Showing posts from November, 2017

Family Fun Night with Pete the Cat at Avondale Library, December 5

Family Fun Night at the Avondale Regional Branch Library on Tuesday, December 5, 6:30 p.m., features a super cool special guest: Pete the Cat! Help Pete the Cat save Christmas and then enjoy stories, treats, games, and even get a souvenir photo of "Santa Pete."

Registration is required. Please register online through the Birmingham Public Library events calendar or call Avondale Library at 205-226-4003.

Alabama Illustrated: Engravings from 19th Century Newspapers Exhibit, December 4, 2017-February 2, 2018

What: Alabama Illustrated: Engravings from 19th Century Newspapers exhibit
When: December 4, 2017-February 2, 2018
Where:Central Library, Fourth Floor Gallery
Details: Free and open to the public

An exhibit from the collections of the Birmingham Public Library Archives will be on display at the Central Library’s Fourth Floor Gallery from December 4, 2017, through February 2, 2018. Titled Alabama Illustrated: Engravings from 19th Century Newspapers, the exhibit features images of Alabama people, places, and events that appeared in national and international newspapers from the 1850s to the 1890s.

Prior to the 1890s, the technology did not exist to reproduce photographs in newspapers inexpensively. To provide illustrations for their readers, national and international papers like Harper's Weekly, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, and the Illustrated London News sent artists around the world to draw pictures that were then engraved onto copper plates and printed in the newspa…

Steps to Starting Your Business Seminar Scheduled for December 4 at Central Library

What: Steps to Starting Your Business seminar
When: Monday, December 4, 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 host the monthly seminar Steps to Starting Your Business in 2017. The final seminar of 2017 is scheduled to be held on Monday, December 4, 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.

Each seminar will cover the same topics, but those who are interested are welcome to attend more than one day. Topics covered will include crafting a vision statement, identifying sources of funding, determining the legal structure of your business, devising a business plan, and investigating sources of business and economic information. Please register…

Card-Making Holiday Program For Adults

Card-Making Holiday Program For Adults
Central Youth Department Storycastle
Monday, December 4, 2017
10:00-11:30 a.m.

Would you love to make a homemade greeting card for that special someone this holiday season? Are you looking for a way to explore design and express your creativity? Well, look no further. Join us for a festive, fun and creative class as we make seasonal homemade greeting cards.
What better way to get into the holiday spirit? We’ll have fun combining various papers, colors and designs to make unique creations. Supplies and refreshments will be provided. Just bring your creativity!
Registration required. Limit 12 participants.
To register for the class, contact Leslie Deason at (205) 226-3677 or email her at

Book Review: Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer

by Richard Grooms, Fiction Department, Central Library

Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer
Arthur Lubow

I’ve been fascinated by Diane Arbus for decades, but I’ve long been frustrated by the fact that a first-rate biography has never come out. When Arthur Lubow’s account surfaced in 2016, I had hopes that this might be it. It took some review reading and some attempts at immersing into it to realize that this was in fact the biography I’d been waiting for. I’d always wondered how a sheltered young New York woman from a rich family ended up taking portraits of those on society’s margins—street kids, homosexuals, transvestites, circus and sideshow performers, mental patients and so on-in the '50s and early '60s when such people were held at arms’ length by the mainstream, and were considered “freaks,” the consensus term of that time. Diane was the one that photographed freaks, they said. Some said she exploited them. But her pictures of these, and plenty of more conventional p…

Dolores Hydock to Perform "A Christmas Memory" December 3 at Central Library

What: Dolores Hydock Performs "A Christmas Memory"by Truman Capote
When: Sunday, December 3, 2017
Time: 3:00-4:00 p.m.
Where:Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor
Details: Free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

The Christmas season doesn’t really begin until you have experienced Birmingham storyteller Dolores Hydock’s incredible one-woman performance of "A Christmas Memory," Truman Capote's poignant reminiscence of his boyhood in rural Alabama. Dolores will perform this holiday classic on Sunday, December 3, 2017, at 3:00 p.m. in the Arrington Auditorium at the Central Library.

There is always a full house for this performance, so come early and enjoy refreshments.

