross@bham.lib.al.us.

The Powderly Library Maturing Minds Book Club meets the third Friday each month at 10:00 a.m. The group enjoys reading both fiction and nonfiction titles. For information, contact Loretta Bitten at 205-925-6178 or lbitten@bham.lib.al.us.

The Smithfield Library Adult Book Club meets on the first Wednesday of each month at 10:00 a.m. The group discusses both fiction and nonfiction titles. For more information, contact Reba Williams at 205-324-8428 or rwilliams@bham.lib.al.us.

The Springville Road Regional Branch Library Afterthoughts meets the third Tuesday of each month at 2:00 p.m. for a discussion of selected nonfiction work. For titles, contact Kelly at kslaney@bham.lib.al.us or 205-226-4083.

The Springville Road Library Reading Roadies meets at 6:30 p.m. on the third Monday of each month. The club reads and discusses fiction titles chosen by the group and welcomes all adults, both young and old. For more information, contact Kelly Laney at 205-226-4083 or kslaney@bham.lib.al.us.

The Wylam Book Group meets the third Wednesday of each month at 11:00 a.m. Popular fiction and nonfiction books are read and discussed. For more information, contact Connie Tolbert at ctolbert@bham.lib.al.us or 205-785-0349.

Visit the BPL event calendar for more information and to view upcoming meetings.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

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: http://bplolinenews.blogspot.com/2017/02/2017-black-history-month-programs.html.

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
Tuesday, February 21, 5:00 p.m. 

African American Musical by the Alabama School of Fine Arts Music Department
Central Library, Arrington Auditorium
Wednesday, February 22, 2017, 12:00 p.m.

For more BPL programs, go to www.bplonline.org/calendar/.

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 more. A custom designed user interface gives children the opportunity to make every Launchpad experience their own by creating a personal avatar, plus an informational console gives parents and educators feedback about time spent on the tablet. Launchpad is powered by an Android operating system and features a 7” high-definition touch screen, external speaker, universal audio jack, and a durable, protective bumper.

Launchpads are also available at some libraries for teens and adults. Various subjects are available. As with all Playaway pre-loaded products, patrons can simply check out a Playaway Launchpad tablet and begin learning, while having fun, the same day. No connectivity or downloading is required for use.

To search the catalog for a list of Launchpads in the Jefferson County public library system:

1) Access the Encore catalog
2) Search: launchpad
3) Refine by Format: computer files
4) Refine further by Collection, Location, or Language

Monday, February 13, 2017

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 find hidden messages in the paintings, and he helped the young man understand the supernatural power they were held to possess. Young Javier wonders if Favel is himself supernatural.

The Master of the Prado is a page-turner. We are drawn into the mystery of Luis Favel, the Master, even as we are drawn deeper into the mysteries of the masterpieces they explore. The book has excellent reproductions of these paintings and they are well organized into the text. While the development of the narrative is enjoyable, the lasting impression on readers will be of new ways to see great art. We will look for hidden meaning. Most of the action and the paintings are within the walls of the Prado and Phillip II’s Renaissance palace the Escorial. Readers will want to see these places, or see them again.

Check it out!

Friday, February 10, 2017

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.bplonline.org/calendar.

John Lanier Jr., a longtime member of the Birmingham African American Genealogy Group, said the organization helped him gain knowledge of his ancestors back to the late 1800s. Philip Owens of Talladega said he too has benefited from attending its monthly meetings at the Central Library. Owens said BPL’s Southern History Department has been a big help in guiding him through the difficulties of uncovering information on black ancestors dating back to slavery.

“I find the Birmingham Public Library to be one of the better genealogy research centers in the country,” Owens said. “Another plus about the Southern History Department is that they have genealogy classes to assist you in your genealogy research.”

The Black Heritage and Genealogy Fair schedule is as follows: African Exhibits & History Video, 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., followed by the Black Heritage Fair Program from 1:00-3:30 p.m. The program includes “Crisis in Black Education” keynote address by Jackie Smith, African dance, African Music, Youth in Genealogy African art, vendors, and more.

For more information about the Birmingham African American Genealogy Group, contact John Lanier Jr. at 205-533-3502, or e-mail john.l.lanier@gmail.com or info@baagginc.org. Follow the organization on Facebook at Birmingham African American Genealogy Group or online at www.baagginc.org. You can also follow BAAGG’s blog at www.baagginc.blogspot.com.

The Birmingham African American Genealogy Group meets monthly, with most sessions except for special events taking place on Sundays from 3:00-5:30 p.m. at the Central Library.

The Birmingham African American Genealogy Group’s remaining 2017 class schedule:
March 12 – Essentials of Genealogy, 3:00-5:30 p.m., Central Library.
April 9 – Alabama’s B-Centennial Celebration and BAAGG’s 20th Year Anniversary in 2019
May 21 – Introduction to Case Studies 1 & 2, 3:00-5:30 p.m., Central Library.
June 11 - Virtual trip to Alabama Department of Archives and History, 3:00-5:30 p.m., Central Library
July 9 – Youth in Genealogy, 3:00-5:30 p.m.. Central Library.
August 13 – Introduction to Railroad Retirement Records, 3:00-5:30 p.m., Central Library.
September 10 – BAAGG visit to LDS Center in Vestavia Hills at the Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Church
October 8 – Convict Leasing and Parke Papers, 3:00-5:30 p.m., Central Library.
November 12 – Introduction to the digital library and digital scanning services at Birmingham Public Library’s Southern History Department, 3:00-5:30 p.m., Central Library
December 10 – BAAGG Holiday Social and Awards (time and place to be determined)

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.

