Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Welcome Home, Miss Iwate!

BPL Executive Director Floyd Council and Masaru Aoki of Japan’s YoshitokuDoll Company
welcome Miss Iwate back home
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.

An exhibit poster featuring Miss Iwate and her fellow Friendship

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. Please call us at 226-4085 if you’d like to know more information.

Scenes from Springville Road Regional Library's storytimes

Friday, March 23, 2018

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 Sullivan, president of the BPL Board of Trustees, said the Birmingham Public Library will benefit from the connections and resources provided by being a ULC member.

"Strategic partnerships allow us to teach and learn from one another,” Sullivan said. “If we as a board are serious about ensuring our library system continues to add value to our community, then being active participants  with organizations like the Urban Libraries Council is vital for us and the city of Birmingham."

The Birmingham Public Library is joining public library systems across North America in a movement to better surrounding communities, said Urban Libraries Council President and CEO Susan Benton.

“We welcome Birmingham Public Library as the newest member of the Urban Libraries Council, a network of the most innovative and forward-thinking libraries,” Benton said. “The Birmingham Public Library will now have a more powerful voice at a critical time."

As thought leaders and change agents, ULC libraries regularly receive accolades at the national, regional, and local levels. While ULC libraries primarily represent urban and suburban settings, lessons from their work are widely adapted by libraries of all sizes, including those in rural settings.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

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

BPL Executive Director Floyd Council
and Mayor Randall Woodfin
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 meetings with members of the transition team. The Education Committee section said the relationship between the mayor’s office and city schools in the past had been weak, but added there are plenty of opportunities for support and collaboration between the city and Birmingham public schools.

Floyd Council, executive director of the Birmingham Public Library, said the evening featuring the transition team reports “was historic.” He commended the Woodfin transition team, Mayor Woodfin, and Dr. Lisa Herring for amazing leadership.

“I expected it, but when Mayor Woodfin announced that he and Dr. Lisa Herring would formalize an official partnership between the City of Birmingham and the Birmingham City Schools, I almost wanted to fly out of my seat,” Council said. “This will mean that the Birmingham Public Library and all other city departments can formally work together toward putting our children first via sound wrap-around services toward impactful education and workforce development.”

Council said the Birmingham Public Library will be a part of many impactful developments stemming from the city’s multifaceted planning and community engagement effort to improve education and spark workforce development.

“As executive director, my team and I stand ready to partner, support, and, most importantly, serve our community via holistic and eclectic collaboration, as charged by our Library Board of Trustees,” Council said.

Council said BPL has resources to assist Birmingham City Schools including 19 locations across the city, a world class Linn-Henley Research Library collection, a YOUMedia designated Create 205 Innovation Lab, and a progressive digital library collection.

Monday, March 19, 2018

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 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

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/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 workshop 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 workshop, 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.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

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 reading list of girl-empowering books for ages birth to teen compiled by A Might Girl.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

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

Students participating in the spring 2018 Mock Trial Program take notes to prepare for the
upcoming March 22 mock trial at the 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.

Student 2017 Mock Trial Program participants with Lance Simpson (left) and Federal
Public Defender Glennon Threatt (2nd from left) on the day of the mock trial

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.

Coordinated by BPL’s Lance Simpson, the program is designed to introduce students from grades 6 to 12 in metro Birmingham to the critical thinking and advocacy skills utilized in courtroom trials. During preparation each week, students learned to play the roles of a judge, defense lawyers, prosecutors, and witnesses.

Read more about the Mock Trial Program on the BPL blog. See photos from previous Mock Trial Programs at BPL Flickr.

For more information about the BPL Mock Trial Program, contact Simpson at 205-226-3671 or email him at lmsimpson@bham.lib.al.us.

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 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.

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

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

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 Ancestry.com 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:
Ancestry.com Library Edition, Monday, March 19, 2:15-3:15 p.m., Central Library, Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC)
Participants will be introduced to the Ancestry.com Library Edition database. Learn the ins and outs of this database and how to search like a librarian in order to locate your ancestors.

Introduction to Genealogy, Thursday, March 22, 10:00 a.m., Adamsville Public Library
Want to learn how to do genealogical research? Come to this introductory class that will help get you started on your genealogical journey.

Nosing Around in Newspapers, Sunday, March 25, 2:30 p.m., Central Library, RLCC
Newspapers can be a genealogist’s best friend found with the wealth of information found within their pages. They can also be a frustrating source. Learn how to locate the newspapers you need and how to efficiently search them to discover everything from an obituary to a scandalous news story involving your ancestor.

Understanding DNA Ethnicity Test Results, Sunday, April 15, 2:30 p.m., Central Library,  Arrington Auditorium
Discover how DNA testing companies determine ethnicity percentages and what these estimates mean in terms of your genealogy.

“Johnny Has Gone For a Soldier”: Military Records in Family History Research, Sunday, May 20, 2:30 p.m., Central Library, Arrington Auditorium
Did one of your ancestors go to war? Explore the major repositories and databases for military records and discover how they can contribute vital information for your family history research.

