Showing posts from January, 2018

2018 Black History Month at the Birmingham Public Library

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) is hosting over 80 programs in celebrating Black History Month in February, including musicals, soul food cooking demos, African American dance, genealogy, and movies.

On February 24, Pratt City Branch Library’s Crown & Tea program is combining the cherished African American custom of wearing church hats with a formal tea. Learn the art of African dance from BPL’s Candice Hardy at the Five Points West and Pratt City Libraries.

At Wylam, Pratt City and Titusville Libraries, come learn how to make tasty healthy soul dishes more nutritious. Celebrate African American music at Central, Powderly, West End, and East Lake Libraries. You can view the full list of Black History Month and other programs and services at BPL’s 19 libraries by visiting the BPL's calendar of events. (Downloadable calendar)

Here is a sample of select 2018 Black History Month programs being held in February:

Crown & Tea, Saturday, February 24, 2:00-3:30 p.m., Pratt Cit…

Stroke Mythbusters Class at Five Points West Library on February 14

Dr. Michael Lyerly, associate professor of neurology at UAB and director of the Birmingham VAMC Stroker Center, will be at the Five Points West Regional Branch Library on Wednesday, February 14, 10:30 a.m., to discuss myths vs. facts about strokes.

This program is part of the Five Points West Library's Active Living for Seniors series in conjunction with the University of Alabama at Birmingham's NeuroScience Cafe series where UAB experts in the neurosciences present topics, create discussion, and answer questions for the community.

Bards & Brews Poetry Event to Be Held at Cahaba Brewing Co. February 2

What: Bards & Brews Open Mic Poetry Performance
When: Friday, February 2, 6:30-9:00 p.m.
Where:Cahaba Brewing Co.

Bards & Brews, the Birmingham Public Library’s popular spoken word poetry/craft beer event, is headed to one of Avondale’s most popular craft beer pubs. Cahaba Brewing Co. will host Bards & Brews on February 2. Musical entertainment will be provided by the bluesy folk-driven melodies of The Matchcoats at 6:30 p.m. and poetry begins to flow at 7:00 p.m.

For more information on Bards & Brews, visit To make donations to BPL for Bards & Brews or our many other programs visit

Southern History Book of the Month: S is for Southern: A Guide to the South, from Absinthe to Zydeco

by Mary Anne Ellis, Southern History Department, Central Library

S is for Southern: A Guide to the South, from Absinthe to Zydeco
By the editors of Garden & Gun

Can all of What It Means to Be Southern be summed up in a single book? Probably not, but S is for Southern takes a valiant swing at it. With entries ranging from how to tell the difference between a common roach and a palmetto bug (both of which need to be exterminated on sight—“A flip-flop is as effective a weapon as any”) to the origins of the legendary Pappy Van Winkle bourbon, from James Dickey to Eudora Welty, from armadillos to Weeki Wachee mermaids, the editors of Garden & Gun magazine have compiled this entertaining and instructive guide to the many institutions of Southern culture. You can get an idea of the flavor of the book from this entry on Cheese Straws:
Open a drawer in any well-stocked Southern kitchen and you will find a cookie press, an industrial-looking steel extrusion tube with a lever and fitted di…

We Love Crafts! (And Libraries!)

by Ellen Griffin Shade, Avondale Regional Branch Library

At Avondale Regional Branch Library, crafts aren’t just for kids! We have arts and crafts programs for grown-ups every Wednesday at 2:00 p.m., and we’re celebrating our love of crafts with a month of valentine projects. All adults are welcome! Programs are free but space is limited, so call 226-4000 or register online through the Birmingham Public Library events calendar.

Upcoming Craft Programs at Avondale Library
January 31 @ 2:00 p.m., Color Club – Join us for some relaxing adult coloring and create a unique valentine for a child at Children’s Hospital.

February 7 @ 2:00 p.m., Club Create – Come together to create something new! We'll tackle a new craft project each month, with instruction and materials provided. This month we’re crafting handstitched valentines for kids at Children’s Hospital.

