Showing posts from March, 2018

Welcome Home, Miss Iwate!

Miss Iwate, Birmingham Public Library's Japanese Friendship Doll, returned on March 26, 2018, from a 4-month 90th birthday celebration tour in Japan. She was part of an exhibition across the Iwate Prefecture in Japan from Dec. 5, 2017 to March 22, 2018 with other dolls as part of a traveling tour.

Read more about Miss Iwate and her journey here.

Thank you to everyone in the Iwate Prefecture who took such good care of her. We're so glad she had a grand time and we're happy to have her back home in Birmingham.

Sensory Storytimes at Springville Road Library

by Mollie McFarland, Springville Road Regional Branch Library

We love storytime here at the Springville Road Library. It’s one of our favorite times! We love the songs, crafts, stories, and dancing. But we wanted to shake things up and offer a new experience to our patrons. We especially want to reach out to those on the autism spectrum who may want a change from the classic storytime format. We have begun offering sensory storytimes as a way to include everyone!

Sensory storytimes differ from regular storytimes in that we offer less sitting and more moving, a flexible format, and we focus on a hands-on playtime after the stories. Children are encouraged to interact with different manipulatives every week. Sometimes we’re playing in sand or bubbles or paint or slime. There is something for everyone.

This is a great opportunity for children of all different developmental backgrounds to learn and grow together at the library. Our storytimes are held on Wednesday mornings at 10:00. Plea…

Birmingham Public Library Joins Urban Libraries Council

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) System, with 19 locations and one of the largest urban libraries in the Southeast, is now a member of the Urban Libraries Council (ULC).

Based in Washington, D.C., and founded in 1971, the Urban Libraries Council is one of the premier membership associations of North America's leading public library systems. With the help of its 151 members in the United States and Canada, ULC initiatives strategically advance the value that 21st century libraries provide communities in critical areas such as education/lifelong learning, workforce and economic development, public safety, health and wellness, and environmental sustainability.

The Birmingham Public Library is the first in Alabama to join the ULC, according to its website. BPL’s membership in the Urban Libraries Council was spearheaded by Executive Director Floyd Council, who began leading the city system in November 2017 after a nationwide search spearheaded by the BPL Board of Trustees.

James …

Woodfin Transition Education Co-Chair Stresses Partnering Library Resources to Help Birmingham Schools

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin’s transition team co-chair of Education and Workforce Development urged the City of Birmingham to examine partnerships between the city’s 19 libraries and the Birmingham City School System.

"The Birmingham Public Library has a tremendous amount of resources that can be used toward wrap-around services in conjunction with the Birmingham City Schools,” said Fred McCallum, a retired former CEO of AT&T in Birmingham, during his remarks at Mayor Woodfin’s First 100 Days event at the Alabama Theatre on Thursday, March 16.

Woodfin, who served as president of the Birmingham Board of Education prior to being elected mayor, also pledged the city’s support of city schools while addressing Birmingham City Schools Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring, who co-chaired the education committee.

The Woodfin Way, the mayor’s transition report, contained a series of recommendations for progress in Birmingham based on public input from citizens and a series of meeting…

Screening for Uncommon Grace: The Life of Flannery O'Connor Scheduled for March 24 at Central Library

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…

The Lion King Musical Ticket Giveaway at the Birmingham Public Library

What:The Lion King musical ticket giveaway
Where: All Birmingham Public Library locations
When: Drawing will be conducted on March 26 at 5:00 p.m.; musical is scheduled for March 29 at 7:30 p.m. at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex Concert Hall
Details: One entry allowed per person per day; one winner per family. Winners will have 24 hours to pick up tickets or tickets will be placed back into the drawing. Birmingham Public Library employees are not eligible to participate.

Birmingham Public Library is partnering with Disney's hit Broadway musical The Lion King, playing at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex Concert Hall until April 1. Patrons may visit any of the library's 19 locations, check out library materials or attend a library program, and register for a chance to win a pair of tickets to the award-winning musical scheduled for March 29 at 7:30 p.m.

New Age Online Application Process/Interview Bootcamp Workshop Scheduled for March 26 at Central Library

What: New Age Online Application Process/Interview Bootcamp
When: Monday, March 26, 2018
Time: 1:00-2:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Regional Library Computer Center, 4th floor

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 workshop.

