Wednesday, November 28, 2018

BPL Closed November 22–25 for Thanksgiving Holiday

All Birmingham Public Library locations will be closed Thursday, November 22, through Sunday, November 25, for the Thanksgiving holiday.

As always, our virtual library is open 24/7 for your convenience.

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!

Saturday, November 17, 2018

2018 Holiday Happenings at the Birmingham Public Library

The Birmingham Public Library's 19 locations are hosting nearly 100 free Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday programs to get patrons in the holiday mood. All of the programs are free and open to the public.

Among the highlights:

A Christmas Memory, Sunday, December 2, 3:00-4:00 p.m., Central Library Arrington Auditorium 
Birmingham storyteller Dolores Hydock's incredible one-woman performance of A Christmas Memory, author Truman Capote's poignant reminiscence of his boyhood in rural Alabama. 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

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

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

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

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
Holiday Ukulele 101, Saturday, December 1, 9:30 a.m.
If you’ve been dreaming about playing the ukulele, this is the class for you! This 45-minute introduction will be enough to get you strumming. Check out one of Avondale’s ukuleles, or bring your own.  Registration required.

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!

Ensley Library
“How to Get Away with a Turkey” Scavenger Hunt, November 13–20
Winner: Announced November 21 and receives a Thanksgiving Basket filled with goodies

Online Shopping Class, Wednesday, November 28, 10:30 a.m.
Learn how to shop your favorite stores without facing the holiday crowd.

Creating Holiday Movies, Thursday,  November  29, 4:00 p.m.
Create lasting memories by producing your very own Holiday movies on your PC or tablet. Adults only; registration required. Call 205-226-4015
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.
Holiday Sweet 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 Tree lighting, Thursday, November 29, 4:00 p.m. 
Join us in singing Christmas carols as we decorate our Christmas tree. 

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, Dec. 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, Dec. 12, 2018 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, December 4 from 5-7:00 p.m.
Enjoy refreshments and holiday cheer at the Springville Road Branch. Kids and families are invited to meet and greet Santa who will be here to pose for pictures! 

Art with Ms. Trisha, December 12 at 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, all day long during operating hours, Friday, December 14
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."

West End Branch Library Annual Christmas Tree Lighting, Thursday, November 29, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Continuing our tradition, we invite you to join us for our annual Christmas tree lighting. Don't forget to bring a friend. Refreshments served.
Holiday Cartoons Marathon, Monday, December 17 through–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.

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 décor out, and prepare for making your favorite fall and winter recipes. Check out these resources at the library for assistance in finding your fall inspiration.

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

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

More information about this year’s Veterans Day parade is available at

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

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:

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

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