Thursday, August 31, 2017

Birmingham Public Library Kicking Off New Sessions of 1-2-3 Play with Me at Four Library Locations

Playing with your baby is not only important for bonding, but is also an educational experience for your child. We are providing a special time and place for you to come to the public library and spend one-on-one time playing with your child. This five-week program involves children birth through age 3 and their parents or caregivers. The library will have age appropriate toys, books, and art activities just for you and your child. Also, we have invited special guests from the community to join us each week to answer your questions about parenting.

1-2-3 Play with Me emphasizes the role of parents as the first teachers of their children, facilitates early intervention, and teaches strategies for healthy child development and early literacy.

1-2-3 Play with Me Schedule
Avondale  Library – September 6-October 4, 2017 – every Wednesday at 10:00 a.m.
West End Library – September 12-October 10, 2017 – every Tuesday at 10:00 a.m.
Springville Road Library – September 14-October 12, 2017 – every Thursday at 10:00 a.m.
Five Points West Library – October 17-November 14, 2017 – every Tuesday at 10:00 a.m.

1-2-3 Play with Me is the signature event for Family Place Libraries and is a community project grant recipient of the Junior League of Birmingham.

Book Review: Getting Stoned With Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu

by Richard Grooms, Fiction Department, Central Library

Getting Stoned With Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu
J. Maarten Troost

Just as in his previous book that I’ve blogged, The Sex Lives Of Cannibals, Maarten Troost has provided another highly readable travel book on the South Pacific which sports a title that is pulpy, doesn’t give a good indication of the book’s contents, and speaks more of crass publisher marketing than author-chosen design. Once again, this doesn’t matter much because the book is entertaining, funny, and insightful.

After their Tarawa stay documented in Sex Lives, Maarten and his wife Sylvia, now back home in the U.S., have gotten fed up with their hectic and materialistic life here. They miss the Pacific. Not its craziness, danger, and deprivation, but its simplicity, quiet, and relaxed way of life. Knowing you can’t have that second group without the first, Sylvia jumps at a Vanuatu development aid job. Maarten tags along as usual to do his writing thing.

Vanuatu is part of an island nation in the South Pacific, also called Vanuatu. Like Tarawa (part of the nation of Kiribati), it gained its independence a few decades ago and is getting used to modern government. Vanuatu has nine active volcanoes, shark-infested waters, serious poverty, and a fabulously corrupt government. What could go wrong? A lot, but it does have astonishingly pretty beaches, friendly locals, more language diversity than anywhere on earth, and an actual surviving cargo cult. All of these negatives have a positive side and the positives have a negative side, so it can get very nuanced, as well as confusing. Vanuatu has a winning medieval legend that involves two men somehow called Roy and Gary. This reminded me of the peasant Dennis in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

I can’t help but be entertained by Maarten’s throw-yourself-in-there approach to foreign countries. On arriving in Vanuatu, he promptly gets himself and Sylvia stuck the first time he drives, does a lot of things without thinking, and often pratfalls. But he makes friends despite himself. He admits he has “no aptitude for the mechanical realm,” something that I can resonate with. You think, if he can do all that and still end right side-up, so could I. At least if I had a forgiving, breadwinning Sylvia equivalent by my side. I did in fact once go to Fiji for a few days as a tourist without any serious mishap, but that’s not the same as living there. On second thought, and taking into account the Troost sliding scale, maybe it was.

I did say earlier that the title isn’t accurate, and that’s true, but there is perhaps a kernel of truth here. Maarten hones in on kava in Vanuatu. Kava is derived from the root of a South Pacific pepper plant. This plant has the same scientific name as the stuff that I used to buy over the counter to help me sleep at night, but I guess processing and the matter of what part of the plant you use can make a world of difference. All it did is make me sleep more soundly and feel way too sluggish in the morning which is why I dropped it. There’s no substitute for travel, I guess. And no one ever mentioned it to me in Fiji. Guess I don’t have the Troost touch. This drink is at the center of almost all significant South Pacific social occasions. Maarten thinks it’d be rude not to partake of this mild euphoric beverage, which looks like dishwater and tastes terrible. Sylvia joins in too, but Maarten gets into it in a typically incautious way. It doesn’t cause him to be anti-social, just makes him, for a few hours, become one with, say, that leaf on that tree over there. Sylvia, as always, is patient. But when Sylvia finds herself pregnant, the couple discovers that Fiji is a better place to give birth. This leads to her getting a job in Fiji, and once again Maarten tags along.

When Maarten is establishing the new base in Fiji, he finds one night that his harmless walk has attracted quite a few prostitutes. He really is innocent, I think. Stuff like this just happens to him. Cultural misunderstandings, you see. His natural guilelessness gets him out of this and other Fijian confusions, and that’s part of the fun of the book. Not long after the couple is ensconced in a house, they wake up one morning to find their backyard has totally disappeared. No one had told them about Fijian mudslides. They have a son who adapts better to island life than even his parents. Everyone wants to hold him and say nice things to him, and everyone does. It’s the Fijian way. But not everything is copacetic. The Indians in Fiji don’t trust the native Fijians and vice versa, and all sorts of social discord, including a coup, has come out of this, but the hostility’s much better now that most of the Indians have already left Fiji. But, says a learned local, it was never the Indians anyway; it was the Fijian chiefs who used them as pawns in one of their many political machinations. It’s too bad the Indians (which is to say most of the educated middle class) are gone now, he says. But, then again, maybe the well-informed local has it wrong. There are different schools of thought. Fiji will probably keep on keeping on. One thing I admired when I was a tourist in Fiji is how everybody really seemed to get along. Not so much anymore. Troost helps me to at least begin to understand the Fijian fissures, which confound him as they confound me.

As with Sex Lives, Maarten Troost has come up with another travel book which combines breezy narrative with serious analysis, lad behavior with growing-up accounts, humor and seriousness, astonishing scenery, local gossip, and the picaresque spirit. It also lets you know why Vanuatu kava is better than Fiji kava.

A Romantic Journey Photography Exhibit Begins September 2 at Central Library

What: Photography exhibit A Romantic Journey by Bre Conley Saxon & Rachel McElroy
Where: Central Library, Fourth Floor Gallery
When: September 2-October 14, 2017, during library hours. Meet the Artist opening reception is Sunday, September 10, 2:00-5:00 p.m., in the Fourth Floor Gallery.
Details: Exhibit features photographs that Birmingham photographers Bre Conley Saxon & Rachel McElroy captured during a trip to Italy. Free and open to the public. Call Jiemin Fan at 205-226-3601 for more information.

A new exhibit featuring photographs in Italy by two Birmingham photographers will kick off Saturday, September 2, in the Fourth Floor Gallery of the Central Library. A Romantic Journey depicts photographs that Bre Conley Saxon of Say Bre Photography and Rachel McElroy of Rachel McElroy Imagery captured during a trip to Italy.

