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Showing posts from July, 2018

Book Review:The Broken Girls

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by Mary Beth Newbill, Southern History Department, Central Library

The Broken Girls
Simone St. James

I completely devoured Simone St. James’s latest novel over the course of a weekend. If you’re a fan of spooky, gothic mysteries get this book immediately. It has all the right elements: an abandoned girls’ school that may or may not be haunted, two murders, romance, an escaped Nazi war criminal, a crooked small town police force, and an overall atmosphere of foreboding.

Most of the novel, which is set in a small Vermont town, takes place in and around the ruins of Idlewilde Hall. Idlewilde was once a boarding school for wayward girls. Girls who, according to the standards of the early to mid-20th century, were in need of stern discipline in order to become proper wives and mothers.

The story shifts from present day back to 1950. In the present day, Fiona Sheridan is a journalist obsessed with her sister’s murder. After 20 years, Fiona is still bothered by the details of how and why her…

Celebrate National Coloring Book Day at Avondale Library August 2

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by Ellen Griffin Shade, Avondale Regional Branch Library


August 2 is National Coloring Book Day! If you haven’t yet experienced the trend of coloring for adults, now is a great time to start! At Avondale Regional Branch Library, we have drop-in coloring stations for adults that are available every day and ready when you are. We provide colored pencils and a changing selection of detailed coloring sheets, so all you have to do is come in and color. And if you drop into Avondale Library August 2, you can pick up a free National Coloring Book Day 2018 coloring sheet and enter a drawing for a deluxe “Art of Mindfulness” coloring book prize pack!

Get Ready for Back to School (2018-2019)

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by Alisha Johnson, Ensley Branch Library


As the month of August is quickly approaching, parents and students are gearing up for the start of a new school year. Many stores are full of anxious parents attempting to fulfill school supply lists and kids are excited about choosing the newest color binders and pencil pouches they will use over the next nine months. However, each of these things are important, but there are some things that require the family to prepare for mentally and intellectually to achieve those high scores. Here is a list of things parents and children can do to be successful and make the most of the 2018-2019 school year:
Take some time out to go over last year’s curriculum and read with your childTake the school tour with your child and “Meet the Teacher”Find out what types of activities are available for volunteering opportunities (PTA)Organize school calendars, closets, and pantryFind your local library and sign up for a library card todayPrepare for a fresh start…

Southern History Book of the Month: Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo”

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by Mary Anne Ellis, Southern History Department, Central Library

Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo”
Zora Neale Hurston
Edited by Deborah G. Plant
Foreword by Alice Walker

Fans of author Zora Neale Hurston are generally most familiar with her famous novel Their Eyes Were Watching Godor with her autobiography Dust Tracks on a Road.

But another work by Hurston has just been published, even though it was originally written in the 1920s. This was when Hurston traveled to Plateau, Alabama—also known as Africatown—to interview Cudjo Lewis, the last known survivor to have crossed the ocean in the slave ship Clotilda. Like many of his unfortunate brothers and sisters during the nineteenth century, Lewis was abducted from his homeland and faced the harrowing Middle Passage across the Atlantic until he arrived in Alabama and was sold as a slave. His original name, Oluale Kossula, was taken from him and he was given the new name of Cudjo Lewis. Hurston movingly recounts an early meeti…

Book Review: Writing through Jane Crow: Race and Gender Politics in African American Literature

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by Davina Elaine Bell, Social Sciences/Business, Science and Technology Departments, Central Library

Writing through Jane Crow: Race and Gender Politics in African American Literature
Ayesha K. Hardison

Ayesha K. Hardison’s Writing through Jane Crow: Race and Gender Politics in African American Literature critically scrutinizes “Jane Crow” in African American literature; the racial and sexual oppression of black women during the Harlem Renaissance through the Black Arts Movement. In “At the Point of No Return: A Native Son and His Gorgon Muse” and “Gender Conscriptions, Class Conciliations, and the Bourgeois Blues Aesthetic,” Hardison evaluates gender discrimination in the writings of Richard Wright and the rules governing black women concerning public respectability and social mobility in the black community based on “pedestal white womanhood.” Hardison examines the convention of “bourgeois blues,” to illustrate the effects of disenfranchisement experienced by black women.

