Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Children's Book Review: The War I Finally Won

by Mollie McFarland, Springville Road Regional Branch Library

The War I Finally Won
Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

This sequel to The War That Saved My Life continues the story of Ada and her new-found family in World War II. Ada has a club foot and is undergoing surgery to reconstruct her ankle so she can walk without pain. She and her brother Jamie have just escaped the Blitz which destroyed parts of London. They have also escaped from their abusive mother into the custody of Susan, an unlikely savior who took them in when they evacuated London before its bombing. This story picks up directly after its predecessor’s happy ending and heaps uncertainty and change onto our main characters.

Ada’s mother is killed in a bombing, leaving her orphaned and available to be adopted outright. This can be seen as both good and bad news and Ada has no idea how to feel. How could she feel happy about the passing of her mother? Was she a monster? Or was her mother the monster? Their home in the countryside with Susan is utterly destroyed by a bomb, leaving the family homeless. Luckily, they’re allowed to borrow a cottage from Lady Thornton. The house is huge and mostly empty and gloomy and cold, but that is soon remedied. Lady Thornton and a Jewish refugee from Germany move into the cottage as well. Ada and her family learn a lot about trust, identity, friendship, and grief in the year they spend together. Through all the hardships, Ada emerges wiser and more secure of her place in the world.

I loved every moment of this book. It may not sound like an action-packed novel with a fast-moving plot, but it is so much more compelling than the typical adventure story. It provides a look into the lives of children living through World War II that is often overlooked in history classes and discussion. It’s also a great opportunity for readers to see character growth from a relatable protagonist. Though I highly recommend The War That Saved My Life, you don’t have to read that to understand this story. The book fills in the blanks by referencing past events without bogging the narrative down with exposition. I would recommend this middle grade book to kids and adults who are interested in history and enjoy focusing on relatable characters.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Live Streaming RootsTech 2018

by Mary Beth Newbill, Southern History Department, Central Library

Billed as the world's largest family history conference, RootsTech takes place annually in Salt Lake City, Utah. This year's Rootstech runs from February 28 through March 3. For those lucky enough to attend, you can choose from hundreds of sessions, labs, and workshops all focused on how to better fuse technology and family history research. See the full schedule here. From sessions on DNA to photography to researching ancestors across the globe, Rootstech has got you covered.

Can't make it to Salt Lake City? No problem. RootsTech has that covered as well by offering a robust selection of courses available for online streaming. Each day of the conference begins with a general session featuring speakers such as Scott Hamilton and Henry Louis Gates Jr. (March 2 and 3, respectively). See their presentations live and enjoy others like "Advancing Your Genealogy Research with DNA," "Unlocking Roman Catholic Records," and "Finding the Answers: The Basics of WWII Research." See the full streaming schedule here. Not only can you live stream several sessions, but genealogy speakers and bloggers will be posting updates on their social media feeds. Follow along using #NotAtRootsTech.

Given that over 30,000 people attended RootsTech 2017, enjoying the conference from the comfort of home might be the way to go. Check out this post from the FamilySearch Blog on how to skip the crowds and still get the most out of RootsTech 2018.

Bards & Brews Poetry Event Scheduled for March 2 at Springville Road Library

What: Bards & Brews open mic poetry performance
When: Friday, March 2, 2018, 6:30-9:00 p.m.
Where: Springville Road Regional Branch Library
Details: Musical performance by David Seale at 6:30 p.m., poetry begins at 7:00 p.m. Free beer samples will be available to those 21 and above. You must be 18 to enter. Free and open to the public.

Bards & Brews, the Birmingham Public Library’s popular spoken word poetry/craft beer event, is headed to the city’s east side. The free open mic poetry performances will take place on Friday, March 2, 2018, at the Springville Road Library.

Musical entertainment will be provided by David Seale at 6:30 p.m. and poetry begins to flow at 7 p.m. As usual, Brian “Voice Porter” Hawkins will emcee the event. Read more about Voice Porter in this Birmingham Times feature at https://www.birminghamtimes.com/2018/01/the-creativity-of-brian-voice-porter-hawkins-artist-poet-musician-gardener.

For more information on Bards & Brews, visit www.bplonline.org/bardsbrews. To make donations to BPL for Bards & Brews or our many other programs, visit https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/supportbhampubliclibrary.

Friday, February 23, 2018

BPL’s 2018 Mock Trial Program Underway at Central Library

For five weeks nearly 20 teens who love to argue or geek out on justice have listened intently at the Central Library as professional lawyers explained the ins-and-outs of the legal profession.