A description of the exhibit: 
A Romantic Journey by Bre Conley Saxon and Rachel McElroy

It seems an impossible task to write one statement for two artists. While we share a subject—the Italian landscape—our eyes, emotions, motivations, experiences, and even our equipment differed. For Bre, her collection of photographs encapsulates A Romantic Journey. She experienced Italy with her husband and best friends, while also photographing Tuscan weddings. Her images reflect the Italian fairytale—beautiful brides, sparkling wines, and rainbows over golden landscapes.

For me, however, I embarked on my Italian adventure after facing heartbreak. Viewing Italy through my lens transported me from the pain. Photographing felt like meditation—it was incredible, and seemed to heal me. The magical Light, the vibrant city-life, new friends, the powerful Dolomites, the poppy fields, the wine, the best pasta ever… In a way, I guess, I also experienced A Romantic Journey.

We present this collection to show the Love we captured.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Children's Book Review: Ms. Bixby's Last Day

by Mollie McFarland, Springville Road Regional Branch Library

Ms. Bixby’s Last Day
John David Anderson

We all have those special teachers that we’ll never forget. They might not come along often, but everyone has at least a couple growing up. Ms. Bixby was one such teacher. Her sixth grade students were enjoying their last year before middle school when they’re blindsided by the news: Ms. Bixby is sick. So sick that she will have to leave them the month before school dismisses for the summer. Her students are shocked and devastated, but Ms. Bixby is calm enough to soothe everyone’s nerves. On her last day teaching, her students were going to throw her a farewell party, or more like a “see you later” party. But she didn’t show up. Without the chance to wish her luck or give her a gift, three best friends set out to find their teacher and give her the last day of school that she deserves.

The premise of this story may sound downright depressing, but it’s not what it seems. All at once it was funny, poignant, sad, and light-hearted. Told from the point of view of the three sixth grade boys, this book does a wonderful job of putting the reader in the shoes of each distinct character. Topher is creative. He’s always making up new words, wild stories, and a surprisingly accurate taxonomy of teachers. Steve is a genius. He practically has a photographic memory and he’s capable of memorizing huge swathes of information in a short amount of time. Brand is just your typical kid. Not great at anything, but not bad either. Through the eyes of these characters, the story goes from maudlin to wonderful. As an adult, reading this gave me a powerful dose of nostalgia. I imagine most grown-ups would feel the same. Young readers, both boys and girls, are likely to connect with the characters and the relatable way in which they’re written. This is a great back to school read for kids (and parents) who are trying to get into the swing of things for the new school year. I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Bards & Brews Returns to Central Library on September 8

Emcee Brian "Voice Porter" Hawkins addresses a B&B crowd

What: Bards & Brews Open Mic Poetry Event
Where: Central Library
When: Friday, September 8, 6:30-9:00 p.m.
Details: Free and open to the public 18 and older; must be 21 and older to sample beer. IDs will be checked.

Bards & Brews returns to the downtown library for an open mic event on September 8. There will be beer and spoken word poetry, as well as a musical performance by SamU'Elle Blackspeare.

As always, Master of Ceremonies Brian “Voice Porter” Hawkins will deftly guide both novice and veteran poets through an evening of verse with topics that may include relationships, politics, social justice, and the availability of eclipse glasses for 2024.

Local craft beer will be available to sample at the event. The J. Clyde will be serving the beer.

SamU'Elle Blackspeare will begin performing at 6:30 p.m. and the poetry will begin just after 7:00 p.m.

Join us!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Vocational Readiness Workshops in September

by Jim Murray, Department Head, Business, Science and Technology Department

What: Vocational Readiness workshop series
When: Every Friday in September 2017
Time: 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Regional Library Computer Center, 4th floor
Details: The series consists of four workshops:  (1) Vocational Introduction Readiness Workshop, (2) Resume Builder, (3) New Age Online Application Process, and (4) Interview Bootcamp

Choosing a career is not any easy undertaking. Likewise, once you’ve chosen a career, finding a job can be a pretty difficult task as well. When you consider that throughout your lifetime you spend more hours at your job than you do anywhere else, you really need to put the time and effort into making good decisions in regards to career selection and job searching. This is not only true for young people who are entering the job market for the first time, but also for adults who are either reentering the job market after an absence, looking for a new job, or are contemplating a career change. If you fall into any of these categories, then you should plan to attend the Birmingham Public Library’s Vocational Readiness workshops.

A series of four Vocational Readiness workshops will be held at the Central Library on every Friday in September. Each of the workshops will cover a different part of the job searching process, but participants are encouraged to attend all four because each builds on the content presented in the previous one. Here are the descriptions of the individual workshops and the days that they will be offered:

Vocational Introduction Readiness Workshop provides an individual assessment of personal and professional goals, aspirations, and skills to help determine your best job fit. 1st Friday of each month (September 1)

Resume Builder is designed to assist individuals with creating an effective resume that will function as a powerful tool in achieving gainful employment. 2nd Friday of each month (September 8)

New Age Online Application Process offers tips and suggestions to guide all job seekers in successfully completing online employment applications. 3rd Friday of each month (September 15)

Interview Bootcamp teaches techniques to help you emphasize your skills, overcome objections, and build rapport with your job interviewer. 4th Friday of each month (September 22)

The workshops presenter is Tina Thornton. Tina is a professional counselor and founder of Gem Kreations, a nonprofit organization committed to assisting those who have experienced adverse circumstances realize their full personal and professional potential.

For more information about the workshops, please contact Jim Murray of the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department by email at or by calling 205-226-3691.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Book Review: MacArthur’s Spies: The Soldier, the Singer, and the Spymaster Who Defied the Japanese in World War II

by David Ryan, Business, Science and Technology Department, Central Library

MacArthur’s Spies: The Soldier, the Singer, and the Spymaster Who Defied the Japanese in World War II
Peter Eisner

I got three passports, a couple of visas
You don't even know my real name
"Life During Wartime" –Talking Heads

I’m always interested in how people react in the face of war and the moral questions that follow such conflicts. Will they listen to their "better angels" and fight the good fight, pull the covers over their head and wait for the black clouds to pass, or will they work with the Devil?

Some have dubbed Manila the Pacific Casablanca, but there was nothing glamorous about the city, the oppressors, or the choices Filipinos had to make. MacArthur’s Spies by Peter Eisner is the story of Claire Phillips, an American of complex citizenship living in Manila during the occupation, who faced these moral options and chose to fight the good fight.

Phillips was not at first glance an obvious choice for a heroine. Even prior to the war she had been the type of woman who naturally adopted a secretive, deceptive existence. Peter Eisner points out that “throughout her life she changed her name so many times that even the FBI and the courts couldn’t keep up with her. She had been married at least three times in seven years,” but the number of divorces she filed is uncertain. She was not terribly creative with her numerous aliases; she tended to use variations based on the last name of one of her husbands and her first and middle birth names. (Claire Phillip’s known aliases: Clara Mabel De La Taste a.k.a. Clara Synder a.k.a. Clara Delataste a.k.a. Mabel C. Enette.) It’s possible that when living in Oregon she lied about her race in order to marry. However there’s no indication that she was an evil person committed to a criminal life. Why the quotidian deception about facts as basic as her name, race, and marital status? We may never know for certain, but there is no evidence that it was anything other than second nature to her. There are times in history that call for this type of nature.