Teens Engineer BHM Workshops Continue at Birmingham Public Library through May

Mentor and teens at the Five Points West Library

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: http://bplolinenews.blogspot.com/2018/02/teens-engineer-bhm-march-may-workshop.html.

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 Birmingham to expand the engineering program to other libraries across the City of Birmingham.

Here is the remaining schedule of Teens Engineer BHM workshops by library location:

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

More spring/summer dates will be added later, so check the BPL events calendar at http://www.bplonline.org/calendar/ for updates. Read more about the engineering workshops and other exciting programs such as the Teen Mock Trial experience and Spoken Word Poetry Camp BPL offers for teens at this link: https://bplolinenews.blogspot.com/2017/08/partnership-with-bpl-teen-engineer-bhm.html.

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 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.

Monday, March 12, 2018

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, Carrie Spraul's maiden name, it also gives me her mother's maiden name. With this information, I can continue my research on both Carrie Spraul's maternal and paternal lines.

Census records are another great example of a familiar source that can give us clues to our female ancestors. Finding a multi-generational household in which the occupants have different surnames could mean you have found members of the wife's family.

Often it's not just a woman's last name that can't be found, it's her first name as well. Upon marriage many women cease to be referred to by their first names and are only addressed by their husband's name. The marriage license is the first place to look for the wife's full name. However, if you have access to city directories, they can also be a great place to locate the given name of someone's spouse. The example below shows a 1905 Birmingham city directory that lists the name of the wife in parenthesis after her husband's name:

Since the records we often use for genealogical research were made by and for men, locating a lost female ancestor takes time and persistence. However, by engaging in careful research you will be well on your way to making sure they do not stay lost.

For additional information on researching the women in your family, follow the links below:
8 Records that May Reveal Your Female Ancestor
When Saying "I Do" Meant Losing Your U.S. Citizenship
3 Ways to Unravel the Mysteries of Women in Your Family Tree
The Hidden Half of the Family: A Sourcebook for Women's Genealogy
A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your Female Ancestors

March Madness 2018

NCAA March Madness

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 your brackets ready and enjoy the tournament.  My bracket is already busted and it hasn’t even started yet.  

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 Trustee’s Innovative & Cool Award which helps fund library activities that benefit the community.

Inglenook Library is hosting three Women’s History Month programs in March. On March 5, Girls of Promise with Purpose, a monthly girls mentoring group led by Elvira Davis, held a program called “Spring into Action” in which Davis taught the young ladies how their actions can impact their lives.

On Wednesday, March 21, at 3:30 p.m., the Readers Are Leaders Book Club will celebrate Women’s History Month. The youth club will read and discuss the lives of women who have impacted the world.

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

L-R: Yolanda Hardy, Rolanda Hollis, Sandi Lee

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 buy furniture and other items to better serve patrons.

Friday, March 09, 2018

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

Mayor Randall Woodfin and Birmingham Public Library Executive Director Floyd Council

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: https://youtu.be/7n9znG6Zy1Q?t=8

"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 presented to all BPL Public Service Managers.
  • Conducted substantial executive review of business and financial operations.
  • Conducted substantial executive review of public service management.
  • Established a Technology Committee to implement strategic plan goals.
  • Accomplished impactful community and media engagement.
  • Hosted an "A list" of traditional community partners and established new partnerships.
  • Partnered with the Birmingham City School System for interactive service and support of dual strategic plans.
  • "Rightsized" BPL's 2017/2018 budget.
  • Assessed all 19 library facilities prior to a 2019 budget review by the City of Birmingham.
  • Produced the fiscal 2016-2017 BPL Annual Report.
  • Prepared the BPL fiscal year 2019 budget proposal with BPL board approval.
  • Targeted and started project management on new impactful grant opportunities.
  • Empowered Public Service Management Leadership with a new meeting structure and new working titles.
  • Reimagined BPL Administrative Office work spaces and planned for others.
  • Reimagined the Central East Building first floor space planning (phase 1).
  • Shifted security operations from the information desk to active service on floors
  • Restored Librarian and Library Assistant workflow at the Central East Information desk.
  • Created three new key administrative positions.
  • Obtained BPL Board of Trustees approval to rejoin the Urban Libraries Council.
  • Offered quality public service, programs, and services via BPL's exceptional staff.
  • Put library patrons first in BPL's services to all 99 neighborhoods and 23 communities in the City of Birmingham.

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, maps, and documents available in the BPL Archives and Manuscripts Department that can help writers create rich, authentic, and accurate historical settings so that readers feel like they are living inside the pages of your book.

July 21, 2018, 10:00-11:00 a.m., Central Library, Arrington Auditorium, “Every Writer Needs an Editor: The Editor's Role in Honing a Manuscript” with speaker Liz Reed
Book and magazine editor Liz Reed will discuss the ways a good editor can help an author improve and promote their book. Topics will include content editing; decisions about paper, design, and binding choices; maximizing your time by creating a production schedule; marketing; and much more.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

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 www.bplonline.org/locations/.

