Tuesday, November 27, 2018

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 is that so many people are using them, and for such a wide variety of purposes, many library systems and their employees are being overwhelmed. One major roadblock to the appropriate funding of libraries is that too many influential people are not aware of the expansive roles that libraries play in modern society, roles essential not only for neighborhood and community vitality, but also for helping to address all manner of personal problems for individual citizens.

The branches and Central library of the Birmingham Public Library System, as well as the other member libraries of the Public Libraries of Jefferson County, fulfill the roles the professor describes in his book. Our libraries are places for culture and company, especially for those who are retired or who live alone, through book clubs, movie nights, craft circles, and classes in art, music appreciation, and current events. For many patrons the library is the main place they interact with people of a different generation, social background, economic status, and ethnicity than their own.

Libraries all over our county serve as polling places, accommodate neighborhood and community meetings, provide various business services and classes, and even accept and process passport applications. They sponsor lectures, recitals, art shows, and other cultural programs for free or at reasonable cost in a casual setting available to all, and rent spaces for private use. Further the many online services provided by libraries are available 24/7 for free.

The Friends Foundation of the Birmingham Public Library encourages you to support your neighborhood and community libraries through advocacy and donations regardless of where you live. It also invites your financial support this #GivingTuesday for the Birmingham Public Library specifically. Because the Central Library of BPL is the headquarters library for our countywide library cooperative, it is the beating heart of the whole system. And its Linn-Henley Research Library is a countywide resource, housing the Archives and Southern History Departments as well as offering the genealogy programs and resources unique to BPL.

Below is just a sample of the many classes, workshops, programs, and events the Birmingham Public Library System offered the community in 2018.

Use our Donate button and give generously!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

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. There is much more to be done but these options are definitely a great start.

Check out these book resources at your local library:

Creative Aging: Rethinking Retirement and Non-Retirement in a Changing World by Marjory Zoet Bankson

Avoid Retirement and Stay Alive: Why You Should Never Retire and How Not To by David Bogan & Keith Davies

Retirement Management without Tears by C. Nnamdi Uzoigwe

And think about registering for the Money Matters Retirement Planning Workshop series being held at the Central Library from November 2018 through May 2019. Classes are free but registration is required:

"Make the Most of Your Home's Value"
November 14, 2018, 12:00-1:00 p.m.

"Managing Debt"
December 12, 2018, 12:00-1:00 p.m.

"Managing Retirement Plan Assets"
January 9, 2019, 12:00-1:00 p.m.

"Managing Savings and Investments"
February 13, 2019, 12:00-1:00 p.m.

"Protecting Yourself from Fraud"
March 13, 2019, 12:00-1:00 p.m.

"Using Work to Your Advantage"
April 10, 2019, 12:00-1:00 p.m.

"When to Claim Social Security"
May 18, 2019, 12:00-1:00 p.m.

Friday, November 09, 2018

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.Fisher@birminghamal.gov or 205-254-2799.

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

For further information about the seminar or about resources available at the Birmingham Public Library relating to small business development, please contact Jim Murray in the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department at jmurray@bham.lib.al.us or 205-226-3691.

Veterans Day in Birmingham

by Ellen Griffin Shade, Avondale Regional Branch Library

If you watch the Veterans Day parade marching through the streets of Birmingham on November 12, you’ll be taking part in the oldest and largest Veterans Day celebration in the country.

Expanding Armistice Day, founded in 1919 to honor the veterans of World War I, into a national holiday honoring all veterans was the brainchild of a World War II veteran from Birmingham named Raymond Weeks. Weeks established the first Veterans Day celebration in Birmingham in 1947, and led a delegation to Washington, D.C., to ask General Dwight Eisenhower, then Army chief of staff, to create a national holiday honoring all veterans. After years of lobbying, President Eisenhower signed the bill establishing November 11 as Veterans Day in 1954. Raymond Weeks led the first National Veterans Day Parade in 1947 here in Birmingham, and every year after that until his passing in 1985. He was honored for his efforts with the Presidential Citizens Medal in November 1982.

More information on the history of Veterans Day is available at http://nationalveteransday.org/history/.

More information about this year’s Veterans Day parade is available at https://bhamnow.com/2018/11/06/your-guide-to-veterans-day-in-birmingham-including-the-veterans-day-parade/.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Circulating Board Games at Eastwood Library

By Vincent Solfronk, Eastwood Branch Library

A selection of circulating board games available at Eastwood Library

On November 5 the Eastwood Branch Library began making available for checkout to the public the following board games (all geared for patrons middle school age and up): King of Tokyo, Carcassonne, Forbidden Island, Ticket to Ride, Farkel, Pandemic, Azul, Puerto Rico, Dice Town, Catan, and the Downfall of Pompeii.

Board games can be checked out with a valid adult library card. Board games are checked out for one week, but must be returned to the Eastwood Library. If you have any questions, please contact the Eastwood Library at 205-591-4944.

