Thursday, December 27, 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 parents, through outreach, while securing lifelong library patrons. One parent said, “My son absolutely loves Vocabby’s sessions and the curriculum is engaging! He is learning so much through these STEAM activities.” We have enlisted the help of our regional storytellers and they have really taken this adventure and developed Vocabby’s World in our organization. We have been extremely appreciative of the opportunity for partnership and look forward to the growth of Vocabby’s World.

Friday, December 21, 2018

BPL Invites Public to Participate in MLK Community Mosaic Project

This is a rendering of what the completed MLK
mosaic will look like

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 Luther King Jr. for a class project or for personal research, our libraries have material for all ages about his life and his many accomplishments,” said Heather McWilliams, branch manager at Smithfield Library. “We also have online resources available through Overdrive, Hoopla, and Kanopy. Please call your local library for more information.”

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.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

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 Entertainment here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

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 University, Babson College, Georgetown University, Harvard University, Northeastern University, and the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He recently served as a member of Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin's Transition Committee for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

What: Birmingham Public Library’s Nonprofit Management Class Series: How to Start a Nonprofit 501(c)(3) Organization
When: Thursday, January 3, 2019
Time: 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m.
Where: Birmingham Public Library – Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Building, 4th floor, Arrington Auditorium

Brief descriptions of the classes:

Thursday January 3, 2019
How to Start a Nonprofit 501(c)(3) Organization – This class will provide an overview of the steps involved in starting a charitable, religious, or educational organization that is exempt from taxation.

Thursday February 21, 2019
Introduction to Grant Writing – Participants will be taught the basics of writing proposals for the purpose of securing grant funding from organizations such as philanthropic foundations and government agencies.

Thursday March 7, 2019
Assessment and Evaluation of Nonprofit Programs - This class will introduce participants to the systematic collection of data that can be used to assess and evaluate programs.

Thursday April 4, 2019
Logic Models and Theory of Change – Participants will be introduced to basic conceptual models that can help them develop more complete and thorough justifications of the programs for which funding is being sought.

Thursday May 2, 2019
Tools for Social Change – Participants will be introduced to over 10 different approaches to help them, and their nonprofit organizations, achieve incremental and systemic social change.

The workshops are free of charge, but registration is required. To register for each workshop, please go to the Birmingham Public Library’s events calendar. For more information about the series and other nonprofit resources available at BPL, please contact Jim Murray of the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department by e-mail at or by calling 205-226-3691.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

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. Both peoples were restless and desired exploration and new experiences, even if vicariously. Two types of travel literature satisfied these desires: that in which the travelers were required to endure hardships and overcome physical obstacles and that in which the reader could experience a sensual escape from Victorian mores. The physical hardships of crossing Creek Indian territory—roughly from Columbus, Georgia, to Montgomery, Alabama—fulfilled the former requirement, and, to a slight degree, the Native Americans fulfilled the latter.

Even the most seasoned and fearless voyager might find these early Alabama adventures a daunting experience. One account that survives is from William Gratton Tyrone Power, an ancestor of the Hollywood star Tyrone Power, who traveled in Alabama during December of 1834 and regales us with an account of  "a wild-looking village, scattered through the edge of the forest, bearing the unattractive name of Sodom [Girard; today's Phenix City]. Gamblers, and other desperate men, here find security from their numbers, and from the vicinity of a thinly inhabited Indian country, whose people hold them in terror, yet dare not refuse them a hiding place." However, Power later describes some regions as "wildly beautiful" and observes that "nowhere in this South country have I yet seen a place which promises more of the prosperity increasing wealth can bestow than this . . ." His airy comment that "I do not consider that a traveller runs the least risk" may say more about the swashbuckling streak he passed down to his Hollywood descendant than about the actual difficulties of journeying through those regions.

We get a more unnerving account from P.T. Barnum—yes, that P.T. Barnum—whose autobiography The Life of P.T. Barnum provides a description of his travels in Alabama in 1837: "Many considered it hazardous to pass over the road without a strong escort. The day previous to our starting, the small stage had been stopped, the passengers all murdered, and the stage burned, the driver escaping almost by a miracle . . . we all armed ourselves with guns, pistols, bowie knives, etc., and started on our journey."

On a lighter note, we have Anne Newport Royall's spirited retort to the landlord of a tavern where she was spending an evening in 1830. It seems the landlord thought it was a good joke to imitate Indian war-whoops and frighten her, "an aged, unprotected woman." However, Royall shows herself about as frail as a set of brass knuckles when she sends for the offender:

"Now sir, said I, 'if I hear another loud word after this, I quit the place, and seek a place to sleep among the Indians of the neighborhood. I am not afraid of your yelling . . . but sir, I will not be insulted.'"

