Sunday, April 30, 2017

Summer Beach Reads

Same Beach, Next YearSecrets in Summer

It's time for another installment of titles for your beach reading pleasure.  Whether you like to lounge by the pool at the condo or feel the breeze from the Gulf of Mexico on your face, you simply must have a good novel to read while you relax in the sun.  As people frolic and play in the water, while others point out the sharks close to shore, you can rest easy in the knowledge that you are far enough from the water to be out of harm's way.  Editorial note:  Apparently the sharks are feeding close to shore down in Orange Beach.  In any case, check out one of these fun beach reads and enjoy the coast.  Descriptions are from the publisher.

A chance meeting on the Isle of Palms, one of Charleston's most stunning barrier islands, brings former sweethearts, Adam Stanley and Eve Landers together again. Their respective spouses, Eliza and Carl, fight sparks of jealousy flaring from their imagined rekindling of old flames. As Adam and Eve get caught up on their lives, their partners strike up a deep friendship--and flirt with an unexpected attraction--of their own.

Year after year, Adam, Eliza, Eve, and Carl eagerly await their reunion at Wild Dunes, a condominium complex at the island's tip end, where they grow closer with each passing day, building a friendship that will withstand financial catastrophe, family tragedy, and devastating heartbreak. The devotion and love they share will help them weather the vagaries of time and enrich their lives as circumstances change, their children grow up and leave home, and their twilight years approach.

Memorial Day weekend means that seasonal visitors have descended on the glamorous island of Nantucket. For year-round resident Darcy Cotterill, it means late-night stargazing in the backyard of the beautiful house she grew up in and inherited from her beloved grandmother. It's also Darcy's chance to hit the beach and meet her new summertime neighbors. But the last person the thirty-year-old librarian expects to see staying next door is her ex-husband, Boyz, along with his wife, Autumn, and stepdaughter, Willow.

Darcy must also navigate the highs and lows of a new romantic relationship with local carpenter Nash Forester even as she becomes smitten with handsome vacationer Clive Rush, a musicologist in town to write a book and visit family. And she finds herself pulled into the concerns of Boyz, Autumn, a charming elderly neighbor, and an at-risk teen.
As the season nears its end, Darcy must decide her next move: retreating to the comforts of her steady and secure island life, or risking it all for a chance at true happiness.

Beach House for RentThe Beach at Painter's Cove

When Cara Rutledge rents out her quaint beach house on Isle of Palms to Heather Fordham for the entire summer, it's a win-win by any standard: Cara's generating income necessary to keep husband Brett's ecotourism boat business afloat, and anxiety-prone Heather, an young artist who's been given a commission to paint birds on postage stamps, has a quiet space in which to work and tend to her pet canaries uninterrupted.

It isn't long, however, before both women's idyllic summers are altered irrevocably: the alluring shorebirds--and the man who rescues them--begin to draw Heather out of the shell she's cultivated toward a world of adventure, and maybe even love; at the same time, Cara's life reels with sudden tragedy, and she wishes only to return to the beach house that had once been her port amidst life's storms. When Heather refuses to budge from her newfound sanctuary, so begins the unlikeliest of rooming situations. While they start out as strangers, as everything around the women falls apart they learn that the only thing they can really rely on is each other.

The Beach at Painter’s Cove  by Shelley Noble (6/13)

The Whitaker family's Connecticut mansion, Muses by the Sea, has always been a haven for artists, a hotbed of creativity, extravagances, and the occasional scandal. Art patrons for generations, the Whitakers supported strangers but drained the life out of each other. Now, after being estranged for years, four generations of Whitaker women find themselves once again at The Muses.  Leo, the family matriarch, lives in the mansion.  Her daugher Jillian is a jet-setting actress.  Issy, Jillian's daughter, has a successful life as a museum exhibit designer, and her 12-year old niece, Steph, has been left with Leo by Issy's sister.

As Issy martials the family together to restore the mansion and catalogue the massive art collection, a surprising thing happens. Despite storms and moonlight dancing, diva attacks and cat fights, trips to the beach and flights of fancy, these four generations of erratic, dramatic women may just find a way to save the Muses and reunite their family.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

West End Library Filmmaking Workshops for Teens Continue on April 29

Denzale Butler at April 22's "Introduction to Cinema" workshop

Hey young people, ever dreamed of becoming a filmmaker? Then make plans to be at the West End Branch Library on Saturday, April 29, at 3:30 p.m., for week two of its free filmmaking workshops for teens.

The workshop, Do You Want to Make a Movie? Filmmaking for Teens, kicked off last Saturday, April 22, 2017. The teacher is Birmingham filmmaker Denzale Butler. There is only room for 10 students, so register in advance online or by calling the West End Library at 205-226-4089.

The remaining three classes, all taught between 3:30 and 4:45 p.m, are as follows:
Week Two (April 29) is "ABC’s of Film (Shot Sizes)"
Week Three (May 6) is "ABC’s of Film (Camera Movement)"
Week Four (May 13) is "ABC’s of Film (Composition)"

The teacher will bring a camera to class. However, students are asked to bring their camera phones since they will use them to create shots that create various moods. Teens will acquire a new skill and additional knowledge about an exciting topic. The class will fulfill the components of lifelong learning, cultural enrichment, and enjoyment by introducing teens to filmmaking, according to the West End Library.

See more information at the link below:

Check out some of Butler’s films at

You can also find out more about him on his LinkedIn page:

Cahaba Brewing to Partner with Public Libraries in Jefferson County on Goodwill Wednesday

What: Goodwill Wednesday to support Public Libraries in Jefferson County
When: Wednesday, May 17, 3:00-10:00 p.m.
Where: Cahaba Brewing Company

Every Wednesday Cahaba Brewing Company partners with a non-profit organization at the taproom to enjoy some great beer while also benefiting a good cause. On May 17 the Public Libraries in Jefferson County will be on the receiving end of this goodwill. So stop by Cahaba Brewing Company on this particular Wednesday to enjoy some beer, food, and games and help them support our Jefferson County public libraries.

