Showing posts from May, 2017

BPL Wins $95,000 Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham Grant to Expand Teen Engineering to More Branches

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) has received a $95,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham to expand Teens Engineer BHM, a pilot afterschool program that partners engineering school mentors from UAB with teens at three Birmingham city libraries: Central, Southside, and Woodlawn. The grant will be used to expand the program from three to five libraries over the next two years.

The Community Foundation announced the grant and other recipients on May 26 at the link below:

Teens Engineer Birmingham, a UAB School of Engineering outreach effort through the Birmingham Public Library, began as a pilot program at the Central Library in 2015. Last year, it was expanded to Southside and Woodlawn Branch Libraries after BPL won a $50,000 2015 Community Impact Grant from the UAB Benevolent Fund.

Mentors from the UAB School of Engineering, led by Department Outreach Coordinator and STEM Instructor Dr. Abidin Yildirim, p…

Summer and Fall 2017 Schedule Set for SCORE Steps to Starting Your Business Seminars at Birmingham Public Library

What: Steps to Starting Your Business seminar
When: Monday, June 5, 2017
Time: 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor
Details: Registration is required

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 again be hosting the monthly seminar Steps to Starting Your Business, from June to November 2017. The seminar is scheduled to be held on the following Mondays from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. in the Arrington Auditorium, which is located on the 4th floor of the Linn-Henley Research Library: June 5, July 10, September 11, October 2, and November 6. No seminar will be held during the month of August.

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 structur…

Southern History Book(s) of the Month: Gumbo Love and Lulu's Kitchen

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

Gumbo Love: Recipes for Gulf Coast Cooking, Entertaining, and Savoring the Good Life
Lucy Buffett

Lulu’s Kitchen: A Taste of the Gulf Coast Good Life
Lucy Buffett
(Previously published as Crazy Sista Cooking)

It’s a Book of the Month double feature! Now that we’re nearing the end of May, people start (or have already been) thinking about vacation time, beach destinations, and great summer food. These two books by Lucy “LuLu” Buffett are bound to get you in the summertime state of mind with their mouth-watering recipes, tips for the good life—Gulf Coast style—and tidbits of personal history. In Gumbo Love, Buffett recounts how cooking was an activity that caught and kept her attention in a way that school had been unable to do:
I was always turning in assignments late or under the wire. It was more fun to dream, play make-believe, hang out with friends, or listen to music . . . There is now a diagnosis and trea…

Bards & Brews to Take Place During the June Art Crawl at the Pizitz

Bards & Brews will have a change of scenery for June with our debut performance at the Birmingham Art Crawl on Thursday, June 1, from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

The monthly spoken-word poetry program will be open air and open mic outside the Pizitz Food Hall at the corner of 19th Street and Second Ave North.

As you check out the amazing visual artists of the Magic City, join us for an unforgettable night featuring many of Birmingham's best poets sharing their work against the backdrop of the city's evening lights.

We are also giving away two $25 gift certificates to Eli's Jerusalem Grill during the event. One will be given away via an Instagram contest and the other via a trivia question at 8:00 p.m. during the event. See the library's post on Instagram for details on how to enter via the app.

This is an open mic event, which means that anyone willing to sign the list can get on the microphone to perform their work or the work of another poet. We are always encouraging new pe…

Join The Afterthoughts, Springville Road Library’s Nonfiction Book Club

by Kelly Laney, Adult Services Librarian, Springville Road Regional Branch Library

Do you sometimes read nonfiction and think, Wow, I’d love to talk to someone about this topic? The Springville Road Library has a program just for you. The Afterthoughts Book Group chooses a different topic every month, and then everyone in the group reads one or more books or articles on that subject. We get together on the third Tuesday of every month at 2:00 p.m. to share what we’ve read and then branch out and talk about the subject in general. Most of the time you’ll be interested enough in hearing about another book to want to read it, too. Past topics have included "New Technologies," "Royalty," "Biographies," "Espionage and Spies," "Animal Stories," "Solar System and UFOs," and "Gangsters, Molls, and Thugs."