In 1942 Manila was a city occupied by the victorious troops of the Rising Sun. Curfews, food rationing, and brutality at the hands of roving Japanese soldiers were the norm. There was precious little military intelligence concerning Manila flowing back to MacArthur. There was even less food, medicine, clothing, and compassion for the men and women in Japanese POW camps in the Philippines. Claire Phillips adopted yet another name, another persona, in an attempt to alleviate both situations. She opened a night club called the Tsubaki Club that catered to Japanese officers and Claire became “Madame Tsubaki.” Her hostesses would circulate through the club plying Japanese officers with alcohol while they themselves drank diluted cocktails, or lemonade. In between drinks and dances the young ladies would learn when units of the Imperial Japanese Navy were leaving port, and where ground unit commanders were moving. Phillips would collate the information in the early morning. Then through a complex series of cut-outs and couriers the information would make its way up into the jungle-covered hills where a man named Charles ‘Chick’ Parsons waited anxiously. Sometimes he waited for weeks.

Parsons, a U.S. Navy officer, had actually been in Manila when it fell to the Japanese, but in one of the more audacious lies of the Pacific war, he remained and passed himself off as a diplomat of Panama. The ruse worked long enough for him to transport himself and his family out of a Manila on a diplomatic ship. But once in America MacArthur insisted that Parsons return and supervise the growing spy ring and guerrilla movements growing from the remnants of the U.S. military, Philippine insurgents, and survivors of Japanese atrocities. When Parsons returned to the island, Claire Phillips was one of the intelligence assets he came to depend upon.

In addition to her intelligence work she also developed a clandestine ring of locals who smuggled in food, clothing, and basic medicines to the POWs languishing in the hellish Camp O’Donnell. When possible she even wrote letters to individual prisoners to bolster their spirits. One can only guess how many soldiers, marines, and civilians she saved with this improvised operation.

Very few of us are totally good or evil. This was true of Claire Phillips. But Peter Eisner shows us that regardless of what social or moral conventions she may have flaunted, she provided invaluable aid to General MacArthur and prisoners of war and that she, along with many others, fought the good fight.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Re-Reading the Classics As Adults

by Kelly Laney, Springville Road Regional Branch Library

You know those lists of recommended “must reads” that include classic works of literature? I used to go through one of those occasionally and check them off: “Read that, read that, read that…” and smugly considered myself to be fairly well-read and on top of my game. I mean, after all, a lot of us read these musty oldies in high school, right, so why waste any of our precious later years on re-reading them?

But our book club at the Springville Road Library, The Reading Roadies, has a tradition of reading at least one classic work of fiction every year. (This year’s pick is Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, if anyone would like to join us for the discussion on September 18 at 6:30 p.m.)

Last year we picked Wuthering Heights, and I made an interesting observation. I remember thinking Heathcliff was the bomb and Cathy was fabulous—when I was in high school. As an adult, I just wanted to slap the fool out of both of them and tell them to get over themselves. Who would have thunk my perspective would change over the decades?

What I’m trying to say is, whether it’s a book you’ve read a long time ago and enjoyed, or one you’ve never gotten around to but want to see what the fuss is about, pick up a classic at your local library and give it a go. You may be surprised by either the author’s genius or your own mellowed insight. I’d recommend anything by Charles Dickens, William Faulkner, Jane Austen, Herman Melville, Joseph Conrad, Mary Shelley, Ernest Hemingway, Maya Angelou, William Shakespeare, Langston Hughes, Charlotte Bronte, Isacc Asimov, Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, Carson McCullers, Alexandre Dumas, Richard Wright, or a host of others. Who knows? I might even try Of Human Bondage again . . .

No. No, I won’t.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Southern History Book of the Month: Greetings from Alabama: A Pictorial History in Vintage Postcards

by Mary Anne Ellis, Southern History Department, Central Library

Greetings from Alabama: A Pictorial History in Vintage Postcards
From the Wade Hall Collection of Historical Picture Postcards from Alabama
Wade H. Hall with Nancy B. Dupree and Christopher Sawula

Remember postcards? They don’t get much attention now when you can take a selfie with your smartphone and send it to your friends so they have instant coverage of your vacation. But this time of year I always think of the family trips we used to take in an era before the new school year started in August, and Greetings from Alabama is a nostalgic look into a time when postcards were treasured souvenirs.

Remember the Wigwam Village on the Bessemer Super Highway? There are now few examples left of this charming motel chain, but the postcard of Wigwam Village no. 5 will give you a look at how it was set up and why children probably clamored to stay there. For the dedicated road trip fan who seeks out unusual accommodations, there are still Wigwam-style lodgings available; one of these is on the famed Route 66. But if you prefer fancier surroundings, take a look at the shot of the Thomas Jefferson Hotel in Birmingham, complete with its rooftop docking station supposedly intended for airships—a memento from a time when no one could foresee the Hindenburg disaster.

Wigwam Village no. 5

Along with famous buildings and monuments there are also quiet rural shots in these postcards. One that tugs at my heart is a scene of the Magnolia River in Baldwin County, Alabama—the setting for many of our family vacations. But not far from that page is a grim reminder that the warm months lasting into the fall are also hurricane season; there is a card depicting the wreckage of St. Anthony Street in Mobile after the September 27 hurricane in 1906.

Magnolia Springs before...

...and after a 1906 hurricane.

Hall’s book is organized by counties, along with sections that are simply noted as “South Alabama” or “Central Alabama.” It is a great example of what I call a “browse” book; you can open it anywhere and find something interesting, skipping around as it pleases you. The date range is from the 1800s well into the 20th century and it’s fascinating to compare old structures with their present-day appearance (or absence) and speculate about what might be written on the backs of some of the cards.

I still buy—and send—postcards when I travel. After a look through Greetings from Alabama you may want to do the same. Just be sure to keep some of the best for your own personal collection.

For more information:
Wade Hall Postcards at Troy University
Greetings from Alabama on Alabama Public Radio
Wigwam Motel at Birmingham Rewound
1906 Hurricane in Mobile
Hindenburg Crash: The End of Airship Travel
Thomas Jefferson Tower—Restoration

Hoopla Coming Soon to a TV Near You!

Hoopla will soon be available for Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire—making hoopla even more accessible for patrons.

With no wait lists, hoopla content is always available, and with these new additions you will have the ability to stream over 33,000 movie and TV selections directly through your televisions.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Try It at Home!

by Ellen Griffin Shade, Avondale Regional Branch Library

At the Avondale Regional Branch Library we are very excited to announce the launch of the Avondale Crafting Collection—patrons can now check out the paper bead winders, knitting looms, and jewelry-making tools that we use in our adult craft programs!