On Thursday, February 23, the teens learned how to interview their witnesses on the stand. On Thursday, March 1, they’ll gain tips on how to cross-examine a witness. Welcome to the 2018 version of the Birmingham Public Library's Mock Trial Program, which debuted at the Central Library a year ago and was held again last fall at the Springville Road Regional Branch Library.

The free workshops are held in the Central Library’s Teen Zone on Thursdays from 4:00-5:30 p.m. They are designed to introduce students from grades 6-12 in metro Birmingham to the critical thinking and advocacy skills utilized in courtroom trials. The program began on January 25 and will conclude on March 22, 2018, when the students conduct a mock trial at the Jefferson County Courthouse across the street from the Central Library.

During preparation each week, students are learning to play the roles of a judge, defense lawyers and prosecutors, witnesses, and other courtroom roles. At the conclusion of the mock trial, a jury will deliberate and return with a verdict. The Mock Trial Program is a partnership between the Birmingham Public Library, the Northern District of Alabama’s U.S. Public Defender’s Office, and the Birmingham Bar Foundation. For information call Lance Simpson at 205-226-3671 or email him at lmsimpson@bham.lib.al.us.

Here is a description of the last four weeks of the Mock Trial sessions:
Week 6.Witness Examinations-Cross (Thursday, March 1)
Week 7. Closing Arguments and Mock Trial Preparation (Thursday, March 8)
Week 8. Mock Trial Preparation (Thursday, March 15)
Week 9. Mock Trial (Thursday, March 22 at a Jefferson County courtroom)

Visit BPL Flickr to see photographs from previous Mock Trial Programs.

Learn More About the Black Panther Universe through Graphic Novels Available at Birmingham Public Library

by Ellen Griffin Shade, Avondale Regional Branch Library

The movie Black Panther hit theaters last week as a full-blown cultural event, breaking box office records and garnering widespread critical acclaim. The film is also introducing new audiences to a seminal character in popular culture, the first superhero of African descent in mainstream American comics, dating back to 1966. Check out these Black Panther titles for all ages available from BPL:

Titles for Adults and Teens
Black Panther: The Complete Collection. Volume 1-4 by Christopher Priest
Black Panther: Who Is the Black Panther by Reginald Hudlin
Black Panther Epic Collection: Panther's Rage by Don McGregor with Stan Lee
Black Panther: Panther's Quest by Don McGregor
Black Panther & the Crew: We Are the Streets by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Yona Harvey
Black Panther. A Nation Under Our Feet. Books One-Eight by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Stan Lee Presents Black Panther: The Client by Christopher Priest
Captain America/Black Panther. [1]: Flags of Our Fathers by Reginald Hudlin
Storm by Eric Jerome Dickey

Titles for Children
Black Panther: The Junior Novel adapted by Jim McCann
Black Panther: The Young Prince by Ronald L. Smith

Black Panther titles are also available instantly online in our Hoopla collections!

Playaway Launchpads—A Success

by Karnecia Williams, Inglenook Branch Library

The Playaway Launchpads have become very popular resources at Inglenook K8 School, particularly among special education teachers. Inglenook K8 School special education teachers have found that the Playaway Launchpads that specifically focus on core subjects such as reading and math have been most useful for a plethora of reasons. One reason favored by most teachers is having more availability to provide individual attention to students, while students using the Playaway Launchpads are provided with the reinforcement and reiteration of learning. Launchpads also introduce or reiterate a level of technology that is fun, engaging, and highly achievable providing students with a great sense of accomplishment. Teachers have even reported the satisfaction that students experience when they have completed a task or have won a game on the Playaway Launchpads. Moreover, teachers benefit greatly from the Playaway Launchpads and continue to express appreciation for how their instructional practices have improved overall.

Though teachers at Inglenook K8 School found them extremely valuable, there are 39 Playaway Launchpads in the Birmingham Public Library system that are available to all patrons from different ages and educational levels; some are even considered to be exclusively for leisure. Check the JCLC catalog for a list of Playaway Launchpads available throughout the Birmingham Public system and check one out!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Teens Engineer BHM March-May Workshop Dates Available

Teens in the 2017 robotics summer camp at the Central Library designed, built, 
programmed, and raced robots

The new schedule for Teens Engineer BHM for March/April/May is available. More spring/summer dates will be added later, so check the BPL events calendar for updates. Check the BPL website for branch locations.