Our topic for June’s meeting is "History of Civilization through Architecture and Archaeology," so any …

Card-Making Classes For Adults & Teens

Card-Making at Central Library
Youth Department Storycastle
Monday, June 12, 2017
2:00-3:30 p.m.

Do you love the look of homemade greeting cards? Are you looking for a way to explore design and express your creativity? Well, look no further.  Join us for a fun and creative class as we make simple yet pretty homemade cards. We’ll have fun combining various papers, colors and designs to make unique creations. We are teaching card-making skills at Central Library and various BPL branches. Join us this summer to make a personalized card for a family member or friend.

Please see our schedule listed below for more information.

Registration required. Limit 12 participants.

Note: Teens are welcome with adult supervision in class.


For more information about the card-making classes at BPL branches, call the library branch manager. To register for the Central Library card-making class, contact Leslie Deason at (205) 226-3677 or email her at


Gentle Yoga Class

Gentle Yoga Class
Monday, June 19, 2017
11:00-12:30 p.m.
Birmingham Public Library
2100 Park Place
Youth Department Storycastle

Are you interested in a gentle exercise class that will calm your mind and heal your spirit?

Join us for a relaxing session of gentle yoga. Yoga can relieve stress and calm the mind. Yoga instructor, Marie Blair, will focus on what's going right with the body helping adults develop strength, flexibility and balance inch by inch. To register, please email us at

Resegregation of Schools, 2017

by Barbara Hutto, Government Documents

With the proliferation of U.S. charter schools, school redistricting, and dialogue about school vouchers, the question surfaces: Is this the resegregation of schools in the U.S.? Over sixty years after 
Court order of desegregation of U.S. schools, why is this discussion still relevant?

A quote from Natalie Y. Moore, author of The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation, sums up the concern of many. “If we’re going to effectively address race relations, we have to address our separateness.”

Simply Google the term “resegregation” and you get over 97,000 hits. Books, newspaper, professional and academic articles abound on resegregation for those who are interested. Listed below are just a few of the library's books and government documents on the topic.

Burris, Carol Corbett. On the Same Track: How Schools Can Join the Twenty-First Century Struggle Against Resegregation. Boston: Simmons College/Beacon Press, 2014. Gri…

Teams on a Collision Course

We are one round away from the NBA Finals.  Throughout the playoffs, fans and commentators alike have been talking about the inevitability of a rematch between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors.  The other teams in the playoffs have disagreed, but none have been able, so far, to prevent this rematch from happening.  As of today, the Golden State Warriors are 11-0 in the playoffs and one game away from a 3rd straight trip to the Finals.  In the Eastern Conference, the Cleveland Cavaliers are 10-0 in the playoffs and will play Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight.  They are two games away from their 3rd straight appearance in the NBA Finals. 
As you can see, both Cleveland and Golden State swept the first two rounds of their respective playoff series.  To be fair, each team was tested and there were some very close games resulting in their victories.  However, their ability to recover from deficits (25 points for Cleveland against Indiana, 25 points for G…

Registration Open for July 2017 Summer Adult Central Classes

Registration is now open for staff and the public for the July 2017 Summer Adult Central 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 July 2017 Summer Adult Central Classes to bring to a Computer Commons staff member on your next library visit. Please note that the July 2017 Summer Adult Central Classes (pdf file) can be sent to us as an email attachment.

Registration Open for June 2017 Classes

Registration is now open for staff and the public for the June 2017 Summer Adult Central 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 June 2017 Summer Adult Central Classes to bring to a Computer Commons staff member on your next library visit. Please note that the June 2017 Summer Adult Central Classes (pdf file) can be sent to us as an email attachment.

Alice Paul Comes to Birmingham

Alice Paul is one of those overlooked figures in history. Her name belongs with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony as an advocate for women’s suffrage. In May 1917, Alice Paul came to Birmingham, stayed in the Tutwiler Hotel, and made a speech that incited controversy among the citizens of Birmingham.