Hardison di…

Math and Science Day to Take Place July 28 at Five Points West Library

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What: Math and Science Day
When: Saturday, July 28, 2018, 1:00-5:00 p.m.
Where:Five Points West Regional Branch Library Main Auditorium
Details: Annual Math and Science Day program conducted by Elinor and Winfield Burks of Science for Kids Ministry and Kwanzaa Year Round. Theme: “What Can Movies Teach Us About Science?” focused on Hidden Figures and Black Panther.

The Annual Math and Science Day conducted by Kwanzaa Year Round, Science for Kids Ministry, and hosted free by the Five Points West Library, will be held Saturday, July 28, 2018, 1:00-5:00 p.m., in the Main Auditorium. The program this year will investigate “What Can Movies Teach Us About Science?” The theme points out science in two popular movie hits, Hidden Figures and Black Panther, which are both available for checkout at the Birmingham Public Library.

Elinor Burks, one of the event organizers, said the goal is to showcase to young people science lessons they can learn from movies. “In the movies, the real science goes …

2018 Local Authors Expo: Meet Doug Segrest, Author of A Storm Came Up

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About Author Doug Segrest Books:A Storm Came Up (Author House 2011) and The Sea of Mississippi (in progress) How to reach the author: E-mail Doug Segrest at dsegrest@gmail.com. Read about A Storm Came UpFollow Doug Segrest on Facebook andTwitter.
Quote Segrest uses as a guide in life: "I just follow the Golden Rule."Quote from author about being involved in Local Authors Expo: "This will be my second appearance at the Local Authors Expo. I was blown away the first time by the talent of the other authors from across Birmingham and Alabama, the size of the crowd, and how accessible everyone was that day. If you are an avid reader or an aspiring author, this day is a treasure trove of opportunity." Doug Segrest built a loyal following over two decades as a sports writer in Birmingham, so it should come as no surprise to many that he has expanded his penmanship into novels. Segrest will be among over 30 authors featured in the Birmingham Public Library's 2018 Local A…

Auto Renewal for Library Books, CDs, and DVDs Starts August 1

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Good news for patrons needing some extra time with library materials! The Jefferson County Library Cooperative (JCLC) is unveiling a new feature that makes manually renewing books, CDs, and DVDs a thing of the past. As of August 1, 2018, any non-digital item checked out at a JCLC location will be renewed automatically at the end of its lending period. You still can renew items manually by using My Account or by calling the library.

There are a few exceptions. Items won't be renewed if:

Another patron places a reserve on that itemThe item has reached its maximum number of renewals (2 for most items)Your account has accrued $5.01 or more in finesThe item is not renewableYour account activity has been blockedThe item is an e-book
You will be notified by the courtesy email notice that your item has been automatically renewed. If you do not receive courtesy email notices, you will not be notified. You will be alerted with the standard notice, however, when the item is overdue.

BPL 2018 Local Authors Expo To be Held at Central Library on Saturday, August 11

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What: 2018 Birmingham Public Library Local Authors Expo
When: Saturday, August 11, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Where:Central Library Grand East Reading Room
Details: Authors, publishers, and literary organizations interested in participating will find a registration form and more information here. Registration deadline is July 27. For more information, email localauthorsbpl@bham.lib.al.us or click here www.bplonline.org/localauthors.

Want to meet several authors from across Alabama, buy their books, and learn more about the book publishing process? Then make plans to attend the Birmingham Public Library's annual 2018 Local Authors Expo on Saturday, August 11, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., at the Central Library East Grand Reading Room.

The free event will showcase authors, including many from the Birmingham area, selling and signing their books and sharing their writing process. Drop by and visit your favorite author, learn more about local authors, buy an autographed book from participati…

2018 Local Authors Expo – Meet Rhonda Cowan, Author of Those Raisins of Wrath, Alabama

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Book:Those Raisins of Wrath, Alabama (March 2018)
How to reach the author: Twitter @cowanbr549
Quote Cowan uses as a guide in life: “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” - Emerson
Quote from Cowan about being involved in Local Authors Expo: “I am looking forward to my first Author's Expo at The Birmingham Library to meet with those who love to read and others who write!”