For more information contact Jim Baggett at 205-226-3631 or

Free Computer Classes in December at Central Library

The December computer class schedule is available. All classes are free but registration is required. For class descriptions and to register online, visit the Birmingham Public Library events calendar or call the Computer Commons Department at 205-226-3681.

Exploring the Library. . .Without Leaving Your Home

by Pat Rumore

These days you can explore the library without leaving your home. Over the last couple of years I have downloaded several apps to my iPad and my Android phone to take advantage of downloadables from the library.

This way I can use library services day and night, even from my bed. One I've been exploring lately is Kanopy, which is a video streaming service for libraries with a collection that is described as being five times larger than Netflix—over 30,000 films.

When you enter Kanopy, you quickly get an idea of what's available. It is a little more highbrow than Netflix because it includes a wide variety of independent films, world cinema, short films, classic films that are not necessarily what you see on Netflix or TCM, art house films, true crime, horror, as well as The Great Courses.

There are lots of documentaries—food for thought on such subjects as human rights of all kinds, pop culture, guns in America, women leading social causes across the world, an…

A Teen Read Week Celebration

by Saundra Ross, North Avondale Branch Library

Teen Read Week was celebrated in a big way at the North Avondale Library. Although it was Teen Read Week, we had younger kids eager to participate. All participants were encouraged to create their own story in handmade books.

There were stories created about bubble gum floors in a pink castle, "The Girl without a Cell Phone," "My First School Fight," and a variety of others. Elaborate book covers were designed to bind these delightful and creative stories. The covers were decorated with handmade drawings, construction paper cutouts, yarn, glue, and markers.

For added fun the kids were given an opportunity to present their stories and their names were entered into a drawing for prizes. The library staff was thanked by the kids and expressions of enjoyment were given.

“The greatest football game ever played in Birmingham. . .”

by Ellen Griffin Shade, Avondale Regional Branch Library

When Alabama and Auburn face off November 25 in the 2017 Iron Bowl, they will be continuing a tradition considered one of the most important football rivalries in the annals of American sports. That tradition began nearly 125 years ago in a field not far from the Avondale Library.

The very first Alabama-Auburn football game was played February 22, 1893, in what was then Lakeview Park. The game was played before an estimated crowd of 5,000 and was won 32-22 by Auburn (then named the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama). The victory cup presented that day by a Birmingham Belle is on display at Auburn University.

On Thursdays I like to share tidbits of local history like this on Avondale Library’s Facebook page. If you’d like to find out more, check out Avondale Library’s Throwback Thursday posts and BPL’s Digital Collections.

Southern History Book of the Month: Magic City Cravings: The Most Requested Recipes from Birmingham Restaurants Then & Now

by Mary Anne Ellis, Southern History Department, Central Library

Magic City Cravings: The Most Requested Recipes from Birmingham Restaurants Then & Now
Martie Duncan with Chanda Temple
Foreword by Taylor Hicks

For people who enjoy good eating, this time of year is worthy of celebration in song: “Food, glorious food!” Perhaps you like a home-cooked holiday dinner, or maybe your family prefers going out to a restaurant to celebrate. Magic City Cravings will appeal to both preferences as it serves up a smorgasbord of recipes from Birmingham restaurants—the best of yesterday and today.

If you’re nostalgic for some of those Birmingham dishes you thought you’d never taste again, head straight for the chapter “Gone But Not Forgotten Favorites,” in which you’ll find treats like the Ensley Grill Cinnamon Rolls, Joy Young’s Egg Foo Young (remember when Joy Young was the only Chinese restaurant in town?), Marsh Bakery’s Coconut Cake, and the She-Crab Soup from Cobb Lane—supposedly lauded by J…

Birmingham Public Library Book Feast Reading Challenge

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday for fun activities such as eating, shopping, watching football, and spending quality moments with friends and family. For the second straight year, the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) is hosting the Book Feast Reading Challenge, a program designed to make sure Birmingham area school children don’t leave out another important, fun activity: reading.

BPL is encouraging students in grades K-12 to participate in its online Book Feast Reading Challenge between now and November 30, 2017, by registering at this link:

The more books you read by November 30, the more virtual badges and awards you can win. All student participants who register online will be entered into a drawing for a special prize gift pack to be presented at each of the 19 BPL locations to those who read the most books.

