Friday, August 31, 2018

Tina Samuel of Titusville Library to Represent BPL at National Joint Conference of Librarians of Color in New Mexico

Titusville Library Branch Manager Amanda Jenkins, Tina Samuel, Floyd Council

Kudos to Tina Samuel of the Titusville Branch Library. She has been selected to represent the Birmingham Public Library at the 3rd National Joint Conference of Librarians of Color, to be held September 26-30, 2018, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Samuel, a 30-year BPL employee, won an essay contest established by BPL Executive Director Floyd Council in which BPL staff of color were asked to write about library diversity and how attending the conference would help them fulfill their dreams in the library profession.

In an interview Samuel said she is excited and looking forward to attending the conference. Samuel will talk about her experience at the BPL Annual Staff Day on October 18, 2018. “It’s going to be awesome and I look forward to bringing back some knowledge I can share with my fellow employees,” she said.

The conference is organized by the Joint Council of Librarians of Color, Inc. (JCLC Inc.) which brings together the American Indian Library Association (AILA), the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA), the Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA), and REFORMA: The National Association to Promote Library & Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-speaking. For more information, click here:

Birmingham Public Library Hosts Livestream of 2018 National Student Poets Pinning Ceremony of ASFA Student

Creative Writing students from the Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA) in Birmingham, attended a livestreaming at the Central Library of the 2018 National Student Poets Pinning Ceremony in which ASFA senior Daniel Blokh was one of five student poets honored.

The ceremony took place in the Linn-Henley Research Library's Arrington Auditorium on August 30, 2018, 3:00-4:00 p.m. (CST). Attendees were able to watch on a screen the pinning ceremony taking place live at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., moderated by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden.

Blokh, a senior at the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, was among five teens chosen from among thousands of applicants as 2018 National Student Poets, the nation’s highest honor for youth poets presenting original work.

 Read more about the program at this link

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Central Library Hosting Free Google Workshops in September

Instructor Maurice Harley in the Regional Library Computer Center at Central Library

Maurice Harley, Birmingham Public Library's education training coordinator, is sharing knowledge with patrons that he gained by attending an all-day series of Grow With Google workshops held August 6 at the Central Library.

Over the next three weeks, Harley will lead several free Google workshops in the Linn-Henley Research Library’s fourth floor Regional Computer Center. The first class, Google Docs, was held on August 29 and introduced patrons to a free cloud-based word processor and its features.

The four classes to be offered in September are as follows:

September 10, 9:15-10:15 a.m.
Google Email – Participants will set up a Google email, and explore the apps available with the email.

September 10, 10:30-11:30 a.m.
Google Job Search – Learn how to use Google job search to filter through jobs near you to find the types of jobs you are interested in.

September 17, 9:15-10:15 a.m.
Google Docs – This class introduces participants to Google Docs, a free cloud-based word processor and its features.

September 17, 10:30-11:30 a.m.
Google Spread Sheets & Presentations – Google Sheets is a spreadsheet database used to calculate simple formulas, sorting, using charts, and other features. Google Slides is a cloud-based presentation program.

In addition to these classes, BPL has several other free computer workshops of various topics being offered throughout September. To register, click on the events calendar or call 205-226-3680.

Read more about the Grow with Google workshops held at BPL August 6 at these links:

Painting at UAB Exhibit Begins September 7 at Central Library

What: Painting at UAB, an exhibit of paintings created by University of Alabama at Birmingham students
When: Friday, September 7-October 25, 2018. An opening reception will take place on Sunday, September 9, 2:00-4:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library Fourth Floor Gallery

Painting at UAB, a free exhibit featuring paintings created by students of University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Professor Gary Chapman, will be on display in the Fourth Floor Gallery in the East Building of the Central Library beginning September 7 through October 25, 2018. An opening reception is scheduled for Sunday, September 9, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., in the gallery.

The exhibit will highlight the diverse work created in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences Department of Art and Art History painting studio under Chapman's guidance. Chapman said the entire exhibit is from current and recently graduated students of painting at UAB, mostly fine arts majors. Each student will have two to three paintings in the show, and two artists will have a larger display of their work.

"What I am most proud of my students at this, the advanced level, is the diversity of style and subject matter," Chapman said. "There is a prevalence of figurative work, primarily because it was the subject of a recent class. But the show includes work that is abstract as well as geometric patterning." Chapman said his objective as their professor is to first teach them "the language of paint and to learn to command that language. Then the fun begins in challenging them to find their own vision for what to do with that language. I am very proud of this group of student/artists."

Participating students are Bailey Barrow, Laura Benson, Ashlee Boren, Leah Cox, Becky Delgado, Frances Drew, Caroline Etheridge, Timothy Harstvedt, Cima Kahdemi, Meghan Malone, Joni Moore, Lanette Blankenship, Emily Stroud, Anthony Smith, and Daniel Vann.