Who was Alice Paul, and why is her visit to Birmingham important? Alice Paul was the leader of the National Women’s Party and campaigned for a federal amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would grant women nationwide the right to vote. Previous suffrage movements had concentrated on a state by state approach in which each individual state would vote to grant the right to vote to women. Paul was not content to wait patiently for each state to grant women the right to vote, and believed that the support of President Woodrow Wilson was necessary to make Congress ratify a suffrage amendment.

In January 1917, Alice Paul organized the first ever picket of the White House by the…

Book Review: In Search of Lost Time: The Guermantes Way

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

In Search of Lost Time: The Guermantes Way
Marcel Proust

Self-possession is a particularly French trait. One speaks differently with those who hold different positions in society, if one speaks at all. For speaking, or even being introduced to another, has social consequences. Society, the very highest of Belle Époque Paris, at last, joins romantic love as a major subject in this third volume of In Search of Lost Time. Our narrator, still an adolescent, has an obsessive love for the Duchesse de Guermantes whose noble ancestors’ likenesses he contemplated in the centuries-old stained glass windows of the ancient church he attended as a boy. The narrator longs to be introduced to the Duchesse. He stalks her on the streets of the aristocratic Faubourg St Germain as she makes her social rounds, tips his hat when she passes, but she does not acknowledge him.

The French have another exceptional trait. They place the highest…

2017 Summer Reading Registration Under Way at the Birmingham Public Library 

If you are looking for fun, free activities this summer, the Birmingham Public Library's 2017 summer reading schedule has plenty of activities to keep you busy.

Build a Better World is the theme for this year's Summer Reading program, with more than 500 free activities for kids, teens, and adults taking place in June and July in 19 library locations across Birmingham. Patrons of all ages can participate in fun and learning focused on creating, repurposing, and building.

Through books, activities, and guest presenters, participants will discover new ways of looking at the world around them. Programs will include a Ronald McDonald's Magic Show (June 14) and Birmingham Fire Department Show & Tell (June 21) at the Springville Road Regional Branch Library; weekly Family Nights on Tuesdays at the Avondale Regional Branch Library that include Shark Week, Talent Show, Legos, and a carnival; Irish Folk Dancing at several locations, M.A.D. Skillz Dance lessons and Drum Circl…

Book Review: Death in Florence: The Medici, Savonarola, and the Battle for the Soul of a Renaissance City

by David Ryan, Librarian, Business, Science and Technology Department

Death in Florence: The Medici, Savonarola, and the Battle for the Soul of a Renaissance City
Paul Strathern

Growing up, I loved reading tales of the Italian Renaissance. The beautiful city of Florence, birthplace of the Renaissance, figured prominently in these stories. The authors I read painted the city as a place of winding, dark alleys where assassins in the pay of the great city-state families practiced their nefarious trade. Inside the marbled, domed churches artists like Sandro Botticelli produced some of the most breathtaking art Europe had ever seen. On the outskirts of the city were beautiful fields of golden grain where mercenary generals, or condottiere, led troops in brilliant military maneuvers which resulted in stunning victories, but few fatalities. Paul Strathern in Death in Florence disabuses me of some of my childhood romantic misconceptions, and by focusing on the intertwined lives of Lorenzo d’ M…

Opening Reception for Exhibit Sewn and Thrown: Traditional Quilts and Folk Pottery from Alabama’s Black Belt

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.

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 an…

Talk is Priceless, Not Cheap, at Wylam Book Club

by Selina Johnson, Branch Manager, Wylam Branch Library

Everyone interprets the books that they read differently, and with that comes the beauty of being a part of a book club. Book club members get lost in the characters and the story that is being told, but they may not see the characters and the story in the same way. The sharing of those varied perspectives makes for a solid and interesting group. This is why the Wylam Book Club is a staple program at the Wylam Library.

If you visit the Wylam Library on the third Wednesday of any given month at 11:00 a.m., you will find an engaged and boisterous group of book club members who are making their opinions known about the latest read of the month. Our book club is a real community. The members have formed a bond and are now a group of friends.