All items must be picked up and returned at the Avondale Library Circulation Desk. Call 226-4000 or drop by the circulation desk for more information.

Upcoming Craft Programs
Wednesday, August 23, 2:00 p.m. Fiber Arts on Fifth Avenue – Knitters, crocheters, and other "fiber artists" of all skill levels can bring their supplies to this informal group to share tips and ideas. The library will have a limited supply of needles and yarn available on a first come, first served basis.

Wednesday, August 30, 2:00 p.m. Wildcard Wednesday: Adventures in Art – Join us for a fun art project and complete your own masterpiece to take home. Instruction and materials are provided. We’ll be painting watercolor leaf silhouettes.

Wednesday, September 6,  2:00 p.m. Club Create – Come together to create something new. We'll tackle a new craft project each month. All adults are welcome. Instruction and materials are provided. This month we'll be sewing button bookmarks.

Wednesday, September 13, 2:00 p.m. Art Party – Starting this month, Art Party programs will meet the second Wednesday of the month, with a different project offered each time, and participants will complete their own works of art. Materials and instruction are provided. This month we'll experiment with fired ink art.

Wednesday, September 20, 2:00 p.m. Books & Beads – Join us for our monthly jewelry-making adventure. Each participant will complete a jewelry project to take home. Adults of all skill levels are welcome. Materials, tools, and instructions are provided.  We'll be making seed bead bookmarks.

All programs are free but space is limited, so register online through the BPL events calendar, call 226-4000, or drop by the circulation desk to reserve your spot. We also offer drop-in adult coloring stations that are available anytime.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Central Library Hosting Corporate Meet & Greet on August 24

Who: Birmingham Public Library
What: Corporate Meet & Greet reception
Where: Central Library, 2100 Park Place, Birmingham, AL 35203
When: Thursday, August 24, 2017, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
Details: Attendance must be confirmed no later than August 21 to Tiffanie Jeter at 205-226-3747 or

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) is hosting a meet and greet reception for Birmingham's business, nonprofit, and community leaders on Thursday, August 24, 2017, from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m., at the Central Library. This event will include music and light refreshments.

The purpose of the Corporate Meet and Greet is to promote the library's education programs, technology services, exhibits, and signature events that are available to assist business owners and nonprofits as well as the general public. The event is also designed to introduce business/nonprofit leaders desiring to partner with or make donations to the Birmingham Public Library 19 locations across the city. Donations to BPL are tax-deductible.

BPL staff will have stations sharing information about the Learning Center and Teen Zone that host programs such as the Teen Engineers BHM afterschool program, the Southern History Department that offers free genealogy classes, and the Archives Department that assists researchers doing books around the globe.

This BPL Corporate Meet & Greet is sponsored by the Friends Foundation of the Birmingham Public Library, Rusty’s Bar-B-Q, Birmingham Coca-Cola Bottling Company, and Publix Super Markets, Inc.

Friday, August 18, 2017

2017 Local Authors Expo Scheduled for Saturday, August 19

When: Saturday, August. 19, 2017, 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, 2100 Park Place, Birmingham, AL 35203
About the 2017 Local Authors Expo: Event featuring over 40 authors selling their books and sharing writing/publishing tips for the public. Keynote speakers are Chandra Sparks Splond (10:30 a.m.), author of nine books, and Nia Mya Reese, 8, (1:00 p.m.) author of the best-selling children's book How to Deal With and Care For Your Annoying Little Brother

Want to meet 40 authors from across Alabama, buy their books, and learn more about the book publishing process? Then make plans to attend the Birmingham Public Library's annual Local Authors Expo this Saturday, Aug. 19, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Central Library, 2100 Park Place in downtown Birmingham.

The free event will showcase authors, including many from the Birmingham area, selling and signing their books and sharing their writing process. Drop by and visit your favorite author, learn more about local authors, and get tips for publishing your work. There will be books across many genres: motivational books, fiction including young adult fantasy, and nonfiction such as inspirational memoirs and stories of overcoming tragedy.

The 40 Authors with books at the 2017 Local Authors Expo are as follows:
Shirley A. Aaron
Ed Abernathy
Kathy-Ann Alexis
Scott Blasingame
Franky A. Brown
BJ Burgins
C.D. Collins
John. B. Davis
Gwendolyn DeLaine
Byron De'Vinner Story
Tymetric Dillon
Patricia Eleby
Alethea & Eddie Fells III
Kenneth Friday
Mark Hart
Carol McVay Hull
Richard S Jaffe
LaJuan Jones
Lucy B. Jones
Peter Kirchikov
Tondra L. Loder-Jackson
Billy McDonald
Betsy Lowery
Shirley Mitchell
Brittany Nicole
Jack Owens
Jamie Porter
Twylia Reid
B. Wayne Seals
Nancy Seay
Doug Segrest
Dr. Akeam A. Simmons
Betty Smith
Jerelyn Sneed
Lyn Stafford
Joe Stahlkuppe
Jade Stewart
SL Stoutermire
Carlos B. Taylor
C. Duane Wheeler
Sherman Williams

An Expression of Appreciation for the Women of the Inglenook Community

by Karnecia Williams, Inglenook Branch Library

Ready to pamper and honor the women of Inglenook 

Turn screaming alarm clock off. Check. Roll out of bed and crawl to the bathroom and take care of daily personal hygiene. Check. Make sure lunches are fixed, clothes are ironed, children’s homework is completed, gas is in the car, etc. Check. Cook breakfast. Check. Turn into a drill sergeant to get children out of bed and ready for school. Check. Load groggy, slow moving children and all of their things in the car and manage not to leave anything. Check. Fight unrelenting school traffic to get kids to school. Check. Now, time to go to work!

More and more households are being led by women. In addition to filling the traditional roles, women are tasked with providing for their households. Many complete these tasks without assistance, leaving them exhausted and depleted. With that in mind, the Inglenook Branch Library created a program titled An Expression of Appreciation for the Women in the Inglenook community to provide women with the fuel, encouragement, and fortitude that they need to improve the quality of their lives and successfully move forward in their journeys. The program also celebrates and honors them for their contribution to the Inglenook Community. Additionally, speakers are invited to discuss effective ways to manage issues such as self-esteem, nutrition, money, and other prominent issues that affect women daily.

The next Expression of Appreciation program will be held on Friday, September 15, at 6:30 p.m. The seating is limited and if you are a woman and live or work in the Inglenook Community and are interested, please contact the Inglenook Library to register.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Delivered to Your Door

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have anything you bought delivered directly to your house for free? Companies, like the Birmingham-based Shipt, firmly believe that the convenience of having someone shop for your groceries and deliver them to your door outweigh the added cost from using this service. Grocery and store delivery used to be the custom instead of it being an innovative service.

