Showing posts from June, 2018

Springville Road Regional Library Receives Grant From Roebuck Walmart

by Roy L. Williams, Public Relations Department at Birmingham Public Library

The Roebuck Walmart (Store 762) gave the Springville Road Library a $500 grant to help fund its educational and community programming. BPL Executive Director Floyd Council and Regional Manager Yolanda Hardy accepted the check on behalf of the library during a ceremony held this morning, Friday, June 29, 2018.

Several grants were presented to community organizations to thank them for their support of the Walmart that serves Roebuck, Huffman, and surrounding communities in eastern Birmingham. The store also hosted an official ribbon-cutting celebrating a recently completed renovation.

The program included entertainment from the Huffman High School Band and cheerleaders. Besides BPL, other grant recipients were Huffman High School, Birmingham Firefighters, Boy Scouts of America, YMCA, The Celebration Center, and the Huffman Recreation Center.

Thank you, Walmart!

Rock and Roll Magic Shows Coming to BPL in July

If your child is into magic, several Birmingham Public Library locations are hosting free magic shows during the month of July as part of BPL’s 2018 Summer Learning activities for kids.

Summer Learning magic shows in July schedule:

Arch Duncan, Magician – Fun magic show for all ages.

   •  July 2, 11:00 a.m. Powderly Library
   •  July 3, 10:00 a.m. Wylam Library
   •  July 12, 11:00 a.m. West End Library

Rock “N” Magic – Discover the magic of music as Magic Man Larry Moore presents stories and tricks. Register 24 hours in advance by calling 205-226-4003.

   •  July 11, 10:00 a.m. Avondale Library

Libraries Rock Finale: Sam the Magic Man-Be ready to be amazed with the tricks and illusions of Sam the Magic Man. Individuals and groups welcome, but advanced registration required. Call 205-226-3655.

   •  July 16, 10:00 a.m. Central Library

For more information on BPL’s Summer Learning activities, check out the calendar at

Tamika Takes on D.C.

BPL Teen Intern Reflects on PLA Inclusive Internship Initiative Kickoff Event in Washington, D.C.

By Tamika Green

This past week I had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. for the Public Library Association Inclusive Internship Initiative Kick-Off. I was one of fifty interns from various libraries in thirty-five states who attended. It was my third time visiting D.C. and I was ecstatic to see the one monument that has become my favorite, “The Martin Luther King Jr. Monument”. It’s a personal favorite of mine because of my upbringing in Birmingham Alabama. Every day I see the cause he fought so hard for. I can go to Linn Park and the 16th Street Baptist Church and see the change that was created by him and the other leaders of the Civil Rights Movement.

After viewing the sites, we returned to our hotel for dinner where I was able to socialize with other interns and mentors. My roommate was Myra Meyers from Algona Public Library in Iowa. I learned about her life and it was tota…

Children Meet Hero Firefighters at Wylam Library Firefighters Rock Program

by Roy L. Williams, Public Relations Director at the Birmingham Public Library

Birmingham’s police and firefighters are heroes on the front lines, protecting citizens in their time of need. Whether it’s in our neighborhoods putting out a fire or helping rescue drivers and their passengers from wrecked vehicles, firefighters put their lives on the line for us, often on a daily basis.

On Tuesday, June 26, Wylam Branch Library hosted Firefighters Rock, a Birmingham Public Library Summer Learning children’s program. During the event, Wylam’s patrons—both young and old—got a chance to meet community helpers from Birmingham fire stations and learn about fire safety. The children even toured a Birmingham fire truck, heard its sirens wail, and watched its lights flash.

Firefighters Rock is among over 400 Summer Learning programs for kids, teens, and adults taking place at BPL’s 19 library locations in June and July. For more information, click on the calendar at You can a…

Travel Resources You Can Use

by Selina Johnson, Wylam Branch Library

The days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are usually when most people take their long anticipated and well deserved summer vacations. When vacationing the goal is to thoroughly enjoy the time spent away from home by maximizing your time and the money spent on your trip. The decisions that you make before and during your trip will dictate as to whether you have a dream vacation or one that is a nightmare.