Cahaba Brewing Company was founded in the summer of 2011 by a group of friends united by their love of craft beer and home brewing. Together, they devised a plan to build a brewery in beautiful Birmingham, Alabama. The group found an excellent location for the brewery in the Pepper Place/Lakeview district of Birmingham on 3rd Avenue South. The 8000 square foot building houses the brewery and tasting room and the building was selected for it's location, layout, and opportunity for expansion.

Southern History Book of the Month: How Me and Amos Won World War I

by Mary Anne Ellis, Librarian, Southern History Department, Central Library

How Me and Amos Won World War I
Dr. Lelias E. Kirby

One hundred years ago this month, America entered World War I. Among the Alabama recruits were Lelias Kirby and his brother Amos, and How Me and Amos Won World War I is the chronicle of their adventures. When I saw the title, I expected a lighthearted treatment along the lines of Edward Streeter’s Dere Mableand Dr. Kirby’s account has its share of humorous happenings, like his take on one of the ever-present scourges of warfare:
Have you ever noticed a photograph of General Napoleon, General De Gaulle or any French soldier? They have one hand inside the lapel of the jacket and the other hand behind the back. They were fighting cooties . . . we scratched our way from Brest, France to Trelaze, a suburb of Orleans where the fifty-second ammunition train was being formed to take ammunition to the Argentan’s front.
Kirby maintains this good-natured outlook throughout most of the book, with tall tales ranging from how he was the inventor of the close-cropped military haircut to how he and his brother worked around the difficulties of being in France and not speaking a word of French:
But that is when I learned there was a universal language. When a pretty girl pokes her lips out, closes her eyes and turns her head sorter sideways, then begins to breathe like she is developing asthma, that means “Kiss Me.” I don’t care what country you are in or what language she speaks.

But the more hideous face of war does find its way into Kirby’s memoir. In Chapter 10, “Going Into Battle,” he tells the story of when he and his companions were finally summoned to the front for what he describes as “34 days of Hell”:
For the first time I began to know what war was like. I shall never forget October 8, 1918 . . . soon the boys began coming from the trenches. They had not been relieved for many days. Winter was coming on and the trenches were filled with mud and water, in places they told us, knee deep. I have never seen such a pitiful sight. They were muddy, wet, unshaved and staggering. They were hungry, thirsty; some crying, every face wore a blank stare . . . Amos said, “Who was it that said war was Hell?” I said “I don’t know who it was but he must have been in the Battle of the Argonne Forest or Bunker Hill.”

After such times as these, Kirby and many of his fellow soldiers hailed news of the Armistice with great relief and joy (and a chocolate pie eating contest). After he returned home, he was frequently asked to give talks on his wartime experiences and these talks—dating from the first one on February 11, 1919—were the basis for what eventually became this book. To someone like me, World War I seems very far away, and I can count on one hand the number of times I have encountered a veteran of this war, but this story told by a fellow Alabamian helped put a face on that conflict for me and made me wish I could have spent some time talking with this particular veteran.

For further information:
U.S. Entered World War I April 6 1917
World War I Selective Service System draft registration cards, 1917-1918 [microform]: [Alabama]
Alabama Department of Archives and History—World War I
Trench Warfare
World War I Timeline

Friends Bookstore Volunteers Celebrated during National Volunteer Week

by Pat B. Rumore
Rumore received a 2016 Library Champions award from the Jefferson County Public Library Association and is a Friend of the Birmingham Public Library

Friends Bookstore manager Thracie Pace (center) with two college students
out during the annual holiday sale while on Christmas break. They began
volunteering at the bookstore 
while attending Minor High School.

This week has been National Volunteer Week. The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) and its Friends Foundation annually celebrate the approximately 100 volunteers who serve throughout our library system by sponsoring a Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon, held this year at the Central Library.

Today we're spotlighting our largest group of volunteers, a team of about 25 people who operate the Friends Bookstore at the Central Library under the leadership of Thracie Pace and the Friends Council of BPL's Friends Foundation.

The bookstore sells or donates books, movies, and music which have been removed from the library's permanent collection, usually because there are too many copies or they have stopped circulating. The bookstore also receives donations of used books from individuals and groups who are reducing their collections.

Volunteers Hope Cooper and Pat Rumore sorting donations
Volunteers receive the donations and go through them to ensure that the books or other materials are in an acceptable condition to sell or donate to other organizations. They price the materials, then put them out for sale on bookstore shelves. The bookstore volunteers man the counter to ring up sales, not only of books, videos, DVDs, and CDs, but also snack foods and drinks, Friends T-shirts, and materials such as library book bags, pens, pads, thumb drives, headphones, and other things patrons might need during a visit to the library. The bookstore is open six days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and its two shifts a day are manned by volunteers.

Thracie Pace, the bookstore's manager, highlights the impact of the bookstore and its volunteers beyond just the library:

On a monthly basis the Friends Bookstore donates as many as three boxes of books to our senior communities, including Episcopal Place, Greenbrier, and St. Martin's. Many of these lovely seniors have no way to get new reading materials other than by these donations. The Friends Bookstore also delivers books to underfunded schools such as Lipscomb Elementary, which in turn shares these books with other needy schools. The Friends Bookstore actually helps these schools build their own school libraries. Both students and teachers appreciate the donated books, which help in their educational and social development.

Youth Department Head Vincent Solfronk (left) and Pastor
Allen Davis with a load of children's books donated by the

Bookstore volunteers pick up book donations from the handicapped and elderly as well as donation pickups from churches and businesses. If someone needs help getting a donation to the bookstore, we make sure it happens.