Carry Packages
In 1917, the citizens of Birmingham were accustomed to go into a store picking up what they wanted and having the goods delivered to their house. One of the reasons for this was because not everyone owned a car. With the outbreak of World War I, merchants saw an opportunity to cut back on delivery service and reduce their overhead. Under the guise of patriotic duty and a war measure, Birmingham merchants reduced their delivery service to once a day and charged an additional 10 cents fee for special deliveries. The slogan was “A bundle in hand is a badge of patriotism.”

Hill Grocery's Take It With You Campaign
Hill Grocery Company went even further than the other Birmingham merchants by abolishing free delivery service beginning August 18, 2017. The business adopted the idea that customers should just “take with” them their purchases, and in turn, the customers would pay a lower price for their goods. Owner James Hill suggested that “It was fashionable for women to carry bundles. It is coming to be a demonstration of patriotism to carry home purchases.” He added, “The capable housewife is going to see that there is no wasted money, no wasted strength of resources in the operations of her household.” This “Take With It You” plan was a means of reducing waste that could be measured in savings in the household budget.

Enjoyed this story of life 100 years ago in Birmingham? It is part of our Throwback Thursday series that runs each week on the Southern History Department’s Facebook page.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Solar Eclipse Glasses Are All Gone

Unfortunately, all BPL locations are OUT of solar eclipse glasses. See the image above on how to safely view the solar eclipse without special glasses. Here's a link to a video showing you how to make your own viewer:

Be safe and happy viewing!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

2017 Local Authors Expo Spotlight: Jade Stewart

Author Jade Stewart

About the Author: Jade Stewart, 23, is a graduate of Loyola University New Orleans, obtaining a BA in English Writing with a minor in French. She is currently attending Columbia University to pursue an MFA in writing. She lives in Irondale, Alabama, with her parents, James and Kimberly Stewart, and brother Christian, 18.
Book: Fate
How to reach the author:,, and
Quote Stewart uses as a guide in life: “No matter the obstacle, always persevere.”

Jade Stewart is a living witness to the power of perseverance and never giving up on your dream. Seven years ago while attending Jefferson County International Baccalaureate (JCIB) High School, the Irondale native came up with the idea of a book about a teenage girl adapting to life in a new school and supernatural forces combating her. Bit by bit while taking rigorous classes at her IB high school and pursing a degree in English at Loyola University in New Orleans, Stewart worked on her novel.

In February 2016—seven years into her writing journey—Stewart self-published her first novel, Fate. Stewart will meet the public as one of 40 authors participating in the 2017 Local Authors Expo taking place on Saturday, August 19, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., at the Central Library. She will sell and sign copies of her book.

Fate is a young adult fantasy novel. It tells the story of Ophelia St. Cloud, a teenage girl from the Bronx who moves to Buffalo with her mom to attend the prestigious Jules Perdot Academy. Thinking she would have the "typical" school year, Ophelia has no idea about the supernatural forces against her, and even more, the powers she has to fight against them. Mixed in with some new friends, "mean girls," and guys who are vying for her attention, Ophelia unexpectedly joins with three less-than-normal classmates to combat the supernatural beings around them.

Aside from the main plot, Fate tackles the issue of bullying and cyberbullying and features multi-ethnic characters with a diverse range of personalities. It teaches readers to not judge by outward appearances and to accept people of all cultures and backgrounds.

Stewart, who plans to pursue a writing career, said she is excited to be participating in the Local Authors Expo for the first time.

“I love that this event promotes reading and appreciation of local authors,” Stewart said. “No matter the obstacle, always persevere.”

Monday, August 14, 2017

Celebrate Innovation Week at the Birmingham Public Library

What: Innovation Week at the Birmingham Public Library
When: August 17-24, 2017
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC), 4th floor

It’s August and that means it’s time for Birmingham Innovation Week. Since 2014 Birmingham’s entrepreneurial minded community has set aside a week each year to celebrate and provide inspiration for those individuals, agencies, organizations, and businesses engaged in creative activities that stimulate local economic growth and opportunity. This year the Birmingham Public Library will be hosting five programs during Innovation Week that promote the resources the library has to help its patrons develop their innovative ideas. Here are the descriptions of the individual programs and the days and times that they will be offered:

Thursday August 17, 2017, 12:00-1:30 p.m.
Using Google to Grow Your Business: Getting Started with Social Media and Email Marketing using Google
The Birmingham Public Library is partnering with the City of Birmingham's Economic Development Office and Zeekee, a local digital marketing firm, to offer a seminar aimed at helping small businesses make the most of the free tools and resources available on Google.

Monday August 21, 2017 2:15-3:15 p.m. Webinar: Yes, You Can Start a Nonprofit
If you are interested in starting a nonprofit organization, then you should plan to attend this recorded webinar. Produced by SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives), the hour-long webinar covers such issues as corporate structure, articles of incorporation, by-laws, board management, and tax exempt status.

Monday August 21, 2017 3:30-4:30 p.m.
BPL Database: Foundation Directory Online Professional
Learn how to navigate the Foundation Directory Online Database. Developed by the Foundation Center, the database provides the most current and comprehensive information available on U.S. grantmakers and their grants that are available for nonprofit organizations.

Thursday August 24, 2017 2:15-3:15 p.m.
Patent Basics
Participants will learn about the different types of patents, why you might need one, and how to begin your patent search. Follow along as we go through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's seven step strategy for patent searching.

Thursday August 24, 2017 3:30-4:30 p.m.
BPL Database: Reference USA for Business
A staff member from the Business, Science and Technology Department will give a hands-on demonstration of the Reference USA database. Reference USA is an excellent business research tool that contains current information on over 24 million companies, 260 million customers, household lifestyle and purchasing habits, and job listings. The Business module can be used for locating your competition and making contacts and the Lifestyle module is good for locating and contacting your customers.

For more information about the Innovation Week programs 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.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Back to School...Again

Back to School

This year I did not take tax-free weekend, all those television commercials, or department store fliers seriously. Even the parents who came in to register their children for school online didn't give me a clue. Unlike all the students who made the journey back to school this week, the new school year literally crept up on me. I kept seeing children throughout the day in the library and I thought the opening of the school year was weeks away. Every year it gets a little earlier. The Facebook photos of people's children going back to school really should have tipped me off.

As a student, I personally did not enjoy going back to school. It meant the end of my opportunity to sleep late every morning, particularly as a teenager. My grandmother was up every morning at first light and it drove her crazy how long I wanted to stay in bed. She would start banging pots and pans in the kitchen to wake me up, but it didn't phase me. Finally, she would simply yell upstairs for me to get up. My grandmother didn't have any specific chores for me to do, she just wanted me out of bed. I am still not a morning person, but I manage to make it to work on time each day. I admire the discipline it takes for students to drag themselves out of bed, get ready for school, eat, and perhaps walk to school or the bus stop. Students of America, I salute you. Now put the phone down and try to learn something.

