Showing posts from February, 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 countrys…

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…

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

For more information on Bards & Brews, vi…

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 Centra…

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 Streetsby 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]:…

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 a…

Teens Engineer BHM March-May Workshop Dates Available

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, …

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 Prod…

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 . . .…

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, an…

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.

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 Mur…

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, d…

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 …

Soul Food Revamped

by Selina Johnson, Wylam Branch Library

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.

Chef Ama provided insight on some of the staple ingredients that she uses in her preparation of foods.…

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, …

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 f…

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 Aubur…

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.

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.

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 a…

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 …