Showing posts from 2018

Enter into Vocabby’s World

by Alisha Johnson, Ensley Branch Library

Earlier this year the Birmingham Public Library embarked on a new partnership with the McWane Science Center to introduce a hands-on exploration initiative for parents and their children called Vocabby’s World. McWane Center acquired a grant that was funded by PNC Bank, and it is focused on developing vocabulary, reading-readiness, and problem-solving skills through fun and exciting science and art activities for early childhood-aged children.

Three of the library’s branch locations—Ensley, Powderly, and Wylam— were chosen to participate and model themed lessons each month to connect parents to their child’s educational development. To prepare, staff members had to participate in mandatory training sessions and learn how to complete monthly evaluations regarding the program’s deliverables and effectiveness.

This partnership has been great for the Ensley Branch Library because we have been able to introduce Vocabby’s World to new students and…

BPL Invites Public to Participate in MLK Community Mosaic Project

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) is honoring the birthday and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King (MLK) by hosting an MLK community mosaic project during the month of January.

Between January 2 and January 18, 2019, patrons are invited to participate by visiting all 19 BPL locations across the city and coloring a section that will be put together to create a large image of Dr. King to remember his leadership in the fight for civil rights in Birmingham. BPL is planning a community mural that once completed will be displayed in each location.

Patrons will be crafting each mural beginning Wednesday, January 2. The activity includes coloring individual pages that will be put together to make a completed image of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. All ages are encouraged to participate in this project and supplies will be provided.

The goal is to complete each MLK mural prior to MLK Day, which will be observed on Monday, January 21, 2019.

"If you are wanting material about Dr. Martin Luthe…

Titusville Branch Library Hosts Polar Express Movie Marathon

Titusville Branch Library hosted a "Polar Express Movie Marathon"  program today, Friday, December 21, with patrons of all ages -some dressed in pajamas - enjoying the holiday classic "The Polar Express" and other holiday movie classics.

Adjacent to the movie screen was a beautiful Polar Express train display, designed and built out of cardboard and other materials by Shronda Major, a Library Assistant III at Titusville Library. In addition to movies, patrons enjoyed free snacks. The morning session featured showings of "The Polar Express" and "Arthur Christmas."

The afternoon session, between 2:00 and 6:00 p.m., featured showings of "Home Alone" and "A Christmas Story."

Remember, all 19  BPL locations will be closed for the Christmas holiday from Saturday, December 22 through Tuesday, December 22. Happy holidays from all of us at BPL.

Central Library's Monica King Slater Places 3rd in City Singing Contest

Monica King Slater, the Central Library's songbird, won third place in the inaugural City of Birmingham Singing Competition on December 19 at the Boutwell Auditorium. The contest was comprised of city employees. King Slater, a library assistant III in Central's Fiction Department, represented the Birmingham Public Library (BPL).

Check out her performance on BPL's Facebook page.

King Slater has worked for BPL for over a decade. Occasionally on week nights and weekends, you can catch King Slater, a solo vocalist with Songbird Entertainment, using her gift for singing at venues across metro Birmingham. She previously served as host for Thursday Karaoke Night at the Perfect Note, a live jazz and dining facility in Hoover.

In 2015, King Slater was selected to sing the national anthem at the Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure event in downtown Birmingham. In 2017, Slater was one of three winners of cash prizes in the Sickle Cell Gala in Birmingham.

Read more about King and Songbird…

Nonprofit Management Class Series Offers a Primer for Starting, Managing, and Developing a Nonprofit Organization

Nonprofit organizations come in many different shapes and sizes, but they all one thing in common: they want to develop, fund, and implement creative programs that serve to fulfill their mission. Most people who work in the nonprofit world have the desire and commitment to make this happen, but they often lack access to learning resources that will help them understand how best to get there. If you feel like this applies to you, whether you are an experienced nonprofit leader or someone brand new to the field, then you will want to attend the Birmingham Public Library’s Nonprofit Management Class Series. The one hour classes will be offered monthly from January to May 2019 at the library’s Central location. The classes are offered as part of a collaboration between BPL and the Harvard Club of Birmingham.

The series instructor is John Whitman, PhD. A veteran of both the private and nonprofit sectors, Dr. Whitman has also taught leadership and management courses at American Univer…

Southern History Book of the Month: The Very Worst Road: Travellers' Accounts of Crossing Alabama's Old Creek Indian Territory, 1820-1847

by Mary Anne Ellis, Southern History Department, Central Library

The Very Worst Road: Travellers' Accounts of Crossing Alabama's Old Creek Indian Territory, 1820-1847
Compiled by Jeffrey C. Benton

"Over the river and through the woods . . ."