Rhonda Cowan of Chelsea has wanted to write a book for many years. In March 2018, Cowan finally gave in to the writing bug and self-published her first novel, Those Raisins of Wrath, Alabama.
The book title is a play on the famous work The Grapes of Wrath but deals with a far different subject. Those Raisins of Wrath is a fiction novel about a young woman missing in the small town of Wrath, Al…

Steps to Starting a Franchise Business Seminar Continues at Central Library During Summer and Fall

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What: Steps to Starting a Franchise Business seminar
Dates and Times: Tuesday, July 24, 2018 (12:00-1:00 p.m.)
Monday, August 27, 2018 (12:00-1:00 p.m. or 6:00-7:00 p.m.)
Monday, September 24, 2018 (12:00-1:00 p.m. or 6:00-7:00 p.m.)
Monday, October 22, 2018 (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 be offering Steps to Starting a Franchise Business, a monthly how-to seminar on franchising, beginning Tuesday July 24, 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 t…

Book Review: Stranger in a Strange Land

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by David Blake, Fiction Department, Central Library

Stranger in a Strange Land
Robert Heinlein

Stranger in a Strange Land has been much re-read by its many fans. Until recently, this fan had not picked up the book in decades, and about a quarter of the way in, it was better than memory recalled. The scenes were the same, but they seemed to have more depth. As it happens, in 1961 Heinlein was asked by his publisher to reduce its length by 25 percent. Since 1991 the book’s publisher has included all of Heinlein’s original writing. Stranger in a Strange Land has always been one of the science fiction books that one might recommend to serious readers. Its fans can do so with even more assurance now.

Valentine Michael Smith is the stranger. Having been raised by Martians, Michael comes to earth and encounters a civilization so completely different from that of Mars, that all our earthly differences are tiny in comparison. Through adventures he comes under the protection and guidance of Heinl…

Civil Rights Through the Eyes of a Young Poet Summer Camp Held at Central Library

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by Roy L. Williams, Public Relations Department


Several area teens gained knowledge about Birmingham’s past and learned how to express their feelings about the city’s role in the civil rights movement through the spoken word, thanks to a weeklong teen poetry camp held at the Central Library July 9-13.

At the conclusion of the camp, participants in the second annual Civil Rights Through the Eyes of a Young Poet summer camp read their own original poems about civil rights then and now out loud before their peers. Their poems will be recorded and archived in the Birmingham Public Library Archives Department for future generations to hear.

The camp is a partnership between the Archives Department, which houses several artifacts documenting Birmingham’s civil rights history, and Real Life Poets, a Birmingham-based nonprofit that uses spoken word and hip-hop to empower young people to be the voice of the next generation.
The camp “is designed around civil rights then and now with spoken wo…

Liz Reed to Share Publishing Tips at Local Author Workshop July 21 at Central Library

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by Roy L. Williams, Public Relations Department

If you are seeking to get a book published or desire to become an actual author, make plans to be at a Local Author Workshop taking place on Saturday, July 21, 10:00 a.m., at the Central Library, Arrington Auditorium.

Book and magazine editor Liz Reed will speak on the topic “Every Writer Needs an Editor: The Editor’s Role in Honing a Manuscript.” This free workshop will conclude a three-part Local Author Workshops series the Birmingham Public Library began in March to assist area authors in preparation for BPL's  2018 Local Authors Expo taking place on Saturday, August 11, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., in the Central Library's East Grand Reading Room.

Liz Reed and her husband, Jim, have operated Reed Books in downtown Birmingham for 38 years. Liz Reed is art and layout editor at Birmingham Arts Journal, a quarterly publication. Her husband is the magazine’s general editor. In addition to being a book store owner, Liz Reed has built a …

Summer Beach Reads

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by Gus Jones, Fiction Department, Central Library


Summer is officially here and the melting interior of my car is proof. People walk by with plaintive looks on their faces that cry, “Why is it so hot!” My empathetic face responds with, “It’s time for a trip to the beach.” The crystal clear water, sugar white sand, and cool Gulf breeze are the cure for everything that ails you. So go home and grab your swimsuit, the sunscreen, the beach towels, the cooler, and your chair, but you can’t leave until you pack something great to read on the beach. There are a number of lists of best beach reads for summer 2018. Here are a few titles that appear on several lists along with links to the lists themselves. Have a great summer.