Book club members are offered a variety of reading experiences, from suspense to romance to the downright strange. The members have thoroughly enjoyed the books that have been selected for …

Book Review: The Godfather

by Richard Grooms, Librarian, Fiction Department, Central Library

The Godfather
Mario Puzo

I read this novel because I’d seen the movie of the same name many times and wanted to further explore this sinister mafia world. But you need have no interest in the movie (or the sequels) to like this. It’s a world unto itself. The story has a powerful drive and captures you fully. Don Corleone, his family, and his henchmen command a world of lived-in evil. It’s oddly invigorating to journey in this world, knowing somewhere back in your head it’s not real and you can go back to the relatively ethical real world at any time. That is, you can leave if you can stop reading, which a lot harder than you’d think.

The main reason I read this is I wanted to know more about the characters than the first movie covered. It of course provided this depth, as well as introducing me to characters that didn’t appear in that movie. It’s also fun to pull out the novel after I’ve watched the movie, skip to a cert…

The Ensley Reading Gems

by Alisha Johnson, Branch Manager, Enlsey Branch Library

In August of 2016 the Ensley Branch Library came up with the idea of having an adult book club and the response has been great! Our name, the Ensley Reading Gems, was determined by the staff members and is facilitated by a staff member as well. Initially, the book club started out with a 12-month list of books to read and a number of questions to answer, but the meeting has quickly morphed into something a little bit different but just as enjoyable.

The members of the book club meet on the 2nd Thursday of each month at 10:00 a.m. and most times enjoy light refreshments during the discussion. Since the club has matured, the members choose the books that they would like to read and they feel free to bring in their own refreshments. We have a hearty discussion on questions from the books and many times the conversation matures into real-world issues and the like. We have a great time in this book club and encourage others to join…

Patents as Genealogy Resources

by Mary Beth Newbill, Southern History and Government Documents

We typically think of patents as a way of legally protecting the rights of inventors and entrepreneurs, but have you ever realized that historical patents could be valuable to genealogists? Knowing if you have an ancestor who was granted a patent could help you gain insight into their work and educational background, or just give you another piece of the genealogical puzzle.

Since patents typically list the inventor's hometown, they can tell you where your ancestor was living at the time he or she received their patent. If they received multiple patents and moved around, you might be able to track their movements through their patents. Patents can also indicate citizenship in other countries and name changes, either through the courts or through marriage. Inventors all over the world filed for U.S. patents, so even if your ancestor lived in another country you might still find them listed on a patent.

The very first p…

Southern History Department Hosting Several Genealogy Workshops in May

The Southern History Department, housed in the Linn-Henley Research Library in downtown Birmingham, has announced its May 2017 class schedule.

Workshops are free of charge, but registration is requested. Register online through the BPL events calendar at Like Southern History Department on Facebook at

If you desire to learn more about how to research your family tree, mark your calendar for the following programs below:

Thursday, May 11, 10:00-11:00 a.m., Powderly Branch Library
From Cards to Computers: Planning a Research Visit
Finding the resources you need is one of the most important parts of genealogy research. In this class, you will learn the best methods to locate resources quickly, narrow your search, and maximize your time in a library.

Sunday, May 21, 2:30-3:30 p.m., Southern History Department, Linn-Henley Research Library
Introduction to Genealogy
Want to learn how to do genealogical research? Come to this in…

From the Archives: He Calls Me by Lightning: The Life of Caliph Washington and the Forgotten Saga of Jim Crow, Southern Justice, and the Death Penalty

by Jim Baggett, Department Head, Archives & Manuscripts Department, Central Library

He Calls Me By Lightning: The Life of Caliph Washington and the Forgotten Saga of Jim Crow, Southern Justice, and the Death Penalty
S. Jonathan Bass

In the latest book researched in the Birmingham Public Library Archives, Dr. S. Jonathan Bass of Samford University explores the timely topic of race, violence, and law enforcement. Published by Liveright, an imprint of W. W. Norton, the book traces the story of Caliph Washington, an African American teenager who lived in 1950s Bessemer, Alabama. Wrongfully convicted of killing a police officer, Washington came within minutes of being executed before he was finally exonerated and released from prison.