For details on the Painting at UAB exhibit, visit or contact Chapman at For information on Chapman, visit

Patrons at Five Points West Library Gather for Prime Time Family Reading Time

Keiah Shauku of Urban Avenues leads a discussion at Five Points West Library

Five Points West Regional Branch Library has kicked off the 2018 summer and fall season of Prime Time Family Reading Time, a six-week program that encourages parents and their children to celebrate the joy of reading together. About 40 adults and children participate in the program, said Fontaine Alison, a storyteller at Five Points West Library.

The program at Five Points West Library runs through September 18, then will be followed by a bilingual PrimeTime Family Reading Time program in Spanish/English. Prime Time Family Reading Time is sponsored by the Alabama Humanities Foundation.

Some food and fellowship before the program begins

Each 90-minute session includes storytellers reading up to three books followed by a discussion. During the August 28 Prime Time Family Reading Time, the group discussion was led by Keiah Shauku, a longtime BPL volunteer and director of outreach at Urban Avenues, a nonprofit in Woodlawn. Attendees were provided with a light meal to the reading and book discussion.

Prime Time Family Reading Time features award-winning children’s books to stimulate discussion about problems families encounter every day. They typical gathering is comprised of parents and children aged 6 to 12. For more information on dates, times, and location of Prime Time Family Reading Time programs being held at BPL, visit the events calendar.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Book Review: The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Alone, 1932-1940

by David Blake, Fiction Department, Central Library

The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Alone 1932-1940
William Manchester

Appeasement, appeasement of Hitler, is so strongly linked with the British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, that it seems like personal fecklessness, a mistake made by a single powerful man. In fact, appeasement was a policy position with nearly universal support in the British Parliament, and among the British people. After the horrific trauma of the Great War, World War One, it was inconceivable to the British, and to the French, that anyone would want to descend once more into industrialized warfare and slaughter. They were wrong. Hitler wanted war. Winston Churchill stood up to Hitler, and he was alone.

The second volume of a trilogy, Alone, is the story of that period when Winston was out of power. He had held several of the highest offices in the British government, but in 1932, considered a warmonger and a relic of the past, Churchill was shunned as the opportunity to deal with Hitler slipped away. But he still had his voice.

Alone describes a world very different from our own. Britain ruled the waves—it was the only world power—and the British Empire was at its territorial zenith, controlling more than a quarter of the Earth’s surface. A small group of privileged men in London made decisions affecting millions of people thousands of miles away. They believed themselves to be great men, and Churchill certainly did. Because he was out of power during the period covered by this part of the trilogy, the reader is treated with the most intimate portrait of Churchill. Most especially we experience Churchill, the late-night writer, terrorizing his staff as learned books and popular articles pour out of his study at Chartwell, his country home.

The first volume of this trilogy, Visions of Glory, covers Churchill’s youth and his first political career. The last volume, Defender of the Realm, tells the story of the Second World War, Churchill’s prime ministerships, and his decline. Alone covers the period of Churchill’s life many believe to be the most sublime when he fought everyone, by himself, and was right when the entire world needed someone to stand up to Hitler.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Southern History Book of the Month: The Southern Sympathy Cookbook: Funeral Food with a Twist

by Mary Anne Ellis, Southern History Department, Central Library

The Southern Sympathy Cookbook: Funeral Food with a Twist
Perre Coleman Magness

Here in the South we believe wholeheartedly that “Food is Love” and there is no occasion more likely to spur an outpouring of love—and food—than a funeral. At times of loss our neighbors who have been brought up in the tradition of funeral food will knock at our doors with cakes and casseroles and platters and sheet pans; as a friend told me right after I lost my mother, “I brought you a lasagna, because this is the South and that’s what we do.” The Southern Sympathy Cookbook pays tribute to this tradition with a wonderful collection of recipes that will have readers nodding and smiling in recognition, along with a few others that may raise eyebrows. This is where the “with a twist” part comes in. Sweet Potato and Peanut Butter Hummus? Really? But Magness includes some entertaining explanations of why dishes like this are included:
George Washington Carver was born a slave but become the head of the agriculture department at Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute. He was most known for his work on important Southern crops, including peanuts and sweet potatoes. I like to think he’d be pleased with this recipe. On the table with the cakes and casseroles, there needs to be something vegetable-related and healthy.
Bear in mind that this is the South and macaroni and cheese qualifies as a vegetable. And you’ll find Macaroni and Cheese (with Buttermilk, no less) in this book, along with Fried Chicken—hailed as “The Gospel Bird” because it is such a cornerstone of Southern cooking—Funeral Baked Beans, and the pineapple casserole standby so common that it is simply referred to as “That Pineapple Thing.” If you’ve seen or eaten it, you’ll recognize it.

The cookbook is arranged according to the stages of the death/funeral process. Breakfast items can be found under “The Great Awakening” whereas desserts are in “The Sweet Hereafter.” Fruit and vegetable food is “The Eternal Garden.” There are also humorous selections from obituaries sprinkled through the pages, such as this extract from a Hot Springs, Arkansas listing: "She is survived by her loving husband and sons, her sister . . . her brother . . . her bossy daughter-in-law and three as yet unspoiled granddaughters . . . and numerous relatives who were all loved but not mentioned in the will."