Tuesday, March 6, 4:00-5:30 p.m., Five Points West Regional Branch Library
Thursday, March 8, 4:00-5:30 p.m., North Birmingham Regional Branch Library
Tuesday, March 13, 4:00-5:30 p.m., East Ensley Branch Library
Thursday, March 15, 4:00-5:30 p.m., Woodlawn Branch Library
Tuesday, March 20, 4:00-5:30 p.m., Avondale Regional Branch Library
Thursday, March 22, 4:00-5:30 p.m., Ensley Branch Library
Tuesday, April 3, 4:00-5:30 p.m., Inglenook Branch Library
Thursday, April 5, 4:00-5:30 p.m., North Avondale Branch Library
Tuesday, April 10, 4:00-5:30 p.m., Powderly Branch Library
Thursday, April 12, 4:00-5:30 p.m., Smithfield Branch Library
Tuesday, April 17, 4:00-5:30 p.m., West End Branch Library
Thursday, April 19, 4:00-5:30 p.m., North Birmingham Regional Branch Library
Tuesday, May 1, 4:00-5:30 p.m., Southside Branch Library
Thursday, May 3, 4:00-5:30 p.m., Powderly Branch Library

Teens Engineer BHM is an ongoing program that focuses on middle and high school students with an interest in math and science. The program is a partnership between the Birmingham Public Library and the UAB School of Engineering. In 2017 BPL received a $95,000 two-year grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham to expand the engineering program to other libraries across the City of Birmingham.

Read more about the inception and success of the popular Teens Engineer BHM program at the Birmingham Public Library.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Uncommon Grace: The Life of Flannery O'Connor Screening

What: Screening of Uncommon Grace: The Life of Flannery O'Connor; Q&A with filmmaker Bridget Kurt to follow
When: Saturday, March 24, 1:00-2:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library/Arrington Auditorium
Admittance: Free and open to the public

Despite her premature death at age 39, Flannery O’Connor left behind one of the most haunting and strikingly original bodies of work in 20th century literature. With the rural South as her backdrop, she brought to life a string of eccentric characters torn between their worldly ambitions and the need for a more enduring truth. This film traces the people and events that shaped her remarkable career, as well as the important role that Catholicism played in her writing. Featuring expert commentary and rare photographs, Uncommon Grace will give you a new appreciation for this highly celebrated, yet often misunderstood, storyteller.

The screening of Uncommon Grace will be followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Bridget Kurt.

Meet the team at Beata Productions
"Uncommon Grace: Flannery On Film." An interview with Bridget Kurt, producer/director of the first film about the life of Flannery O’Connor. Deep South Magazine. May 5, 2016

Monday, February 19, 2018

Kanopy's Special Black History Month Collection Highlights African American Struggles and Achievements

Kanopy's special Black History Month collection of independent movies and documentaries runs the gamut of African American interests, including topics on history, music, the arts, racism, media representation, identity in the African American community, and many more. The 368-video collection is easily searchable by subject, filmmaker, year, and popularity. See the entire list here.

Kanopy is a video streaming platform for libraries with one of the largest collections in the world—over 30,000 films. The films are more typically educational in nature, what Kanopy likes to call  "thoughtful entertainment," providing patron access to films of social and cultural importance.

Kanopy is available to Birmingham residents with a JCLC library card. 

Southern History Book of the Month: Researching African American Genealogy in Alabama: A Resource Guide

by Mary Anne Ellis, Southern History Department, Central Library

Researching African American Genealogy in Alabama: A Resource Guide
Frazine K. Taylor
Foreword by Dr. James M. Rose

Researching your family history can be complex at the best of times, but finding information on certain types of ancestors can present extra challenges. It is often difficult to track down records on African American ancestors, especially if they were enslaved and did not enjoy legal status as human beings; the typical paper trail is missing and you may require special resources. Frazine Taylor’s Researching African American Genealogy in Alabama can guide you to collections and strategies that you might have overlooked in your search.

One common genealogical resource is the U.S. Federal Census, but did you know that a state census can be helpful to you as well?
The Alabama Constitution of 1865 required the taking of a census of the inhabitants of the state in 1866. All heads of households were counted . . . The census taker had to classify the whole population into two classes: black and white (the black included all persons of color). Each class was then subdivided into male and female, according to age, so that the enumeration showed how many of each class were under ten, how many between ten and twenty, between twenty and thirty, and so forth. The Alabama 1866 Census is significant for African Americans in Alabama and may be the only place African American’s can be found before the next census in 1870.
So the answer to your brick wall may be on a state or local level. Or if you have an enslaved ancestor, finding information on that person could involve tracking the movements of the slaveholder and studying migration patterns. Military records can also be useful, since African Americans have played their part in American wars from the Revolution to the present day.

One chapter that really caught my attention was the one on the importance of oral history; this instantly calls to mind the slave interviews carried out by the Federal Writers’ Project in the 1930s. Collecting oral history—those “family stories”—is just as relevant now but can be full of pitfalls, and there are guidelines in this chapter for how to conduct an oral history interview.