Teen Librarian Lance Simpson
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 following locations and times:

Southside Branch Library
Tuesdays from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.

Central Library
Wednesdays from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.

Woodlawn Branch Library
Thursdays from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.

For information on how to register for these programs or to learn more about them, visit the BPL event calendar.

Read more about it on the BPL blog:
"BPL Teens Engineer Birmingham Program Wins $50,000 UAB Benevolent Fund Grant"

"Central Library Will Use $10,000 Grant from Best Buy Foundation to Expand Services in Its STEM-Focused Afterschool Program for Teens"

"Teens Engineer Birmingham Program Expands at Birmingham Public Library This Fall"

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

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 perspective that blends the professional with the personal.

So what’s going on with the most popular pet in world? Bradshaw makes many key points about cats by contrasting them with dogs, the number two pet. Such as this statement: “The dog’s mind has been radically altered from that of its ancestor…cats, on the other hand, still think like wild hunters. Unlike dogs, only a small minority of cats has ever been intentionally bred by people.” One of the most interesting accounts in the book is a text/box showing the ur-cat Pseudaelurus, the ancestor of all cats today, big or small. It came about approximately 11 million years ago. Interestingly enough, critical development of the cat took place in this hemisphere before the cat went elsewhere. About 10,000 years ago cats threw in their lot with us. Just 2,000 years ago, the cat was physically different from our cat: it was somewhat larger. Bradshaw gives a fine account of the Egyptians, the first people who clearly made pets of the cat. We all know they worshipped cats, but what is much less known, and what shocked me, is that they sacrificed them to their cat gods. In great numbers. I won’t look at the Egyptians the same way again. Amazing and germane facts like this fill the book. Ypres, a Belgian city, only made cat worship illegal in 962 CE, "while a cult based around the [cat-associated] goddess Diana lingered in parts of Italy until the sixteenth century." Eventually Bradshaw brings us up to 40 years ago, when commercially-available, well-balanced cat food became widely available. This has made it unnecessary for non-feral domestic cats to hunt, a major shift in cat behavior, to say the very least. This is one of many instances he shows where humans have shaped cat evolution. It is one of the strengths of the book that, in reading about how we’ve done this shaping, it makes you feel personally closer to cats.

A chapter on the cat’s view of the world clued me in on the fact that biologists have long since rejected the belief that one species is “superior” to another. The author admits that cat owners may think their charges feel differently. The chapter is biology-heavy, but it’s accessible. We learn that a cat can’t focus on objects very close to its nose but compensates by using its whiskers, which “provide a 3-D tactile ‘picture’ of objects that are right in front” of them. What are whiskers anyway? Modified hairs.

The “Thoughts and Feelings” chapter states something I’ve seen science moving towards but didn’t know they’d embraced, namely, that “all mammals, and therefore cats, have the ability to produce many of the same emotions we feel.” There. Embraced. No anthropomorphizing needed. In other words, “it’s now scientifically acceptable to explain [cats] behavior in terms of what they ‘think’ and ‘feel.’ ” Doesn’t mean they’re human, of course (though they’re much more like us than you might think—the book provides numerous examples of this).

The switch from solitary creature to social animal has required of the cat a gigantic leap in social techniques, and Bradshaw clearly shows this. Occasionally, the author summarizes scientific studies and goes too much into how Control Groups A, B, C, D, and E varied slightly. These should’ve been translated into user-friendly English from the technical journals (yes, they have those journals for cat study).

As recently as Budiansky’s book, scholars had been very divided about exactly how cats purr. But that’s been settled now—you’ll learn how they do it in the book.

One of the marvelous scientific agreements in the book is the consensus that cats aren’t always driven by the need for food and shelter. They are capable of pure affection, word scientists understandably prefer instead of love. For years I’ve experienced this. A neighborhood cat has on hundreds of occasions greeted me when I returned home, looking for a petting. I’ve never fed this cat. I’ve known that this cat is looking for affection from me and is willing to return it, but of course this is anecdotal proof. Well, now it’s official: that cat has been showing affection.

In later chapters, Bradshaw shows how cat science can help us live better with our cats. In fact, the subtitle of the book is How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet. Actually, only these chapters really do this in any direct way, but marketers are marketers. Still, there’s something in every section of the book that’ll help you get along better with your cat, but you’ll get this by inference and example rather than by explicit direction.

Do cats have their own personalities? Yes, say the cat scientists. The word “personality” is now scientifically kosher. Does Bradshaw address the anti-cat brigade? Yes, and he does it dispassionately, dismantling their arguments very well. I scarcely knew there was such a movement. Bradshaw shows how humans create the social and technological landscape and the ground rules, cats make do with these as best they can and then humans blame them for making do. We blame cats for problems we create. Bradshaw diplomatically makes these points and gives me a book I can recommend to the brigade to should I have the need.

“Cats of the Future” is the name of the last chapter. I don’t know why, but this is an unintentionally hilarious phrase. I pictured felines whirring around in Jetsons getup. But seriously, Bradshaw shows how we can all lay the groundwork, and ground rules, for a positive cat future. Hazards such as over-neutering and breeding are addressed here. It’s clear that we’ll continue to shape the cat’s evolution, but it’s up to us to choose positive ways to do this.

Cat Sense isn’t always easy reading. But it is substantial and I felt a real sense of accomplishment finishing it. I think other readers will feel the same. It’s sort of like taking an upper high school or college 101 course. Your cat will thank you.

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