"Board games are entering a new renaissance in the United States," said Vincent Solfronk, branch manager of the Eastwood Library. "Board games are being designed with more interesting subjects and features. People of all ages are trying to move away from their "screens" and to a more interactive lifestyle. Board games bring people of all ages a fun learning experience."

The Eastwood Library was awarded an Innovative Cool Award by the Birmingham Public Library Board of Trustees in August. The award goes to BPL locations that come up with unique ways to provide services for the public. Eastwood Library used the funds to purchase games and supplies.

In December the Eastwood Library is hosting a holiday program highlighting its new board games. Board after the Holidays? will be held on December 26–28, 11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. and 2:00–4:00 p.m.

Birmingham Public Library Medical Databases Provide Reliable and Relevant Answers to Your Health Questions

by Mark Skinner, East Ensley Branch Library 

Finding answers to medical questions can be overwhelming. Many books on medical issues that are a few years old can be outdated and provide inaccurate information. On the other hand, the amount of information when searching on the internet can seem far too vast and the sources of that information can be somewhat suspect. While online message boards or Google searches may be helpful for finding support in others diagnosed with similar conditions, these resources may provide inaccurate information to you.

At the library, we have access to a wide array of information from trusted sources that can help point you in the right direction. Certainly, these databases are no substitute for your medical provider, but they may be able to help ease some of your worries or help you better understand a topic, diagnoses, or medication.

Below are links to a few medical resources that oriented toward consumers rather than medical professionals.

The Lexi-PALS Drug Guide provides information on different medications in an easy to follow format. It includes information like special precautions, dietary instructions, or side effects for various medications.

Epocrates can help with pill identification, drug interactions, and contains information on various diseases and conditions.

Health InfoNet of Alabama provides information on various health services in Alabama. You can search by city, county, health topic, or a service provided.

These are just a few of the resources available through the library. You can find more on the Birmingham Public Library's Databases page.

While your helpful library staff are always willing to help show you how to use a resource, we are not medical professionals. Before you act on any information, you should remember to always consult your medical provider.

Springville Road Library Adult Programs Offer Fellowship, Instruction in a Relaxed Environment

by Kelly Laney, Springville Road Regional Branch Library

The Coffee, Conversation & Crafts group at Springville Road Library

With the colder weather and darker days, don’t huddle alone this winter. Come to the library to have fun and meet people! There are many opportunities to have fun, learn crafts, learn healthy tips, and stay fit.

This is the time of the year when nimble (and maybe not-so-nimble) fingers turn to crafting to prepare for the holidays. There are several venues for participating in crafting handmade gifts from the heart for friends and loved ones. If you are a fan of visual learning, you can type in just about any craft on YouTube and view a how-to video to get ideas, learn a new technique, or practice an old one. If hands-on is more your learning style, you can check the events calendar on the Birmingham Public Library website to find a class near you. At the Springville Road Regional Branch Library, we offer several opportunities for expressing your craftiness while making new friends.

Coffee, Conversation & Crafts meets every Monday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Springville Road Library. We always have a specific craft we’re working on, for which the library provides instruction, materials, and supplies. However, if you want to learn something specific, like how to crochet, knit, or loom knit, staff or group members will be glad to get you started on the basics and walk you through your preferred project. In the past month we’ve had a young lady learn loom knitting and produce her first hat in just 3 weeks!

If you’ve always had a yen to create a toasty, warm, and beautiful quilt for yourself or as a gift, please join us on the first Friday of every month at 9:30 a.m. for Beginning Quilting. Our instructor, Ms. Shirley Forest, is the president of the East Jefferson County Quilt Guild, and she teaches how to do a different block each month. Participants can bring their own equipment and materials, or can choose from a variety of material provided by the library. If you have a machine you can carry and you like to use, bring it along; but machines and supplies are provided if you don’t. You’re welcome to join whether you have sewn in the past or never set a stitch. The quilters and staff will help you get started and learn the basics of this enduring fabric art form.

Ms. Judy Dick teaches Beginning Sewing on the third Friday of each month. On November 16 at 10:00 a.m., her group will be showcasing their work in a special event. There will be examples of embroidery, dress-making, quilting, tablecloths, pincushions, pillowcases, and pillows made during the past year. Examples of crochet, knit, and tatting from other groups will also be on hand. Light refreshments will be served. Beginners are always welcome, and the class is ongoing.

Maybe you just need a stress break? On Thursdays at 10:00 a.m., please join the gang at Springville Road Library for our weekly Card Party. We started with poker, but have moved on to canasta, with a brief stop at gin and fan-tan. If you have a favorite card game, come share your love (and the rules). We learn betting rules with chips, but of course, there’s no real gambling going on. This doesn’t stop us from chortling over a hard-won pile of chips! All adults are welcome, and you don’t need to know how to play any game to participate. We’ll teach you! We also serve light refreshments, and you can just come watch if you don’t want to jump right in.