Another very useful feature of Taylor’s book is a listing of resources held by various Alabama counties. The section for each county includes contact information for the probate judge offices, research support groups in the area, and types of records held such as deeds and wills, Orphan Court records, dower records, and probate court minutes.

Even though Researching African American Genealogy in Alabama is around ten years old, it is still an excellent guidebook. If you are interested in finding out more about African American genealogy research and would like to meet Ms. Taylor, don’t miss the Beyond the Basics of Genealogy class coming up at Birmingham Public Library. Frazine Taylor and Donna Cox Baker of Alabama Heritage magazine will present “The Beyond Kin Project: Making the Slave Connection” on Sunday, February 25, 2:30-4:00 p.m., in Central Library's Arrington Auditorium. This program promises to be a fascinating look at plantation genealogy research, so if you are interested, sign up to reserve your spot by calling 205-226-3665 or register through the BPL events calendar. Don’t miss out on this exciting new resource.

For further information:
Frazine Taylor on Facebook
Frazine Taylor on The Beyond Kin Project
Donna Cox Baker on The Beyond Kin Project
African American Research Sources at Alabama State University
Frazine Taylor at Alabama Bound 2009
Frazine Taylor at IGHR
Birmingham Public Library Tips for African-American Genealogical Research

Friday, February 16, 2018

Begin the Day: The Fifteenth Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Lecture – "The First White Flight: Industrial Pollution and Racial Segregation in Birmingham"

What: Begin the Day: The Fifteenth Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Lecture – "The First White Flight: Industrial Pollution and Racial Segregation in Birmingham"
When: Sunday, February 25, 3:00 p.m.
Where: Avondale Regional Branch Library
Details: Free and open to the public. Refreshments provided.

As part of the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day every year, the Birmingham Public Library’s Department of Archives and Manuscripts sponsors Begin the Day: The Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Lecture. Now in its fifteenth year, the King lecture has featured civil rights activists, scholars, children’s book authors, and community leaders discussing civil rights history and contemporary human rights issues including immigrant rights, voting rights, human trafficking, and Islamophobia.

For the 2018 King Lecture, Dr. Erin Mauldin of Samford University will explore environmental racism.

Discrimination over generations in urban planning, industrial development, and access to natural resources means that African Americans and other peoples of color disproportionately shoulder the burden of environmental risk in the U.S. Nowhere is this pattern of environmental injustice more starkly displayed than Birmingham, Alabama. During the 19th and 20th centuries, Birmingham's economy depended on heavy industry and loose environmental regulations. And as early as the 1890s, whites cut roads "over the mountain" to escape the city's industrial core, leaving African American families behind to live among higher levels of pollution, filth, disease, and industrial contamination. The white public came to associate African Americans with the dirt and pollution of many black neighborhoods, and this stigma encouraged continued disenfranchisement, racially segmented economies, and further environmental degradation. Historical environmental racism and the resulting "separate but unequal" access to clean air and water still affect Birmingham's citizens today.

Dr. Erin Mauldin is assistant professor in the Department of History at Samford University. A graduate of Samford, she holds a Ph.D. in U. S. Environmental History from Georgetown University. Her forthcoming book, Unredeemed Land: An Environmental History of the Civil War and Emancipation in the Cotton South, will be published in May 2018 by Oxford University Press.

For more information contact Jim Baggett at 205-226-3631 or jbaggett@bham.lib.al.us.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Free Computer Classes in March at Central Library

The March 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.

Opening Reception for Textures of Jazz Exhibit Scheduled for February 15 at Central Library

An  opening reception featuring live music will be held Thursday, February 15, from noon to 2:00 p.m., in the Central Library's Fourth Floor Gallery for Textures of Jazz, Threads of Change, the new art exhibit on display in the gallery through March 31, 2018.

The exhibit features 19 famous jazz artists including Birmingham's Erskine Hawkins done in needlepoint by artist Leanna Leithauser-Lesley, a graduate of Auburn University. Leithauser-Lesley gave a free workshop at the Central Library on Wednesday, and will give free needlepoint lessons again today from 11:00 a.m. until noon and 2:00-4:00 p.m. in the Central Library Atrium. Come meet this incredible artist at the reception and see her amazing artwork in person.

Soundtrack for a Revolution to Be Shown at Titusville Library During Black History Month

by Amanda Jenkins, Titusville Branch Library

Now is an excellent time to take advantage of the many Black History Month programs that are being offered at the Birmingham Public Library. On Monday, February 19, at 11:00 a.m., the Titusville Branch Library will hold a viewing of the documentary Soundtrack for a Revolution. This film studies the civil rights movement through the lens of the music that influenced it. Throughout the film, key civil rights leaders discuss their experiences and several musicians perform poignant musical pieces. Stop by and join us for an interesting and moving take on the correlation between popular culture and political movements.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Money Matters Workshop – Maximize Your Personal Wealth Scheduled for February 21 at Central Library

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 – Central Library, Youth Department, 2nd floor, Story Castle

To learn more about the workshop series as well as other personal finance resources available at BPL, contact Jim Murray of the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department by email at jmurray@bham.lib.al.us or by calling 205-226-3691.