Our volunteer program at the bookstore is its own community as well. We have volunteers from ages eight to eighty, and each will tell you how much they enjoy and appreciate their time in the Friends Bookstore. I have worked with high school seniors who've gone on to college but return on breaks to put in an hour or two in the bookstore! Our older volunteers appreciate that shifts are only 4 hours long and available weekly or monthly. This is but a bit of what the Friends Bookstore accomplishes on a regular basis.

Flip through boxes of vinyl, browse through shelves of all
genres, and even do your holiday shopping at the Friends
If you are interested in supporting the Friends Foundation or volunteering at the bookstore, visit us on the first floor of the Central Library and let us know.
Contact Thracie Pace at 205-⁠587-⁠2221 or for information about the bookstore or about how to become a volunteer.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Money Matters – Five Keys to Investing Success Workshop Scheduled for May 3, 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 at the final workshop in the series to take part in discussions about a variety of money management issues and learn ways to help you achieve your economic goals.

Workshop: Five Keys to Investing Success
When: May 3, 2017
Time: 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Place: Central Library/Linn-Henley Research Library/Regional Library Computer Center/4th floor

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

Springville Road Library Stitched Art Drawing Set for May 1 during Crafts Program

What: Stitched Art Drawing
When: Monday, May 1, 12:00 p.m., during Coffee, Conversations and Crafts program
Where: Springville Road Regional Branch Library
Details: Tickets for the stitched art are $1 apiece or 6 tickets for $5. You can buy them at the library through the morning of May 1 or from any CCC member. You do not have to be present to win.

Time is running out to buy tickets for a stitched art drawing taking place at the Springville Road Library on May 1 during its popular Coffee, Conversation and Crafts (CCC) adult program.

The hand-stitched, framed art was created by a Birmingham area artist and donated to the Springville Road Library to raise money for its adult programs. The stitched art was on display during the 2017 craft fair held April 2 at the Springville Road Library.

For more information, contact Kelly Laney at 205-226-4083 or Go to the BPL events calendar to view upcoming library programs.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

April Showers Bring May Flowers

It's that time of year.  From pollen covering cars in a nice layer of yellow dust to rainy days full of the potential of severe storms, spring has finally made its arrival in Alabama. And what better time to start your summer garden than now?

Our collection widely varies with picture books, youth nonfiction, and adult nonfiction. With easy-to-follow gardening instructions and advice, even a novice gardener can easily create a beautiful space in their home or outdoors.  Soak up some Vitamin D, get out in the yard, and start planning your next (or new!) gardening adventure.  Check out our list of books recommended by staff to help you along.

  • The Backyard Gardener: Simple, Easy, and Beautiful Gardening with Vegetables, Herbs, and Flowers by Kelly Orzel

    The “garden to table” movement is inspiring another generation of gardeners but many of them have questions. How important is composting? Is seed saving really worth it? Focusing on sustainable, organic growing practices and plants, The Backyard Gardener is a comprehensive handbook that will help get them started.

    Kelly Orzel covers everything from soil selection to growing and harvesting. Sidebars such as “garden center survival tips” offer useful advice to help readers build their confidence and know-how. This guide also features photographs of beautiful plant bed designs, propagation techniques, and much more.

  • Derek Fell's Grow This!: A Garden Expert's Guide to Choosing the Best Vegetables, Flowers, and Seeds So You're Never Disappointed Again by Derek Fell

    What gardeners want most is a bigger and better return on their investment of time and money―maximum yields and superior flavor for edibles, long-lasting blooms for flowers. Derek Fell's Grow This! features expert advice for choosing and growing the top-performing plants (and avoiding the ones that disappoint).

    Derek Fell has grown hundreds of varieties and annually visits gardens and test plots across America, so he's qualified to guide gardeners to the best of the best―more than 600 vegetable, flower, herb, and lawn grass all-stars. He offers honest feedback about plant performance, even when it contradicts favorable public opinion or a grower's claims.
  • Plants Grow! (I Like Plants!) by Mary Dodson Wade

    Plants are all around us. Learn about the life cycle of a plant, what seeds are for, and more in this colorful nonfiction reader. Young botanists can even watch a seed grow using the included science experiment.
  • State Flowers: Including the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (Our State Symbols) by Elaine Landau

    Describes each state's official flower and tells of legends associated with the flower.

  • Grow It, Cook It by DK Publishing
    More than a cookbook, this innovative book offers a fresh approach to healthy eating by getting children involved in food right from the start. Children will learn that when they eat a carrot, they're biting into a root; salads are made up of leaves; and berries are the fruit and seeds of plants, encouraging an early appreciation of food and its origins.

    The recipes in the book take the homegrown fruits, vegetables, and herbs and use a variety of cooking methods and store-bought ingredients to transform them into truly homemade meals. All the "crops" can be grown in pots, so young chefs don't even need a large garden to enjoy Grow It, Cook It.
So swing by the East Lake Branch to nab one of these helpful books on starting your own garden, or helping your children create their dream garden!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Only One Week Left to Visit Sweet Home: Alabama's History in Maps

by Mary Beth Newbill, Department Head, Southern History and Government Documents Departments, Central Library

Sweet Home: Alabama's History in Maps
Sweet Home: Alabama's History in Maps is on display in the downtown library's Fourth Floor Gallery for one more week. The exhibit has been garnering rave reviews and is a must see for anyone interested in the history of Alabama or the Southeast. Dr. Melinda Kashuba, visiting scholar from California, said it rivals exhibits she has seen in "Chicago and Washington, D.C." The library's Southern History Department worked for almost two years putting the exhibit together and is thrilled with the community response.

The exhibit is partially funded by a grant from the Alabama Humanities Foundation and consists of high quality reproductions of 54 maps carefully selected from the library's collection of over 2,000. Beginning in 1545 and continuing through the 1990's, the maps tell the story of Alabama from the Age of Discovery through the territorial period to the modern day. There is also a special section for maps that depict Alabama's abundant natural resources which have played such an instrumental role in the history of Birmingham and the surrounding counties.