During the school year, we will see many students and parents here in the library. We have an abundance of resources to assist students with their schoolwork. In addition to resources that assist with coursework (books, DVDs, databases, downloadables), we also have materials on study skills, time management, test-taking skills, coping with stress, and academic achievement. Furthermore, the library offers an online tutoring service through which provides free tutoring for students in a variety of academic subjects. They also provide AP, PSAT, SAT, and ACT test prep. Please take advantage of the many resources available at the library and I hope you have a great school year.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Alabama Decorative Arts Survey Database

by Jim Baggett, Archives Department, Central Library

A Project of the Birmingham Public Library Archives

The Alabama Decorative Arts Survey, begun in 1985 and directed by the Birmingham Museum of Art, was a nine-year state-wide search for 19th and early 20th century ceramics, quilts, coverlets, furniture, carvings, paintings, photographs, metals, textiles, and grave markers created by Alabama artisans.

The records of the survey are now preserved in the Birmingham Public Library Archives and the Archives has created an online, searchable database containing digitized photographs and information for hundreds of objects. The database will be expanded to include additional objects as funding becomes available.

Explore the Alabama Decorative Arts Survey Database at

The creation of this database was made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Mind Your Own (Family) Business

Family Store

This Saturday, August 12, at 10:00 a.m., the Southern History Department will offer another workshop in our popular Beyond the Basics of Genealogy series. This fast-paced workshop will focus on how to research your ancestors' occupation, place of employment, or family-owned business. Given how much time we spend at our jobs and careers, knowing what our ancestors did for a living gives us a much fuller picture of what their lives were like on a day-to-day basis.

We'll take a look at some familiar sources (city directories, census records, newspapers) and show you how to use them to piece together the history of a business or simply determine what your ancestors did for a living. We'll also be looking at the Alabama Secretary of State's Business Entity database which can be useful for finding out when and where a small business was established.

As we all know, genealogical information can turn up in the strangest places. Was your ancestor an inventor? Was he or she ever granted a U.S. patent? Did they work for the federal government? The railroad? We'll take a look at some easy to use online sources that can answer these questions for you.
Work was an integral part of our ancestors' lives. We're very excited about this upcoming workshop which aims to help patrons take their research in a new direction and give them a better understanding of their ancestors and the communities in which they lived.

The workshop is free of charge, but registration is requested. You may register online through the BPL events calendar. For more information, contact the Southern History Department at 205-226-3665 or at

2017 Local Authors Expo Spotlight: Doug Segrest

Author Doug Segrest

Books: A Storm Came Up (Author House 2011) and The Sea of Mississippi (in progress)
How to reach the author: e-mail Doug Segrest at or visit him at,, or twitter: @dsegrest
Quote Segrest uses as a guide in life: “I just follow the Golden Rule.”
Quote from author about being involved in Local Authors Expo: “This will be my second appearance at the Local Authors Expo. I was blown away the first time by the talent of the other authors from across Birmingham and Alabama, the size of the crowd, and how accessible everyone was that day. If you are an avid reader or an aspiring author, this day is a treasure trove of opportunity.”

Doug Segrest will be one of over 30 authors featured in the Birmingham Public Library’s 2017 Local Authors Expo, taking place on Saturday, August 19, 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., at the Central Library.

A veteran journalist, Doug Segrest loves history. And he loves character-driven novels. In his debut novel, A Storm Came Up, he combines both, dropping three innocents into the chaos and confusion of a small Alabama town caught up in the apex of the civil rights movement. The result is a personal, fast-paced Southern novel that’s part suspense and part coming of age. The book is well written and historically accurate, drawing strong critical praise from newspapers and readers who have taken the time to delve into the world of fictional Takasaw, Alabama.

Segrest is better known for his work outside of fiction. A long-time sports writer for the Birmingham News and Nashville Banner, Segrest remains a weekly regular on The Zone, ABC 33/40’s long-running Sunday night sports talk show, with Jeff Speegle and Kevin Scarbinsky. He has also contributed stories to Sports Illustrated and newspapers across the country, ranging from the Chicago Tribune to the Dallas Morning-News. He remains a Birmingham resident, working for a company based out of the Magic City.

He is well into his second novel, The Sea of Mississippi, which is a radical departure from his debut. Set in the future, it’s a wild ride into the unknown set in the New South.

Segrest has written as vocation and hobby since he was a child, inspired by legends such as John Updike, William Faulkner, and Gay Talese. He’s comfortable with the everyday technology of the 21st Century, but knows that only a good, hardcover book offers true freedom.

A Sample of Reviews for A Storm Came Up
"Doug Segrest may write sports for a living, but he has found his calling—novelist. In this, his debut novel, he captures the tenor and the times of the sixties South as few have done. Preachers and sheriffs who are Klansmen, good people, everyday people, trying to do the right thing, some fearfully but steadfastly and, of course, bad people doing really bad things...southern terrorists, if you will. Doug Segrest brings those times to life once again in an evocative story told in an evocative style."

“His sense of place and personality is superb, as are his characters and their development. In reading this book, you get to know these people, you admire them and they inspire you, you laugh with them and cry/ache with them. Others you abhor. This is very much a human odyssey and the characters, though fictional, are real, as real as the people were in that day and time.”

"This book captures the intensity of the times. Following three young boys, Brax, Moses, and Andy into adulthood, revealing how troubling times shaped their futures. This is a thrilling book that will captivate you from beginning to end. A must read!"

"The story races and turns against the backdrop of the slow south—never trite nor predictable. I literally could not put it down. Segrest has the gift of painting the time and place and bringing the people to life in such depth that you feel you are watching a movie in your mind. Don't miss this very strong first novel!"

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

2017 Local Authors Expo Spotlight: SL Stoutermire

Author SL Stoutermire

Books: Strength: It’s What I Found When I Removed My Makeup; I Said Yes
How to reach the author: e-mail SL Stoutermire at or visit her website at
Quote SL Stoutermire uses as a guide in life: Psalm 138:7-8 New King James Version (NKJV) 7 – Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me. 8 The LORD will fulfill [his purpose] for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands.

SL Stoutermire will be one of over 30 authors featured in the Birmingham Public Library’s 2017 Local Authors Expo, taking place on Saturday, August 19, 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., at the Central Library.

SL Stoutermire was introduced to books at a very early age by her role model and aunt. She fell in love with books and would read everything she could get her hands on. The library was the greatest place to be. She would lose herself in the books she read. She always considered herself a reader, but never thought she would be adding to the wonderful world of books.

Stoutermire has endured personal pain most people couldn’t cope with; she had ten miscarriages. But she and her husband survived it, and are now proud parents of seven children. In her new inspirational book, Strength: It’s What I Found When I Removed My Makeup, Stoutermire describes personal trials she has overcome in life and the process she went through to find her way back to God. She goes into details about physical, emotional, and social difficulties she faced.

“I had no plans to write a book, especially one that spoke of my life in any way,” Stoutermire said. “God led me to this book. He placed it in my heart and allowed the Holy Spirit to pour it out of me.”