Janine Langston, coordinator for BPL youth programs, said, “If you are a teacher, this is a great way for your students to earn extra…

Staying Healthy During the Winter Season

by Karnecia Williams, Inglenook Branch Library

As beautiful and romantic as this time of the year is, it carries with it a few challenges that we must all be aware of and be equipped to face. It is tempting to place most, if not all, the blame on the hustle and bustle of preparing for the holidays, but there are other and more important challenges that we face, which is staying healthy. Alabama’s weather is volatile and strays off script during any season, but more people tend to get physically sick during the fall. Some people even experience seasonal depression termed Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD during this time of the year as well.

Fortunately, there are several resources available at the Birmingham Public Library that will help us all take a more proactive approach in combating both physical and emotional challenges that accompany winter seasons. Check them out below!

Mindful Beauty: How to Look and Feel Great in Every Season by Estelle Lefebure
The Immune System: Your Bo…

North Birmingham Zoobrary Reporting: November’s Pet of the Month is Spike Pricklepants

by June Lacanski, North Birmingham Regional Branch Library

Interviewer: Today we are visiting with Spike Pricklepants, North Birmingham Library’s resident Hedgehog. Mr. Pricklepants, wake up please. I need to ask you some questions. Spike!
Spike: Why must you interview me during the day? You know I sleep during the day. Come back when it is darktime.

Interviewer: You seem to be awake now. So let’s get started. I have to ask you first how you got your cute and very appropriate name?
Spike: The children at North Birmingham Library named me that. Ask me why?

Interviewer: Umm, why? Because you have a prickly personality?
Spike: I do not!

Interviewer: Yes you do. But what other reason then?
Spike: Hell-o! Because I am spikey. But I’m not covered with quills. Nor am I related to a porcupine. I have hard sharp hollow hairs covering my top and sides. When I sleep or feel threatened, I roll into a ball to protect my soft belly. The End. (yawn) Now back to my nap…

Interviewer: How long have you …

Vocational Readiness Workshop Scheduled November 20 at Central Library

What: Vocational Readiness workshop
When: Monday, November 20, 2017
Time: 5:00-6:30 p.m.
Where:Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Regional Library Computer Center, 4th floor
Details: Free and open to the public

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 workshop.

Monday, November 20, 2017, 5:00-6:30 p.m.
New …

Card-Making Holiday Program For Adults

Card-Making Holiday Program For Adults
Central Youth Department Storycastle
Monday, December 4, 2017
10:00-11:30 a.m. Would you love to make a homemade greeting card for that special someone this holiday season? Are you looking for a way to explore design and express your creativity? Well, look no further. Join us for a festive, fun and creative class as we make seasonal homemade greeting cards.

What better way to get into the holiday spirit? We’ll have fun combining various papers, colors and designs to make unique creations. Supplies and refreshments will be provided. Just bring your creativity!

Registration required. Limit 12 participants. Register online through the events calendar or call Leslie Deason at 205-226-3677.

ACT Prep Classes, Tutoring Workshops Available at Smithfield Library in November

Daily, the Birmingham Public Library's 19 locations across the city provide free programs and services, showcasing value far beyond being a place to check out books and DVDs. The Smithfield Branch Library’s free ACT prep classes and tutoring services for teens—offered weekly on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays—is a prime example. The Smithfield Library will use BPL’s free database, Learning Express Library, which offers practice sessions for the ACT.

Prep for Success! scheduled sessions
Tuesday, November 14, 3:30-5:30 p.m.
Thursday, November 16, 3:30–5:30 p.m.
Saturday, November 18, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. and 2:00-6:00 p.m.

These sessions are meant to help with the four required sections of the ACT: English, Math, Reading, and Science. Advance registration is required. Register online through the Birmingham Public Library events calendar, or call the Smithfield Library at 205-324-8428.