Below is a listing of the Money Matters workshop series by month through May 2018. The workshops are held on the 3rd Wednesday of each month, with the exception of the one scheduled for December 2017, which will be held on the 2nd Wednesday.

2/21/2018 – Maximize Your Personal Wealth
3/21/2018 – Protect Yourself from Identity Theft
4/18/2018 – Understanding Taxes
5/16/2018 – Your Credit Report

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Birmingham's Ill-Fated Mardi Gras

Did you know Birmingham celebrated Mardi Gras in the 19th century with parades and grand masquerade balls? Check out photos from BPL's Archives Department and the article below.

The mention of Mardi Gras brings to mind ancient rituals and masked revelers in old cities like Mobile and New Orleans. In those places the pre-Lenten carnival has been celebrated in various forms since the early 1700s. But for a few years as the nineteenth century came to a close, the still young city of Birmingham staged its own carnival.

The Magic City’s first Mardi Gras was held March 8, 1886. Sponsored by the local German Society, the "festivities of the day included a mammoth and colorful parade and a grand masquerade ball." The parade of thirty floats snaked through downtown with the carnival king accompanied by the Birmingham police and fire departments and a brass band. The first float, sponsored by a Birmingham brewery, "represented the king of beer seated on a throne of velvet, drinking to the health of the crowd."

Though successful in its first outing, the Mardi Gras tradition was not revived for a decade. In 1896, Emil Lasser, owner of Birmingham's Cosmopolitan Hotel, and a group of associates founded the Birmingham Carnival Society to organize a new Mardi Gras that would attract tourists and their dollars. The king of Birmingham's new Mardi Gras would be called Rex Vulcan I. But while February may be conducive to outdoor revelry in New Orleans or Mobile, February in Birmingham is sometimes not. One participant in the 1896 Mardi Gras parade recalled that the "boughs of the trees were weighted down with snow and ice" and the Mardi Gras king "had to wear his overcoat over his handsome costume and the queen in low neck and short sleeve had to wear her furs to keep warm."

The cold weather did not keep the crowds away, and Birmingham's newspapers estimated that "30,000 to 40,000 people thronged the streets of the city on Mardi Gras Day." The parade featured elaborate floats (some built by a Mobile company well experienced with that’s city's Mardi Gras) depicting scenes from children's stories, mythology and history. The Birmingham Carnival Society's floats included children's characters Jack and Jill, Cinderella, and Humpty Dumpty. The Birmingham Athletic Club float depicted “Samson Destroying the Temple,” and the Schillinger Brewing Company offered “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” which one newspaper described as "realistic and worthy of all the commendation given." A ball was held that evening.

The carnival continued through the next two years, but bad weather again in 1899 signaled trouble for Mardi Gras in Birmingham. Three days before the parade, a blizzard left one foot of snow on the city. On Fat Tuesday, thermometers registered nine degrees below zero and the carnival was cancelled. One last parade, a nighttime event, was held in 1900, and the ball continued until 1901. But then it was over. One Birmingham resident of the time observed, "Every February when the Mardi Gras was held, the weather seemed to behave its very worst, and it was really for that reason the carnival committee called it off." Mardi Gras balls, the indoor events, continue to thrive in Birmingham, but the grand outdoor parades have been left to older cities in warmer climates.

By James L. Baggett

Police Mystery Set in London a 2017 Lambda Literary Award, Over the Rainbow Booklist Finalist

by Samuel Rumore, Springville Road Regional Branch Library

Bitter Legacy
Dal Maclean
One Block Empire, 2016
2017 Lambda Literary Award/ALA Over the Rainbow Booklist Finalist for Gay Mystery

I thoroughly enjoyed Dal Maclean’s debut novel, Bitter Legacy, an engaging police procedural set in London’s Metropolitan Police. It involves Detective Sergeant James Henderson, an up-and-coming detective on the fast track to become an inspector, in his first murder investigation of barrister Maria Curzon-Whyte. During the course of the investigation, James comes across a group of men who intrigue and tempt him to join their circle. One man, in particular, photographer Ben Morgan dares him to embrace a carefree, promiscuous lifestyle. In spite of his best efforts, the investigation balloons into a spate of cruelty and wickedness. As the body count rises and disturbing secrets are revealed, James finds his personal and professional lives threatened by a bitter legacy from the past.

