Friday, September 28, 2018

BPL Spinners Club Hosting “Spooky Music” Spotlight on October 16

The BPL Spinners Club is getting in a “spooky mood” in preparation for Halloween 2018. On Tuesday, October 16, 6:00–7:00 p.m., in the Central Library Create205 Learning Lab, the club will celebrate “Spooky Music.” Treats will be provided.

Russell Lee and Cyndi Barnett
BPL Spinners Club, founded by Russell Lee of the Arts, Literature and Sports Department, is a music-based program in which attendees 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.

“October’s BPL Spinners Club is truly going to be a ghoulish and macabre listening experience," Lee said. "I promised Vampira (played by Cyndi Barnett of the Catalog Department) I would include Thriller on the playlist."

Lee, an accomplished pianist, said it has been a joy meeting in the library’s laid back, relaxed atmosphere with BPL patrons who have a passion for music. This summer Lee took the BPL Spinners Club on a tour of library locations across Birmingham to spotlight the blues. Read more about the club..

For more information about the BPL Spinners Club, call Russell Lee at 205-226-3673. The program was a November 2017 recipient of an Innovative & Cool Award of the BPL Board of Trustees, which funds unique programs that benefit library patrons.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Central Library’s Money Matters Workshops for 2018/2019 to Focus on Retirement Issues

What: Money Matters Retirement Planning workshop series
When: Second Wednesday of the month, October 2018–May 2019
Time: 12:00–1:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, 4th floor

Retirement is something that most of us look forward to. It is indeed an appealing notion to think that one day you will not have to get up every day and go to work. But retirement can also be a troubling notion as well, especially if you are worried about your financial situation. Concerns about money and finances are the primary reason that people do not enjoy their retirement years to the fullest.

Perhaps these concerns can never be totally alleviated, but thoughtful financial planning can certainly help to lessen the stress that we feel when we contemplate our post-work years.

Planning for retirement is the focus of the Birmingham Public Library’s 2018/2019 edition of Money Matters. Once again, this series of workshops is made possible through a partnership between BPL and the Regions Institute for Financial Education and The University of Alabama at Birmingham Collat School of Business. All workshops will be held at the Central Library on the second Wednesday of the month from October 2018 to May 2019. Each month a different topic will be covered, but the goal is to present a unified and coherent introduction to the retirement financial planning process. Workshop instructors will be representatives from the Collat School of Business.

The workshops are free of charge, but registration is required. To register for each workshop, please go to the Birmingham Public Library’s events calendar. For more information about the workshop series and other financial literacy resources available at BPL, please contact Jim Murray of the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department by e-mail at or by calling 205-226-3691.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Dannon Project, BPL Partner to Provide Social Services for Library Patrons

The Dannon Project and the Birmingham Public Library System have partnered to create opportunities for Birmingham citizens looking for a second chance at life.

Between early October through mid-December 2018, library patrons can schedule one-on-one sessions with a Dannon Project social worker to address personal barriers to success. Dannon Project staff then connect them to various service providers to assist with housing, employment, and healthcare, including mental health.

The Dannon Project began providing assistance for BPL patrons desiring social services at the Central Library in May of this year. During August and September, the Dannon Project and BPL partnered to provide one-on-one sessions with a social worker at five libraries across the city: Five Points West Regional Branch Library, Avondale Regional Branch Library, Southside Branch Library, East Lake Branch Library, and West End Branch Library.

Central Library manager Ka’ryn Davis-West has worked for BPL for years and seen many people in need of the services the Dannon Project is providing. She applauded the Dannon Project for partnering with public libraries across Birmingham to meet these needs.

“There are people who might not know or be aware of options, opportunities, and resources available to help them,” Davis-West said. “I feel that there is a great need in our area for someone to act as an advisor and advocate on behalf of others. Dannon has served as a strong bridge to help connect people to the best resources and options available."