Do you know you should exercise more, or maybe drop a few pounds, but it’s just so hard to get out and make yourself do it? Do you need a little support or a cheer partner? At Springville Road Library, we’ve got two programs that meet on three different weekdays to encourage you. On Mondays (right after Coffee, Conversation & Crafts) the Body Changers meet at 1:00 p.m. This is a volunteer-led weight management and healthy lifestyles group that offers tips and encouragement towards reaching your goals. The library provides health, exercise, diet, nutrition, cooking, shopping, and recipe tips, while the group weighs in with monitoring goals and providing encouragement. It’s always easier to tackle a task when you’ve got friends with you, so come meet some people who are on your team! On Tuesdays (at 11:00 a.m.) and Fridays (at 1:00 p.m.) come Bend & Stretch with us. This is a gentle, mainly chair exercise group that is based on the National Institute on Aging’s Go4Life program. The exercises focus on building strength, endurance, and flexibility, and on improving balance, and are gentle enough for anyone to participate. They’re easy to learn and can be done at home on the days we don’t meet, but getting together is so much fun you won’t want to miss a day. We finish the class with a short meditation and light refreshments.

Adult Department librarian Kelly Laney, right, at a Springville Road Library 
craft fair

The best thing about all the programs at the library is the opportunity to pick up a book from the collection and extend your knowledge. Whether it’s making Christmas scarves after learning to crochet, or becoming the local whiz kid at Texas hold'em poker, we have plenty of information for you to brush up an old skill or learn a new one. Ask in the Adult Department for books or magazines on whatever you find fascinating.

Powderly Library Hosting Book Signing by Author Hugh Hardy Jr. November 9

Hugh Hardy Jr.

What: Book Launch and Signing with Hugh Hardy Jr. – Maysa Brown: Rise to Power
When: Friday, November 9, 2018, 10:00 a.m.
Where: Powderly Branch Library

For two years Hugh Hardy Jr. has been spending much of his spare time writing his debut novel about a black character's unlikely rise from unknown college student to become president of the United States. And no, it's not his take on Barack Obama’s journey to become the nation’s first black president from 2008 to 2016.

Hardy will discuss his new book, Maysa Brown: Rise to Power, on Friday, November, 9, 10:00 a.m., during a book signing at the Powderly Branch Library where he works as a library assistant. Hardy self-published the book this fall. You can buy Maysa Brown online through Amazon.com.

Maysa Brown chronicles the trials and tribulations of the main character as she rises from being a brilliant college student in Alabama to becoming the first black female president. While in college, Maysa falls in love with her professor, Michael Green.

"Professor Green is a psychic who knows her future and what path she must travel in order to get there," Hardy said. "She goes through some trials and tribulations and Michael is always there, even through a tumultuous marriage, but all of these tests will make both of them stronger."

The book is a thriller that follows how Professor Brown tries to protect his future wife from people who want to exploit his gift of fortune telling for their good. It follows the couple from dating to marriage as she gains her crowning glory: presidency of the United States.

Hardy is looking forward to following Maysa Brown's journey through future books.

"Even a sitting president can't be prepared for everything and in the closing pages of the book, one will see how tough life can be in book two," Hardy said.

Friday, November 02, 2018

The United States of Books

by Gus Jones, Fiction Department, Central Library

One of the creative library assistants in the Fiction Department saw an idea in the September 4, 2015, issue of Entertainment Weekly and thought it would be perfect to replicate as a department display. It is called The United States of Books.

For each state, Entertainment Weekly picked “the one work of fiction that best defines each state in the union.” The associated article provides a short description of the novels and usually includes how it relates to the state. For example, the novel chosen to represent Alabama is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It is described as follows:

Forget the dubious sequel. Lee’s exceptional work is a perfectly contained miracle about the struggle for justice in a system built to deny it. From Birmingham to Tuskegee, Alabama was a burning center of racial conflict, and this novel takes place right on the outskirts of that crucible.

It’s very interesting to discover which novels are considered by Entertainment Weekly to define each state. Please stop by the Fiction Department to enjoy the display and spend some time browsing the shelves to find a novel that defines a state in the union. Here are a few of the novels chosen for southern states.

Bards & Brews Open Mic Poetry Event to Be Held at Central Library November 2

What: Bards & Brews open mic poetry event
When: Friday, November 2, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library East Grand Reading Room
Details: Free to the public age 18 and up

Bards & Brews, the Birmingham Public Library's popular monthly spoken word poetry/craft beer program, is hosting its last event of the year on Friday, November 2, at the Central Library East Grand Reading Room.

Both seasoned spoken word artists and novice poets are invited to participate in this open mic poetry event. Voice Porter will again serve as host and emcee.

Join us for an unforgettable night featuring many of metro Birmingham's best spoken word poets sharing their talent. For more information, visit Bards & Brews on Facebook.

BPL Archivist Speaks at Auburn and Beyond

Jim Baggett speaks at the B.B. Comer Memorial Library in Sylacauga on
October 24, 2018

This past week Birmingham Public Library Archivist Jim Baggett delivered an invited lecture at the Auburn University School of Nursing and spoke at the H. Grady Bradshaw Library in Valley and the B. B. Comer Memorial Library in Sylacauga. Baggett’s series of talks, “’It Came Like a Cyclone’: Alabama and the 1918 Influenza,” was sponsored by Auburn University’s Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts & Humanities.