Apparently, "if ever a poor fellow was frightened, the landlord was" and Royall passed the remainder of the night in peace.

Our ancestors, men and women alike, were a tough lot and could make light of unbelievable hardships. To them, these were simply the realities of travel in a wild and unsettled region and all of a piece with the demands of everyday life. One wonders how they would view our modern miracles of travel. If the accounts recorded in The Very Worst Road are a fair sample, these people would probably find our sports cars and international flights an exhilarating experience.

Wishing everyone safe travels and Happy Holidays!

For more information:

The Federal Road through Georgia, the Creek Nation, and Alabama, 1806-1836

Impressions of America during the years 1833, 1834, and 1835. By Tyrone Power ... 

The Life of P.T. Barnum 

Anne Newport Royall
Mrs. Royall's Southern Tour [microform], or Second series of the Black Book

Federal Road in Alabama

Saturday, December 15, 2018

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 encouraging their communities to read a target number of minutes and books. BPL’s reading challenge has set a goal of 15,000 reading minutes. Shark Tank investor Mark Cuban will donate $35,000 to the top participating libraries to help them expand their resources to the communities they serve.

To enter the BPL 2019 Winter Reading Challenge, follow these instructions:

  1. Create or log in to your Beanstack account. Visit the Birmingham Public Library website and click on the Winter Reading Challenge banner. Follow the instructions. You may also use your mobile device to download the Beanstack app.
  2. Log the minutes you read to earn virtual badges. You may use the timer on the Beanstack app to assist with this process.
  3. All participants who read and log 310 minutes in Beanstack will be entered into a drawing for a Winter Prize Pack.
In addition to a Winter Reading Challenge held in January 2018, BPL has also hosted two other reading challenges. The first, Book Feast Reading Challenge, took place November 14–28, 2016, and was designed to encourage kids to read during the Thanksgiving holiday break. From December 12, 2016, through January 22, 2017, students who read a certain number of library books as part of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Out of This World @ Birmingham Public Library Reading Challenge earned a free ticket to the circus at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.

Friday, December 14, 2018

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-agent Scott Boras securing a $400 million 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 high school. In 1908 he pitched for Harzfeld’s, a Kansas City department store, for $1.50 a game. He worked his way through the early 20th century minor league system before breaking into the majors. You’ve probably heard that old Johnny Cash song, "I’ve Been Everywhere." That song could have been the soundtrack for Stengel’s career. Appel lists all the cities Stengel played in or managed at in his 55 years on baseball diamonds and it’s a more of a gazetteer than a resume. (And before you ask, Casey played in Montgomery in 1912 and Birmingham in 1920.) In 1962 at the age of 71, he became the manager of the New York Mets. (Two years later he was still joining his players in on-field fights.)

Over the course of his 55 years playing baseball and managing teams Stengel won ten pennants and seven world championships. What were his secrets? As a player, he described himself as “…such a dangerous hitter I even got intentional walks during batting practice.” Managing, on the other hand, required not power but finesse. “The key," he explained, “to being a good manager is keeping the people who hate me away from those who are still undecided.”

You can see why he’s remembered today as something of a professor of rhetoric to Yogi Berra. Casey was always spouting malapropisms, Freudian slips, and just plain crazy talk. However, beneath the clown’s chatter was a true student of the game, a man who devoted his life to baseball and by the time of his retirement was viewed by the baseball intelligentsia as a don of the American school of baseball. Marty Appel’s biography proves it’s not the pace that make the game perfect, but the characters on the field and in the dugout.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

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

Members of the Lawson State Community College Quartet and instructor

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!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

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.

Unknown No Longer
Compiled by the Virginia Historical Society, Unknown No Longer is a database with one goal: to document every enslaved Virginian named in previously unpublished historical documents. The digitized records include family Bibles, wills, newspaper clippings, and memoirs. Users can browse by type of record or location. There is also a search feature that combines name, location, date, etc.

CSI: Dixie
This website dedicated to 19th century coroner’s reports from South Carolina contains names and case histories. The site (a work in progress) may be short on names at this point, but is long on historical facts about the darker side of life. Excellent essays on the history of murder, suicide, etc. make this site fascinating reading. The coroner’s reports have been scanned and can be browsed according to how the person met their end. In spite of its focus on such dark topics, CSI: Dixie is a beautifully written, elegant, and strangely lovely site.