February 14 @ 2:00 p.m., Art Party – A different art project is offered each month with materials and instruction provided, and e…

Book Review: The Secret of Nightingale Wood

by Mollie McFarland, Springville Road Regional Branch Library

The Secret of Nightingale WoodLucy Strange

This is the story of a tween girl named Henry (short for Henrietta.) Her family is moving to a new home following the death of her older brother around the end of the first World War. No one in the family knows how to cope with their loss and they all have different ways of dealing with it. Henry’s father throws himself into his work and leaves his family to fend for themselves. Henry’s mother is so lost in grief that doctors are called in to intervene. They aggressively treat grief like it’s a disease, something that can be solved with chemicals and isolation. Henry is left alone with her nanny and baby sister, Piglet. The doctor who’s treating her mother becomes an invasive presence. He locks her mother away and drugs her so she sleeps for days at a time and keeps her separated from her children. How is that supposed to help anyone? With no idea where to turn, Henry finds help when…

Winter Weather Safety

by Maya Jones, West End Branch Library

I was born in Wisconsin. When I was six years old I moved to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina where I lived for the next 20 years. Winter weather has always been a part of my life. The winter weather with its ice and snow last week reminded me of a tragic incident in my family. In 2000 my first cousin died in Nebraska and the culprits were black ice and not wearing a seat belt.

My cousin had decided to visit a friend in Las Vegas to celebrate the new millennium. In order to save money, he bought a one-way ticket and decided to ride back to Wisconsin with friends. My cousin was driving, without wearing his seat belt, when he hit a patch of black ice, lost control of the car, and died at age 27. The other passenger in the front seat was not wearing a seat belt and he also died.

We are still in the month of January and winter doesn’t end until Tuesday, March 20, 2018. We could still see more winter weather and I urge everyone t…

Freegal Music Now Available For Streaming!

You already may know about Birmingham Public Library's Freegal Music database, which allows you to download 3 free songs a week. Well, now Freegal has an additional feature to offer: streaming music. With streaming, you can listen to whole albums, create playlists, and preview entire songs before downloading. Music streaming is unlimited. The Freegal Music downloaded files are DRM-FREE, Mp3 files that can be played on any device. Even better, the downloaded music file is yours to keep with no due date and no expiration date.

In order to access this database, you must meet the following criteria: a current JCLC library card and residency in the city of Birmingham.

To activate streaming music, first log into your Freegal account. Then you find the artist or album you want to hear, move your cursor over the artist or album image, and click on the stream link.

Enjoy commercial-free music 24/7 now!

Basic Self-Defense Moves You Can Do and Should Know!

by Alisha Johnson, Ensley Branch Library

In light of all the violence happening in the world now, it is important to ask yourself would you be able to defend yourself or your loved ones if someone were to physically attack you? If you cannot answer yes to this question, then I would like to share with you some techniques to use and consider. First, prevention is the best self-defense, second you should learn which body parts are the most effective to hit, and lastly how to maximize damage to the individual or attacker regardless of a their gender or size.

Here are some common techniques to remember:
Go for the eyes and nose.Kick or grab the groin of a male attacker.Stomp with your heel.Go for the kneecaps. If you fall, try to fall on top of your attacker.If an attacker attacks with a weapon, know where the weapon is effective. If your attacker has a knife, try to stay out of arm's length. If there is a gun, consider running and dodging from left to right.Check out these helpful r…

Free Tax Prep Assistance and Forms at Birmingham Public Library

Please check back for updates. 

As a service to the community, the Birmingham Public Library provides some copies of current federal and Alabama tax forms, instructions, and publications. The following forms/booklets are available in the Government Documents Department at the Central Library: federal – 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ forms/booklets; state – instruction booklets that contain two copies of the forms. Please call the department or Birmingham Public Library branch to make sure that the form(s) you need is available. All other forms and instructions can be found online at

Federal Forms
IRS forms and publications

State Forms
Alabama Department of Revenue

General Resources
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) - This governmental site has United States federal income tax forms, information, and tips. Includes warnings about tax frauds and scams, information about filling online, and the ability to track the status of your refund.