The 1918 influenza killed more than 50,000,000 people worldwide and sickened 145,000 in Alabama. Baggett’s talk explored the social, political, and economic impact of the pandemic on our state.

In addition to this series of talks, Baggett has spoken at three scholarly conferences in 2018: the Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators southeastern meeting, the Alabama Historical Association Annual Meeting, and the Plastic Surgery Research Council Annual Meeting.

Besides the invited lecture at Auburn last week, Jim Baggett has delivered invited lectures at several educational institutions in recent years, including The University of Alabama, Birmingham-Southern College, Samford University, and Middle Georgia State University.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Web-Based Printing Available at All BPL, JCLC Libraries Effective November 1, 2018

The Jefferson County Library Cooperative (JCLC), which includes all 19 Birmingham Public Library locations, is offering a new web-based printing service in all 40 member libraries throughout Jefferson County.

Patrons using their JCLC member-issued library card inside their library will be able to use an online printing service called SmartALEC to conveniently print from their own laptop, desktop, smartphone, or tablet to designated print release stations.

The online service allows a patron to send documents to print at the library from anywhere the patron has Internet access—from home, work, inside the library, and other places with WiFi. There is a nominal library fee to print out documents. 

To begin, patrons need to register by visiting and uploading their documents at  this linkAfter the print job is submitted, the patron can pick up the printed items at any of the 40 JCLC locations.

To login, enter your Library Card number and personal identification number (PIN). If this is your first time using the service, click on the "First Time User" button and register. Once set up, patrons can use SmartALEC anytime their device is connected to the Internet inside their favorite JCLC or BPL library.

To download the SmartALEC app, iPhone holders can click here 
Android phone owners can download SmartALEC app on Google Play by clicking here 

Inglenook Library's Women’s Appreciation Program Spotlights Personal Finances November 9

What: An Expression of Appreciation for Women of the Inglenook Community – "Getting Your Finances in Order"
When: Friday, November 9, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Inglenook Branch Library
Details: This program will feature a financial adviser from the Birmingham Urban League sharing personal finance tips on maintaining a budget for the upcoming holidays. Free but registration required.

An Expression of Appreciation for Women of the Inglenook Community, a bi-monthly program held at the Inglenook Branch Library, will shine the spotlight on the importance of wise spending habits as the Christmas holiday season approaches.

The program, “Getting Your Finances in Order,” will take place on Friday, November 9, at 6:30 p.m. Though geared towards women in the Inglenook community, the public is invited to this program. A financial adviser from the Birmingham Urban League will speak about different aspects of financial recovery, along with creating and maintaining a budget for the upcoming holidays.

To register or get more details, call Inglenook Library Branch Manager Karnecia Williams at 205-849-8739 or visit the library.

Williams came up with the idea for the bi-monthly program nearly two years ago to give back to the community surrounding the Inglenook Library. Many families in Inglenook are led by single mothers, many of whom are unsung heroes who deserve recognition and support for their contributions to society, Williams said.

Williams’ idea is a past recipient of a BPL Board of Trustees Innovative and Cool Award, which honors programs that go above and beyond service to library patrons.

“To delve into the issues of the community, I must first start with the women who are mostly considered the head of household in their families and address issues that are prominent to them,” Williams said. “It is my hope that as a librarian and with the help of these women, I will be able to address larger issues that impact the Inglenook community as a whole."

BPL's Seven Neighborhood Libraries to Resume Winter Operating Hours November 5

With the end of daylight saving time, all seven Birmingham Public Library neighborhood libraries are switching from regular operating hours to a 2018-19 winter hours schedule effective Monday, November 5, 2018.

The winter hours are for the following seven neighborhood branch libraries: East Ensley, Ensley, Inglenook, North Avondale, Powderly, Woodlawn, and Wylam. The neighborhood libraries will maintain the winter schedule until daylight saving time resumes in March 2019.

Winter hours schedule:

8:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.; 1:00–5:00 p.m.

8:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.; 1:00–5:00 p.m.

1:00–5:00 p.m.

8:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.; 1:00–5:00 p.m.

8:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.; 1:00–5:00 p.m.

Closed all day on Saturdays and Sundays. Click here for operating hours for all BPL locations. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

2018 Veterans Small Business Week: Five Points West Library Hosting Business and Marketing Workshops

What: 2018 Veterans Small Business Week workshops
Where: Five Points West Regional Branch Library
When: November 7-9, 2018
Details: To register, visit the Five Points West Library Information Desk, call 205-226-4015 or visit the BPL events calendar

The Five Points West Library is hosting a series of free workshops and events November 7–9 in celebration of 2018 Veterans Small Business Week. This is part of a national celebration honoring our veterans leading up to Veterans Day, which will be observed this year on Sunday, November 11, 2018.