Deep South Funeral Food is so rich a tradition and covers so many cultures and ethnicities that there could be a lot of arguments over what to select for a book like this. Magness does a good job of covering the basics while still throwing a few curves and opening up the possibilities of what to offer the next time you need to express your love in food. The Southern Sympathy Cookbook may be brief compared to some specimens of the genre but it is highly browsable and may inspire you to try some of these recipes before the necessity of a funeral. If you see something that looks wonderfully delicious, then don’t wait—start cooking!

For further information:

Perre Coleman Magness
Perre Coleman Magness on Facebook
“Classic Comfort Dishes You’ll See On Every Southern Funeral Spread”
“7 Distinctly Southern Funeral Traditions”
“Southern Funeral Etiquette”

Friday, August 24, 2018

Five Points West Library Offers Series of Classes on Building Websites

by Sam Medlin, Five Points West Regional Branch Library

The Five Points West Regional Branch Library has begun a new series of classes on website building. This course offers insight into websites and how to create them. If you ever wonder why certain websites look great, how Google finds the information you are looking for, or how to make an online marketing platform to reach customers for your small business, this class is for you.

HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language. Anytime you “surf” the internet you are being redirected to a multitude of computers that contain HTML code. This code is then accessed by your browser (Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, etc.) and turned into a picture, sort of. This picture is a website. This website is written in HTML. Seems complex, I know, but, like any other language, when you learn how it works it becomes easier to understand. Like baking a cake or fixing a car, you don’t have to know the exact chemistry of what you are working with to make the cake delicious or the car crank up. You just need a recipe or manual!

This course is your recipe book. If you want to see a little of what you will work with, a website that you can visit to experiment with HTML coding is They have a big green button you can hit to “Try it Yourself.” This magic button will show you what the code looks like as a picture. It is as easy as paint by number. Who doesn’t like a good paint by number, huh?

The course starts with an explanation of HTML in the real world then transitions into an arts and crafts class, where you will be able to browse the internet’s best designed websites and then draw your own ideas. After that, the instructor will help guide you through common terms and practices that will make your ideas come to life, right in front of you! Paint by number, I promise.

So, if you want to learn more about this amazing topic, gain a skill that you can "wow" your friends with, or you just need to make a place to market your business, please visit or contact the Five Points West Library and sign up for this new and exciting course. See you there!

Schedule of classes:

Learn HTML w/ Sam
September 6, 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Materials on HTML and website building on the JCLC catalog.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Inglenook Branch Library Spotlights Minority Mental Health Month

Guest speaker Sonya Wilson of PeaceLovHarmony Counseling

July's An Expression of Appreciation for Women of the Inglenook Community, a quarterly program held at the Inglenook Branch Library, focused on Minority Mental Health Month with the theme “The Battle of the Mind.”

Licensed Professional Counselor Sonya Wilson, owner of her private practice, PeaceLovHarmony Counseling, spoke to women about about the importance of mental health. Karnecia Williams, branch manager at Inglenook Library, said the attendees and library staff at the event enjoyed the knowledge gained at the program.

Williams came up with the program more than a year ago to give back to the community surrounding Inglenook Library. Her idea was a recipient of a BPL Board of Trustees Innovative and Cool Award, which honors programs that go above and beyond service to library patrons.

A meal is shared at all Expression of Appreciation gatherings

“To delve into the issues of the community, I must first start with the women who are mostly considered the head of household in their families and address issues that are prominent to them,” Williams said. “It is my hope that as a librarian and with the help of these women, I will be able to address larger issues that impact the Inglenook community as a whole."

Birmingham Public Library to Host Livestream of 2018 National Student Poets Ceremony August 30

What: Livestreaming of 2018 National Student Poets Ceremony; Alabama School of Fine Arts senior Daniel Blokh one of five student poets to be pinned
Where: Central Library/Linn-Henley Research Library/Arrington Auditorium/4th floor
When: Thursday, August 30, 2018, 3:00-4:00 p.m. (CST)

A Birmingham student is among five teens from across the country chosen from among thousands of award-winning poets to serve as National Student Poets, the nation’s highest honor for youth poets presenting original work. Daniel Blokh, a senior at the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, will participate in a pinning ceremony taking place live at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, August 30, between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. (CST).

The National Student Poets Program is an initiative in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the nation’s primary source of federal funding for museums and libraries, and the nonprofit Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, which presents the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. The ceremony will be livestreamed through the Library of Congress YouTube site.

Each National Student Poet will have an opportunity to read their poetry during this event and be honored and congratulated by the Librarian of Congress, Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Executive Director of the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, and other surprise guests. The Birmingham Public Library was invited by IMLS to serve as Alabama’s host site for the livestreaming of the pinning ceremony since Daniel Blokh is from Birmingham. Educators, students, writers, fellow poets, and others in the community are invited to view the live webcast from the Central Library.