Free File Home: Your Link to Free Online Filing - This IR…

The Road to Super Bowl LII

The NFL Playoffs are underway and we are one weekend of football away from determining the matchup for Super Bowl LII. The interesting thing about this year’s playoffs is not only who competed, but also who didn’t make the playoffs.  In the NFC, three out of four teams from the NFC South Division (Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, & New Orleans Saints) advanced to the playoffs, but none were able to advance to the NFC Championship Game.  This season’s playoffs did not include the Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals or Green Bay Packers, although the Packers competed in last season’s NFC Championship Game.  The Saints and Panthers faced each other in the Wild Card Round with New Orleans emerging as the victor.  The Falcons won their Wild Card matchup with the Los Angeles Rams.  Despite having chances to win late in the fourth quarter, neither the Falcons (vs. Eagles) nor the Saints (vs. Vikings) were able to secure a victory to advance to the NFC Championship Game.  Instead, the …

CANCELLED: Money Matters Workshop – Empower Yourself Financially Scheduled for January 17 at Central Library

The January 17 "Empower Yourself Financially" workshop has been cancelled. The next workshop is scheduled for February 21—"Maximize Your Personal Wealth."

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

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

What: Money Matters workshop series
When: Third Wednesday of the Month, October 2017 thru May 2018
Time: 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m.
Where: Birmingham Public Library – Cen…

Book Review: The Last Black Unicorn

by Tracy Simpson, Pratt City Branch Library

The Last Black Unicorn
Tiffany Haddish

Tune in to any talk show today and you will more than likely see the face of breakout comedian Tiffany Haddish discussing her new book, The Last Black Unicorn. While Haddish has been in the comedic world for several years, she became widely recognized after her recent role in the blockbuster movie Girls Trip. As a fan of Haddish I was anxious to read her memoir in order to learn more about her road to success and with hopes that she would inject some of her signature, side-splitting humor; Haddish definitely did not disappoint!

From foster care to homelessness, Haddish manages to turn some of the harshest experiences she endured into comical stories. Haddish learned early on that comedy and her ability to get others to laugh was not only a gift which allowed her to make money, but also a tool she could use to be "accepted" by others, and to help her deal with some difficult situations. W…

Inglenook Library to Host Appreciation for Women Event Focusing on Healthy Marriages on January 19

On Friday, January 19, at 6:30 p.m., the Inglenook Branch Library’s bi-monthly program, An Expression of Appreciation for the Women of Inglenook Community, will focus on building healthy marriages.

This month's theme is “Relationship Goals” and will feature a talk from Alethea and Eddie Fells III, award-winning authors of Till Death Do Us Part: Chronicles of a Christian Marriage. The authors will lead a discussion on how couples can build a positive, healthy relationship.

An Expression of Appreciation for the Women of the Inglenook Community is a bi-monthly program at Inglenook Library that arose from a need to provide women who either work or live in the Inglenook community with an environment of empowerment and relaxation while addressing issues that affect them daily. The first program was held in May 2017 and has since averaged almost 20 women per program, said Karnecia Williams, branch manager of Inglenook Library. “Women who attend are excited about the programs and have …

New Age Online Application Process/Interview Bootcamp Workshop January 22 at Central Library

What: New Age Online Application Process/Interview Bootcamp Workshop
When: Monday, January 22, 2018
Time: 5:00-6:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Regional Library Computer Center, 4th floor
Details: New Age Online Application Process/Interview Bootcamp. Free and open to the public; no registration necessary.

Choosing a career is not any easy undertaking. Likewise, once you’ve chosen a career, finding a job can be a pretty difficult task as well. When you consider that throughout your lifetime you spend more hours at your job than you do anywhere else, you really need to put the time and effort into making good decisions in regards to career selection and job searching. This is not only true for young people who are entering the job market for the first time, but also for adults who are either reentering the job market after an absence, looking for a new job, or are contemplating a career change. If you fall into any of these categories, then you should plan to…

Genealogy Workshops in January at the Central Library

With 2018 underway, the Birmingham Public Library’s Southern History Department is making a few changes to dates of its popular genealogy workshops, but also added a few new classes.

The Introduction to Genealogy classes will be moving to Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings. The Beyond the Basics of Genealogy workshops will now be held on Sunday afternoons.

Below is a listing of upcoming workshops the Southern History Department will be hosting. Workshops are free of charge but registration is requested (with the exception of the Introduction to Genealogy classes). Register online through the BPL events calendar or call 205-226-3665.

January 13, 10:00-11:00 a.m., Central Library/Southern History Department
Introduction to Genealogy– Want to learn how to do genealogical research? Come to this introductory class that will help get you started on your genealogical journey. No registration required.