Monday March 26, 2018 – New Age Online Application Process/…

Empowerment through Reading

by Alisha Johnson, Ensley Branch Library

During this time of major social and political unrest, women have once again been thrust into the limelight as a result of the “Me Too” and “Time’s Up” movements. Many women all over the world have been victims of gender discrimination, racial discrimination, and sexual harassment.

In an effort to collectively combat these injustices, women have banned together to support and encourage one another regardless of age, race, social status, and sexual orientation. Once again women are making tremendous strides to pave the way for those young women coming along after us. We are encouraging one another to speak out about these wrongs while raising our voices louder than ever before.

Check out some of these amazing women authors and their work at your local library:
Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture—and What We Can Do About It by Kat Harding
Speaking Truth to Power by Anita Hill

Recommended rea…

BPL Mock Trial Program Case Presentation Scheduled for March 22 at Jefferson County Courthouse

Since January 25, nearly 20 teens who love to argue or geek out on justice have gathered at the Central Library, receiving tips from professional lawyers on how to present a legal case.

The students, participants in the Birmingham Public Library's 2018 Mock Trial Program, have learned how to conduct interviews on the witness stand, both their own and opposing witnesses. They have practiced closing arguments pivotal for winning a case. From 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 15, the teens will put the skills learned since the program began in late January to the test as they do a practice run.

The students, including some who plan to pursue legal careers after graduating, will conduct their mock trial in a courtroom inside the Jefferson County Courthouse across the street from the Central Library from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 22, 2018. At the conclusion of the mock trial, a jury will deliberate and return with a verdict.

The Mock Trial Program is a partnership betwe…

Money Matters Workshop – Protect Yourself from Identity Theft Scheduled for March 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 Public Library Genealogy Workshops Schedule for March, April, May 2018

In addition to taking the Introduction to Genealogy workshop on the road to Adamsville Public Library on March 22, the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) has added a class on how to use the Library Edition database, a workshop on how to do research using newspapers, plus classes on how to understand DNA ethnicity test results and tips on using military records in family research.

These workshops are free of charge, but registration is requested. To register, contact the Southern History Department of the Birmingham Public Library at 205-226-3665 or register online through the BPL events calendar. For more information about BPL’s Southern History Department, visit their web page and like them on Facebook.

The workshops are as follows: Library Edition, Monday, March 19, 2:15-3:15 p.m., Central Library, Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC)
Participants will be introduced to the Library Edition database. Learn the ins and outs of this database and h…

Teens Engineer BHM Workshops Continue at Birmingham Public Library through May

At the Five Points West Regional Branch Library on March 6, young teens listened intently as mentors from the UAB School of Engineering taught them computer coding and other engineering skills.

The teens are participating in the Birmingham Public Library’s popular Teens Engineer BHM program, which is offering free workshops at 11 locations across the City of Birmingham through May 3, 2018. Read more at this link:

Teens Engineer BHM focuses on middle and high school students with an interest in math and science. The program was formed as the result of BPL’s partnership with the UAB School of Engineering, spearheaded by Lance Simpson of the Central Library. BPL was awarded a $50,000 UAB Benevolent Fund grant in 2016, which helped purchase computers and other supplies necessary for the success of the program. In 2017 BPL received a $95,000 two-year grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingh…

Steps to Starting Your Business Seminar Scheduled for March 20 at Central Library

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: 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 co…

Locating "Lost" Female Ancestors

by Mary Beth Newbill, Southern History Department, Central Library

Sometimes our female ancestors can be frustratingly difficult to document. Many times genealogists hit the infamous "brick wall" because they can't locate a woman's maiden name or even her first name if she is listed in records with her husband's name (ex. Mrs. John Smith). Since March is Women's History Month, I'd like to point out some resources that, along with a little diligence and creativity, can help identify those elusive female ancestors.