To be considered for appointment as a National Student Poet, students first must receive a National Medal from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the nearly century-old program known for its recognition and celebration of the country’s most creative teens. This year, out of a pool of more than 23,000 works of poetry submitted to the Awards, 35 semi-finalists were invited to submit additional poetry and performance videos to distinguished jurors for final selection as National Student Poets.

Throughout the year, the Poets will serve as literary ambassadors and will share their passion for poetry and literacy with their communities and at libraries and museums throughout their regions. This will be done through service projects, workshops, and public readings. In addition, each poet will receive a $5,000 academic award. The National Student Poets Program is open to high school sophomores and juniors who submit work to, and receive a national medal from, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

BPL Perspectives: Joan Black, Crochet Instructor, Has Been Teaching the Art of Crochet at West End Library for Eight Years

Joan Black was taught the art of crocheting by her family when she was in the fourth grade. Black, 76, has now built a loyal following sharing her gift with others who take advantage of a free weekly crochet class she has hosted every Tuesday for eight years at the West End Branch Library.

“We have such fun,” Black said. “It’s a class for ladies to get together. We welcome gentlemen; my sons know how to crochet too.“

Black said the class began after she dropped by the West End Library one day to check out a book and struck up a conversation with Denise Ford of the West End Library, who was admiring her socks. After finding out Black made them, Ford asked if she would teach a crochet class at the library.

Participants modeling crochet wear they learned to make at Basic Crochet classes

Eight years later, Black says the class has grown and generated new friendships. The class makes all types of garments—socks, blankets, animals, even clothing such as a skirt, shirt, and crochet sweater.

“I have been blessed to have a friend, Ms. Lillie Glenn, who taught me how to make garments such as this,” Black said, modeling her outfit. “I am so proud of it.”

Black added, “We enjoy coming to the West End Library. It is such a warm, pleasing, welcoming environment. The employees here make us feel so welcome. We miss it whenever we don’t get a chance to meet. You better come out and join us.”

Basic Crochet meets at the West End Library on Tuesdays at 10:00 a.m.

Powderly Library Hosts Book Signing by Vincetta Denise Williams, Author of Black Like Me

Vincetta Denise Williams

On August 16 the Powderly Branch Library hosted a book signing and talk by Birmingham native Vincetta Denise Williams, author of the new children’s book, Black Like Me.

Williams now lives in Katy, Texas, where she is an educator and holds a master’s degree in education. She has written two previous adult works, My Name is Eve and I Was Deceived and Spirit of Loneliness.

Williams said in her books she desires to leave her stamp on future generations to assist them with the challenges they will face. Keep your eyes out for her forthcoming book, Don't Bully Me.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Registration Open for September Computer Classes at Central Library

Registration is now open for the September 2018 computer classes. Topics include computer skills and career guidance. All classes are held in the Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC) of the Central Library. Pre-registration is required for all classes. 

Register online through the BPL events calendar or call 205-226-3681. Please note that registration does not necessarily guarantee you a spot in the class. You will receive an email confirming your registration for classes. You may also call to confirm your registration.

Monday, August 20, 2018

LearningExpress Library School Resources

by Gus Jones, Fiction Department, Central Library

School is back in session and students will rely heavily on the library to help them find information to complete their assignments. Many of these resources are available online and the library provides a number of subject-specific databases as well as online encyclopedias such as Encyclopedia Britannica and Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia. However, there is a great resource available that you may not be familiar with called LearningExpress Library.

LearningExpress Library offers targeted learning centers to support students from 4th grade through college. The School Center provides skill improvement tools for elementary school through high school. The elementary school component focuses on mathematics and English language arts skills. The middle school component includes both of those areas plus social studies and high school entrance exam preparation. Finally, the high school component provides skill improvement tools for mathematics, English language arts, social studies, science, and logic and reasoning skills. Students may download eBooks and/or take practice tests to improve their skills in these areas. They may also track their progress by setting up an account on LearningExpress Library.

The College Students learning center provides a math skills review, reading skills review, grammar and writing skills review, science skills review, as well as preparation for graduate school exams (GMAT®, GRE®, LSAT®, MAT®, MCAT®, PCAT®), college placement exams and CLEP® exams. There is a separate learning center in LearningExpress Library for College Admissions Test Preparation. This includes tools on preparing for the ACT®, SAT®, PSAT/NMSQT® and AP® exams on a number of different subjects. There are even eBooks on preparing a college admissions essay.

I hope that many of you will take advantage of the wonderful information that is included in LearningExpress Library. As its title indicates, it contains a library full of information and it can be used at your convenience from the comfort of your home. There are a number of other learning centers beyond what I have mentioned here (Computer Skills, Career Preparation, etc) that may also be of interest. Please take advantage of what this great database has to offer and have a great school year.