Lambda Literary is the nation’s oldest and largest literary arts organization advancing LGBTQ literature. The 29th Annual Lambda ("Lammys") Literary Awards finalists were chosen from nearly 900 submissions and over 300 publishers.

The Over the Rainbow Book List is an expansion of the highly successful Rainbow Book List. Over the Rainbow Book List is created by a committee of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association.

Soul Food Revamped

by Selina Johnson, Wylam Branch Library

Chef Ama

Wylam Branch Library’s first program kickoff for African American History Month was a presentation by Chef Ama Shambulia on ways to make soul food dishes more nutritious. Chef Ama is a trained natural foods chef, organic gardener, and certified health coach. She is an educator and advocate for wellness as the healthy living programs director of the West End Community Gardens and the West End Community Café at Urban Ministries, Inc., a community-based non-profit in Birmingham, Alabama.

Chef Ama provided patrons with samples of delicious vegan soul food dishes that had everyone coming back for a second taste. Her black-eyed peas were seasoned sans animal fat or meat and my favorite dish was what she calls Mama Ama's Marinated Collard Green Salad. I never thought that I would enjoy eating raw collard greens but I was pleasantly surprised.

Preparing Mama Ama's Marinated Collard Green Salad

Chef Ama provided insight on some of the staple ingredients that she uses in her preparation of foods. She demonstrated how to properly cut greens and discussed how to select tender greens for cooking. She was very thorough in explaining from start to finish how she prepared the dishes that were served. We are so pleased that she facilitated the food session and shared her vegan creations. An all vegan diet may or may not be for you. However, we all can reap healthy benefits from exposing our bodies to healthier choices of foods.

Hands-on learning about how to select the the best greens

I spoke with Chef Ama before the food session. Read on to learn more about her.

When did you know that you wanted to be a chef?
My grandmother was an awesome cook and so I was inspired by her to learn to cook. I came to a crossroad in my life at 40 years old and decided to formalize my skills with training to become a chef.

Where were you trained and how difficult was your training?
I was trained in my grandmother’s kitchen and formally trained at The Culinary Institute of Virginia College. The training was not difficult because I loved the experience and the cooking environment.

Tell us a little about and West End Café and West End Garden?
I am the director of WE Café and WE Garden. This is our 10th growing season having young community horticulturists. We train them and pay them. We provide a service to the community by providing fresh produce that is sold at Princeton Hospital and Pepper Place Farmers Market. Some of the produce goes back to the Community Café to use to prepare our dishes.

What is your favorite kitchen equipment or gadget?
My favorite gadget is the chef knife because it is a foundation tool that will allow you to perform multiple tasks in cooking preparation. A skilled chef can be very creative with a chef knife.

What do you like to eat when you’re at home?
I know this may seem odd but I don’t cook much at home. I am cooking for others so often that I often don’t take the time to cook for myself. Sundays are the days that I will take the time and prepare a family meal. Lately, these meals have had a “green theme”: green juices, smoothies, salads…we even have salads for breakfast. Sundays are the healthiest days of the week for our meals.

What are your favorite cookbooks?
My favorite cookbook is Afro-Vegan by Bryant Terry. He has several others that are very good.

Visit the Birmingham Public Library website to check out Bryant Terry’s cookbooks and to find out about more of the Birmingham Public Library’s empowering programs and Black History Month events.

Cookbooks by Bryant Terry
Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean and Southern Flavors
The Inspired Vegan: Seasonal Ingredients, Creative Recipes, Mouthwatering Menus
Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African American Cuisine

Sunday, February 11, 2018

PyeongChang 2018

PyeongChang 2018

After four long years, athletes from around the world have gathered to compete on the biggest stage in winter sports. The world's best skiers, snowboarders, hockey players, bobsledders, lugers, figure skaters, speed skaters, and other winter athletes have converged on South Korea to put all their years of training to the test in hopes of winning a gold medal. Although the Summer Olympics are my favorite, I really enjoy watching the Winter Olympics because of the speed and skill involved in so many of the events. Watching someone race downhill at 75 MPH while absorbing all the bumps and icy patches of a mountain slope is really exciting and impressive. I can't help but be drawn to the talent of these outstanding athletes.

If you love the Winter Olympics, the library has a number of materials that you may like to check out to enjoy while watching the competition in South Korea. In addition, there is a subject guide on the Olympic Games which includes a list of books, websites, and DVDs that you may also find interesting. Here is a selection of titles that we have available at the library. The descriptions are from the publishers. Go TEAM USA!!!