Clock Dance by Anne Tyler
In this new novel from Anne Tyler, central character Willa Drake’s life takes an unexpected turn. After playing many roles defined by the choices of others, she agrees to take care of her son’s injured ex-girlfriend and, in the process, be…

Childhood Fondness for Rodgers and Hammerstein and Libraries Inspired BPL Storyteller

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by Lynn Carpenter, Five Points West Regional Branch Library

Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway Revolution
Todd S. Purdum

It seems as if I’ve always known that Rodgers and Hammerstein were great Broadway musical showmen—I’m not sure how I knew. I learned their songs “Do-Re-Me,” “O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A!,” “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” “Edelweiss,” “Climb Every Mountain,” and “It Might as Well Be Spring” in third grade. I saw The Sound of Music on my eighth birthday but I didn’t know it was by Rodgers and Hammerstein. My love of music and musicals was rivaled only by my love of books and I quickly found the play collections in my school library.

To get into the school building on a cold morning, you could go to the library. With my new love of books in fourth grade, I would check out a book in the morning, read it during the day, check it in at the end of the day, and check one out to read at home that night. Pretty soon I was checking out books to fellow students, shelving…

Pratt City, Titusville Library Adult Patrons Paint on Canvas at Palette Party with Cherie Hunt

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by Roy L. Williams, Public Relations Department


All summer long, Birmingham artist Cherie Hunt is teaching Birmingham Public Library patrons—even novices—how to paint. Recently, Hunt has brought her Palette Party program to adults at Titusville and Pratt City Branch Libraries. Hunt’s class provides participants step-by-step instructions that take them within an hour from a blank white canvas to their very own canvas masterpieces.

Hunt is offering a few more Palette Party workshops at BPL locations between now and the end of Summer Learning in early August. The dates and locations are listed below:
Friday, July 20, 10:00 a.m., at Powderly Branch LibraryTuesday, July 17, 11:00 a.m., at Smithfield Branch LibraryWednesday, July 25, 10:30 a.m., at North Avondale Branch Library (This program will take place during the monthly meeting of the North Avondale Library Chapter Chatters Book Club and features a book discussion and hands-on painting experience based on the book.)

Palette Party is …

Job Hunting Is the Worst—But BPL Wants to Help!

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by Jenn Seiler-Patrick, Five Points West Regional Branch Library


First of all, looking for a job is hard.

Second, not receiving an interview or not getting the job hurts. As a new librarian with Birmingham Public Library, I just finished a years-long job hunt and am excited to be here, talking to you. So, I know some of that pain you might be feeling and my goal is to let you know you’re not alone; and to tell you about some of the options you have for help.

Our libraries have many books and e-books to help you with your job search, building a new career, or marketing yourself. Our staff can also recommend online resources to help with resumes, cover letters, how to interview, and improving your job skills. Some of your questions may be answered through BPL's Job Searching, Resume Writing, and Career Development page. As always, ask a BPL staff member if you need help finding any book or online resources.

Finally, the library has programs such as the employment readiness bootcamp…

Steps to Starting Your Business Seminar Scheduled for July 17 at Central Library

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What: Steps to Starting Your Business
When: Tuesday, July 17 (3rd Tuesday of each month, July-October 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 Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) and the City of Birmingham’s Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity, will be hosting the monthly seminar Steps to Starting Your Business from July to October 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: July 17, August 21, September 18, October 16.

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 inve…

Central Library Hosting Civil Rights Through the Eyes of a Young Poet Camp July 9-13

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


What: Civil Rights Through the Eyes of a Young Poet
When: Monday-Friday, July 9-13, 2018, 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Where: The Central Library Youth Department Create205 Learning Lab, 2nd Floor
Details: Words are power. The Real Life Poets and the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) Archives Department are partnering to teach teens how to put their words on paper and make their own mark on history. We’ll talk about the civil rights movement in Birmingham in the 1960s, then write, sing, and spit verse about the civil rights movement now. Each participant will complete a spoken word poem by the end of the week to be archived in BPL’s digital archives to share with the world. This program is among over 400 Summer Learning activities being offered at BPL’s 19 locations this summer. Summer Learning is sponsored by a generous donation from the Alabama Power Foundation.

On Monday, July 9, a weeklong teen poetry camp kickin…

ALA 2018: Eastwood Library's Shawn Caddell Meets Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden

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by Shawn Caddell, Eastwood Branch Library


This summer I had the pleasure of taking the train to New Orleans, Louisiana, and attending the American Library Association (ALA) Conference and Exhibition for the very first time. While this was not the first professional conference I had attended, it was by far the largest.