This is a peak time of year for travel, complete with traffic jams and unexpected delays—but the next time you fret about how long it takes to reach your destination, be thankful you’re not traveling the old Alabama roads of the early 19th century. The Very Worst Road is a compilation of writings about what it meant to travel in the days when going fifty miles was a long journey that might last all day or into the night. There were no rest areas and no motels, no guarantee of spending the night with a roof over your head. However, it was a wonderful era for travel writing, as Benton points out in his prologue:

In the years before the American Civil War, travel books captivated the imaginations of Americans and Britons alike. Bo…

Curl Up with Books and Win Prizes as Part of BPL Winter Reading Challenge

What: Birmingham Public Library 2019 Winter Reading Challenge When: January 1-31, 2019 Details: BPL is among libraries across the country participating in Beanstack’s  2nd Annual Winter Reading Challenge. All participants who read and log 310 minutes during the month of January will be entered into a drawing for a Winter Prize Pack.

Cold weather months are a good time to curl up to a good book. The Birmingham Public Library wants to encourage patrons of all ages to take time out this winter and experience the joy of reading.
From January 1 through January 31, 2019, BPL is among libraries across the country participating in Beanstack’s 2nd Annual Winter Reading Challenge, sponsored by Mark Cuban. All participants who read and log 310 minutes (about 10 minutes a day) will be entered into a drawing for a Winter Prize Pack. Each of BPL's 19 libraries will present the patron who wins their drawing one Winter Prize Pack gift card. 

Hundreds of libraries and schools across the nation are enco…

Book Review: Casey Stengel: Baseball’s Greatest Character

by David Ryan, Central Library, Arts, Literature and Sports Department

Casey Stengel: Baseball’s Greatest Character
Marty Appel

“There comes a time in every man’s life, and I’ve had plenty of them.”

Looking back over this week’s winter baseball meetings, it seems that every sports reporter is talking about launch angles, or the possibility of super-agentScott Boras securing a $400million paycheck for Bryce Harper. And, as always, the commissioner’s office seems to be concerned only with "the pace of the game."

In this cynical time, it’s relaxing to read about a golden bygone era in baseball when salaries were doled out in the tens of thousands, and players and managers could become "American folk heroes" simply by playing a game. Casey Stengel: Baseball’s Greatest Character by Marty Appel is just such a feel-good biography about a great American sports figure.

Casey Stengel’s (1891-1975) life spanned baseball eras. He was first paid to play baseball while still in …

Lawson State Community College Quartet to Perform Christmas Concert at Central Library December 16

If you want to get in the holiday spirit, make your way down to the Central Library in downtown Birmingham for a free Christmas concert featuring the Lawson State Community College Quartet.
The concert will take place in Central Library East Grand Reading Room on Sunday, December 16, 4:00 p.m. Performers will be the LSCC Quartet, comprised of Kayla King, Heavyn Leigh Whiteside, Javaris Williams, and Jemanuel Pullom.
The group will perform popular Christmas songs and carols, such as “Winter Wonderland,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and “Silent Night.” The Lawson State Community College is led by Dr. Jillian Johnson.

Kids, Wear Your PJs to Titusville Library for the Polar Express Movie Marathon!

by Amanda Jenkins, Titusville Branch Library

Friday, December 21, marks the first day of winter, and what better way to kick off the season than by watching some holiday movies? Join us at the Titusville Branch Library for our annual children’s holiday movie marathon.

This year’s theme is "The Polar Express," and kids are encouraged to wear their pajamas! We’ll be watching The Polar Express and Arthur Christmas during our morning hours (9:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.) and Home Alone and A Christmas Story will be shown during the afternoon (2:00–6:00 p.m.) Light refreshments will be provided, and no registration is required. Come through and relax with a movie . . . or four!

Best Genealogy Websites of 2018

by Mary Beth Newbill, Central Library, Southern History Department

Family Tree Magazine has released its annual list of best genealogy websites. This exhaustive list of over 200 websites (most are free, but some do require a membership) includes such standards as the National Archives and Records Administration, Findagrave, and FamilySearch. However, the real fun lies in exploring the lesser known and more niche sites. Here are a few of my favorites:

Feeding America: The Historic American Cookbook Project
Created by Michigan State University, this site consists of 76 digitized cookbooks dating from the late 18th to the early 20th century. The cookbooks are arranged by date and interest (hotel, church, regional, ethnic, etc.). Each cookbook has an introductory essay that explains the cookbook and the food tradition it represents. Food is such an important part of our culture and seeing what our ancestors ate and how they prepared it provides us with a fascinating glimpse into the past.