Schedule of events:

Wednesday, November 7 – Tech Day

  • 9:30 a.m. class – Computer Resourcing for Veterans and Families
  • 12:30 p.m. class – Your Business Online Presence, Sponsored by Google
  • Schedule one-on-one 45-minute sessions throughout the day. Call the Five Points West Library at 205-226-4015 to get a list of available times.

Thursday, November 8 – Entrepreneur Workshops

  • 1:00 p.m. – Learn About the Resources at SCORE Birmingham
    Alin Johnson, director of development for SCORE Birmingham, talks about the free resources that SCORE (Service Corp of Retired Executives) offers for entrepreneurs, including free counseling.
  • 1:45 p.m. – Marketing Your Business in Birmingham
  • 2:45 p.m. – Deep Dive Social Media Marketing

Both of these marketing workshops will be led by Chasiti Shepherd of BGrace Media.

Friday, November 9, 2:00–4:00 p.m., Veterans Resource Fair
Veterans and their families are invited to visit with Birmingham area agencies sharing details about resources available to assist them.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Book Review: Sourdough

by Jenn Seiler-Patrick, Five Points West Regional Branch Library

Robin Sloan

“It was a fungal party hellscape.”
― Robin Sloan, Sourdough

I’m actually on my 2nd time through Sourdough, if that is any indication of my affection for the novel. I am a true lover of sourdough (any bread, to be honest), so I read this book for that reason alone. But it also spoke to my soul—because I like a little bit of magic thrown into real life. AKA the “magical realism” genre, if you’re trying to be fancy.

Lois moves to San Francisco to work a million hours a week creating coding that teaches robotic arms all kinds of tasks. Which is going fairly poorly, until she is gifted a sourdough “starter” that happens to be equal parts: magical, picky, moody, and delicious. Lois’ journey to happiness and self-discovery is funny and uplifting, while also being relatable to those of us who have struggled with the questions: “what are you doing with your life” and “can bread sing/am I crazy?”

Here are some other magical realism books at the library that might interest you as well:

Garden Spells (Waverley Family #1) by Sarah Addison Allen
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle
The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

Friday, October 26, 2018

Alabama LegalForms

by Mark Skinner, East Ensley Branch Library

Google is helpful for a lot of things and for giving a lot of answers. However, Google can make it difficult if someone is searching for a legal form. In general, most legal forms are state specific, and most of the time, it is difficult to tell if you found it from a reliable source. Sometimes, you might have found that perfect legal form on a website. You fill out all your information, and everything looks great. But then, when you try to print or save it, the website lets you know that, by the way, you will need to pay us money to use this form. As you can imagine, it is a pretty frustrating experience.

The Birmingham Public Library has access to a database called Alabama LegalForms. If you have a simple matter, such as a bill of sale or a residential lease, you should be able to find what you are looking for on Alabama LegalForms. You can save yourself some time and potential heartache down the road by using these forms rather than relying on verbal agreements that can lead to misunderstandings and disputes.

The site also includes forms for more complex issues as well, such as divorce, power of attorney, wills, or bankruptcy. All these forms are freely available to you as a Birmingham Public Library patron.

It is very important to remember that your friendly library staff are not attorneys and cannot tell you what form to fill out. Alabama LegalForms is no substitute for the counsel of an attorney. However, we are more than happy to show you how to access the site and how to search for the forms.

Fall Make-and-Take Crafts Program at Titusville Library in November

by Amanda Jenkins, Titusville Branch Library 

November is right around the corner, and the Titusville Branch Library is encouraging our adult patrons to embrace the autumn season by participating in a make-and-take craft program.

On Wednesday, November 7, at 10:00 a.m., the library will present a class in which participants will create their own fall-themed candles. All supplies will be provided by the library, and this event is free (although registration is required). You may register online through the BPL events calendar or by calling the library at 205-322-1140. There are still some available slots, so if you’d like a chance to explore your artistic side, register today!

Southern History Book of the Month: Only a Few Bones: A True Account of the Rolling Fork Tragedy and Its Aftermath

by Mary Anne Ellis, Southern History Department, Central Library

Only a Few Bones: A True Account of the Rolling Fork Tragedy and Its Aftermath
John Philip Colletta

“Sometimes Genealogy Can Be Murder . . .”

This tagline on the back cover of Only a Few Bones sounds like the hook for a series of mystery novels featuring a genealogist detective—and that would be close to the truth. After hearing family legends of the Rolling Fork Tragedy and how one of his ancestors was murdered when his country store burned down, John Colletta spent thirty years trying to determine exactly what happened on the night of March 4, 1873. The result is every bit as compelling as a suspense thriller:
As a boy, all I wanted was to draw a family tree. I never imagine, as I transcribed all the names and dates Grandma dictated . . . that one branch of my ancestry would lead me to this gigantic building collapsing in flame. I never imagined that I would become obsessed with unpuzzling what really happened, and why, and that the only way for me to behold the truth was to tailor anew the ghoulish raiment in its entirety. For that is precisely what I had to do: piece together the historical context of this family story . . . how else could I identify suspects and motives, and evaluate them, and determine who was innocent and who was guilty?
All of this sounds like a daunting task, but the bits and pieces of family lore were enough to set the author on the trail as relentlessly as any Sherlock Holmes, except that this is not fiction—the lure of discovering the facts is the driving force in this account and serves as an example of the surprises that may be in store for anyone researching family history. Most of us have heard these kinds of stories about our forebears—there’s a tale about one of my ancestors and Davy Crockett that I’d love to be able to prove—but few of us would have the patience and determination to dig so deeply in search of the truth or write such an absorbing account of the facts.