Strong is the New Beautiful / Lindsey Vonn
Olympic Alpine skier Lindsey Vonn wants women to stop thinking about "losing weight fast," and instead focus on loving their bodies for what they are and what they can do. Lindsey is a small-town Minnesota girl at heart turned world-champion skier, but that didn't come without hard work. In Strong Is the New Beautiful, Lindsey lays out the never-before-seen training routines and her overall philosophy that have helped her become the best female skier in the world--tailored for women of all shapes and sizes. Lindsey backs up her fitness program with advice on what to eat and how to work out, and kicks readers into high-gear, helping bolster their self-confidence and build a better body image, with the tips and tricks she's learned as a pro.

Speed Kings: The 1932 Winter Olympics and the Fastest Men in the World / Andy Bull
In the 1930s, as the world hurtled toward war, speed was all the rage. Bobsledding, the fastest and most thrilling way to travel on land, had become a sensation. Exotic, exciting, and brutally dangerous, it was the must-see event of the 1932 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, the first Winter Games on American soil. Bobsledding required exceptional skill and extraordinary courage qualities the American team had in abundance.  There was Jay O Brien, the high-society playboy; Tippy Grey, a scandal-prone Hollywood has-been; Eddie Eagan, world champion heavyweight boxer and Rhodes Scholar; and the charismatic Billy Fiske, the true heart of the team, despite being barely out of his teens. In the thick of the Great Depression, the nation was gripped by the story of these four men, their battle against jealous locals, treacherous U.S. officials, and the very same German athletes they would be fighting against in the war only a few short years later.

The Fall Line: America's Rise to Ski Racing's Summit / Nathaniel Vinton
Harnessing nature's most powerful forces, elite downhillers descend icy, rugged slopes at speeds cresting 90 miles per hour. For decades, American skiers struggled to match their European counterparts, and until this century the US Ski Team could not claim a lasting foothold on the roof of the Alps, where the sport's legends are born.  Then came a fledgling class of American racers that disrupted the Alpine racing world order. Led by Bode Miller and Lindsey Vonn, Julia Mancuso and Ted Ligety, this band of iconoclasts made a place for their country on some of the world's most prestigious race courses. Even as new technology amplified the sport's inherent danger, the US Ski Team learned how to win, and they changed downhill racing forever.  Drawing on more than a decade of research and candid interviews with some of the sport's most elusive figures, award-winning journalist Nathaniel Vinton reveals the untold story of how skiers like Vonn and Miller, and their peers and rivals, fought for supremacy at the Olympic Winter Games.

The Crash Reel (DVD)
The epic rivalry between half-pipe legends Kevin Pearce and Shaun White is documented in this exhilarating ride into the world of extreme snowboarding. With both practicing more and more breathtaking and dangerous tricks leading up to the Vancouver Winter Olympics, everything suddenly changes for Kevin when a horrific crash leaves him fighting for his life. When he recovers, all he wants to do is get on his snowboard again, even though medics and family fear it could kill him.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Improve Your Job Search Skills at the Birmingham Public Library with Vocational Readiness Workshops

What: Vocational Readiness workshops
When: Monday, February 12 and 26, 2018
Time: 12:00-2:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Training 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 contemplating a career change. If you fall into any of these categories, then you should plan to attend the Birmingham Public Library’s Vocational Readiness Workshops.

Two Vocational Readiness workshops will be held at the Central Library in February 2018. Each of the workshops will cover different parts of the job searching process, but participants are encouraged to attend both because the second workshop builds on the content presented in the first. Here are the descriptions of the workshops:

Monday February 12, 2018 – Vocational Introduction Readiness Workshop/Resume Builder
  • Vocational Introduction Readiness Workshop provides an individual assessment of personal and professional goals, aspirations, and skills to help determine your best job fit.
  • Resume Builder is designed to assist individuals with creating an effective resume that will function as a powerful tool in achieving gainful employment.

Monday February 26, 2018 – New Age Online Application Process/Interview Bootcamp
  • New Age Online Application Process offers tips and suggestions to guide all job seekers in successfully completing online employment applications.
  • Interview Bootcamp teaches techniques to help you emphasize your skills, overcome objections, and build rapport with your job interviewer.

The workshops presenter is Tina Thornton. Tina is a professional counselor and founder of Gem Kreations, a nonprofit organization committed to assisting those who have experienced adverse circumstances realize their full personal and professional potential.

For more information about the workshops, please contact Jim Murray of the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department by email at jmurray@bham.lib.al.us or by calling 205-226-3691.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Textures of Jazz, Threads of Change Exhibit at Central Library, February 6-March 31, 2018

What: Textures of Jazz, Threads of Change art exhibit
When: February 6-March 31, 2018, during library hours
Where: Central Library
Details: The exhibit will feature two workshops by the artist on February 14 and 15 between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., with live music in Central Library’s Atrium. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, February 15, noon to 2:00 p.m., in the Fourth Floor Gallery. There will be music and light refreshments.