Patrons are also informed of specific Dannon Project programs for which they qualify. “It is our goal to work with the community and reconnect citizens with the services they are seeking and badly need,’ said Kerri Pruitt, executive director of The Dannon Project.

Tenacaneskia Houston, a patron at the West End Library, said the program has been a blessing to her family. "The services provided by the Dannon Project and Birmingham Public Library will be a life saver for me and my children,” Houston said. “Put God first and you will never be last."

The Dannon Project social worker is available every Wednesday between 2:00 and 5:00 p.m. at different BPL locations from October through mid-December to assist in the following areas: drug abuse, mental health issues, legal referrals, unemployment, healthcare, homelessness, domestic violence, and more.

The dates and library locations are as follows:

October 3, 2018 – Woodlawn Branch
October 10, 2018 – East Ensley Branch
October 17, 2018 – East Lake Branch
October 24, 2018 – Ensley Branch
October 31, 2018 – North Avondale Branch
November 7, 2018 – Wylam Branch
November 14, 2018 – Inglenook Branch
November 28, 2018 – Powderly Branch
December 5, 2018 – Titusville Branch
December 12, 2018 – Eastwood Branch

Friday, September 21, 2018

Bards & Brews Poetry Slam at Central Library October 5

Bards & Brews, the Birmingham Public Library's popular spoken-word poetry/craft beer program, is hosting its first poetry slam of 2018 at the Central Library Grand Reading Room on Friday, October 5, 6:30–9:00 p.m.

A slam is a competition using elimination rounds for the performance of poetry, judged by a panel chosen from the audience. The poetry slam is open to members of the public who pay a $5 fee to enter the competition. Voice Porter will emcee the event.

The Bards & Brews slam is free to attendees 18 and older; you must be at least 21 to drink the free craft beer samples. The first place winner of the poetry slam will receive $250; the second place winner will receive $150; and the third place winner will receive $50.

BPL hosts Bards & Brews monthly except December, usually on the first Friday evening. For more information and upcoming dates, visit Bards & Brews on Facebook or the BPL events calendar.

Prizes are made possible by a generous donation from the Friends Foundation of the Birmingham Public Library.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Storytime at the Birmingham Public Library Popular with Young Patrons

Storyteller Fontaine Alison at the Wylam Library

What child does not like being read a good book? If you have children in Birmingham, the Birmingham Public Library has plenty of locations across the city offering storytime for kids in day cares, schools, and youth groups looking for activities that entertain and educate young minds at the same time.

Every Friday, patrons at Southside Branch Library receive a visit from BPL storytellers reading books that make them laugh or carry them on adventures worldwide via the written word.

On Thursday, September 20, Wylam Branch Library hosted a popular program, Storytime with Ms. Fontaine. Storyteller Fontaine Alison of Five Points West Regional Branch Library leads the youth in weekly stories, songs, movement, and more that encourage development of early literacy skills in  children.

Also September 20, the Eastwood Branch Library hosted its weekly storytime program while the Avondale Regional Branch Library hosted a similar program, It's Time for Tales, an action-packed preschool storytime with stories, songs, and lots of fun for everyone. 
Check out the BPL events calendar and you will find plenty of storytime opportunities and other free programs for patrons of all ages. 

Birmingham Public Library Hosting Events to Celebrate Family History Month in October

The Birmingham Public Library’s Southern History Department is hosting 13 different free programs
throughout October to celebrate Family History Month.

Since being passed by Congress in 2001, Family History Month has been observed annually in the United States during the month of October to promote the importance of family and researching your family tree.

If you have been thinking of researching your family tree, getting a DNA test done, or desire to learn more about how to preserve important family photos and documents, BPL has several services and resources available to assist you.

Make plans now to attend these free workshops throughout October, all taking place at the Central Library/Linn-Henley Research Library.