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

Update: The rescheduled workshop for December 19 has been canceled.
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 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 the Regions Institute for Financial Education and The University of Alabama at Birmingham Collat School of Business. All workshops will be held at the Central Library on the second Wednesday of the month from October 2018 to May 2019. Each month a different topic will be covered, but the goal is to present a unified and coherent introduction to the retirement financial planning process. Workshop instructors will be representatives from the Collat School of Business.

The workshops are free of charge, but registration is required. To register for each workshop, please go to the Birmingham Public Library’s events calendar. For more information about the workshop series and other financial literacy resources available at BPL, please contact Jim Murray of the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department by e-mail at or by calling 205-226-3691.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

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 Library Enjoy 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 Dion, Dolly Parton, and other amazing women who shaped popular music. This retrospective of empowered hits will have you singing along. Registration required. Call 205-592-2082.

Some of our other holiday programs (listed by library alphabetically) are below. To see our full list of holiday programs, visit the BPL events calendar and search in Event Category/Seasonal.

Avondale Library
Club Create: Fudge Brownie Steam Train, Wednesday, December 5, 2:00 p.m.
Come together to create something new! Join us to construct your own edible fudge brownie steam train out of store-bought goodies. Space is limited. Register in advance at the circulation desk, by calling (205) 226-4000, or through the BPL online event calendar.

Holiday Children’s Movie Fest, Saturday, December 15, 2:30 p.m.
Enjoy an afternoon of watching the old holiday favorites at East Lake Library.  Light refreshments provided.  Children, teens, and parents welcome!

Board after the Holidays? December 26–28, 11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m.
Come to the Eastwood Library to play some fun board games!
Five Points West Library
Try-It-Out Tuesday:
Wine Cork Christmas Ornaments & Crafts, Tuesday, December 4, 4:00 p.m.
Adults/Teens (Registration Required, Limit of 15) Please call 205-226-4015

When the Holidays Aren't Happy: Coping with Grief, Friday, December 7, 11:00 a.m.
Tips on coping with grief during the holidays from Tiffany Elliot of Samaritan House

Readers Are Leaders Book Club: December Holidays around the World, Wednesday, December 19, 3:45 p.m.
Get in the holiday spirit with the Readers are Leaders Book Club.
Holiday Sweets and Treats from Chef Bryant, Monday, December 10, 1:30 p.m.
Chef Bryant of K&J's Elegant Pastries in Alabaster will share her story and talk about her passion for cooking. Participants will get Chef Bryant's Christmas cookie recipe. Registration is required. Call 205-592-2082. 

North Avondale Library Chapter Chatters Holiday Party, Wednesday, December 19, 10:30 a.m. 
Book club members will discuss a good book, food, and music.

Powderly Library

Christmas Gift Wrapping for Seniors, Friday, December 14, 10:00 a.m.
Let us help you wrap those last-minute Christmas gifts.  

Christmas Ornament Decorating: Wednesday, December 12, 4:00 pm
Come and get in the holiday spirit by crafting your own ornament! We will have a special holiday treat to snack on while we craft.

Christmas Movie Marathon: Monday, December 17–Friday, December 21, 10:00 am
We will be showing holiday films the week of Christmas to get you in the holiday spirit! Bring a snack to share with friends while you enjoy your favorite movie.

Holiday Card Making for Adults, Tuesday, December 11, 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
Make your own greeting cards for the holidays. The library will provide card stock, ribbon, stickers, and other items for you to create beautiful cards. Registration is required and limited to 15 adults.

Holiday Coloring for Adults, Wednesday, December 12, 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
Manage holiday stress by coloring. Create something special while enjoying the meditative process of coloring. The program is free but registration is required. Limited to 15 adults.
Holiday Open House, Tuesday, December 4, 5:00–7:00 p.m.
Enjoy refreshments and holiday cheer at the Springville Road Library. Kids and families are invited to meet and greet Santa who will be here to pose for pictures! 

Art with Ms. Trisha, Wednesday, December 12, 4:00 p.m.
Make a holiday masterpiece with Ms. Trisha. Elementary school age children are invited to visit the library to create a work of art. Please call 205-226-4085 to register.
Christmas Movie Marathon, 9:00 a.m. & 2:00 p.m., Friday, December 21
Titusville Library invites family and friends to join us for a Polar Express-themed movie marathon. Kids are encouraged to dress up in pajamas and enjoy light refreshments. The movie marathon will include The Polar Express, Arthur Christmas, Home Alone, and A Christmas Story.