The traditional sources are always a good place to start. Even a very familiar record can yield new information if you start to look at it differently. We all know that death certificates are a great place to find a person's date and cause of death. But if you start truly mining the record, you can glean other pieces of information. In the example below, the death certificate of Carrie Spraul not only gives me her father's name and, thus,…

March Madness 2018

The selection committee has made its decisions.The brackets are set and it’s tourney time.Sixty-eight teams will become four and those FINAL FOUR teams will compete for the ultimate prize in college basketball.Virginia is the overall number one seed in the NCAA Tournament.They finished the regular season with a 31-2 record, 17-1 in the ACC.The ACC leads all other conferences with nine teams competing in the NCAA Tournament.Villanova, Xavier, and Kansas are the other three number one seeds.
The First Four takes place in Dayton March 13-14.Eight teams compete to secure their spot in the NCAA Tournament.The First Round tips off March 15-16. This field of 64 teams will battle for two weeks on their quest to reach the Final Four.The Final Four tips off March 31st in San Antonio and the National Championship game is April 2nd.This tournament will be full of upsets, close games, overtime battles, amazing shots at the buzzer and all the other things that make college basketball exciting.Get …

Inglenook Branch Library Hosting Women of Inglenook Appreciation Program March 16

On Friday, March 16, at 6:30 p.m., the Inglenook Branch Library is hosting an appreciation program for women highlighting the important role the women (“Hidden Figures”) of Inglenook play in the community.

An Expression of Appreciation for the Women of the Inglenook Community is part of the Inglenook Library’s March observance of National Women’s History Month. Friday’s celebration will include a showing of the hit movie Hidden Figures, about African American women who were trailblazers at NASA during the early 1960s space program.

It continues a quarterly event that Branch Manager Karnecia Williams began a year ago, providing meals and speakers on various topics. Williams said the quarterly gatherings are designed to “pay tribute to the hardworking women of Inglenook who juggle raising families, jobs, paying bills, and performing other duties that leave many feeling depleted and exhausted.”

Inglenook’s Appreciation for Women programs were a 2017 recipient of the BPL Board of Tru…

State Representative Rolanda Hollis Makes $500 Donation to Springville Road Regional Branch Library

Alabama State Representative Rolanda Hollis has given a $500 donation to the Springville Road Regional Branch Library to help it provide services for patrons residing in the eastern Birmingham area she represents, District 58.

Hollis presented the $500 check on March 5 at the Springville Road Library to Sandi Lee, deputy director of the Birmingham Public Library (BPL), and Yolanda Hardy, BPL regional manager.

“This library branch serves many of her students and she is honored to be donating these funds,” said Kimberly Hayes, public assistant for Hollis, in a statement.

Lee gave thanks for Hollis's donation on behalf of BPL. The Birmingham Public Library is very appreciative of Representative Hollis's support not only through funding, but also her boundless enthusiasm for library services and her commitment to the community,” Lee said.

In 2017 Birmingham City Councilor Lashunda Scales of District 1 gave the Springville Road Library a $25,000 donation that helped the library bu…

BPL Executive Director Highlights First 100 Days Leading 19-Library Birmingham System

Birmingham Public Library (BPL) Executive Director Floyd Council has released a comprehensive report highlighting accomplishments achieved during his first 100 days leading the 19-library system. Council became executive director on November 13, 2017, when the BPL Board of Trustees hired him after a nationwide search.

Council's report focuses on action areas and priorities he put in place to help sustain the vision, mission, and core values of BPL. See audio link to YouTube video by Council discussing progress at BPL so far here:

"I have been deeply inspired and motivated by our honorable Mayor Randall Woodfin and his leadership team as we put our library patrons first in our service to the citizens of Birmingham via sound servant leadership," Council said.

Among the highlights of Council's first 100 days as executive director at BPL:

Actively responded to all Library Board tasks, research projects, and directives.Met with and presen…

Vanessa Davis Griggs Kicks Off Local Author Workshops Series March 17 at Five Points West Library

On March 17 at the Five Points West Regional Branch Library, bestselling Birmingham author Vanessa Davis Griggs is kicking off the Birmingham Public Library’s new Local Author Workshops series. The free workshops aim to help area authors learn how to write and market their books.

Schedule of workshops:

March 17, 2018, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Five Points West Regional Library, "The smART of Writing, Publishing, and Marketing" with speaker Vanessa Davis Griggs
The author of 18 published novels, Vanessa Davis Griggs will share her vast knowledge of writing (fiction & nonfiction), query letters, proposals, agents, publishers, and getting published. In addition, people will learn about traditional publishing, self-publishing, e-publishing, marketing, and being careful not to get scammed in any of this.