Using Government Documents for Genealogy
Monday, October 1, 2:15 p.m.
Linn-Henley Research Library, Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC), 4th Floor
Many government agencies offer resources for genealogical research. Learn how to look beyond census records and find genealogical information in some truly surprising places. You can search for service records and land grants, view web tutorials, and much more using free websites from the state and federal government.

How to Research Your House History
Monday, October 1, 3:30 p.m.
Linn-Henley Research Library, RLCC, 4th Floor
This class will introduce participants to sources available at the library and online to help them research the history of a house in Jefferson County. Participants can learn when a house was built, who has lived there over time, and see historic photos of their house.

Preserving Your Family Papers and Photographs
Tuesday, October 2, 9:15 a.m.
Linn-Henley Research Library, RLCC, 4th Floor
There are many basic and inexpensive things you can do to ensure that your family letters, scrapbooks, and photographs are preserved for the future. This talk introduces the fundamentals of home archiving.

Jump into the Gene Pool: Genetics and Your Family History
Tuesday, October 2, 2:15 p.m.
Linn-Henley Research Library, RLCC, 4th Floor
Discover how genetic research can help you explore your family history. Find out what a gene sample can tell you about what parts of the world your ancestors came from and more.

Old Photographs: Solving the Mysteries with Frances Robb
Saturday, October 6, 1 p.m.
Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th Floor
This program, led by author and historian Frances Robb, will allow patrons to look at ways to date and begin to identify individuals in family and institutional photographs, including a look at clothing and accessories. Participants may share their photographs and get help in solving their puzzles. Period photographs will be available for comparing to participants' family photographs, and participants may learn from actual examples and even handle them (with care).

Understanding DNA Ethnicity Test Results 
Tuesday, October 9, 2:15 p.m.
Linn-Henley Research Library, RLCC, 4th Floor
Discover how DNA testing companies determine ethnicity percentages and what these estimates mean in terms of your genealogy.

Introduction to Genealogy
Saturday, October 13, 10:00 a.m.
Linn-Henley Research Library, Southern History Department, 1st Floor
Want to learn how to do genealogical research? Come to this introductory class that will help get you started on your genealogical journey. The staff in the Southern History Department covers such topics as vital records, courthouse and church records, and the Federal Census.

Beyond the Basics of Genealogy – Dear Cousin: Corresponding with Your DNA Relatives
Sunday, October 14, 2:30 p.m.
Linn-Henley Research Library, Auditorium, 4th Floor
This program builds on previous programs about DNA testing for genealogy. Patrons who have undergone DNA testing will learn how to reach out to their newly identified family members in a way that is welcoming and enriching for both parties.

The Bases are Loaded! Databases for Genealogy
Monday, October 15, 2:15 p.m.
Linn-Henley Research Library, RLCC, 4th Floor
Don’t be left sitting in the dugout. Make use of all our resources in your game plan for family history research. Learn how to locate genealogy databases and discover the wealth of genealogical information they have to offer. Let us help you knock one out of the park.
Tuesday, October 16, 2:15 p.m.
Linn-Henley Research Library, RLCC, 4th Floor
Learn how to search our newest history/genealogy database to find articles, obituaries, and other tantalizing bits of information available in newspapers large and small throughout the Southeast. Library Edition 
Tuesday, October 23, 2:15 p.m.
Linn-Henley Research Library, RLCC, 4th Floor
Participants will be introduced to the Library Edition database in which you can research your family history. Learn the tips and tricks about how to search this database like a librarian.

Beyond the Basics of Genealogy – Church Records and Histories for the Genealogist
Sunday, October 28, 2:30 p.m.
Linn-Henley Research Library, Auditorium, 4th Floor
Using church records for genealogy research can be challenging. This workshop will give patrons the tools they need to determine if these records are an option for them and where they might be likely to find them.
Tuesday, October 30, 2:15 p.m.
Linn-Henley Research Library, RLCC, 4th Floor
This hands-on class will introduce researchers to Fold3, the premiere genealogy database for US military records. We will cover the different records which are included in Fold3 (military and non-military), how to do a basic search, and how to interpret your results.