Birmingham Public Library Databases
Electronic Resources for K-12 Students

Tailgating Recipes for Party Crowds

by Alisha Johnson, Ensley Branch Library

With the 2018-2019 football season rapidly approaching, many are gearing up for some All-American games and great food. Tailgating is a major part of the sports season and includes friendly competition, fellowship, and great recipes. Some may choose to barbecue and smell that smoky, meaty aroma while others like to keep it simple by preparing easy and portable foods such as wings, meatballs, cheese dips, pizza, hot dogs & chips, and fruit.

Whichever way you prefer your food, get ready for the most delicious gamedays with quick and easy recipes for tailgate foods.

Check out these recipes from some amazing cook books at your local library!

The Hungry Fan's Game Day Cookbook: 165 Recipes for Eating, Drinking, and Watching Sports by
Daina Falk.
The Official SEC Tailgating Cookbook
Fox Sports Tailgating Handbook: The Gear, the Food, the Stadiums by Stephen Linn
More on tailgating

Employment Readiness Bootcamp – New Age Online Application Drill/Interview Performance Training at Central Library August 27

What: Employment Readiness Bootcamp
When: Monday, August 27, 2018
Time: 1:30-3:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Regional Library Computer Center, 4th floor
Details: New Age Online Application Drill/Interview Performance Training. Free and open to the public.

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 Employment Readiness Bootcamp.

Monday August 27, 2018 – New Age Online Application Drill/Interview Performance Training

  • New Age Online Application Drill offers tips and suggestions to guide all job seekers in successfully completing online employment applications.
  • Interview Performance Training provides techniques to help you emphasize your skills, overcome objections, and build rapport with your job interviewer.

The bootcamp 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 further information about the bootcamp programs, please contact Jim Murray of the Central Library’s Business, Science, and Technology Department by email at or by phone at 205-226-3691.

Steps to Starting a Franchise Business Seminars Offered at Noon, Evening on August 27

What: Steps to Starting a Franchise Business seminar
Dates and Times: 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 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 are available to help you with your research.

The seminar will be offered again on September 24 and October 22. The August 27 and September 24 seminars will be offered twice daily for your convenience, at 12:00 p.m. and again at 6:00 p.m. The October 22 seminar will be offered once at 12:00 p.m. The seminar is free, but registration is required. Register online through the BPL events calendar or call Greg Foss at 336-501-5695.

For more information about the seminar and other resources for small business development available at BPL, please contact Jim Murray of the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department by email at or by calling 205-226-3690.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Prime Time Family Reading Time Spreads Joy of Reading at BPL

Sharing the importanc

The Birmingham Public Library is a proud participant of Prime Time Family Reading Time, a six-week program held at public libraries across the country that encourages reading, discussion, and storytelling as a family.

Five Points West Regional Branch Library hosts Prime Time Family Reading Time on Tuesday, August 21, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. Registration is limited to 30 families. The program features award-winning children’s books to stimulate discussion about problems families encounter everyday.

In Alabama, Prime Time Family Reading Time is sponsored by the Alabama Humanities Foundation. Each 90-minute session includes storytellers reading up to three books followed by a discussion. Prime Time Family Reading Time is typically comprised of parents and children aged 6 to 12. For more information on dates, times,  and location of Prime Time Family Reading Time programs being held at BPL, visit the events calendar.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

West End Branch Library Intern Tamika Green Talks about Her Involvement with Inclusive Internship Initiative

L-R: West End Library branch manager Maya Jones and Tamika Green

2018 Parker High School graduate Tamika Green gained a better perspective of the important role libraries play in Birmingham this summer. In June she was selected to participate in the Public Library Association 2018 Inclusive Internship Initiative, a national program designed to expose teen interns to library careers. Green, who is now enrolled at Alabama State University pursuing a degree in criminal justice, was so impressed that she plans to return to her assigned library, West End Library, to work while home during her Christmas holiday break.

A patron gets to know civil rights foot soldier W.A. Casey at Person-to-Person Library

Recently, Green and her mentor, West End Library branch manager Maya Jones, did an interview with Fox 6 News about the Person-to-Person Library program, a concept in which libraries "check out" to patrons human experts who share their stories. They came up with the idea to expose patrons to interesting people in the community. During a recent session of Person-to-Person Library, Green and Jones worked with two Birmingham foot soldiers, Gwendolyn Webb and W.A. Casey, who met with patrons and talked about their involvement marching during the civil rights movement.

In June Jones and Green attended a Birmingham City Council meeting to talk about their partnership in the Inclusive Intern Initiative.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Book Review: The Last Lion: Visions of Glory

by David Blake, Fiction Department, Central Library

The Last Lion: Visions of Glory (1874-1932)
William Manchester

Counted by Time magazine as one of the one hundred great books of the twentieth century, The Last Lion: Visions of Glory is perhaps the most surprising book in William Manchester’s three-volume biography on Winston Churchill. Churchill’s youth and early political career are often overshadowed by his years of greatness before, during, and after World War II, but Churchill was always interesting. He had to be. He lived like a pasha and wanted to direct the fate of the British Empire, and, although he came from one of the most prominent, aristocratic families in England, he had no money. He became a prolific writer, one of the most prolific and best-paid writers of his time. He was world-famous long before he became the prime minister we revere.