May 19, 2018, 10:00-11:00 a.m., Avondale Regional Branch Library, “Setting the Scene” with speaker Jim Baggett
Join BPL archivist Jim Baggett to learn about historic photos, map…

Birmingham’s Seven Neighborhood Libraries Resume Daylight Saving Time Operating Hours March 12

All seven of the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) System’s neighborhood libraries are ending their winter hours and resuming a normal operating schedule beginning Monday, March 12, 2018. The change comes as daylight saving time resumes on Sunday, March 11. BPL’s neighborhood libraries are East Ensley, Ensley, Inglenook, North Avondale, Powderly, Woodlawn, and Wylam.

The hours of operation will be as follows in the seven neighborhood libraries:
Mondays and Tuesdays, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.; and 1:00-6:00 p.m.Wednesdays, 1:00-6:00 p.m.Thursdays and Fridays, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.; and 1:00-6:00 p.m.Closed on Saturdays and Sundays The neighborhood libraries will maintain this operating schedule until clocks fall back in the fall of 2018. Operating hours for all other libraries within the Birmingham system will not change. For a complete list of hours for all locations visit

Book Review: The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography from the Revolution to the First World War

by David Blake, Fiction Department, Central Library

The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography from the Revolution to the First World War
Graham Robb

Graham Robb is yet another romantic soul who swoons as he encounters traces of the lost historical worlds of France. For most of French history, as described in Robb’s Discovery of France, only a small percentage of the people who lived within the current borders of France had any idea of France. As late as the First World War, less than half of French soldiers spoke French, or had heard of Charlemagne, Joan of Arc, or Napoleon.

The France that Robb describes, outside of Paris and away from the rich river basins, was that of more than a thousand mostly self-governing “pays” or “countries,” which would have different languages, customs, economies, and systems of measurement. They even waged war on one another. The size of a pays was often determined by the loudness of church bells—that is, how far they could be heard. The Catholic Chu…

Yes, Libraries Do Make a Difference

by Maya Jones, West End Branch Library

Oftentimes, like many employees in occupations that are based on customer service and have a “helping” element involved, I wonder if the library branch I work in is really making a difference in people’s lives. Many times you don’t realize the help your organization has provided until someone says something complimentary, or you just have an “Aha!” moment and realize that a patron who has been coming in the library for several years has an interesting story to tell.

I want to introduce Teresa Moore. She is 38 years old and a single mother of four children, three boys and a girl. Teresa has been coming to the West End Branch Library for more than two years to use the public computers. She uses the computers because she is attending an online bachelor’s degree program at Grantham University in business administration. She has less than a year before she will be finished with her degree. When she comes into the library, I always ask how classe…

Book Review: This Boy’s Life: A Memoir

by Richard Grooms, Fiction Department, Central Library

This Boy’s Life: A Memoir
Tobias Wolff

If you’ve been following my blog entries, you know I’ve praised Mary Karr’s memoir trilogy (The Liar’s Club, Cherry, Lit). In one of her books, Karr lists what she thinks are the best memoirs of all time. On that list was This Boy’s Life, a book I’d seen many times in used bookstores. I’ve been on a memoir kick for many years now. This book is something of a minor classic. Why not give it a try? It seemed like something I’d like and I did.

Before I say anything else, I need to mention that Tobias Wolff was born in Birmingham, but he didn’t grow up here and this book doesn’t mention our town. This didn’t have anything to do with my choosing to read the book; in fact, I didn’t know about the Birmingham connection until I happened to discover it after I was well into the book. But for those who care about such things—hey, there’s a reason to read it.

Life in the fifties and early sixties wasn’t e…

Whether You Are Looking for a Job or Just Looking to Move Your Career Forward, BPL’s Vocational Readiness Workshops Can Help

What: Vocational Readiness workshops
When: Monday, March 12, 2018, and Monday, March 26, 2018
Time: 1:00-2:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Regional Library Computer Center, 4th floor
Details: There 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 con…

From Page to Stage: School House Rock Live! - A Reader’s 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: School House Rock Live! – A Readers’ Theater Workshop for Children.

In anticipation of the upcoming BCT performance of School House Rock Live!, 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 School House Rock Live! production in April and May 2018.

The Birmingham Children’s Theatre celebrates the Emmy Award-winning 1970s Saturday morning cartoon series that taught history, grammar, math, and more through clever, tuneful songs. Teacher Tom learns how to win his students over with imagination and mus…