The planning stage of your trip is crucial, so do your research. Current guidebooks, travel reviews such as Yelp and TripAdvisor, tourist information websites, and maps are your friends. Selectively choose these resources based on your travel needs and interests.

Also, don’t forget to search the plethora of travel resources that are available at BPL. You can find resources that provide travel tips, destination ideas, and so much more. Many of them can be downloaded onto your digital device. It was refreshing to download travel guidebook…

ALA Apologizes for Silence on Segregated Libraries Issue

by Roy L. Williams, Director of Public Relations at the Birmingham Public Library

On Sunday, June 24, 2018, renowned national library historian Wayne A. Wiegand and his wife, Shirley, appeared at the New Orleans Public Library’s main branch to discuss their new book, The Desegregation of Public Libraries in the Jim Crow South: Civil Rights and Local Activism. Wiegand (pronounced Wee-ghund) is on a nationwide lecture and book-signing tour promoting the book. Wiegand has a chapter detailing the 1963 sit-ins by Miles College students that led to the desegregation of the Birmingham Public Library.

The Wiegands’ New Orleans talk, “Hidden Figures in American Library History,” included a panel discussion with four blacks whose protests of segregated libraries in the Deep South are featured in their book. It was timed to coincide with the American Library Association (ALA)’s 2018 Annual Conference held in New Orleans June 21-26.

ALA’s board released a resolution apologizing for its failure to…

The Influences of African American Music

by Russell Lee, Arts, Literature and Sports Department, Central Library

During the month of June we celebrate African-American Music Appreciation Month. All genres of music have been influenced by the contributions of African American music in some way or another.

When slaves arrived in America during the 1700s,  they were forced to reinvent the music, rhythms, moans, chants, and even some of the instruments of their homeland. These were often used to send secret codes and messages to one another, which is the main reason drums were banned on plantations by slave owners. Many slaves were forced to learn and play the banjo or fiddle to provide music and entertainment for slaves and plantation owners to try and keep the thought and reality of slavery out of the slave’s minds.

In 1892 Czech composer, Antonín Dvořák traveled to the United States at the invitation of a wealthy music lover. Dvořák was enthralled with the spirituals of African American slaves. He stated, "I am
now …

2018 Stonewall Book Award Winners and Honorees

The annual Stonewall Book Award is a set of three literary awards (adult fiction, adult nonfiction, children and young adult) for books published in the US that are of exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/
transgender experience.

Sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table (GLBTRT) of the American Library Association (ALA), they have been part of the American Library Association awards program since 1986, when they were known as the Gay Book Award since its inception in 1971. In 2002 the awards (fiction and nonfiction categories only at that time) were renamed Stonewall Book Award after the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York, demonstrations and sometimes violent confrontations by individuals in the gay/lesbian/transgender community against the New York Police Department after a police raid on a gay bar in Manhattan's West Village.

A panel of librarians selects finalists in each category, and then selects a winner. The winners are announced…

North Avondale Library Chapter Chatters Book Club—Seven Years and Going Strong

By Roy L. Williams, Public Relations Director at Birmingham Public Library

Since February 2011, the North Avondale Branch Library's Chapter Chatters Book Club has been a monthly gathering place for adults in the Birmingham area who share a passion for reading.

The book club meets on the fourth Wednesday of every month for lunch and a lively discussion of African American-themed books recommended by its members, or chosen from best-seller lists and talk shows. Birmingham Public Library's Summer Learning adult programming includes two North Avondale Chapter Chatters meetings that are open to the public: Wednesday, June 27, and Wednesday, July 25.

The July program will be truly unique: a book discussion incorporating a hands-on painting experience based on the book and led by Birmingham artist Cherie Hunt. Participants will leave with their own hand-painted masterpiece. The class is limited to 20 adults; advance registration is required by calling 205-592-2082.

The Chapter …

Beanstack Mobile App Updates: Badges and Bye-Bye History

A new version 1.3 of the Beanstack mobile app is now available for both Apple and Android phones. It includes badges now popping up when readers reach a milestone, plus a separate section where the reader can find all of his or her earned badges and prizes.