I once had the privilege of hearing Dr. Colletta lecture on how he came to write Only a Few Bones. He began his presentation in the morning and made us wait until after lunch before he revealed his findings . . . the truth about what really happened in Rolling Fork that night. There was no need for a nap that afternoon—we were all wide awake!
Still, in the end, it would amaze me how much of what Grandma repeated to me on blind faith turned out to be factual.—But factual in a deceptive way, a smattering of misshapen pieces of the truth, jumbled and insufficient. Stitched together, they would never add up to a whole garment. So Grandma never knew, as I know now, how truly terrible it was.
Only a Few Bones should be required reading for anyone who wants to write a family history; sometimes all we have to go on are fragments of half-remembered accounts that are like scattered bones, but Colletta’s riveting account of his years of research and how he uncovered the real story of the Rolling Fork incident is a prime example of how to do it right—how to assemble the bones into a body of evidence that will bear close scrutiny. If you have a taste for history or genealogy or true crime or all of these together, this account is not to be missed.

For further information:

John Philip Colletta, Ph.D.
John Philip Colletta at Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research 2019
“The Secret to Writing a Compelling Family History”
“Forensic Genealogy—Dead Men Do Tell Tales”
“Discovering the Truth About Family History Claims”

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Teens Engineer BHM Afterschool Program Continues through End of November 2018

Teens Engineer BHM at East Ensley Branch Library

Teens Engineer BHM, a partnership between the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) and The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Engineering, continues to offer free activities for middle and high schoolers with a passion for engineering at several BPL locations through the end of November.

The free program is teaching young people how to program robots, soldering, and computer coding skills at 12 of BPL’s 19 locations: the Central Library, Avondale Regional Branch Library, North Birmingham Regional Branch Library, Five Points West Regional Branch Library; and eight branch libraries: Ensley, East Ensley, North Avondale, East Lake, Southside, West End, Smithfield, Inglenook, and Powderly.

Teens Engineer BHM is a past recipient of a $95,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham and a $50,000 grant from the UAB Benevolent Fund. Learn more about Teens Engineer BHM.

Teens Engineer BHM at Avondale Library
The remaining schedule of Teens Engineer BHM afterschool programs is as follows:

Central Library
Monday through Thursdays, 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. from now through November 28, 2018
Classes include Robotics I, Robotics II, Soldering, and Arduino

East Ensley Library
Thursday, October 25, 3:45 p.m. – Soldering
Thursday, November 1, 3:45 p.m. – Soldering

Teens Engineer BHM at Ensley Branch Library
East Lake Library
Monday, November 5, 3:45 p.m. – Arduino

Ensley Library
Tuesday, November 13, 4:00 p.m. – Soldering

Five Points West Library
Thursday, November 15, 3:30 p.m. – Arduino
Wednesday, November 28, 3:30 p.m. – Arduino

Inglenook Library
Monday, November 26, 3:30 p.m. – Arduino

Teens Engineer BHM at Inglenook Library
North Birmingham Library
Wednesday, November 14, 4:00 p.m. – Arduino
Thursday, November 29, 4:00 p.m. – Robotics 2

Powderly Library
Tuesday, October 30, 4:00 p.m. – Robotics 1
Friday, November 2, 4:00 p.m. – Robotics 2

Smithfield Library
Thursday, November 8, 4:00 p.m. – Soldering

Southside Library

Celebrate Halloween 2018 at the Birmingham Public Library

Teens build a haunted house
The Birmingham Public Library is helping our patrons get in the Halloween spirit. Besides candy give-aways for young patrons at most of our 19 locations across Birmingham on Wednesday, October 31, 2018, there are plenty of free activities for patrons of all ages taking place all week.

Programs include a Harry Potter Party at Smithfield Branch Library, Mardi Gras murdery mystery program for adults at Five Points West Regional Branch Library, Spooky Science Family Night program for kids at Avondale Regional Branch Library, Halloween crafts for kids at North Avondale Branch Library, and edible Halloween treat-making activities at Wylam Branch Library and Inglenook Branch Library.

Ensley Branch Library and Southside Branch Library are also hosting “count the candy in a jar” contests in which the person guessing the closest will win prizes.

Halloween programs through October 31 at BPL:

Avondale Library
Family Night: Spooky Science, Tuesday, October 30, 6:30–7:30 p.m.
Join Avondale Library for a night of spooky science as Ms. Jan (The Science Lady) presents an evening of "bubbling, oozing, gooey good fun" you won't soon forget. Halloween costumes are welcome, but please leave scary masks at home. Free but advance registration required.