Can Reading Be Embraced Again?

by Selina Johnson, Wylam Branch Library

A new school year is well underway for students. So, the fight to get them focused on all that is school has begun. Summer allowed students the freedom to more than likely use their tech gadgets until their heart’s content. Now, parents and teachers will have to be the “bad guy” and put forth steps that will temper the desire for students to use these devices so frequently. Most students do not have an inkling of what it was like before smartphones, video games, social media, texting, and the many other tech formats that engross their lives now. As a student, I was just on the cusp of technology integration. This was when items such as cell phones were simply used to talk. Now, it is amazing that you can video chat, discover the exact location of places, and have an app for almost anything you can imagine to assist with the tasks of your daily life.

Smartphones, games, computers, apps, etc. have really spoiled all of us. They are created to…

Money Matters Workshop – Saving for Retirement Scheduled for November 15 at Central Library

The Birmingham Public Library is partnering again this year with UAB’s Regions Institute for Financial Education to offer a series of Money Matters workshops to be held each month at our Central location. Each of the workshops covers a different topic, but all are designed to help you gain a better understanding of your personal finances and begin making a plan for the future.

All workshops will be held in the Youth Department’s Story Castle, which is located on 2nd floor of the Central Library. Representatives from the Regions Institute for Financial Education in UAB’s Collat School of Business will serve as instructors for each of the workshops.

What: Money Matters workshop series
When: Third Wednesday of the Month, October 2017 thru May 2018
Time: 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m.
Where: Birmingham Public Library – Central Library, Youth Department, 2nd floor, Story Castle

To learn more about the workshop series as well as other personal finance resources available at BPL, contact Jim Mur…

“What If”

by Alisha Johnson, Ensley Branch Library

For many of us the phrase “what if” signifies something that we could only wish would happen for us. For example, What if I could travel the world and visit three different countries in the next five years? Or, What if I could win 50 million dollars tomorrow and never have to work again? Wishful thinking right? Well, not exactly.

There are many different avenues to take where your wishes could turn into reality with just a little work. There are a number of books out there that can help you along the way. If you have a desire to travel to many different countries but you are on a strict budget, consider taking online surveys to earn points towards your travel experience, or check out online sites that will accommodate a payment plan on a much needed vacation. So now that you have your plan of action down, choose a location to visit. Your local library has tons of useful materials to aid you in choosing a destination or helping you invest the…

A Librarian's Guide to Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is upon us.  It seems like just yesterday we were roasting through a hot summer.  Wait a minute!  That was yesterday!  Anyway, later this month, we will be gathering with family and friends to sit around, overeat, bring up all the family drama, and begin to think about what we can't afford to buy for Christmas.  What a great holiday!  For those of us who don't cook, we can't wait to visit someone's home, eat all we can hold, then take plates of food home to eat for the rest of the weekend.  This blog is for you wonderful folks who are preparing the meals.  Since I NEVER host, I thought I would give you, the reading public, some advice on Thanksgiving.

Tip 1.  Stop hosting every year- Some of you are sitting out there right now dreading the idea of Thanksgiving.  It's not because you have to fly or drive a long distance to visit family.  It's because you are already picturing the throng of family and friends who will be descending on your home for T…

Lectures: Remembering the Great War

What: "World War One and the Making of the Modern Middle East"
When: Sunday, November 12, 2017
Time: 3:00-4:00 p.m.
Where:Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor
Details: Free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. For more information contact Jim Baggett at 205-226-3631 or

World War I transformed the region we know today as the Middle East, expanding some empires while others crumbled, creating new borders, and forging new political identities. Dr. Annalise J. K. DeVries of Samford University will examine accounts from Maadi-Tura, an Egyptian prisoner of war camp, to explain how the war experience created new points of conflict, particularly as the Ottoman Empire fell and the British and French looked to assert authority over the region.

DeVries is assistant professor of history at Samford University. She previously taught at the University of Alabama and Birmingham-Southern College. Her professional …

Temporary Department Closing in Linn-Henley Research Library for HVAC Maintenance

Update: The Government Documents Department is now open to the public. The Microforms Department will remain closed until November 20. 

Due to HVAC upgrade and maintenance in the Linn-Henley Research Library/Central Library, the Government Documents/Microforms Department is closed to the public until November 6, 2017.

Equipment for reading and scanning microforms is available in the Southern History Department. Patrons may call ahead (205-226-3665) to have film and/or fiche pulled.