A change was made to the text that appears in the app based on users' feedback. Specifically, the word "History" has been changed to "Archive" to better communicate the "put it aside" function of that list of books. Similarly, changes have been made to the phrases "Mark Title As Completed" (now "Count Title as Completed") and "Move to History" (now "Move from Reading to Archive") to clarify the function of those actions.

Additionally, a bug was fixed whereby books weren't being counted in the web app if the Completed button was not toggled off and then back on.

Here's a list of "New Stuff" in the Beanstack app:

Badges! Receive notifications …

Book Review: In Focus: National Geographic Greatest Portraits

by Richard Grooms, Springville Road Regional Branch Library

In Focus: National Geographic Greatest Portraits

You probably couldn’t ask for a more various collection of portraits than In Focus. From formal to casual, exotic to mundane, sublime to horrific, celebrity shots to peasant pics, old to contemporary, this collection seems to have it all.

“The Strange and Exotic” (chapter 2) has many notable pictures. A rural Russian family from 1917 stares blankly at the camera (save one boy, who’s wisecracking). We know their world will be devastated soon and this makes their stance all the more poignant and fragile. Do they have any idea of what will befall them? On another front, can a young woman carry off a mustache? Yes, if that’s what her people deem normal. An Ainu daughter sports her traditional over the lip tattoo as she delicately holds a flower. She provides a contrast to traditional Japanese concepts of femininity, 1922. So does a geisha from a more contemporary time. She primly ho…

Ensley Library Closed Temporarily Beginning June 21 Due to HVAC issues

The Ensley Branch Library will close temporarily beginning Thursday, June 21, 2018, due to HVAC mechanical issues, the Birmingham Public Library announced.

The library has been operating on a shortened schedule of 9:00 a.m. until noon after the air conditioning system stopped working. Ensley Library’s Summer Learning program, MAD Skillz dance class, to be held Tuesday, June 26, 10:00 a.m., has been relocated to the Ensley Recreation Center, 2800 Ave. K, Ensley Branch Manager Alisha Johnson said.

No decision has been made about the teen program Rocking With Checkers, originally scheduled for  Thursday, June 28, 10:00 a.m. An announcement about Ensley Library’s July Summer Learning programs will be released at a later date, Johnson said.

For more information on BPL’s Summer Learning activities, check out the calendar at

About Juneteenth, the Oldest Known U.S. Celebration of the End of Slavery

by Roy L. Williams, Public Relations Director at the Birmingham Public Library

On Tuesday, June 19, 2018, African Americans across the United States celebrated Juneteenth, the oldest known national celebration of the end of slavery. Also called Emancipation Day, it marks the day black slaves learned that President Abraham Lincoln had on January 1, 1863, issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing them. Most slaves did not receive word of Lincoln’s action until over two years later in June 1865, thus the name Juneteenth.

Many African Americans mark the Juneteenth anniversary much like the Fourth of July with parties, musical entertainment, picnics, and other public events. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute holds Juneteenth celebrations every year. The Birmingham Public Library’s 19 locations have several resources about Juneteenth.

Here are some interesting facts about Juneteenth, courtesy of CNN :

153 – Years since Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger (Union Army) first read the procla…

The Inside Scoop on

by Mary Beth Newbill, Southern History Department, Central Library is probably the best known genealogy database on the market. But did you know that you can access the Library Edition of free at any public library in Alabama? Keep reading for some research tips and tricks and then make plans to visit your local library to try them out.

Census Records
One of my favorite sources and, arguably, the most important one for genealogists is the U.S. Census. Ancestry has every population schedule currently available for genealogy research (1790-1940) and they are fully indexed. You can search by name, location, age range, etc. You can even search by occupation in the later years. As with any database taken from handwritten documents, expect to find some interesting transcription errors. For instance, I became very curious about John H. Cheney who appears in the 1870 census. The index lists his occupation as retired sea cat. Upon closer inspection of the image on whi…

Go Straight to the Source for OverDrive Troubleshooting Help

There is good news for patrons needing some troubleshooting help with OverDrive! OverDrive is now providing the Public Libraries in Jefferson County with free Front Line Tech Support. What this means is that if patrons are having trouble, they are now able to contact OverDrive directly by email and OverDrive will troubleshoot and help resolve their problem.