If you can't make it downtown before April 30, 2017, and would still like to see Sweet Home: Alabama's History in Maps you have a several options. The entire exhibit (images and descriptions) is available online. Since the exhibit is part of the statewide celebration of Alabama's bicentennial, it's going to be traveling to libraries and museums of all sizes over the next two years. Its first stop will be Old Alabama Town where it is scheduled to open on May 15, 2017.

Money Smart Week Programs at Inglenook Library

by Karnecia Williams, Branch Manager, Inglenook Branch Library

According to the Government Accounting Office (GAO), financial literacy is the ability to make informed judgments and to take effective actions regarding the current and future use and management of money. During Money Smart Week, April 22-29, financial institutions, libraries, and other community entities across the county will provide several programs and activities to help communities obtain financial literacy. The Inglenook Branch Library will be amongst those offering pertinent programming. See program listing below.

April 24, 3:30-4:30 p.m.
Wells Fargo Bank: How To Open and Maintain a Bank Account
Shedrick South, personal banker at Wells Fargo, will discuss the importance of a having a bank account and how to use them effectively to save money.

April 26, 10:00 a.m.
Information Systems Security Class

Join Inglenook Library’s own Michael Fagin as he discusses security measures to take to keep online content safe.

On April 28, 3:30-4:30 p.m.
Entrepreneurship and Money Management Workshop
Ashlee Taylor, small business consultant, will conduct a workshop on entrepreneurship and money management for both business and personal finances. Highlights of workshop will include:

  • key steps to launching your own business;
  • effective tax strategies for entrepreneurs;
  • mastering a wealth mindset;
  • and simple strategies for creating multiple streams of income.

For more information, please contact Inglenook Library at 205-849-8739.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Sewn and Thrown: Traditional Quilts and Folk Pottery from Alabama’s Black Belt Exhibit, May 11-June 25, 2017

Quilts by Marlene Bennett Jones, Boykin, Alabama, 2015

What: Sewn and Thrown: Traditional Quilts and Folk Pottery from Alabama’s Black Belt exhibit
When: May 11-June 25, 2017
Where: First floor exhibit cases and Fourth Floor Gallery at the Central Library
Details: Exhibits will be available during library hours. Opening reception Saturday, May 13, 2017, 3:00-5:00 p.m., Central Library, Fourth Floor Gallery

Featuring quilts by master artists from Gee’s Bend and works by Miller’s Pottery of Brent and Ham Pottery of Selma, the Sewn and Thrown: Traditional Quilts and Folk Pottery from Alabama’s Black Belt exhibit will present two living traditions of the region.

Allen Ham
Acclaimed nationally and internationally, the Gee’s Bend quilters are continuing the tradition through their families and community. Sixteen quilts by different women, some of whom will be exhibiting for the first time, will represent the amazing colors and innovative techniques often associated with the textiles produced by several generations over the years.

Folk potter Steve Miller and his cousin Allen Ham grew up working alongside Steve’s father, Eric Miller, in the workplace and shop on Highway 5 in Bibb County. Featured in documentary films, books, and articles, they represent a business dating to the 1850s that began on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay. Today, they use local clay to make and produce glazed stoneware, utilitarian items, face jugs, and other works of art that are sought after by collectors.

For more information about regional quilting and pottery, visit the Alabama Folklife Association website.

Money Smart Week Programs at Central Library Begins April 24

Money Smart Week is an annual nationwide campaign aimed at increasing financial literacy and promoting better decision making on issues related to personal money management. This year, Money Smart Week will be held from April 22 to April 29. The Birmingham Public Library will be doing its part to celebrate the week by hosting three public programs at the Central Library location:

The A, B, C, and Ds of Medicare
Date: Monday, April 24, 2017
Time: 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Place: Linn-Henley Research Library/Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC)/4th Floor
Karen Haiflich, an independent health benefits advisor, will provide simple, straightforward answers to help participants better understand Medicare and the options available to beneficiaries.

Estate Planning: A Guide to Life Organization
Date: Tuesday April 25, 2017
Time: 12:00-1:30 p.m.
Place: Linn-Henley Research Library/RLCC/4th Floor
Participants will learn the basics of estate planning including how to examine their financial needs and assets, organize important papers, and more. The presenter is Nkenge Hyter of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

Fact vs. Fiction - Busting the Social Security Myths
Date: Wednesday April 26, 2017
Time: 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Place: Linn-Henley Research Library/RLCC/4th Floor
Briana Collins, public affairs specialist for the Social Security Administration in Alabama, will provide informed answers to common questions about Social Security and will discuss various aspects of the agency’s different benefit programs.

When considering your personal financial goals, the Birmingham Public Library is a good place to go for free and authoritative resources on budgeting, savings, investing, and much more. So, make plans to stop by and check out some of the amazing resources and services we have to offer! For more information, please contact the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department at 205-226-3690.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sow the Seeds of Victory: Birmingham's Victory Gardens

Sow the Seeds of VictorySpring has arrived, and people have started to plant flowers and gardens. One hundred years ago this month, the citizens of Birmingham were planting gardens for a very different reason as the world was engulfed in World War I. There were severe food shortages in Europe as farmers left to serve in the military, and fertile ground had been turned into battlefields.

To solve this problem, Charles Lathop Pack organized the National War Garden Commission for the purpose of encouraging Americans to plant and harvest their own fruits and vegetables. Any idle land including school and company grounds, parks, backyards, or vacant lots could be converted for agricultural production, which would generate surplus food that in turn could then be exported to Europe. The National War Garden Commission formed in March 1917, and the United States entered the war in April 1917.