Since this is a tentative re-opening date, we recommend checking the Birmingham Public Library website for updates. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Birmingham’s Seven Neighborhood Libraries Begin Winter Hours Schedule November 6

The Birmingham Public Library's seven neighborhood branches will begin their winter hours operating schedule beginning Monday, November 6, 2017. The change comes with the end of daylight saving time on November 5.

Neighborhood libraries—East Ensley, Ensley, Inglenook, North Avondale, Powderly, Woodlawn, and Wylam—will maintain this temporary schedule through early March 2018 when daylight saving time begins.

The hours of operation will be Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m., and from 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. On Wednesdays the libraries operate from 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. These locations are closed on the weekend. All other BPL locations will maintain their regular schedules.

Book Review: I Can't Make This Up: Life Lessons

by Tracy Simpson, Pratt City Branch Library

I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons
Kevin Hart

Between hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, politics, and everything else that is going on in the news recently, I was searching for a book that I thought might provide me some much-needed comic relief. Not one to read memoirs, I took a chance on Kevin Hart’s first book, I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons. My selection was based on Hart’s appearance in several recent box office hit comedies and it didn’t disappoint.

Hart doesn’t hold back in providing details about his challenges of being born into a household where his birth wasn’t a celebration but a toleration. From a father who lived in a criminal environment to his overprotective mother determined to keep him off drugs and out of gangs, Hart had an opportunity to see the sides of both worlds. One of Hart’s earliest life lessons was witnessing his brother being kicked out of the house for selling drugs, combined with a less than twenty-f…

Birmingham Public Library Genealogy Workshops Schedule for November 2017

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL)’s Southern History Department is hosting a variety of genealogy classes during the month of November, including and Family Tree DNA. Plus, the BPL Archives Department is hosting two great WWI programs on Sunday, November 12 and Tuesday, November 14.

Southern History is making one major change to its 2018 Beyond the Basics of Genealogy workshop schedule, switching all workshops to Sunday afternoons. Two well-known genealogists, Donna Cox Baker and Frazine K. Taylor, will be special guests, sharing the Beyond Kin project. Beyond Kin is featured in the November issue of Alabama Heritage.

Below is a listing of upcoming workshops hosted by the Southern History Department. Workshops are free of charge, but registration is requested. Register online through the BPL events calendar, or contact the Southern History Department of the Birmingham Public Library at 205-226-3665, or call the offsite workshop location.

Thursday, November 2, 6:00-7:00 …

Bards & Brews: Spotlight on Poet Jahman Hill

Jahman Hill was born in Rochester, New York and raised in Larned, Kansas. He currently lives in Tuscaloosa. Hill is a poet, a student, a teacher, and the author of Made From My Mother's Ceilings.  He regularly performs at Bards & Brews, the Birmingham Public Library's popular spoken word poetry/craft beer event as well as at other spoken word poetry events in central Alabama and across the nation. 

How long have you been performing spoken word poetry?

I started writing and performing when I moved to Alabama four years ago, my junior year of college.

Can you tell us about the first time you performed your poetry in front of a crowd?

The first time I performed was at a variety show, I believe. I was a junior in college, and the University of Alabama theater organization, Alpha Psi Omega, were doing their monthly Guerrilla Theater. I performed three poems, and had an absolute blast.

Who are some of the poets or writers that have had the most impact on you?

I have been impacted b…

Book Review: Chopin’s Funeral

by David Blake, Fiction Department, Central Library

Chopin’s Funeral
Benita Eisler

Benita Eisler’s Chopin’s Funeral is a biography of an affair, a love affair drenched in regret and melancholy for lost ephemeral moments of sublime beauty. Fittingly, it opens with the 39-year-old genius’s funeral at the Church of the Madeleine in Paris, mobbed by thousands. Few would have known Chopin or would have heard him play. They knew him through the sheet music they bought and played at home on their new pianos. His great love, the novelist George Sand, was not at the Madeleine. Sand and Chopin were estranged at the end.

Frederick Chopin and George Sand (the pen name of Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin) were opposites. He was very short, very slight, fair, sickly, and reticent; she was warm, dark, amorous, large, and exuded health. But both of them were pioneers of the Romantic Movement and were among the first artists making their way by sales to the general public, rather than living off the patron…