A new art exhibit, Textures of Jazz: Threads of Change, by Leanna Leithauser-Lesley, will debut at the Central Library on Tuesday, February 6, and run through March 31, 2018.

Textures of Jazz, Threads of Change is a 21-piece jazz portrait exhibit by Birmingham artist Leanna Leithauser-Lesley in honor of Black History Month. Her collection of jazz needlepoint portraits are accompanied by bios explaining the role each musician played in jazz history, American history, and civil rights history.

Leithauser-Lesley received a BA in art education from Auburn University. Though she has done art in many mediums throughout her career, her passion as an avid needle pointer and music lover led her to put together the Textures of Jazz exhibit. Her exhibit has appeared across the Southeast, including Atlanta and at the Hoover Public Library in 2017. Read more about her at the links below:


Monday, February 05, 2018

Jazz in the South: Perspectives and Destinations

What: Jazz in the South: Perspectives and Destinations
When: Monday, February 12, 6:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Arrington Auditorium. Free and open to the public.

In salute to Black History Month, the Central Library will present a jazz program on February 12, 6:00 p.m., at the Central Library. Join us for a discussion of the origins of jazz and a selection of brief profiles of Alabama jazz greats. The lively presentation will include visuals and sound. The Destinations portion of the program will point guests to opportunities to visit jazz venues throughout the Southeast. Related materials will be made available for browsing and checkout. Come join us and help “strike up the band!”

For more information contact David Blake at 205-226-3686.

Friday, February 02, 2018

BPL Spinners Club Offers Opportunity to Discover and Discuss Genres of Music

BPL Spinners Club is a music-based program where participants listen to pre-selected music recordings and then meet to discuss them. A different genre of music will be highlighted monthly. The first meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 6, 6:00 p.m., in the Story Castle at the Central Library. No registration required and the minimum age limit is 18. Discussions will be moderated due to time limitations. Patrons may bring a light snack and a nonalcoholic beverage. Check the BPL calendar of events for upcoming dates.

For more information call Russell Lee in the Arts, Literature, and Sports Department at 205-226-3673.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Book Review: The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit

by Richard Grooms, Fiction Department, Central Library

The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit
Michael Finkel

In 1986 Christopher Knight dropped out of American society. He lived alone in the Maine woods for twenty-seven years. During this time he only said one word to anybody. Why would anyone do this? How did he cope? How do we know about him? Michael Finkel answers these questions and many more in this rare account.

We don’t know how many hermits there are in America. They usually don’t wish to be found. The only reason we know about Christopher Knight is that he was found. He was arrested. The reason is because he stole. Though Knight was in many ways stupendously self-sufficient, he survived partly through stealing supplies. What’s astonishing is that he thieved for decades without being caught. This part of the book is riveting and wholly absorbing. True crime followers will be in for a treat. Though he lived in a virtually impenetrable forest area, he was quite close to a camp resort. Knight was probably as perfect a thief as you could imagine. He committed over a thousand robberies and never got caught. Local law enforcement personnel pursued him for much of their careers, to no avail. What is extraordinary is that Michael Finkel has been able to pry loose this story from the mouth of one of the most notoriously unsocial persons you’ll ever encounter. Knight, who wanted to live his life anonymously, ended up becoming the best-known person in Maine. It’s one of the many rich ironies in the book.

After Knight had been in the forest a long time, Finkel says that the “dividing line between [Knight] and the forest…seemed to dissolve. His isolation felt more like a communion.” Knight said, “My desires dropped away. I didn’t long for anything. To put it romantically, I was completely free.” Well, yes and no. He achieved the mystical goal of spiritual hermits through the ages, but he couldn’t have had the luxury of reflection without all the stolen goods. He felt terrible guilt every time he robbed. This irony is one of the main things that absorbs the reader. You so badly want to admire Knight, but you can’t. It’s a very satisfying read because it’s such a workout for your divided emotions.

SCORE Steps to Starting Your Business Seminar Returns to Birmingham Public Library in 2018

What: Steps to Starting Your Business
When: 3rd Tuesday of each month, February-June 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 and the City of Birmingham’s Office of Economic Development, will again be hosting the monthly seminar Steps to Starting Your Business, in 2018. The seminar is scheduled to be held on the following Tuesdays 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: February 20, March 20, April 17, May 15, June 19.

Each seminar will cover the same topics, but those who are interested are welcome to attend more than one day. Topics covered 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 Economic Development Office at Valencia.Fisher@birminghamal.gov or 205-254-2799.

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

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

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