One of the things I looked forward to the most was exploring the Exhibit Hall. Prior to leaving for the conference, I viewed the list of vendors that would be in attendance. With over 900 vendors, I created a list of the ones I wanted to visit the most. The list mainly included vendors with whom BPL has partnered to bring databases and apps such as Mango Languages, hoopla, Libby/Overdrive, and BookPage to our patrons.

Once the Exhibit Hall opened, however, I found myself completely overwhelmed. The Ernest Morial Convention Center boasts over 3 million square feet, which equates to about 11 city blocks and a third of that is devoted solely to exhibit space. In other wor…

West End Library Summer Coding Camp Exposes Teens to Computer Coding Skills

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


For two weeks in June, teenagers in western Birmingham gained free exposure to computer coding skills, thanks to a free camp hosted by the West End Branch Library. The Birmingham Teen Summer Coding Camp, held June 18-22 and June 25-29, and a separate Teens Engineer BHM Camp held June 11-15, at West End Library, was sponsored by Birmingham City Councilor Sheila Tyson, West End Manor Neighborhood Association, and Arlington West End Neighborhood Association.

Tyson represents Birmingham’s District 6, which includes West End Library. She is a longtime supporter of programming at West End Library and Titusville Branch Library, which is also in her district. Arlington Manor and Arlington West End neighborhoods have also been longtime supporters of West End Library, Branch Manager Maya Jones said.

The coding camp was led by instructor Keiah Shaku, a Birmingham mother who has been a volunteer for teen programmi…

Celebrate Innovation Week at Central Library with Business 101 for Artists on July 10

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What: Business 101 for Artists
When: Tuesday July 10, 2018, 6:00-7:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor
Details: Free workshop by Octavia Kuransky of Bizart designed to help artists, writers, musicians, painters, and crafts professionals learn more about business management skills and how to promote their products. Attendees will create a two-page business plan. Advance registration is required.

As part of the 2018 Innovation Week observance, the Central Library in downtown Birmingham on July 10 will host Business 101 for Artists, a free workshop designed to help artists, writers, musicians, painters, and crafts professionals learn how to run their businesses better and market their products more effectively.

The workshop instructor is Octavia Kuransky of Bizart, a Birmingham company that hosts workshops designed to equip artists for entrepreneurship success. “This 90-minute workshop demystifies business and will include an expla…

Book Review: Vegan Diner

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by Shea Robinson, Fiction Department, Central Library

Vegan Diner
Julie Hasson

Being a long-time vegan and ambitious cook, I’m always on the hunt for interesting cookbooks to give me fresh ideas for meals and snacks. While the following cookbook is not one I’d reach for on a daily basis, it’s one of my favorites because it offers recipes that are fairly unique to vegan cookbooks.

Vegan Diner tackles the challenging task of recreating classic diner dishes into vegan comfort food. Covering courses from breakfast to dessert, this cookbook offers animal-friendly alternatives with simple recipes. The layout is crisp and stylish with striking full-page color photos illustrating the recipes within a retro diner design.

Some of my favorite dishes from this cookbook include Orange Cornbread Waffles, Biscuits & Creamy Sage Gravy, Diner Donuts, and Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding. This is a fantastic cookbook for vegetarians, vegans, and those omnivores who simply desire to switch things up a …

Garage Sale Mania! Helps BPL Staffer Have Manic-Free Sale

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by Andrei T. Jones, Five Points West Regional Branch Library

Garage Sale Mania! How to Hold a Profitable Garage, Yard, or Tag Sale by Chris Harold Stevenson

A couple of Saturdays ago my wife and I had a garage sale. We didn’t make much money, but we sure had a fun time hanging out together and meeting our neighbors and other passersby.

A book that really helped me in this venture was Garage Sale Mania! How to Hold a Profitable Garage, Yard, or Tag Sale by Chris Stevenson. This book lists all types of helpful hints and tips that we used in our sale. It's an oldie but goodie and well worth checking out if you're thinking of having a summer garage sale.

This particular book is Springville Road Library’s copy, but the Jefferson County Public Library system has many other informative books and DVDs on the subject of how to have a stress-free and successful garage sale.