CANCELED: Retirement Planning Workshop: "Managing Debt" at Central Library December 19

Update: The rescheduled workshop for December 19 has been canceled.
Update: The December 12 "Managing Debt" workshop has been canceled due to a scheduling conflict. It has been rescheduled for December 19, same time and location. We are sorry for any inconvenience this has caused. You may register for the December 19 workshop on the BPL events calendar here.

Money Matters Retirement Planning Workshop: "Managing Debt"
When:December 12, 2018
Time: 12:00–1:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, 4th floor

Retirement is something that most of us look forward to. It is indeed an appealing notion to think that one day you will not have to get up every day and go to work. But retirement can also be a troubling notion as well, especially if you are worried about your financial situation. Concerns about money and finances are the primary reason that people do not enjoy their retirement years to the fullest.

Perhaps these concerns can never be tot…

2018 Holiday Happenings at the Birmingham Public Library

The Birmingham Public Library's 19 locations are hosting programs to get patrons in the holiday mood. All of the programs are free and open to the public.

Neighborhood Christmas Extravaganza, Thursday, December 6, 6:00-8:00 p.m., Powderly Branch Library
Celebrate the holidays at our concert featuring Regi Yarbrough & Company.

Annual Christmas Musical, Tuesday, December 11, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 
West End Branch LibraryEnjoy a free concert featuring many of your favorite holiday classics. Refreshments will be served.

Baroque Sounds of the Season, Tuesday, December 11, 6:00 p.m., Central Library, Grand Reading Room
Holiday music performed by "Birmingham Baroque." Members include Alice Mazanec, cello; Suzanne Beaudry, harpsichord; Bonnie Furuto, violin; and Ken Kirby, flute/recorder. Open to all age groups.

UAB Theatre Presents The Diva Tour!, Friday, December 7, 10:30 a.m., North Avondale Library
Style and talent collide in this tribute to Judy Garland, Cher, Carol King, Celine Dio…

BPL Hosting Five Holiday Concerts in December

The Birmingham Public Library is hosting five holiday concerts to help patrons get in a festive mood.

The concerts will take place at the Central, North Birmingham, Powderly, and West End Libraries. The concerts are among nearly 100 free holiday events and workshops being held at 19 locations across Birmingham between now and Christmas. Click here for the listing of BPL holiday programs.

Schedule of concerts:

Neighborhood Christmas Extravaganza, Thursday, December 6, 6:00–8:00 p.m., Powderly Branch Library
Celebrate the holidays with a concert featuring Regi Yarbrough & Company.

Holiday Gala Featuring Music by Fee-Fee Redmon, Monday, December 10, 4:00–5:30 p.m., North Birmingham Library
Celebrate the holiday season with holiday music provided by Fee-Fee Redmon of Fee-Nomenal Music. Join the Youth Department for fun holiday games, a yummy edible craft, and a holiday make-and-take craft. Light refreshments will be served.

Annual Christmas Musical, Tuesday, December 11, 6:30–8:30 p.m.,…

You Are Invited – Holiday Open Houses and Parties at Birmingham Public Library in December

Holiday Open House, December 15, 2:30–4:30 p.m., Southside Library
Enjoy refreshments, holiday music, and a craft activity. Register to win prizes and a special food basket

Holiday Fun and Games, December 19, 10:00 a.m., Wylam Library 
Christmas music, interactive Christmas games, and more. Registration required; call 205-785-0349.

Chapter Chatters Book Club Holiday Party, December 19, 10:30 a.m., North Avondale Library
Members of the book club will discuss the month's book selection while enjoying food and music.

Hot Chocolate, Sweet Cookies, and Cool Winter Crafts, December 19, 4:00 p.m., Central Library, Youth Department
Children and teens are invited to celebrate the winter holiday by enjoying some warm hot chocolate and cookies. Holiday craft stations will be provided for kids to create a take-home craft.

Holiday Meet and Greet, December 19, Ensley Library
Enjoy a holiday treat with the library staff. Everyone in attendance will be entered into a gift card giveaway.