Overdrive Front Line Tech Support includes the following:
Access to the OverDrive Front Line Tech Support team 24/7/365 via web form and email.Response time via email expected within 8 business hours of receipt, or within 24 hours if received outside of business hours (8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. ET Monday-Friday, excluding major holidays).Professionally trained specialists provide support for OverDrive technology-related issues only.Self-service support is also available to users 24/7/365 through extensive and user-friendly FAQ and other written help that is accessible through the library's OverDrive-powered website.
How do patrons c…

BPL Spinners Club Spreading Music Appreciation throughout BPL This Summer

Hey music lovers across the City of Birmingham: the BPL Spinners Club is spreading the joy of music throughout library locations across the city as part of the Birmingham Public Library’s 2018 Summer Learning activities.

Next stop: BPL Spinners Club to be held Monday, June 19, 11:00 a.m., at North Avondale Library. Attendees will spend time listening to some of the best in blues and learn interesting facts about various artists. The brainchild of Russell Lee, Library Assistant III in the Arts, Literature and Sports Department, BPL Spinners Club is a music-based program in which attendees will listen to preselected music recordings and then open the floor for brief discussions about them. The club debuted in February and explores a different genre of music monthly. Patrons may bring a light snack and a nonalcoholic beverage.

"I enjoy this opportunity to share the gift of music with patrons in a laid back and relaxed atmosphere,” said Lee, an accomplished pianist. “The Birmingham…

Birmingham Public Library Selected for 2018 Inclusive Internship Initiative

by Roy Williams, Director of Public Relations

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) will participate in a connected learning internship program this summer sponsored by the Public Library Association (PLA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA). Through its Inclusive Internship Initiative (III), PLA is sponsoring paid, mentored public library internships for 50 high school juniors and seniors from diverse backgrounds. With individual guidance from a mentor, each intern will engage with multiple facets of library life, from administration to programming to user services. Over the course of the summer, interns and mentors will develop and complete a connected learning project.

BPL has selected Tamika Green as its intern for summer 2018. Green is a 2018 graduate of Parker High School. The selection was made based on her academic standing, application essay, and a letter of recommendation. Green will work closely with her appointed mentor, West End Library branch manager May…

2018 Rainbow Books for Kids

The Rainbow Book List Committee of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association evaluates quality books published every year that contain significant and authentic GLBTQ content for children and youth, birth through age 18. For the 2018 Rainbow Book List, 260 books published between July 2016 and December 2017 were studied, and 48 from 18 different publishers made the cut. Out of these, 10 were chosen due to their outstanding merit.

The Top 10Board Book
Baby’s First Wordsby Stella Blackstone; illustrated by Christiane Engel. Two dads and their baby spend a busy day together learning new words.

Middle Grade Fiction
Felix Yz by Lisa Bunker. Grades 5-8. Felix is fused with a fourth dimensional alien and is counting down the days until a potentially fatal experimental surgery to separate them, all the while dealing with his crush on his classmate Hector.

Young Adult Fiction
We Are Okayby Nina LaCour. Grades 9-12. After the sudden loss of her grand…

Steps to Starting a Franchise Business Seminar Scheduled for June 25 at Central Library

What: Steps to Starting a Franchise Business seminar
Monday, June 25, 2018
Tuesday, July 24, 2018
Time: 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor
Cost: Free but registration is required

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) and Birmingham SCORE will begin offering Steps to Starting a Franchise Business, a monthly how-to seminar on franchising, beginning Monday, April 23, 12:00 p.m., at the Central Library. The seminar will explore how franchising can take the risk out of starting your own business and becoming self-employed. Greg Foss, a career transition coach with The Entrepreneur’s Source® and SCORE mentor, will facilitate the seminar.