And Churchill was a “hottie.” Red-headed and trim in tight fitting uniforms, young Winston made full use of the possibilities for adventure in Queen Victoria’s grand empire, as an officer and foreign correspondent. Elected as a war hero, Churchill quickly rose into leadership, and, again surprisingly, worked with Lloyd George to break the power of the aristocracy and build the foundations of the British welfare state.

Young Winston had been a lonely, unpopular, and difficult boy, unsuccessful in school and sport, near the bottom in every school he attended. The Last Lion: Visions of Glory is largely the story of how a boy who disappointed everyone became the man who saved us all.

Many readers might be returning to The Last Lion: Visions of Glory decades after first reading it and the subsequent The Last Lion: Alone, which covers Hitler’s rise and Churchill’s time in the political wilderness in the 1930s. Some will be glad to learn that the final volume of Manchester’s trilogy was published posthumously in 2012. New readers will be happy to learn that Churchill and Manchester are very good company.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Steps to Starting Your Business Seminar Scheduled for August 21 at Central Library

What: Steps to Starting Your Business
When: Tuesday, August 21 (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: 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 investigating sources of business and economic information. Please register for the seminars by contacting Valencia Fisher in the Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity 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 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 or by phoning 205-226-3691.

Smithfield Branch Library Helping Students Prepare for ACT with Learning Express Library Sessions

With Birmingham area public schools back in session, the Birmingham Public Library is offering resources available to help students desiring to go to college prepare for the ACT, or American College Test.

The Smithfield Branch Library is offering free weekly practice test sessions on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 3:30-5:30 p.m. On Saturdays, Smithfield Library is offering ACT full test sessions from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. The Saturday sessions are free but due to space restrictions, pre-registration is required. ACT is a standardized test administered by the American College Testing Program. Read more about the ACT at

Smithfield Library branch manager Heather McWilliams said their goals are through Smithfield’s ACT Prep sessions assist patrons in becoming more comfortable in taking the ACT. These sessions use BPL’s online database, the Learning Express Library, a free tool students can access online from home using their library card.

“This is something that becomes easier with practice and we want to ensure patrons have all the tools they need when preparing for college,” McWilliams said. “Using our online database, Learning Express Library, gives students independent knowledge using databases, which is vital when performing research in college classes.”

ACT prep sessions schedule:

ACT Prep: Section Practice
Tuesdays and Thursdays through December 27, 2018, 3:30-5:30 p.m.
You will be able to take practice tests for the five sections of the ACT: English, Math, Science, Reading, and Writing. Free to the public and student walk-ins welcome if computers available.

ACT Prep: Full Test
Saturdays through December 29, 2018, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.; 2:00-6:00 p.m. 
Take the ACT test prep through BPL's online database, Learning Express Library. Free but pre-registration is required. Register online through the BPL events calendar or call 205-324-8428.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Crafting Is a Good Thing

by Selina Johnson, Wylam Branch Library

Relaxing and crafting at the Wylam Library

The month of August begins the start of a new school year for most students. They are now tasked with getting back into school routines that will allow them to reach their academic potential. To this end, there is no reason for creating and learning to cease once school dismisses for the day. After-school crafts are entertaining and students get a kick out of mastering these tried-and-true do-it-yourself projects. Crafts are not only fun but provide many positive benefits.

Creating things with your hands and making decisions about the process of how best to complete crafts stimulates the brain. This, in turn, inspires critical thinking such as contemplating what would be the best color for a birdhouse or determining how to best arrange wooden sticks in order to create a picture frame. Crafting can also be a stress reliever. Once school has ended for the day, decompressing and creating something of their own in a judgment-free zone is a release that many students appreciate.

It is quite refreshing to know that time-honored crafting is still something that students enjoy. It is a way for students to express themselves and you can see the sense of accomplishment on their faces when they have completed their work of art. The best thing about crafting is that you can make everything you create special simply because it was made with your own hands.

We have make-and-take crafts at Wylam Library on the first and the third Tuesday of each month at 3:30 p.m. during the school year. Come and join us to create a make and take craft of your very own. Visit the BPL events calendar for a listing of programming at Wylam Library.

The Diversity of Podcasts

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

I’m a podcast fanatic and am always searching for a new one to binge listen to. If you’re into listening to audiobooks, storytelling, or the radio, podcasts might be the thing for you too! One of the best parts about podcasts is the diversity—almost anyone can make one with very little equipment and talk about anything they like. For me, this has resulted in a greater understanding of and appreciation for those different from myself.

All that to say—here are some recommendations!

True Storytelling

Ear Hustle – A truly unique podcast produced and written by inmates incarcerated at San Quentin. Inmates share their stories, which are sometimes sad but often funny.

Reply All – Weird things happen in our modern world all the time and this podcast seeks to figure out why. Some of the episode topics include: Facebook spying, the New York Pizza Rat, micro-dosing on LSD, and a computer dominatrix.