During her journey, Stoutermire realized how so much of her life was pretense. No one knew the personal battles she dealt with nearly every day.

“Every time someone asked, ‘How are you doing?’ I did what we all do,” she said. ”I gave a generic response, ‘I'm doing well.’ The truth was, I wasn't good at all. I was so lost. I felt as if I couldn't share what I was going through with anyone because, well, you just don't do that. Right?”

In the book, Stoutermire says that is where the makeup comes into play. Everyone uses makeup in a metaphorical way to cover up issues so that they can appear picture perfect.

“What we end up doing is denying ourselves the opportunity to get help and give a testimony for God,” she said. “That's what I did for a very long time. I metaphorically hid behind the makeup. Once I started to remove the makeup, I discovered my true self. I discovered God in new ways. He led me to who I was called to be in Him. He told me that I had to go out and share my testimony regardless of how uncomfortable it was for me in the beginning.

Join Stoutermire at the Local Authors Expo as she follows God’s instructions and gives her testimony. “It's okay to not be okay. I'm encouraging everyone to remove the makeup,” she said.

Stoutermire has co-authored another book, I Said Yes, which is being released on August 12, a week prior to the Local Authors Expo, and will also be available at her book signing table. The book is co-written with a group of fellow entrepreneurs who all overcame their fears or roadblocks to become amazing entrepreneurs. Stoutermire also has three more books scheduled to be released later this year and two more coming out in 2018. She’s also a contributing writer for an Alabama publication.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Smithfield Library’s Eclipse Programs

by Heather McWilliams, Smithfield Branch Library

The Smithfield Branch Library will be having a full week of crafts and activities leading up to the solar eclipse. Our events will begin Monday, August 14, with free eclipse glasses. We will be giving them out on a first come, first serve basis, one per patron. We will have a craft every afternoon at 4:00 pm. Our schedule is as follows:

Monday, August 14 – Galactic Coasters
Tuesday, August 15 – Moonrocks
Wednesday, August 16 – Galaxy Jars
Thursday, August 17 – Cosmic Space Dough
Friday, August 18 – Galaxy Slime

Our main event will take place on Monday, August 21. We will be having an eclipse viewing party from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. This schedule is following the eclipse and how long it will be visible in the Birmingham area. We will have free eclipse glasses, games, crafts, trivia, and snacks for all ages. Before the eclipse, we will have space bingo, Saturn ring toss, eclipse trivia, and we will be talking about safely viewing the eclipse. Everyone is welcome to participate! Birmingham’s best view of the total eclipse will be around 1:30 p.m. Bring a chair and be ready for an out of this world experience!

Book Review: In Search of Lost Time: The Prisoner and The Fugitive

by David Blake, Fiction Department, Central Fiction

In Search of Lost Time: The Prisoner and The Fugitive
Marcel Proust

By all accounts Marcel Proust was a neurotically possessive friend. In his The Prisoner and The Fugitive, Proust’s full powers are directed toward portrayal of a passion he understood intimately— obsessive jealousy and its ruinous impacts. Often published separately, volumes five and six of In Search of Lost Time: The Prisoner and The Fugitive were published from his drafts after Proust died. The two linked narratives are bridges to the penultimate volume seven Time Regained, wherein the design of his great work is revealed.

Possessive jealously is an affliction well covered in the four previous volumes of In Search of Lost Time. The Narrator and his mother, Swann and Odette, Robert St Loup and Rachel, the Baron and Morel, all of their destructive obsessions have been observed and reported in excruciating detail by the Narrator. Yet, knowing all the pain these jealous relationships created for himself and others, the Narrator turns all his thoughts toward the possession of the heart and will of Albertine, one of the young girls in flower. She lives with him in Paris. He’s fearful for her to even leave their apartment. She might be seeing someone, possibly another young woman. Like his aunt in Swann’s Way, the Narrator uses his poor health to manipulate his lover and keep her at hand. They have both become prisoners of obsessive love, and even after their escape, jealousy dominates the Narrator’s life.

The Narrator’s passionate affair seems to exist outside of the flow of time, yet as he re-emerges into society he is welcomed by the aristocrats as an old friend from a lost golden era when the bourgeoisie were excluded from the highest levels of society. The aristocratic society of Paris, which he believed to be enduring, had changed during the years he’d wasted on an unrequited love.

The changes wrought by time do not wait for our foolish obsessions.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Getting Started with Social Media and Email Marketing Seminar Scheduled for August 17 at Central Library

What: Using Google to Grow Your Business seminar series
When: Thursday August 17, 2017 – "Getting Started with Social Media and Email Marketing"
Time: 12:00-1:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Regional Library Computer Center, 4th floor
Details: Free but registration is required

The final seminar in the Using Google to Grow Your Business series is "Getting Started with Social Media and Email Marketing." This session will be held from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. in the Central Library's Regional Library Computer Center, located on the 4th floor of the Linn-Henley Research Building. The seminar series is sponsored by the City of Birmingham’s Office of Economic Development and Zeekee, a local digital marketing agency. The program presenters will be Zeekee’s marketing and IT specialists.

The seminar is free and open to the public, but registration is required. To register, please contact Andy Mayo in the City of Birmingham’s Office of Economic Development by phone at 205-254-2774 or by email at

Zeekee started in 2003 as a small business and has since grown into a full-fledged internet marketing agency with services that include website development, graphic design, internet marketing and website support. They have developed and supported over 2,000 websites and countless campaigns for their clients in all industries from local startups to international Fortune 500 companies. Zeekee has offices in Birmingham and Fairhope, AL.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Free Solar Eclipse Glasses Available at Selected Birmingham Public Library Locations

Update: All locations of BPL are OUT of solar eclipse glasses.

On Monday, August 21, a total solar eclipse will be viewable from much of the continental United States for the first time in 38 years. Nine Birmingham Public Library locations are among libraries across the country that have received free solar eclipse glasses that are being distributed to the public on a first-come, first-served basis to view this phenomenon.

Millions of Americans will see the moon’s shadow crossing the country from Oregon to South Carolina. Participating BPL locations that have solar eclipse glasses available for patrons are as follows (call each location to get details as there is a limited supply):

Avondale Regional Branch Library
East Lake Branch Library
Eastwood Branch Library
Ensley Branch Library
Five Points West Regional Branc Library
North Birmingham Regional Branch Library
Smithfield Branch Library
Southside Branch Library
Springville Road Regional Branch Library

The Smithfield Branch Library is hosting a Solar Eclipse Viewing Party from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. on Monday, August 21. The Smithfield Library is also hosting a full week of crafts and other activities leading up to the solar eclipse beginning Monday, August 14, 2017. For more information, call Smithfield Library at 205-324-8428 or visit the BPL events calendar

See the map of the path of the eclipse and location of participating libraries at the link below:

Here are some interesting articles about the total solar eclipse:
How fast is the solar eclipse? And 35 other questions answered (USA Today)
10 best cities to see the solar eclipse (

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Birmingham Public Library Hosts Six-Word Food Story Contest August 4-September 30, 2017

Urban legend has it that Ernest Hemingway wrote a six-word short story
on a bet. The story has since been debunked, but many have challenged
themselves to write a six-word story as effective as this one.