January 22, 2:15-3:15 p.m., Central Library/Computer Lab
Your Tax Dollars at Work: …

Book Review: The Couple Next Door

by Tracy Simpson, Pratt City Branch Library

The Couple Next Door
Shari Lapena

It started out with what was to be a night of celebration but soon became a kidnapping/murder investigation! Anne and Marco Conti are what appear to be the perfect loving couple, with Anne a stay-at-home mom taking care of their beautiful six-month-old baby girl Cora, and loving and dedicated husband Marco, working hard to support his perfect family. Or is it too perfect?

Anne and Marco are invited to a dinner party/birthday celebration with their next door neighbors, Cynthia and her husband Graham. With Cynthia not being fond of babies and making this a “no babies” gathering, Marco and Anne must decide what to do once their babysitter cancels at the last minute. With some persuasion Anne agrees with Marco that they will take the baby monitor with them leaving Cora asleep in her crib, and they will take turns checking on her every half hour. As the birthday celebration winds down around 1:00 a.m. and …

New to Kanopy in January

Begin the new year with new critically-acclaimed films including the Sundance Film Festival Winner, Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter, an enchanting and haunting tale that bends reality and imagination.

This January Kanopy is celebrating women film with their Directed by Women Collection, and tackling health notions and New Year's resolutions with the Health and Wellness Collection.

In February Kanopy will spotlight their Black History Month Collection, highlighting films on African American history and culture.

Visit the Kanopy website to see a complete list of new releases for January.

Read It before You See It

by Mark Skinner, East Ensley Branch Library

There is a wide array of book-turned-movie adaptions set to be released in 2018. Instead of frantically searching the internet for movie spoilers, you should stop by the library to get a head start on other movie goers. Here are five great books that will be in theaters in March, giving you plenty of time to finish the book before the movie is released.

Annihilation – In theaters February 23
Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. After eleven unsuccessful expeditions to survey the area most of which ended in the death of every team member, the twelfth expedition is ready to go. The group is made up of an anthropologist, a surveyor, a psychologist, and a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain, collect specimens, record all their observations, and, above all, avoid being contaminated. They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers. They discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms beyond …

Book Review: The Little Paris Bookshop

by David Blake, Fiction Department, Central Library

The Little Paris BookshopNina George

The bouquinistes of Paris are antiquarian booksellers who operate in stalls along the quays of the Seine River. They sell pre-used books, posters, post cards, buttons and other “petits riens” (little, antique doodads).

In Nina George’s novel The Little Paris Bookshop, Monsieur Perdu (translates: Mister Lost) is known as the apothecary of books. He has a gift for seeing the spiritual or practical afflictions that his customers suffer and hands them healing books. He sells his books and works his wonders from his barge anchored in the river Seine, and has an apartment in Paris. With all that Mr. Perdu is nevertheless sad. He is still heartsick for the woman who left him long ago.

Reading the opening chapters one settles in for the hard slog of a sensitive, depressive character, who can’t manage feelings, or reach out for help. But, no, Monsieur Perdu rescues himself, and the reader as well, by liter…

January is Poverty Awareness Month

by Selina Johnson, Wylam Branch Library

How did you begin the New Year? There are some who went out to celebrate with drinking champagne and eating a variety of delicious foods with family and friends. Others watched the ball drop in New York from their television in the comfort of home. Unfortunately, there were those who did not have such options. They awaited word as to if there would be a chance for them to get out of the cold and into a shelter for the night.

January is Poverty Awareness Month. It is a month-long initiative to increase awareness and call attention to the steady growth of poverty in the United States. So many people are victims of circumstances that have brought them to a world with little to no income and that triggers limited access to resources. Most have formed preconceived notions of the poor as being lazy, mentally ill, disheveled, drug addicted; however, a day in the shoes of someone living in the clutches of poverty would provide a better understa…

Book Review: Ready, Steady, Go!: The Smashing Rise and Giddy Fall of Swinging London

by Richard Grooms, Fiction Department, Central Library

Ready, Steady, Go!: The Smashing Rise and Giddy Fall of Swinging London
By Shawn Levy

For Americans (and Brits, for that matter) who may know Swinging London mostly from the Austin Powers movies, this book will come as both a corrective and a thrill. Author Shawn Levy fairly persuasively argues that not just the sixties (so what’s new?) but London in the sixties (well, maybe so) was the main impetus for all subsequent Western popular culture. Not NYC, not L.A., not Paris. Whether or not he’s right, there has long needed to be a book on this topic, and it’s amazing there wasn’t until this one, in 2002. And it’s by a Yank, no less. It’s generally pretty fab.