Tot Time with Mrs. Eve: Trick or Treat! Monday, October 29, 9:30–10:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.12:00 p.m.
Wear your non-scary Halloween costume for a non-scary Tot Time filled with stories, songs, and lots of trick-or-treat fun for everyone. Storytime is designed for 2- to 4-year-olds with a parent or caregiver; no groups, please. Free but registration required.

Central Library
Earlier this week, Central Library Youth Department hosted Mayhem in the Mad Scientist Lab activity, in which patrons solved the mystery of Dr. Frankenstein’s missing potions and true identity of the thief. If you missed it, make plans to be at these activities below:

Engineers: Build a Haunted House, ongoing through Tuesday, October 30
Build and design a haunted house with flashing lights and moving doors.

Monster Mash, Wednesday, October 31, 3:30 p.m.
Join the Central Library Youth Department for fun activities including humorous Halloween-themed movies, crafts, and face-painting.

Ensley Library
“Guess How Many Pieces Are in the Candy Jar” contest, October 2531, 2018
Visit Ensley Branch Library and guess how many pieces are in the candy jar. The person closest to the real number will win a prize.

Five Points West Library
Harry Potter Movie Marathon (three dates)
Saturday, October 27, 2018, 9:00 a.m.6:00 p.m.,
Sunday, October 28, 2018, 2:006:00 p.m.
Monday, October 29, 2018, 9:00 a.m.4:00 p.m.
Get ready for the Triwizard Tournament with a Harry Potter movie marathon! Drop in whenever you can to witness the magic!

Harry Potter Triwizard Tournament, Monday, October 29, 2018, 5:007:00 p.m.
Join Five Points West Library to kick off Halloween week with a Harry Potter treat! This program is designed for families with children of all ages. Families in attendance are asked to come dressed as their favorite Harry Potter character. Free but pre-registration is required.

Mardi Gras, Masks, Murder Mystery, Wednesday, October 31, 10:3011:30 a.m.
Join us for this fun Halloween activity for adults. Patrons will work together to solve a “Murder Mystery.”

Inglenook Branch Library
“Make It, Eat It” Halloween crafts, Friday, October 26, 3:30 p.m.
Young patrons will make tasty, edible witch hats. Also join us on Halloween for free candy and Halloween coloring sheets.

North Avondale Branch Library
Halloween Crafts & Candy Treat Bags, Wednesday, October 31, 3:30 p.m.
Join North Avondale Library on Halloween for fun afterschool crafts, candy treat bags, and refreshments, all while being entertained by “spooky music” all ages can enjoy.

Smithfield Branch Library
Harry Potter Party, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 3:30 p.m.
Join Smithfield Library for Harry Potter-themed games, snacks and a free showing of the film Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Costumes are welcome, especially Muggle costumes! Smithfield Library will be transformed into Hogwarts for an afternoon of fun for little witches and wizards!

Southside Branch Library
Count the Candy Corn, ongoing through Saturday, October 27, 2018
Drop by the Southside Library during operating hours and guess the number of candies in the jar. Make one guess per day. The winner will receive books and a gift card from a local restaurant.

Titusville Branch Library
Let's Get Crafty, Wednesday, October 31, 3:304:30 p.m.
This weekly afterschool craft program for kids will focus on fun Halloween activities.

Wylam Branch Library
Edible Halloween Craft, Wednesday, October 31, 3:30 p.m.
Join us as we make tasty, Halloween treats.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

From Page to Stage: Peter Pan – A Reader’s Theater Workshop for Children

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL), in partnership with the Birmingham Children’s Theatre (BCT) and Junior League of Birmingham (JLB), invites you to attend From Page to Stage: Peter Pan – A Readers’ Theater Workshop for Children.

In anticipation of the upcoming BCT performance of Peter Pan, BPL will be hosting free workshops at several of its area libraries. Children, aged 7 to 12, will learn how stories come alive through the magic of theater. JLB members will coach the children and introduce them to similar literature located in their local library. Each child will receive two free tickets (one child and one adult ticket) to the BCT Peter Pan production on December 8 or 9, 2018.

This fresh adaptation of the classic J.M. Barrie tale has everything you love—Wendy and the Lost Boys, the dastardly Captain Hook, and the boy who never grows up. Let your imagination soar as—through the magic of shadow puppetry —Peter Pan and his friends sail through the night sky to Neverland. Daring sword fights, tricky fairies, and a very hungry, ticking crocodile await in a spectacular production that's perfect for the holidays.

Workshop space is limited, so contact your participating library location to register a child for the workshop. Libraries and dates are as follows:

East Lake Branch Library: Saturday, November 3, 2:30 p.m.
Avondale Regional Branch Library: Sunday, November 4, 2:30 p.m.
West End Branch Library: Saturday, December 1, 2:30 p.m.
Five Points West Regional Branch Library: Sunday, December 2, 2:30 p.m.