Santa's W…

Birmingham Public Library Honors Deputy Director Sandi Lee at Retirement Party

Birmingham Public Library staff gathered in the Central Library on December 7 to honor Deputy Director Sandra “Sandi” Vick Lee, who is retiring effective today.

Lee spent 25 years with BPL, including nearly a year as interim director overseeing daily operations of the 19-library system. Lee began her career as a storyteller in the Children's Department at the Springville Road Regional Library.

After obtaining her master's degree in Library and Information Studies, Lee advanced to Central Library as the head of the Children's Department and the Public Services Coordinator. She has also served as the Eastern Region and Adult Services coordinator before being named deputy director in the fall of 2015.

Lee received her bachelor's degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a Master of Library and Information Studies from the University of Alabama. She serves on the executive council for the Public Libraries in Jefferson County, and on the board of the Friends …

Jefferson County Library Association, BPL Honor 2018 Library Champions

The Jefferson County Library Association hosted its Annual Holiday Luncheon and 2018 Library Champion Awards December 4 at Rosewood Hall in Homewood.

The event included a retirement celebration for Pat Ryan, right, who retired this month after 20 years as executive director of the Jefferson County Library Cooperative.

Among the 2018 Library Champions were three honored by the Birmingham Public Library:

Lee Green, middle, on behalf of the Central Library for his passionate support of Bards & Brews.

The Jones Valley Neighborhood by BPL Western Region for its support of the Powderly Branch Library.

Former Birmingham City Council District 1 Councilor LaShunda Scales (who is now a Jefferson County commissioner) by BPL Eastern Region for her support of the Springville Road Regional Branch Library, including donating $95,000 in cash and furniture. (Sumiphra Karrasu, right, accepted the award for Scales, who was unable to attend.)

Congratulations to all of the honorees and thanks for b…

Hooking and Stitches Crochet Program to Be Held Sunday, December 2, at Central Library

What: Hooking and Stitches, a crochet/knitting program
When: Sunday, December 2, 3:30-5:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library Story Castle on the Second Floor
Details: Open to both novice crochet/knitters and those with experience in fiber art. For more information, contact Gelenda Norman at 205-226-3655 or by email at

If you want to learn how to make scarves, hats and accessories as holiday gifts or to bless the homeless and others during the winter season, make plans to take advantage of Hooking and Stitches, a free crochet-knitting program being held this Sunday, December 2 at the Central Library.

The class, taught by Gelenda Norman of Central’s Youth Department, is open to both novices as well as experienced knitters. Norman said the workshop is a good way to learn a skill for those desiring to bless children in area shelters and poor families facing the challenges of winter.

“We will also make items that raise awareness of issues such as breast cancer, anti-bull…

Dolores Hydock to Perform “A Christmas Memory” at Central Library December 2

What: “A Christmas Memory,” a one-woman performance by Dolores Hydock
When: Sunday, December 2, 3:00-4:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor
Details: 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

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.

Originally from Reading, Pennsylvania, Hydock is a nationally renowned storyteller who has entertained the public across the country, including being featured at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee.

In Alabama she is best known for “A Christmas Memory,” captivating audiences of all ages. As an actress Hydock has been featured in the one-woman p…

BPL Friends Bookstore hosting annual holiday $10 book bag sale

In photo left to right are Friends Bookstore manager Thracie Pace, volunteer Christina Richburgh,Central Library assistant Kimberly Wiley, and volunteer Larry Stinson.
BPL Friends Bookstore's Annual Holiday $10 book bag sale is in progress from now through Christmas weekend. Visit us at the Friends Bookstore on the first floor of the Central Library during our operating hours, Monday through Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
For just $10, fill a Friends Classic Navy Tote bag with audio books, hardback and paperback books, art,cookbooks, classics, magazines, CDs, DVDs and more. Our yellow tag books are available to you for a fraction of the cost from Amazon and other sellers.
All proceeds benefit the Birmingham Public Library and Friends Bookstore. Every purchase and donation helps support our community. Help Friends Grow by "Putting People First." For more information, visit us or call 205-226-3676.

Support the Birmingham Public Library on #GivingTuesday November 27

by Pat Rumore, President of the Friends Foundation of the Birmingham Public Library

“Libraries, the best of our ‘social infrastructure’” is the theme of this year’s #FFBPLGivingTuesday campaign sponsored by the Friends Foundation of the Birmingham Public Library. #GivingTuesday, a date to support nonprofits in our community, is November 27, 2018.