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 Church was always present, but it was primarily felt for its right to collect taxes. Most pays worshiped their own saints and believed Mary was the wooden statue in her local chapel. They rarely traveled or married out of their pays. These tribal communities in their remote valleys each may have been the remnant of one of the many invasions that have washed over France for thousands of years.

Robb also describes the destruction of this ancient world by the advent of the modern age. Railroads ruined many of the marginal local economies, and the national government began to exert more control, largely to muster armies needed to defend France. Villages adapted by sending their five-year-old boys walking on long journeys to live in Paris with other village boys to work as chimney sweeps, or to beg. Wagonloads of unwanted babies, five to a basket, were sent to Paris by communities that could not feed them.

Even today French is a second language for many of the French, but most of the ancient languages, the distinct daily tongues of hundreds of small “countries,” are now extinct. The automobile, radio, and TV nearly finished the job begun by the railroads. But traces remain.

Charles De Gaulle once asked, “How can you govern a country that has 246 varieties of cheese?” On reading Robb, we may ask, “Only 246?”

Yes, Libraries Do Make a Difference

by Maya Jones, West End Branch Library

Wylam Library patron Teresa Moore
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 classes are going and try to give words of encouragement. I hope to get an invitation when she graduates.

Stories like this make me proud that Birmingham Public Library is able to offer free resources that are being used to change people’s lives for the better.

Visit www.bplonline.org for a complete list of resources and services, and the events calendar for a list of upcoming programs at all Birmingham Public Library locations.

Monday, March 05, 2018

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 easy for women in America, and certainly not for Tobias Wolff’s mom. At the opening of the book, she’s just split from her controlling husband, taking son Tobias in tow. The two go from town to town as mom desperately learns enough secretarial skills to keep them afloat. About a third of the way through, they are in a little town in Washington State and mom hasn’t quite discovered she’s linked up with another controlling man. Tobias has already embarked on a life of juvenile delinquency, but new father figure (not exactly dad) Dwight comes up with ways to structure Tobias’ time (paper route, Boy Scouts) so he won’t have time for such things. Famous last thoughts.

It was hard at first for me to articulate why I like this book, but part of it is the absolutely pitiless, unsentimental account Wolff gives of his reckless young life from about 11 to 17. With all of the dangerous and illegal things he does, you’re amazed he didn’t end up dead or in prison. You keep wondering when Tobias is going to pay for his actions or take a nosedive, but he doesn’t, at least not dramatically or violently. The forward momentum and the cliffhanger episodes do pay off in dramatic involvement. How did this guy end up a successful writer?

The America in the book is profoundly different from the one I grew up in. Wolff was born in 1945, and I was born in 1958, but the thirteen years between us is almost a chasm. Even the sixties parts of the book seem utterly fifties. Some of this might have to do with the very small towns in Washington where most of the book takes place. The scouts in it are strikingly different from the troop I was a part of in the seventies—more militaristic, more hellraising. Men held far more sway over women than in my day. Kids were disciplined far more. Life was much more conformist, so Wolff and mom are always feeling their differentness and alienation. And yet, paradoxically, kids went unsupervised to an astonishing degree. Things were more innocent, too. Banks left checkbooks out on counters for their patrons to use, which prompts Wolff to write bad checks (this seems to back up bad check expert Frank Abagnale’s Catch Me If You Can argument that this era positively encouraged young criminals with its overabundance of trust). Tobias takes a name and address out of a phone book, uses them to get a library card, and the librarian never questions him. When he has an accident and goes to the hospital, nurses give him as much morphine as he wants to shut him up (I’d scream too if I had the accident he had).The past, as they say, is a foreign country. They did things differently there. All of this creates a sort of Dickensian atmosphere that is somehow classically American: striking out for a new town, a new region, a new job, a new school, hoping desperately that the next place will be better, learning how to use a rifle, standing up to the old man’s blows, dodging them. Hitchhiking, getting drunk, driving up winding mountain roads. Getting frustrated with a culture of violence even though you contribute mightily to it. The very flawed and somehow sympathetic son and mother negotiate it as best and worst as they can, and you root for them. Very American, and finally a universal story that’s very satisfying.

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 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 March 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 March 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 March 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.

Friday, March 02, 2018

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 music, through songs such as “Just a Bill,” “Lolly, Lolly, Lolly,” and “Conjunction Junction.”

Workshop space is limited, so contact your participating library location to register a child for the workshop, or register online through the BPL events calendar. Libraries and dates are as follows:

Avondale Library: Sunday, March 11, 2:30 p.m.
East Lake Library: Saturday, March 10, 2:30 p.m.
Five Points West Library: Sunday, March 11, 2:30 p.m.
Pratt City Library: Saturday, March 10, 2:30 p.m. (the Project Yummy truck will be there
following the workshop)
Southside Library: Saturday, April 14, 2:30 p.m. (the Project Yummy truck will be there
following the workshop
Springville Road Library: Sunday, April 15, 2:30 p.m.
West End Library: Saturday, April 14, 2:30 p.m.

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