Additional resources, meetings, and seminars at BPL:

BPL Genealogy Subject Resources

Find genealogy books, movies, and crafts for the whole family.

The Alabama Genealogical Society will hold their Fall Seminar at the Alabama Department of Archives and History on October 13, 2018.

The Birmingham African American Genealogy Group will have their monthly meeting on October 14, 2018. This meeting is a field trip to LDS Family History Center in Vestavia Hills.

The Birmingham Genealogical Society will hold their monthly meeting on October 27, 2018, 2:00 p.m., Linn-Henley Research Library, RLCC, 4th Floor.

North Avondale Library Chapter Chatters Book Club Reads The Hate U Give

Chapter Chatters Book Club
Banned Books Week, an annual national event celebrating the freedom to read, kicks off this Sunday, September 23, and concludes on Saturday, September 29, 2018. 

One of the top ten challenged books of 2017, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, was the August book of the month by North Avondale Chapter Chatters Book Club. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter Movement, Thomas' debut novel addresses the issues of racism and police violence with heart and honesty when 16-year-old Starr Carter witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood friend by a police officer. 

North Avondale Library branch manager Saundra Ross said the club had a fascinating discussion about the book, which deals with the controversial subject of race and police shootings of blacks in America. The next meeting is September 26 at 10:30 a.m.

A movie version of The Hate U Give will be released on a limited basis October 4 and nationwide on October 19, 2018. View the movie trailer

Read an interview with the author, Angie Thomas, by the National Book Foundation, presenter of the annual national book of the year.

The 2018 Banned Books Week theme, “Banning Books Silences Stories,” is a reminder that everyone needs to speak out against the tide of censorship. Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to popular books in schools, bookstores, and libraries. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community—librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, and readers.

See the American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2017 that includes The Hate U Give.

Chess Instructor at East Lake Library Teaching Kids Thinking Skills

David Harris teaching strategy to members of the Say Yes to Chess club
David Harris became fascinated by the game of chess as an 18-year-old Army private stationed in Hawaii while watching fellow soldiers play. Four decades later, he is now a nationally certified chess instructor who volunteers his time every Monday to teach young patrons at the East Lake Branch Library how to play chess.

“Chess is a fascinating game that teaches young people skills that help them in life—patience, how to make wise decisions, and how to overcome mistakes,” Harris said during a break from teaching a couple of sixth-grade Birmingham students after school at the East Lake Library.

Every Monday at 3:00 p.m., Harris leads the Say Yes to Chess club, free lessons for Birmingham students visiting the library after school. He even teaches chess to adults who desire to learn the game. Several years ago, Harris formed a chess club at nearby Woodlawn High School that in its heyday had 40 members.

William Darby, branch manager at East Lake Library, said Harris' chess lessons have been well received. He said if you hear one of the children calling another a "chess head,” it is a compliment.

“Although chess is often considered a game for intellectuals, children attending an after school chess program at East Lake Library are learning chess can be fun,” Darby said. “Due to the volunteerism of Mr. Harris, young patrons are improving their thinking skills, concentration, and learning to consider the consequences of a decision before making a move. They learn to congratulate others when a challenge ends in a loss for them.”

Harris said when kids first start to play, they are intimidated and think it’s too hard a game to learn. After he teaches them the steps to making the right move, their confidence improves.

“Not every one of our kids can be an athlete,” Harris said. “I tell the kids if they get good in chess, they can win scholarships to college. There are professional chess players who make good money. It’s a fun game. It has been a joy to see the kids learn to appreciate the game.”

BPL has resources including books and videos on how to learn to play chess.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Smithfield Library Hosting Traveling Postcard Exhibit of Iconic Scenes across Alabama

A traveling exhibit from Troy University Libraries is making a stop at the Smithfield Branch Library.