He Calls Me By Lightning is one of more than 400 books published using the collections of the Birmingham Public Library Archives, including five recipients of the Pulitzer Prize and one recipient of the National Book Award. Documentary films and television s…

Springville Road Library Stitched Art Drawing Winner Announced

Mable Rodgers is the winner of the Springville Road Regional Branch Library’s stitched art drawing. Kelly Laney, adult services librarian, presented the hand-stitched, framed art to Rodgers on Wednesday, May 4.

The art piece was created by a Birmingham area artist who is a member of the library’s Coffee, Conversation and Crafts (CCC) adult program and donated to Springville Road Library to raise money for its adult programs. CCC members sold tickets that raised $143 for the library, Laney said.

The drawing was held during the May 1 CCC program in which members stitched art, made quilts, scarves, stuffed animals, and other items. CCC meets every Monday at 11:00 a.m. at the Springville Road Library. For more information, call Laney at 205-226-4083 or email her at Search upcoming CCC programs on the BPL events calendar.

Children's Book Review: Pax

by Mollie McFarland, Children's Librarian, Springville Road Regional Branch Library

Sara Pennypacker

Peter's best friend is a fox named Pax. After the death of his mother, Peter discovered the orphaned kit in the woods near his home. The two became as close as brothers as they grew up and learned to cope with the loss of their respective parents. However, a big change is in store. War is brewing and Peter's father is leaving to fight in the military. Now, Peter's only caregiver is his strict and humorless grandfather. A man who would not consent letting Peter keep his pet. Before Peter embarks on the long journey to his grandfather's house, he is forced to release Pax into the wild. Pax is totally unprepared to live on his own and Peter is driven hundreds of miles away against his will. Before a day passes at his grandfather's house, Peter embarks on an impossible journey to reunite with Pax. Alternating chapters show the boy and fox's point of view as …

Selected BPL Branches to Celebrate World Turtle Day, May 9-24

by Mollie McFarland, Children's Librarian, Springville Road Regional Branch Library

"Shellebrate" World Turtle Day at your local library in May! Jumanji the Russian tortoise will make an appearance at selected Birmingham Public Library locations as we talk about the difference between turtles and tortoises and the impact each have on their local ecosystems. A craft and movie will follow each presentation.

A special trio of turtles from Pet Supplies Plus will visit the Springville Road Regional Branch Library's program on May 9 to show off their skills on land and water. Learn about their natural habitat, diet, and personality.

Schedule of programs:
May 9, 4:00 p.m., Springville Road Library
May 10, 3:30 p.m., Avondale Library
May 22, 10:30 a.m., Smithfield Branch Library
May 22, 4:00 p.m., Woodlawn Branch Library
May 23, 3:15 p.m., East Lake Branch Library
May 24, 3:30 p.m., Inglenook Branch Library

Bards & Brews Open Mic Poetry Event Scheduled for May 5 at Central Library

What: Bards & Brews open mic spoken word poetry/beer tasting
When: Friday, May 5, 2017. Music by HidNTrackz begins at 6:30 p.m., spoken word poetry at 7:00 p.m
Where:Central Library
How to Donate:  Call Olivia Alison at 205-226-3613. Donations are being accepted at the door, online at or by mail at Birmingham Public Library, Development Department, 2100 Park Place, Birmingham, AL 35203

If you’re looking for something fun to do to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, make plans to be at the Central Library in downtown Birmingham for Bards & Brews, the Birmingham Public Library’s popular spoken word poetry-beer tasting event on Friday, May 5, 2017.

This event will be open mic, allowing both novice and veteran poets to sign up to share their spoken word talent. Beer tasting will be available courtesy of Avondale Brewing Company. The J. Clyde will be serving the beer. Hip-hop artist HidNTrackz will provide musical entertainment beginning at 6:30 p.m., wit…

Local Author Art Black to Give Talk on Birmingham Barons Book, Showdown at Rickwood, May 2

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,…