Holiday Cartoons Marathon, Monday, December 17–Wednesday, December 19, 4:00 p.m.
Come join us as we watch some of our favorite holiday cartoons and animation over the course of three days. Light refreshments will be served.

Wylam Library
Afterschool Holiday Crafts, Tuesday, December 11, 3:30 p.m.
Children create a make-and-take craft for the Christmas season.

Monday, December 10, 2018

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., West End Library
Enjoy a free concert featuring many of your favorite holiday classics. Refreshments will be served.

The Phillips Academy Concert Band, Tuesday, December 11, 1:00–2:00 p.m., Central Library, East Grand Reading Room
Join the award-winning Phillips Academy concert band as they perform holiday musical classics.

Baroque Sounds of the Season, Tuesday, December 11, 6:00 p.m., Central Library, East 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.

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 Workshop, December 20, 12:00–3:00 p.m., Five Points West Library
Enjoy an afternoon of crafts, food, gift wrapping, and holiday fun.

For a complete list of holiday programs, pick up a Holiday Happenings booklet at your favorite library or visit the BPL seasonal events calendar.

Friday, December 07, 2018

Birmingham Public Library Honors Deputy Director Sandi Lee at Retirement Party

Sandi Lee, third from left

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 Foundation of the Birmingham Public Library.

A native of Birmingham, Lee and her family reside in Jasper, Alabama.  Lee said she is looking forward to spending more time with her husband and grandchildren as she moves on to the next chapter of life.

Jefferson County Library Association, BPL Honor 2018 Library Champions

Library Champions of the Birmingham Public Library

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 being a champion for all 40 public libraries in Jefferson County.

Monday, December 03, 2018

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

 Gelenda Norman, Hooking & Stitches instructor

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-bullying, as well as the babies and children in Children's Hospital receiving long-term care,” Norman said.

Norman, who began the monthly class in October, hopes Hooking and Stiches will be a vehicle for area crochet artists to share their artistry and create pieces for display throughout Birmingham.

“We will also just gather together to just plain hook and chat, stitching up new friendships,” she said.

Hooking and Stitches is among nearly 100 free holiday programs being held at BPL’s 19 locations through Christmas. For a listing of some of BPL's holiday programs, click here.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

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

Dolores Hydock
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 plays Tony Curtis Speaks Italian and All I Can Say is “I Love You,” Take a Ride on the Reading, In Her Own Fashion, Shirley Valentine, and more.

For more information about Hydock, email or call 205-951-7757. Read a Q&A about Hydock.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

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.

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!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

BPL Archivist Publishes Article on 1918 Influenza

Issue 130, Fall 2018

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.

The Red Cross conducts a demonstration of emergency ambulance service
during the flu pandemic. (Library of Congress)

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 People’: Alabama’s 1901 Constitution and the Attempted Lynching of Jim Brown” appeared in the July issue of the scholarly journal The Alabama Review. This article makes a significant contribution to historians’ understanding of early efforts to combat lynching in Alabama.

In addition to his published articles, Jim Baggett has authored or co-authored two books and edited three, including A Woman of the Town: Louise Wooster, Birmingham’s Magdalen.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

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 the Regions Institute for Financial Education and The University of Alabama at Birmingham Collat School of Business. All workshops will be held at the Central Library on the second Wednesday of the month from October 2018 to May 2019. Each month a different topic will be covered, but the goal is to present a unified and coherent introduction to the retirement financial planning process. Workshop instructors will be representatives from the Collat School of Business.

The workshops are free of charge, but registration is required. To register for each workshop, please go to the Birmingham Public Library’s events calendar. For more information about the workshop series and other financial literacy resources available at BPL, please contact Jim Murray of the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department by e-mail at or by calling 205-226-3691.

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 d├ęcor 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 Clever Housekeeping Techniques by Courtenay Hartford
The Complete Book of Clean: Tips & Techniques for Your Home by Toni Hammersley
Decorating for Real Life: The Shabby Nest's Guide to Beautiful, Family-Friendly Spaces by Wendy Hyde
Fall Shakes to Harvest Bakes by Marilyn LaPenta
Gather: Memorable Menus for Entertaining throughout the Seasons by Georgeanne Brennan
Martha's Classic Thanksgiving [DVD]
The Modern Organic Home: 100+ DIY Cleaning Products, Organization Tips, and Household Hacks by Natalie Wise
Tasty Fall Cooking

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 8, 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 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 or 205-226-3691.

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