Fictional Storytelling

The Black Tapes and Tanis (sister-podcasts) – These two creepy, paranormal podcasts will keep you coming back to figure out their mysteries. Don’t listen before bed!

Homecoming – A very well produced, acted, and written podcast, Homecoming drops you into a mystery featuring the voices of several well-known actors. Missing memories, corporate corruption and government interference galore!


A Very Fatal Murder – For the more advanced podcast listener, this satirical podcast by The Onion features a journalist trying to solve a crime. If you liked Serial, or any other true crime podcasts/documentaries, you’ll get a kick out of this one.

2 Dope Queens – Comedian BFFs, Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams, host a hilarious comedy show with some of your favorite funny people as guests. No topic is off-limits for these hilarious ladies!


Pod Save the People – DeRay Mckesson hosts this podcast that discusses culture, news and social justice with diverse experts and leaders. Learn a lot about what is going on in our country and how to be a better citizen and ally.

Dear Sugars – In the form of a “Dear Abby” column for your ears, the two hosts answer listeners’ deepest, darkest questions with empathy and kindness.

Finally, BPL can also help you out if you’d like to share your own podcast! Here are some books that can be checked out from the library:

Expert Podcasting Practices for Dummies by Tee Morris
Podcasting Bible by Mitch Ratcliffe
Create Your Own Podcast by Matt Anniss

Friday, August 10, 2018

Meet Patricia Campbell, Author of Pocket Inspiration: 31 Days of Inspiration

Patricia Campbell

Books: Pocket Inspiration: 31 Days of Inspiration, one of several authors featured in the best seller 1 Word, Discover, Reflect, & Connect with Words That Can Transform Your Life
How to reach the author: email:; website:; Facebook: Minister Patricia Campbell; Instagram: MinisterPatricia; Twitter: AuthorPatriciac; LinkedIn:
Quote Campbell uses as a guide in life: “In today’s society, many times we become so focused on ‘me’ that we forget about the real joy in life! Early on in life, a very great woman imparted to me this simple motto from a song written by Alma Bazel Androzzo: 'If I can help somebody as I pass along, then my living will not be in vain!'"

If you need to be inspired, join Patricia Campbell at the Birmingham Public Library 2018 Local Authors Expo as she shares the vision behind the spiritual devotional she has written, Pocket Inspiration, 31 Days of Inspiration.

Campbell will sell autographed copies of her book and discuss her contributing co-author role in the best-selling book, 1 Word, Discover, Reflect, & Connect with Words that can Transform Your Life.
Pocket Inspiration is a pocket-sized devotional invitation to spend the next 31 days in strategic prayer and bible study. The book guides readers on how to delve daily into provocative meditation and prayer that maximizes their time with God.

A woman of God in touch with the pulse of the spirit, Campbell is a teacher, conference speaker, intercessor, prayer warrior, and minister of the gospel at the Tower of Prayer in Leeds. She is the founder of Life Ministries, a Birmingham ministry whose assignment is to empower the body of Christ to live in fullness and excellence.

When she is not helping others as an inspirational coach, mentor, and business consultant, Campbell enjoys spending time with her daughter April, her granddaughter Shriya, son-in-law Herbert, and her extended family. Her hobbies include writing, reading, bowling, and traveling.

Campbell will be among 39 authors at the Birmingham Public Library 2018 Local Authors Expo on Saturday, August 11, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., in the Central Library Grand Reading Room. Come take advantage of this opportunity to hear Campbell and other authors share writing tips and buy autographed copies of their books at this great event. For more information, visit

Meet Anthony D. Sparks, Author of Confessions of a Dreamer

Anthony D. Sparks

Books: #BETTER, RelationTIPS, Confessions of a Dreamer
How to reach the author: email:; website: www.anthonydsparks.comFacebook: Anthony D. Sparks: Instagram: @AnthonyDSparks; Twitter: @AnthonyDSparks
Quote Sparks uses as a guide in life: “My purpose is to help others live a life OF purpose ON purpose!”
Quote from Sparks about being involved in Local Authors Expo: “I’m so grateful for the opportunity to participate in this year’s Local Authors Expo. Sharing the space with so many creative minds is both humbling and exciting, and I’m just looking forward to being in the room!”

Anthony D. Sparks is the owner and operator of Anthony D. Sparks LLC, a company in which he serves as a certified development coach, author, and motivational speaker. In these roles he seeks to empower others via personal and professional development, relationships, branding, and corporate training. Sparks has written three books: #BETTER: 7 Keys to Living a Life of Progression, Not Perfection; RelationTIPS; and Confessions of a Dreamer. All three of his books have sold throughout the country and worldwide, making best-seller lists on

After beginning his career as a manager for Regions Bank, Sparks served six years as the executive director of the YMCA Youth Center in downtown Birmingham. He was the youngest executive director in the Birmingham YMCA system and the longest-serving director in the history of the Youth Center. As director, Sparks and his team created a “Life Lab” program for teenagers, balanced the Youth Center’s budget, increased program enrollment and partnerships, and positively impacted over 7,000 students.