Birmingham citizens rushed to do their part by planting "victory gardens," and the Birmingham News led the effort with its Plant a Garden campaign as people signed a pledge to have their garden planted by May 15, 1917. There were long lines at McVay’s Seed Company when the company advertised free garden seed as a promotion to support the war effort and also to get people inside the store.

McVay's Seed Company

The Birmingham News, Jemison Real Estate and Insurance Company, and the Birmingham Ice and Cold Storage Company sponsored the 36 cash prizes totaling $600. The judges would visit the gardens by neighborhoods in mid-June to determine the winners. Depending on where you lived in the city determined which sponsor awarded the prize money. As you can see in this newspaper ad, this garden contest was segregated as there were both white and black winners.

Can the Kaiser
By late April, over 300 people had pledged to plant a garden. It was expected that the number would top 500 by the May deadline. Because there were many first time gardeners, Birmingham held canning classes taught by Miss Beatrice Shipp. One of the slogans for the War Garden Campaign was “Eat All You Can, and Can All You Can’t.”

War gardens remained popular throughout World War I, and their popularity dwindled in the years following the war. To learn more about the victory garden movement in World War I, read the history of the National War Garden Commission that was written by its founder, Charles Lathop Pack, at the end of World War I. With the outbreak of World War II, the popularity of victory gardens surged again with new propaganda posters encouraging people to once again plant gardens.

Enjoyed this story? Follow the Southern History Department on Facebook as we explore 100 years ago in Birmingham during the year 1917 each Thursday as part of Throwback Thursday.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Birmingham Bound: Author Talk and Book Signing with Art Black

What: Author talk and book signing with Art Black, author of Showdown at Rickwood
When: Tuesday, May 2, 2017, 5:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor
Details: Free and open to the public. Books will be available for purchase. Jim Reed, owner and proprietor of Reed Books, will offer introductory remarks.

Before major league baseball came south, the Dixie Series was the crowning event of the summer for Birmingham sports enthusiasts. Pitting the champions of the Southern Association and the Texas League, the series produced many memorable moments during its heyday from 1920 to 1958. For fans of the Birmingham Barons, however, the contest of 1931 was the most memorable of all.

The dramatic 1931 Dixie Series between the Birmingham Barons and the Houston Buffaloes serves as the backdrop of the newly published book Showdown at Rickwood. Written by local author Art Black, the book focuses not only baseball culture in the Magic City, but explores as well the social and economic climate of the Birmingham district as it was evolving into a major industrial center during the early decades of the 20th century. Through World War I, the Roaring Twenties, and the onset of the Great Depression, Birmingham and its citizens weathered the turbulence of national and international events. In the midst of this unrest, many found respite in the calming rhythms of the national pastime.

Please join us on Tuesday, May 2, at the Birmingham Public Library’s Central location to welcome the publication of Showdown at Rickwood and meet the book’s author, Art Black. Copies of the book will be available for purchase.

The program is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Jim Murray at 205-226-3691 or

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

Monday, April 17, 2017

Registration Open For May 2017 Classes

Registration is now open for staff and the public for the May 2017 classes . During this month, we include classes on a variety of topics including computer skills and career guidance. All classes are held in the Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC) of the Central (downtown) Library. PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED FOR ALL CLASSES.

Please note that registration does not necessarily guarantee you a spot in the class. You will receive an email confirming your registration for classes. You may also call to confirm your registration.

To register for any class, please email us at or call 205-226-3681. You may also download and print a pdf copy of the May 2017 class schedule to bring to a Computer Commons staff member on your next library visit. Please note that the May 2017 class schedule (pdf file) can be sent to us as an email attachment.

West End Library Hosting Filmmaking Workshop for Teens on April 22

Hey young people, ever dreamed of becoming a filmmaker? Then make plans to be at the West End Branch Library the next four Saturdays for free filmmaking workshops for teens.

The workshop, Do You Want to Make a Movie? Film Making for Teens, will kick off at 3:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.  on Saturday, April 22, 2017. The teacher is Birmingham filmmaker Denzale Butler. There is only room for 10 students, so register in advance by calling the West End Library at 205-226-4089.

The workshop has four classes, all taught between 3:30 and 4:45 p.m.:
Week One (April 22) is "Introduction to Cinema"
Week Two (April 29) is "ABC’s of Film (Shot Sizes)"
Week Three (May 6) is "ABC’s of Film (Camera Movement)"
Week Four (May 13) is "ABC’s of Film (Composition)"

The teacher will bring a camera to class. However, students are asked to bring their camera phones since they will use them to create shots that create various moods. Teens will acquire a new skill and additional knowledge about an exciting topic. The class will fulfill the components of lifelong learning, cultural enrichment, and enjoyment by introducing teens to film making, according to the West End Library.

Five Points West Library Hosting Meet & Greet for Authors ReShonda Tate Billingsley and Victoria Christopher Murray

What: A Blessing & a Curse—a book launch/meet & greet for ReShonda Tate Billingsley and Victoria Christopher Murray
When: Tuesday, April 25, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Five Points West Regional Branch Library

Five Points West Regional Branch Library will be hosting a book launch/meet & greet for popular authors ReShonda Tate Billingsley and Victoria Christopher Murray. The event will take place on April 25, 2017. The title comes from the new collaborative novel by Billingsley and Murray.

The book A Blessing & a Curse is about first ladies of the Baptist church and sworn “frenemies” Rachel Jackson Adams and Jasmine Cox Larson Bush, who are stunned to learn they may have more in common than they thought—like who’s their daddy. A Blessing & A Curse has it all: a heated American Baptist Coalition election, a murky murder cover-up, an outrageous reality TV show, and other drama.

Read more about the book by publisher Simon & Schuster at the link below:

For more information, call Five Points West Library at 205-226-4013.