Topics to be covered in the seminar include: common myths and truths about franchising, the importance of knowing your personal goals before taking the plunge, non-standard ownership options, how to finance your business, how to research and select the right franchise, and resources that a…

Kickoff Party Celebrates 2018 BPL Summer Learning

Over 200 attendees, mostly young people, scurried around the Central Library downtown, playing basketball, spin the wheel, and other games at the Birmingham Public Library’s 2018 Summer Learning Kickoff Party. Meanwhile, several adults listened to the blues being played by George Griffin & the Firebirds, a local group providing entertainment.

The June 1 event was the official kickoff of over 400 free learning activities being held at BPL’s 19 locations in June and July to celebrate the joy of reading and help reduce summer slide learning loss while kids are out of school. Attendees received information on Summer Learning and signed up for programs being offered for kids, teens, and adults. They also grubbed down on free hotdogs, chips, snow cones, and other goodies.

One of the more popular stations was a photo booth, in which parents, grandparents, and kids took family photos that were printed out within minutes. Both adults and children also took advantage of the free tattoo parl…

Track It with Beanstack

The Birmingham Public Library is making it easier than ever to keep track of your time spent on 2018 Summer Learning.

BPL is changing the way its 19 libraries record summer learning participation for 2018. Rather than counting the number of books read, BPL will now record time read. Counting time spent reading, or being read to, rather than the number of books read or heard puts the emphasis on the act of reading.

Participants in BPL’s Summer Learning program can record their reading accomplishments via the online app Beanstack, or through the traditional paper reading log. The more participants log in their reading time, the more opportunities they have to win prizes. Encourage everyone to be an “Eager Reader” this summer.

In addition to logging reading time, BPL is offering a variety of learning track activities for participants to complete. Activities include attending a library program, using one of the library's free online resources, reading outside, and telling your libr…

African-American Music Appreciation Month

by Gus Jones, Fiction Department, Central Library

June is African-American Music Appreciation Month. It started in 1979 when President Jimmy Carter decreed that June would be Black Music Month and it has been celebrated each year since. It was renamed to African-American Music Appreciation Month in a proclamation by President Barack Obama in 2009. The best way to “appreciate” African-American music, of course, is to listen to it. The library has a great collection of music CDs by a number of different artists. In addition, you can use our Hoopla database to borrow albums online for a period of seven days. Furthermore, you can download songs to keep (limit of 3 per week) using our Freegal Music database. If you would like to learn more about the history of African-American music, you may be interested in checking out one of the following titles. The descriptions are from the publishers.

The Story of African-American Music by Andrew Pina
The influence of African Americans on music i…

LGBTQ Stories on Kanopy

To spotlight LGBT Pride Month in June, Kanopy has compiled a documentary collection titled LGBTQ Stories that chronicles the history, arts, and activism of the community.

Kanopy is a video streaming platform for libraries with one of the largest collections in the world—over 30,000 films. Kanopy is available to Birmingham residents with a JCLC library card.

Book Review: Venice: Pure City

by David Blake, Fiction Department, Central Library

Venice: Pure City
Peter Ackroyd

Peter Ackroyd is a literary historian with a gift for evoking long gone places and societies, very often different scenes from London’s past. But with Venice, the physical historical places are all still there. The whole city is almost all still there. A Renaissance era workman could walk from one end of today’s city to the other, a two-hour walk, on familiar calle (streets) past familiar buildings. The city that Venetians began building more than one thousand years ago is the city we see today, nearly untouched by war or automobiles. Peter Ackroyd populates the glorious architectural marvel that is Venice, with the generations of Venetians who made it so—their domestic life, their pageants, their conquests, and their industry.

Ackroyd’s Venice: Pure City, is a loose chronological series of essays on essential topics in the city’s thousand-year history. Venetians' struggle against natural elements, …

Steps to Starting Your Business Seminar Scheduled for June 19 at Central Library

What: Steps to Starting Your Business seminar
When: Tuesday, June 19, 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 be hosting the seminar Steps to Starting Your Business. The seminar will be held in the Arrington Auditorium, which is located on the 4th floor of the Linn-Henley Research Library.

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 seminar by contacting Valencia Fisher in the Economic Development Office at or 205-254-2799.

Seminar presenters will be veteran mentors from the local chapter of SCORE. SCORE is a national nonprofit association consisting of volu…