Generally accurate, but not always. Levy uses the description “nonthreatening young manhood-squeaky clean…smiley and skin deep” to describe not only the Dave Clark Five and Gerry and the Pacemakers (where he’s on firm ground) but the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and the Animals (w…

From Page to Stage: Rosa Parks & the Montgomery Bus Boycott – A Readers' Theater Workshop for Children

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL), in partnership with the Birmingham Children’s Theatre (BCT) and Junior League of Birmingham (JLB), would like to invite you to attend From Page to Stage: Rosa Parks & the Montgomery Bus Boycott – A Readers’ Theater Workshop for Children.

In anticipation of the upcoming BCT performance of Rosa Parks & the Montgomery Bus Boycott, BPL will be hosting free workshops at several of its area libraries. Children, aged 7 to 12, will learn how stories come alive through the magic of theater. JLB members will coach the children and introduce them to similar literature located in their local library. Each child will receive two free tickets (one child and one adult ticket) to the BCT Rosa Parks & the Montgomery Bus Boycott production in January and February 2018.

Sixty years after the Montgomery bus boycott, Rosa Parks is remembered as the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement.” With deep intensity and uplifting songs of the struggle, this play tel…

Vocational Readiness Workshops in January

What: Vocational Readiness workshops
When: Monday, January 8, 2018, and Monday, January 22, 2018
Time: 5:00-6:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Regional Library Computer Center, 4th floor
Details: The will be two workshops: (1) Vocational Introduction Readiness Workshop/Resume Builder and (2) New Age Online Application Process/Interview Bootcamp. Free and open to the public; no registration necessary.

Choosing a career is not any easy undertaking. Likewise, once you’ve chosen a career, finding a job can be a pretty difficult task as well. When you consider that throughout your lifetime you spend more hours at your job than you do anywhere else, you really need to put the time and effort into making good decisions in regards to career selection and job searching. This is not only true for young people who are entering the job market for the first time, but also for adults who are either reentering the job market after an absence, looking for a new job, or are c…

Free Computer Classes in January at Central Library

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

Bards & Brews Spotlight on a Poet: Lee J. Green

Lee J. Green is a regular performer at Bards & Brews and has been an incredible volunteer for the library in planning and advocating for this program.

How long have you been performing spoken-word poetry or appearing in front of live 

I have been writing poems ever since I was five years old and performing theatre/acting since high school. I love expressing myself in creative ways and getting positive reactions from people.

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

I believe it was six years ago January at Bards and Brews. Ironic-Lee a friend of mine in Free the Hops told me about it. He said it was free craft beer and poetry reading. So I gathered some poems I had recently written and got up on the mic. The audience gave me a receptive reaction, but when I saw some of the polished performers get on the mic, I got it. The next time I started writing poems, parody songs and spoken word then harkening on my performance skills to do s…

Shot in Alabama Gallery Tour and Lecture at the Central Library, January 7

If you like looking at historic photographs, make plans to make your way to the Birmingham Public Library (BPL)’s Central branch to view the Shot in Alabama: Historical Birmingham Photographs exhibit. The exhibit is open to the public through February 4, 2018, in the First Floor Gallery.

The photo display features nearly 30 pictures from the book Shot in Alabama: A History of Photography, 1839-1941, and a List of Photographers by author Frances Osborn Robb, released by the University of Alabama Press in 2016. Shot in Alabama is Robb's visual and textual narrative of Alabama's photographic history from 1839 to 1941.

On Sunday, January 7, Robb will give a gallery tour of the exhibit at 2:30 p.m., followed by a lecture at 3:00 p.m. in the Fiction Department.

About the exhibit:
Shot in Alabama highlights the Birmingham photographs in Robb's book, many of which come from BPL’s Archives Department. Students from the Altamont School in Birmingham designed the exhibit and wrote the…