Birmingham Public Library System Has New Branch Managers at Titusville and Wylam Libraries

Birmingham Public Library's Titusville and Wylam locations have new branch managers. Amanda Jenkins heads the Titusville Branch Library after spending time at the public library in Alabaster. She previously worked part time at several BPL locations, including Springville Road. Selina Johnson now heads the Wylam Branch Library after spending 18 years as a librarian in the Birmingham Public School system.

Amanda Jenkins

Amanda T. Jenkins began overseeing the Titusville Library in late January. Before joining the Birmingham Public Library (BPL), Jenkins served as the circulation department head at Albert L. Scott Library in Alabaster.

A Birmingham native, Jenkins has a bachelor’s in science degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a master of library and information studies from the University of Alabama. Jenkins has been busy meeting patrons and neighborhood leaders over the past two-and-half months, and is excited to be a part of the Titusville community.

“I've worked part-time for the Birmingham Public Library system in the past, and I loved it. I'm thrilled to begin working in Birmingham again, as promoting literacy and public service are my greatest passions,’ Jenkins said.

Jenkins worked part-time jobs at the Springville Road and Eastwood Libraries, and the Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest while earning her master's degree. Upon earning her MLIS, she was employed at Virginia College before joining the Albert L. Scott Library in Alabaster.

Meet Amanda Jenkins:
Hometown: Birmingham, AL
Favorite book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Favorite movie: Pulp Fiction
Favorite television show: Real Time with Bill Maher
Favorite quote that you use as a guide in life: "It is not the magnitude of our actions but the amount of love that is put into them that matters." – Mother Teresa
How to reach her: Visit or call Jenkins at the Titusville Library, 205-322-1140, or email her at

Selina Johnson

Selina Johnson began overseeing the Wylam Branch Library on April 3, 2017. Prior to joining the Birmingham Public Library, Johnson served as a school librarian in the Birmingham Public School System for 18 years. A Birmingham native, Johnson received her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in elementary education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She received her master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa in 2001.

Upon graduation from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Johnson worked as school librarian in the Birmingham City School System at Glenn Middle School, Martha Gaskins Middle School, and Carver High School.

“I am thrilled to be a part of the Birmingham Public Library family. Everyone has been so welcoming and supportive. My hope is to be an integral part of building upon the services and programs that are offered at Wylam Library and to support the Wylam community. This community has such a big heart.” Johnson said.

Meet Selina Johnson:
Hometown: Hoover, AL
Favorite book: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Favorite movie: It’s a Wonderful Life (original 1946 version)
Favorite television show: Queen Sugar
Favorite quote that you use as a guide in life: “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” –Maya Angelou
How to reach her: Visit or call Johnson at the Wylam Library, 205-785-0349, or email her at

Steps to Starting Your Business Seminar Scheduled for May 1 at Central Library

What: Steps to Starting Your Business
When: Monday, May 1, 2017
Time: 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor

Upcoming Date:
Monday June 5, 2017

The Birmingham Public Library, in conjunction with the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) and the City of Birmingham’s Office of Economic Development, will once again be hosting the popular seminar Steps to Starting Your Business in 2017. The seminar is scheduled to be held on the first Monday of each month from February to June, 12:00 to 1:00 p.m., in the Arrington Auditorium, which is located on the 4th floor of the Linn-Henley Research Library.

Each seminar will cover the same topics, but those who are interested are welcome to attend more than one day. Topics covered will include crafting a vision statement, identifying sources of funding, determining the legal structure of your business, devising a business plan, and investigating sources of business and economic information. Please register for the seminars by contacting Andy Mayo in the Economic Development Office at or 205-⁠⁠254-⁠⁠2774.

Seminar presenters will be veteran mentors from the local chapter of SCORE. SCORE is a national nonprofit association consisting of volunteers with business skills and experience who want to share their knowledge with prospective entrepreneurs and small business owners. For over 50 years, SCORE mentors have helped millions of Americans start and grow their own businesses.

For further information about the seminars or about resources available at the Birmingham Public Library relating to small business development, please contact Jim Murray in the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department at or by phoning 205-226-3691.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Book Review: In Search of Lost Time: In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower

by David Blake, Department Head, Fiction Department, Central Library

In Search of Lost Time: In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower
Marcel Proust

For decades the title of the second volume of In Search of Lost Time was translated as Within a Budding Grove, because the actual title was deemed too suggestive for English speaking ears. The narrator, not named, is describing his early adolescence and his intoxication as he is immersed in the company of girls entering adolescence themselves. Most readers, like the narrator, will be years past the age when flirtation was new to us and youths were our peers, but Proust, the author and presumably the narrator, powerfully evokes those emotions for us as he shares passages from his youth.

As the first volume, Swann’s Way, closed, the narrator, a nervous, sickly boy, is drawn out of his cloistered world every afternoon to the promenade of elegant Parisian courtesans in the Bois de Boulogne, in particular Mrs. Swann, mother of Gilberte, the beautiful girl with whom he is infatuated. Like the first volume, In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower has little plot. The young narrator courts Gilberte at her parents' home in Paris. He spends the summer at a seaside resort in Normandy and gains the company of a group of young girls to whom he is attracted. He makes a close friend. But, as we all know, negotiating love for the first time involves volumes of calculation and strong emotion. Proust’s unsparing observation of his own feelings and behavior, and the people and places he encounters, makes his constricted plot and settings seem infinite.

Fin de Siecle Paris was before the day when one would self-identify as gay, but we know, most knew, Proust’s primary loves were men. As we read In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, the reader may remain open to an interpretation that Proust is describing the narrator’s feelings for other boys, not girls. After all, he gives them names which are nearly boys names—Gilberte, Albertine, Andree—and the theme of homosexuality has already been introduced in both volumes.

In the end, as Proust probably intended, it matters little. The novel is about discovering the exhausting pain and exultation of discovering love. And even more so, In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower is about the writing itself. Just as one can admire a painting, a van Gogh, for example, for the brush strokes, one admires Proust for his metaphors, which pile one upon another into a glittering portrait.