“Social infrastructure” is a term coined by Eric Klinenberg, a sociology professor at New York University, who has written the book Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life. His definition of the term is “the physical spaces and organizations that shape the way people interact.” In an opinion piece for the New York Times, he describes why libraries are a crucial part of our social infrastructure.

The professor points out that, while libraries are routinely being starved for resources, their usage is actually increasing. The real problem that libraries face i…

BPL Archivist Publishes Article on 1918 Influenza

Thinking back on the time when the 1918 influenza pandemic struck Alabama, Edna Boone of Houston County remembered her mother cooking soup for sick neighbors. Bertha Moore Merrill of Eufaula remembered all the people who died. “We lost so many,” she told an interviewer half a century later.

The terrible pandemic, which killed thousands in Alabama and tens of millions worldwide, is explored in the latest article by Birmingham Public Library (BPL) archivist Jim Baggett. Titled “’It Came Like a Cyclone’: The 1918 Influenza Pandemic in Alabama,” the article is published in the fall issue of Alabama Heritage magazine. Alabama Heritage is available at BPL locations and other area libraries.

Baggett is the author of more than 50 articles, including two published earlier this year. “Birmingham Bound: The Magic City’s Melting Pot” looks at Birmingham’s immigrant communities and appeared in the spring issue of the Alabama Historical Association Newsletter. And the article “’A Law Abiding Peopl…

Retirement Planning Workshop: "Make the Most of Your Home's Value" at Central Library November 14

What: Money Matters Retirement Planning Workshop: "Make the Most of Your Home's Value"
When: November 14, 2018
Time: 12:00–1:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, 4th floor

Retirement is something that most of us look forward to. It is indeed an appealing notion to think that one day you will not have to get up every day and go to work. But retirement can also be a troubling notion as well, especially if you are worried about your financial situation. Concerns about money and finances are the primary reason that people do not enjoy their retirement years to the fullest.

Perhaps these concerns can never be totally alleviated, but thoughtful financial planning can certainly help to lessen the stress that we feel when we contemplate our post-work years.

Planning for retirement is the focus of the Birmingham Public Library’s 2018/2019 edition of Money Matters. Once again, this series of workshops is made possible through a partnership between BPL and…

Fall Inspiration

By Selina Johnson, Wylam Branch Library

Fall is my favorite season for many reasons. The trees are taking on their vibrant hues of red, gold, and yellow along with there being just a nip of chill that is starting to lurk into the air. The chilly mornings are an invitation to cut off the air conditioning and open the windows to take in the fresh crisp air that permeates the house. A scenic drive is a must during this season because the brilliant foliage and striking landscapes are breathtaking.

Fall is simply inspiring. It is about renewal and getting prepared for the upcoming holiday seasons. Now is a perfect time to get a thorough house cleaning underway, pull the fall and winter décor out, and prepare for making your favorite fall and winter recipes. Check out these resources at the library for assistance in finding your fall inspiration.

Autumn: From the Heart of the Home by Susan Branch
Autumn in a Jiffy
The Cleaning Ninja: How to Clean Your Home in 8 Minutes Flat and Other Clev…

Life without Retirement: What Does It Look Like?

by Alisha Johnson, Ensley Branch Library

More and more seniors are finding themselves facing a life of never-ending work and they never thought of being employed well into their 70s; however, there are some who have worked a number of odds and ends jobs but never held a steady job that paid into Social Security or a pension fund. Consequently, many of them feel stuck. They have reached retirement age and do not have enough savings to cover their day-to-day expenses such as medical expenses, housing, and rising food costs. As a result, the options are few and include dramatically cutting down on spending or keep working. We are seeing our mothers, grandmothers; aunts and uncles become “poor” for the first time in their old age. This is hard to watch but there are some measures that we can take to decrease the occurrence of poverty in our families and our communities. One measure is to help people save for old age and another is to expand affordable housing options for older Americans. …

SCORE Steps to Starting Your Business Seminar at Central Library November 16

What: Steps to Starting Your Business seminar
When: Friday November 16, 2018
Time: 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Where:Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor

The Birmingham Public Library, in conjunction with SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) and the City of Birmingham’s Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity, will be hosting the monthly seminar Steps to Starting Your Business on Friday November 16, 2018. The seminar is scheduled to be held 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.

Topics to be covered in the seminar will include crafting a vision statement, identifying sources of funding, determining the legal structure of your business, devising a business plan, and investigating sources of business and economic information. Please register for the seminars by contacting Valencia Fisher in the Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity at Valencia.Fis…