Sparks is a graduate of Ramsay High School in Birmingham and the University of North Alabama, where he received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration. His academic accomplishments led Sparks to be elected into the University of North Alabama Hall of Fame. 

Sparks has coached and trained thousands of individuals at hundreds of events across the nation. Some of his previous clients include: Alabama Power Company, Leadership University of Washington, D.C., the City of Jasper, the City of Sylacauga, Alabama A&M University, Regions Bank, Florence City Schools, Birmingham City Schools, A.G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club of Middle Tennessee, Troy University, Herzing University, and the State of Alabama.

Sparks believes that his purpose is "to help others live a life of purpose on purpose."  A Birmingham native, he is the son of Judge Andra and Karen Sparks. He and his wife, Ashley, have two sons, Aidan, 6, and Ashton, 13 months.

Meet Sparks and 39 other authors at the Birmingham Public Library 2018 Local Authors Expo on Saturday, August 11, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., in the Central Library Grand Reading Room. Read more about the event at

Newspaper Clipping Files: A Local History Resource that Never Goes Out of Style

by Mary Beth Newbill, Southern History Department, Central Library

Long before databases, digitization, and optical character recognition software made researching newspapers (somewhat) straightforward, the librarians at BPL were quietly clipping and organizing thousands upon thousands of newspaper articles. The result is a collection of local history and biography that is totally unique to the Birmingham Public Library. It represents decades of work and dedication and remains an essential tool for students, genealogists, and historians.

The clipping files are made up of almost 10,000 individual file folders arranged by subject. Although, the subject headings can cause some head scratching even among those of us who have worked with them for years. Looking for the file on Loveman’s Department Store? Well, it’s not filed under Loveman’s or Department Stores or Businesses. It’s actually filed under Merchants – Birmingham – Loveman’s. Since there is no digital access to the Birmingham News prior to 1993, finding articles on a particular topic is challenging. Having the clipping files makes locating articles on subjects such as schools, churches, and neighborhoods much easier.

The earliest clippings date from the 1920s and the files were added to continuously until the mid-1980s. Once indexes to the Birmingham News and the Birmingham Post-Herald were available (first on microfiche and later digitally), the files were no longer updated. However, the collection that remains is absolutely invaluable. Housed in the library’s Southern History Department, the collection takes up a large amount of space. Since it is located in the closed stacks, most patrons never see its true scale and scope.

In recent years, library staff has worked just as diligently to scan, crop, and describe individual clippings as those librarians who, decades ago, created the original files. Thanks to the hard work of another generation of librarians, many of the clippings are now available in our digital collection. No matter the format, preserving and maintaining access to this unique collection will always be important to us.

For more information about the newspaper clipping files, contact the Southern History Department at 205-226-3665 or visit our Digital Library at

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Meet Lauren Bailey, Author and Illustrator of Finding Me Beneath the Kapok Tree

Lauren Bailey

Book: Finding Me Beneath the Kapok Tree (March 2018)
How to reach author: website:; Facebook: Lauren Bailey; Instagram: Rebearthling1
Quote Bailey uses as a guide in life: “I have the nerve to walk my own way, however hard, in my search for reality, rather than climb upon the rattling wagon of wishful illusions.”– Zora Neale Hurston

In her new children’s book, Finding Me Beneath the Kapok Tree, Birmingham native Lauren Bailey chronicles the life of a baby elephant that searches for an identity all his own. She hopes that through his journey of self-discovery, readers will, like the baby elephant, learn that they too already have everything they need for success in life on the inside.

Bailey will be among 39 authors and publishers featured at the Birmingham Public Library’s 2018 Local Authors Expo at the Central Library on Saturday, August 11, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

“I am beyond excited about participating in the Local Author’s Expo for the first time,” Bailey said. “This amazing opportunity gives me the chance to connect with others who are as passionate about art and literature as I am!”

Finding Me Beneath the Kapok Tree is simply about coming into your own by trying and failing, and celebrating the unique gifts others have to offer the world. Bailey said it was originally inspired by a close friend who was having her first child.

“I simply intended for it to be a gift and nothing more,” she said. “However, I happened to share this book with my sister before giving it to my friend. When my sister read it tears began to roll down her cheeks. She looked up at me and said, “You are the baby elephant.”

Bailey said she was taken aback because it had not occurred to her that she was the baby elephant.

“Then I realized that we all have been the baby elephant at some point in our lives or still are the baby elephant, and in that moment I realized that I needed to share this book with others,” Bailey said.   

Bailey is graduated from Auburn University with a degree in art and a minor in Mandarin Chinese. She is passionate about inspiring others through creative expression as well as maintaining and preserving the integrity of this planet’s natural resources and the life it supports.

Bailey’s passion for wildlife and the environment was inspired by her late father, Brian T. Bailey. She donates a portion of her profit from every creative endeavor she undertakes to a different wildlife or environmental organization in his honor.

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