Check it out.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

TV Series Review: The Feud: Bette and Joan

by Sam Rumore, Librarian, Springville Road Regional Branch Library

The Feud: Bette and Joan on FX is now up to its sixth episode. I have been watching religiously because it involves the making of one of my favorite movies and two of my favorite actresses. So, I figured it would be a great opportunity to include some resources that the library has that could give some greater context to the show and Hollywood and the movie industry, in general. But first, here’s a little history and context on the show.

Whenever I start something, I like to start with the source material. With that being said, I recommend seeing the movie, Whatever happened to Baby Jane? It stars Bette Davis and Joan Crawford and is directed by Robert Aldrich. It’s a psychological-thriller-horror film about an aging vaudeville actress who holds her disabled Hollywood actress sister captive in an old Hollywood mansion.

This movie officially started the subgenre of thriller-horror films known as the psycho-biddy films or hagsploitation, which proliferated in the 1960s and on into the 1970s. Psycho-biddy films involved once glamorous older women who have now become psychotic and start terrorizing the people around them.

Examples of Psycho-biddy Films:

Strait-Jacket (1964) – Directed by William Castle. Starring Joan Crawford.
Released from a mental hospital 20 years after having committed the axe murders of her husband and his lover, a woman moves in with her brother, his wife, and her own daughter, who is now 23. When axe murders start occurring, police think she has reverted to her old ways. (Description from DVD case.)

Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964) – Directed by Robert Aldrich. Starring Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Joseph Cotton, and Agnes Moorehead.
Charlotte was a Southern belle preparing to elope with her married lover—until he was murdered. Now, 37 years later, she lives alone in her mansion, slowly going mad as she is haunted by the memory of the unsolved crime and tormented by the local townspeople who believe she killed him. But when her cousin comes to visit, the skeletons begin to tumble out of the closet—and that's when the terror really begins. (Description from DVD case.)

The Nanny (1965) – Directed by Seth Holt. Starring Bette Davis.
Blamed for the drowning death of his little sister, ten-year-old Joey Fane has finally returned home after being institutionalized for two years. Placed once again under the care of his devoted nanny, Joey is soon accused of trying to poison his own mother. But when he swears it was the nanny who committed the crimes, his tormented pleas lead some to wonder: is Joey the disturbed killer everyone thinks he is, or is this dear old nanny hiding some murderous secrets? (Description from DVD case.)
Whatever Happened to Aunt Alice? (1969) – Directed by Lee H Katzin. Starring Geraldine Page and Ruth Gordon.
A widow, who was left nothing but a stamp collection by her late husband, begins hiring elderly housekeepers and killing them in order to steal their money. A friend of one of these victims grows suspicious and begins working for the widow to catch her. But will she become the next victim herself?

What’s the Matter with Helen? (1971) – Directed by Curtis Harrington. Starring Shelley Winters and Debbie Reynolds.
Two Midwestern mothers flee to restart their lives in Hollywood after their sons’ high-profile murder trial a la the Leopold and Loeb murder trial. The ladies open a dance studio for young girls. While their business flourishes, their personal lives begin to suffer. One of the ladies becomes dangerously obsessed and jealous of the other with dire consequences for them both.

Bette Davis

One of the greatest actresses in Hollywood history, Bette Davis was nominated for ten Academy Awards (the first person to do so), winning two for Best Actress (Dangerous (1935) and Jezebel (1938)). Davis was known for her versatility and willingness to play unsympathetic characters. Her career lasted from 1929 to 1989.

Selected Filmography
Of Human Bondage (1934)
Jezebel (1938)
Dark Victory (1939)
The Letter (1940)
The Little Foxes (1941)
Now, Voyager (1942)
Mr. Skeffington (1944)
All about Eve (1950)

Selected Books
Dark Victory: The Life of Bette Davis by Ed Sikov
Bette and Joan: The Divine Feud by Shaun Considine
Bette Davis Speaks by Boze Hadleight
This ‘n That by Bette Davis with Michael Herskowitz

Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford was an actress during the Golden era of Hollywood. She seamlessly bridged and survived the transition from silent films to sound films. Her popularity rivaled and outlasted her contemporaries, like Norma Shearer and Greta Garbo. She was nominated for the Best Actress Academy Award three times, winning for Mildred Pierce in 1945. Her career lasted from 1925 to 1972.

Selected Filmography
Possessed (1931)
This Modern Age (1931)
Grand Hotel (1932)
Dancing Lady (1933)
Forsaking All Others (1934)
The Bride Wore Red (1937)
The Ice Follies of 1939 (1939)
The Women (1939)
Mildred Pierce (1945)

Selected Books
Conversations with Joan Crawford by Roy Newquist; introduction by John Springer
Joan Crawford: The Essential Biography by Lawrence J. Quirk and William Schoell
Not the Girl Next Door: Joan Crawford, a Personal Biography by Charlotte Chandler
Possessed: The Life of Joan Crawford by Donald Spoto

How I Finally Came to Appreciate Digital E-Books and Audiobooks

by Lynn Carpenter, Children's Librarian, Five Points West Regional Branch Library

Nathan Pyle/BuzzFeed

My favorite thing to do is read. Now this may not seem unusual for a librarian, but I read in many different ways. I love to cuddle up at night right before going to bed and read for a while. Sometimes it is for 15 minutes, sometimes for five to six hours. I will look at the time and suddenly realize I have to get up in an hour to get ready for work. I find that I am not tired—I am awake an hour later and refreshed as if I’ve had a full night’s sleep.

My favorite way to read is with a good old-fashioned book in my hands. I love the feel, the weight, the smell of a good book, even if it is a little musty from age.