Church Records and Histories for Genealogy Research

by Mary Beth Newbill, Southern History Department, Central Library

South Highland Presbyterian Church

One source that can give additional insight into our ancestors and their lives is church records. Given that most states did not require the registration of births and deaths until the early 20th century (1908 in Alabama), church records have the potential to help genealogists break through the dreaded “brick wall.” Many churches kept records of those joining and leaving, baptisms, marriages, and funerals.

Of course, locating the records can be challenging. The logical place to start is with the church your ancestors attended. If you already know this and if the church is still operational, then you’re halfway there. Just give them a call or an email and ask if they have historical records. If the church closed, they may have left their records with a depository or historical center. Many faiths have libraries or historical societies that maintain records from congregations that are no longer in existence. The links below represent a small sample of the religious archives and depositories that are available:

Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives
Presbyterian Historical Society
United Methodist Church
Friends Historical Library (Quaker)
American Jewish Archives

If you don’t know which church your ancestors attended, family tradition and country of origin can help get you started. Do a little research into the history of the community in which they lived. County histories are wonderful resources for documenting early houses of worship. Without realizing it, you may already have documents that give clues to your ancestors’ faith. Obituaries and wedding announcements may mention a church by name. Marriage licenses often list the name of the officiant. If that person is a minister, look them up in city directories, local histories, or census records to see what church they were affiliated with.

Many churches publish histories to mark a milestone anniversary. The Birmingham Public Library's Southern History Department has a robust collection of local church histories. Often, these books include names of the founding members, early church officers, pastors, and photographs of important events in the life of the congregation. If your ancestor was a member of the clergy, the library has numerous biographical and ministerial directories that will help you, such as Brief biographical sketches of some of the early ministers of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and the Ministerial directory of the Baptist churches in the United States of America.

To learn more, join us Sunday, October 28, in the Central Library Arrington Auditorium at 2:30 p.m. for a workshop on church records and histories as a genealogy resource. This workshop is part of our programming for Family History Month and is free of charge, but registration is requested. To register, call the Southern History Department at 205-226-3665 or visit the BPL events calendar.

Monday, October 22, 2018

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.Fisher@birminghamal.gov or 205-254-2799.

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

For further information about the seminar or about resources available at the Birmingham Public Library relating to small business development, please contact Jim Murray in the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department at jmurray@bham.lib.al.us or 205-226-3691.

For Freedoms – Alabama Art Exhibit Opening at Central Library October 28

What: For Freedoms – Alabama art exhibit 
When: Sunday, October 28, 2018, through Friday, January 25, 2019
Where: Central Library Fourth Floor Gallery
Details: For Freedoms – Alabama is free and open to the public during Central Library operating hours. Call 205-226-3601 for more information or
visit www.forfreedoms.org.

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) is hosting a new art exhibit that is part of a non-partisan, nationwide campaign using art as a means to inspire civic participation by celebrating freedoms in advance of the 2018 midterm elections. For Freedoms – Alabama will open on Sunday, October 28, 2018, in the Central Library Fourth Floor Gallery and be free and open to the public through Friday, January 25, 2019.

Curated by Paul Barrett, the exhibit includes paintings, photographs, prints, and mixed media works from Alabama artists: Lanette Blankenship, Becky Delgado, Carey Fountain, Frances Hackney, Ira Hill, Josh Hoggle, Angela Hollowell, Devonte Holt, Holland Hopson, illartpeace; Kiante Johnson, Tara Stallworth Lee, Leanna Leithauser-Lesley, Elizabeth Limbaugh, Erin London, Meghan Malone, Isaac Nunn, Amber Quinn, Meroe Rei, Jared Ragland, Carl Schinasi; Don Stewart, Chris Wade, and Collin Williams.

Barrett said after working with BPL on his One In Our Blood collaboration with the Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Birmingham Museum of Art, and UAB School of Medicine last year, it was important to bring this new discussion between Alabama artists and the public to the Fourth Floor Gallery.

“Libraries are our best community resource for facts and news and continue to provide critical spaces for constructive dialogue,” Barrett said. “With local partners including Alabama Center for Architecture, Birmingham Museum of Art, Ground Floor Contemporary, UAB Institute for Human Rights, and dozens more statewide, it’s an honor to partner with For Freedoms to present this exhibition.”

For additional information about For Freedoms, visit www.forfreedoms.org and follow the 50 State Initiative on Instagram and Facebook. For Freedoms was founded by artists in 2016 as a platform for civic engagement, discourse, and direct action in the United States. The exhibit was inspired by Norman Rockwell’s 1943 paintings of the four universal freedoms articulated by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1941—freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. For Freedoms uses art to deepen public discussions of civic issues and core values, and to clarify that citizenship in American society is dependent on participation, not ideology. The 50 State Initiative (including Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico) is the largest creative collaboration in the history of this country, with For Freedoms’ 200-plus institutional partners bringing together artists and community leaders across the country through exhibitions and town hall meetings, and public billboard projects. 

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