Ever since legend recorded that Ernest Hemingway won a bet by writing his famous story, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn,” writers have been challenging themselves to squeeze as much emotion and impact as possible into six words. As part of our annual celebration of food, drink, and literature the Birmingham Public Library is having a six-word story contest. In only six words, tell us about your adventures with food using the form below, Twitter, Instagram, or e-mail.

The contest will run from Friday, August 4, 2017, until Friday, September 30, 2017. Stories must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on September 30 in order to be eligible. Four winners will be selected. Stories will be judged on creativity and originality.

Here are the rules and eligibility:
    Submission Form

    • Must be an Alabama resident
    • To enter the competition, contestants must be 18 or over
    • Birmingham Public Library staff and immediate family members are ineligible
    • All submissions must be in English
    • Stories must be exactly six words long
    • Stories submitted via Twitter or Instagram must be tagged with #edrw6wordstory to be eligible
    • Stories may be submitted via e-mail as well. E-mail your story to
    • Each winner will receive a copy of Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure by Rachel Fershleiser and Larry Smith
    • Judging will be completed the week of Eat Drink Read Write and the winners will be announced on Friday, October 6, 2017

    Book Review: Money Making Mom: How Every Woman Can Earn More and Make a Difference

    by Alisha Johnson, Ensley Branch Library

    Money Making Mom: How Every Woman Can Earn More and Make a Difference
    Crystal Paine

    For the last few years more and more people have been looking for ways to supplement their primary income, especially women. Many of them are running single family homes or seeking to accomplish long term financial security as a unit. However, Crystal Pain has written a book that is filled with inspiration and ideas to guide you in the right direction of financial freedom. This book is called Money Making Mom: How Every Woman Can Earn More and Make a Difference.

    Paine is a well-followed business owner, well-known blogger, speaker, and author. She exclaims that, “she sets out to spark your creativity, stir your heart and inject fresh financial vision into your life.”

    In this book, she encourages us all to find out what our unique skills and talents are and nurture them. She also points out that once we shift our perspective to live more generously for others, we should discover that the feelings you get from being able to help others gives us a sense of personal pride and accomplishment. She takes many instances from her own family life to illustrate the pitfall, sacrifices, and successes of running your own small business and how rewarding it could be in the end.

    Crystal Paine gives great advice that will help one be a good steward over what you have, at the present moment, and how profits increase as a result of it. This book was a very easy, great, and encouraging read! If you are just starting out, looking to supplement your income, or interested in finding a fulfilling career, I would recommend that you check this book out from your local library.

    2017 Local Authors Expo Spotlight: Chandra Sparks Splond

    Author Chandra Sparks Splond

    Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama
    Books: Spin It Like That, The Pledge, The Promise, The Greatest Gift of All, He’s Got Game, Make It Work, You’ve Gotta Have Faith, Black Girl Dreaming: Poems About Love, Life and Loss, It’s Like That
    How to Reach the Author: Read her blog at, visit her website at, or e-mail her at
    Quote about the Local Authors Expo: “I spent a lot of time in the Birmingham Public Libraries growing up, so it is an honor and very humbling for me to be selected as this year’s keynote speaker. I am so excited to connect with authors and readers and to let them know if my dreams can come true, theirs can too.”

    The Local Authors Expo will be held Saturday, August 19, 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., at the Central Library. Splond is the 10:30 a.m. keynote speaker.

    Chandra Sparks Splond first gained her love of reading as a young child by visiting the Central Library and her neighborhood libraries in West End and Five Points West.

    So it should come as no surprise that as an adult Splond is an editor, speaker, and award-winning author and blogger. Her young adult novel Make It Work was named Alabama's Great Read 2017, and Spin It Like That was chosen as a Popular Paperback for Young Adults by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA).

    Another of her books, The Pledge, was a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. Black Pearls Magazine also honored Splond as a 2017 Legends & Leaders for her blog, Book of Splond (formerly known as Magic City Momma).

    Splond is the owner of West End Publishing, LLC, and Live Life Creations, a personalized gift and party boutique. In addition to working for Kensington Publishing as the consulting editor for Arabesque romance, Splond has also done work for Random House, Moody Publishers, Kimani Press (formerly known as BET Books), and Hyperion.

    She has edited books for several New York Times, USA Today, and Essence bestselling authors. Splond has interviewed New York Times bestselling authors Karen Kingsbury, Kimberly Lawson Roby, Eric Jerome Dickey, and actress Meagan Good. She has also worked for Good Housekeeping, Black and Married with Kids, Brides Noir, Weddingpages, Newsday, The Morning Call and Romantic Times.

    Splond says she uses this quote by Henry David Thoreau as a guide to her personal and professional life: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined.”

    Come meet Splond and the nearly 30 other authors at the Local Authors Expo on August 19.

    It’s Like That
    After suffering a tragic loss ten years ago, twenty-six-year-old Jasmine Richardson has traded her love of lyrics for writing legal briefs. It only takes one encounter with the microphone for Jasmine to realize the music is still in her heart—if only it could pay the bills. After making some bad decisions, Jasmine is thrown into a tailspin. She is forced to consider taking a case that could make her legal career from someone from her past. Suddenly, Jasmine finds herself questioning her future. When the music is still in your heart, sometimes life forces you to make some tough decisions. Sometimes…it’s like that.

    Black Girl Dreaming: Poems about Love, Life and Loss
    As a child growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, author and blogger Chandra Sparks Splond spent many days in her room dreaming of forever and writing about someday. In Black Girl Dreaming: Poems about Love, Life and Loss, Splond shares some of her most cherished and personal work on her journey to learning to love herself and others.

    Make It Work (Named Alabama’s Great Read 2017)
    Sixteen-year-old Reagan Davis has landed her dream job, an internship at FIRE 107.1, the hottest radio station in town. It doesn’t take Reagan long to realize that between competitive coworkers and trying to ignore her growing feelings for her oh-so-cute coworker Jayden, there’s more drama at FIRE than she’s ever experienced at school. That might be okay if she could go home and relax, but her mother is acting weird and her father is keeping secrets. Even with all the madness at home, Reagan can’t deny that radio is in her blood, and whatever it takes, this summer she’s determined to…make it work.

    You’ve Gotta Have Faith
    Destini Daniels is excited she is going to be adopted—or is she? When she gets a bad grade and learns her foster mother has a secret that could put her adoption in jeopardy, Destini starts to lose faith she’ll get a forever family—or pass science. When someone volunteers to tutor her, Destini begins to believe she may not only get an “A,” but maybe she’ll get a forever mom—and dad.

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