Lately, I have been reading the epic Outlander series by Diane Gabaldon. These eight books range in size from 650 to 900 pages. I began reading these books in 1992 when the first book was released. I was delighted when it became a series and continued reading them as they were published. When I heard they were being made into a series, I was ecstatic. I had missed the last three books, so I started with them, but while watching the series, I realized I had forgotten a few things. I started the series from the beginning, but the third library book copy had been read so many times, it was falling apart in my hands.

My husband had given me a Kindle when they first came out in 2007. Being a librarian, I felt like a traitor using this new technology. I downloaded a free book of children’s stories (I am a children’s librarian), and read the stories between other books. When the third Outlander book started falling apart in my hands, I found the Kindle to be the answer to my problem. It was light to carry around and in one piece. I read the rest of the series on the Kindle. When USA released the second book on TV, I began the series again because there was so much information in each book I had to refresh my memory. I am about to finish the fifth book, Drums of Autumn. These eight books are the only books I’ve read since 2014 (in the traditional format).

As a member of the American Library Association, I have served on seven audiobook committees. This past year as chair of the 2017 Odyssey Committee*, we received 445 audio books to evaluate. The first audiobook I had ever listened to was John Grisham’s A Time to Kill, as I was going to Destin. It made the drive seem shorter and as I was going through some small towns, the KKK was coming down one street, the NAACP was coming down another street, and the National Guard down a third street—I had to stop and remember: this is a book.

As a member of the committee, I was assigned around 52,000 minutes of listening. That came out to 104 eight hour days. With the audiobooks I could listen while driving in the car, cleaning house, Christmas shopping, during lunch, or crocheting. I listened to 147 books.

At the conference, we picked our winner, Anna and the Swallow Man, the announcements were made, and I got in my car to drive home. I picked up an audiobook I had received at the conference, Put the CD in the player, and listened to a new adventure on my way home to Birmingham.

*The Odyssey Award audiobook is honored as the Best Audiobook production of a book for children or teens produced in the previous year.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Celebrate Central Library During National Library Week

by Pat B. Rumore, board member of the Friends Foundation of the Birmingham Public Library

Pat Rumore
Say you’re interested in Abraham Lincoln, and you want to read the new historical novel by George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo. You stop by your Birmingham neighborhood library, but the book is not there. But there’s no problem. You can go online and request it and ask that it be delivered to your library. And usually, in a matter of days, you’ll have it.

The above example is just one way in which the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) system works. The system has 18 branches throughout the city, all of which serve many purposes in their particular communities, but the BPL system’s beating heart is the Central Library complex downtown.

Central acquires, catalogs, and circulates the books, magazines, DVDs, and CDs that you’re accustomed to finding in the branches. But it also acquires a vast array of electronic media offerings such as downloadable films, e-books, magazines, audiobooks, and music, and it maintains databases available 24-7, at no charge to library patrons. Go to and you can find Hoopla, a streaming service for films, magazines, and audiobooks; Flipster, a digital magazine service; the learning tool Mango Languages; back issues of the Birmingham News, burial records from Red Mountain Cemetery, and so on.

The JCLC vans run three delivery routes five days per week to provide a
county-wide delivery service to patrons. Each year the vans travel 1,413
miles per week or 73,476 miles annually delivering materials.

These and all of the BPL system’s data sources are available to Birmingham residents, and most of them are available to Jefferson County residents. All you need is a card with the Jefferson County Library Cooperative. The cooperative serves 40 libraries throughout the county—including municipal libraries such as those in Bessemer, Homewood, Hoover, Mountain Brook, and Trussville—and it is based at the Central Library. So are the vans that deliver books and other materials that you request from your local library.

But these services are not all that you can find at Central. In Central's Linn-Henley Research Library, check out the Southern History Department, which is renowned for its book collection, maps, and genealogy resources and instruction. There’s also the Archives and Manuscripts Department, which holds more than 30 million documents and 500,000 photographs of local, state, national, and international significance, including the archives of the City of Birmingham.

At a 2012 Eat Drink Read Write festival, Brooklyn-based chef and author
Tamar Adler leads a bring-your-own cooking class, where attendees brought
anything from their fridge or pantry to see what Adler could make with it.
BPL Flickr

Like its branches, Central is a lending library, and it also hosts a variety of activities for all ages. However, its large two buildings and resources enable it to do some things on a grander scale than most of the libraries in the county. For example, Central annually sponsors a teen poetry initiative, WORD UP!, which draws teens from a five-county area, and a Local Authors Expo and Book Fair. There’s also its monthly Bards and Brews poetry slam competition and local craft beer tasting, and its annual week-long Eat Drink Read Write festival. New this year is the program Teens Engineer BHM, run in conjunction with the UAB School of Engineering, to encourage teens to consider engineering careers.

A volunteer from UAB School of Engineering shows Teens Engineer BHM 
participants at the Woodlawn Branch Library how to design houses.
BPL Flickr

This month’s events calendar illustrates the scope of classes held at Central. Included are “Money Matters” programming on personal finances; “Steps to Starting Your Business,” plus classes on employment with Jefferson County and using Ferguson’s Career Guidance Center, which details more than 2,000 in-demand jobs at nearly 100 industries. Each month also offers computer classes and instruction on how to use the library system's databases.

This week is National Library Week. It is a time to acknowledge the important role that libraries and librarians continue to serve in our society. Both citizens and governmental leaders in Jefferson County often seem to forget the critical role played by the Central Library in our large and successful county-wide system since most people experience their libraries at the branch or municipal level. It is time to celebrate Central and remind everyone that it needs our continued support to maintain its special services and programs which enhance the other libraries in the county.

(You can support the Central Library by joining the Friends of the Birmingham Public Library at or by sending a donation to the Friends Foundation of BPL at under Support the Library, Library Foundation.)

Pat Rumore received a 2016 Library Champions award from the Jefferson County Public Library Association and is a board member of the Friends Foundation of the Birmingham Public Library.

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