Wade Hall Postcards: Historical Scenes of Alabama will officially open at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 20, 2018, and run through October 11, 2018. The exhibit features postcards ranging from the early 1900s to the 1960s from the Wade Hall Collection housed at the Troy University Archives in Troy, Alabama. Hall, a native of Bullock County, was an avid postcard collector, owning about 25,000 vintage postcards from his worldwide travels.

An author, folklorist, and professor, Hall donated his extensive collection to the Troy University Archives and the University of Alabama (UA) Libraries. Hall, who died in 2015, was an alumnus of Troy State Teachers College and obtained a master’s degree from UA before becoming a professor at universities across the country.

The exhibit originally opened on the Troy University campus in 2016 and is traveling the state. About 400 of Hall’s postcards featuring scenes from across Alabama are in the book Greetings from Alabama: A Pictorial History in Vintage Postcards. Many of these postcards are in the Wade Hall Postcards exhibit visiting Smithfield Library. The postcards include an iconic view of 20th Street in downtown Birmingham when it was a bustling business district, plus a nighttime view of Gadsden’s Broad Street.

Ruth Elder, one of three librarians from the Troy University Library who spearheaded the project, will appear at the Smithfield Library exhibit unveiling.

Broad Street at Night, Gadsden, Ala.

Troy Today. "Traveling postcards exhibits to showcase Alabama's historic streets, buildings." September 27, 2016"

A small sampling of Wade Hall Postcard Collection featuring Streets and Historical Buildings throughout the state of Alabama.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Roblox: Is It Safe?

by Alisha Johnson, Ensley Branch Library

Over the last year Roblox, which is an online game for kids where they can create and build their own games and play other games in a multiplayer environment, has created quite a stir and has given rise to the question of whether or not the game is safe for our children. Roblox does not require a minimum age to create an account and begin playing, but it does offers in-app currency that allows the user to purchase clothes, games, weapons, avatars, and other objects.

Some would say that the game is safe but that parents should definitely be alert of its hidden dangers. There are opportunities for predators and those with less-than-good intentions to communicate with our children and exchange inappropriate messages through chat. There are a number of ways to safeguard our children while allowing them to take part in the online gaming world and they include: enabling privacy settings, reporting bad behaviors, and blocking those users who present a threat to online safety.

Ultimately, the best way for us to combat these problems is to communicate with our children, understand what types of games they are playing, and who they are playing with. There are a number of resources available for parents to learn all about the game and possibly be a part of the gaming culture.

Check out these resources at your local library!

The Ultimate Roblox Book: An Unofficial Guide: Learn How to Build You Own Worlds, Customize Your Games, and So Much More! by David Jagneaux
The Ultimate Unofficial Guide to Robloxing: Everything You Need to Know to Build Awesome Games! by Christina Majaski
Master Builder Roblox: The Essential Guide
Roblox Game Guide, Tips, Hacks, Cheats Mods Apk, Download by Josh Abbott

Monday, September 17, 2018

Book Review: Three Dark Crowns

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

Three Dark Crowns
Kendare Blake

This young-adult fantasy book begins with the cryptic poem:

Three dark queens
are born in a glen,
sweet little triplets
will never be friends.

Three dark sisters
all fair to be seen,
two to devour
and one to be Queen.

And from there, I knew this book is meant for me—as someone who is a fan of true crime and has often been accused of having a dark sense of “humor”—I was all in. Throw in magical powers, and I’m in heaven. The three dark queens of our story each wield a remarkable power. Or at least they should. From birth, Katherine should be able to eat poison and not sicken. Arsinoe should be able to make plants grow and control animals. But the only sister who is able to use her magic is Mirabella, the strongest queen in many years, an elemental who can control lightening and shake the earth. So it seems that we know who the last queen standing will be…or do we?

This was one of my favorite fantasy books that I have read in a while. I went through love/hate relationships which each of the queens, and I almost threw the book in the air with surprise at the twist ending. Finally, the best news is that rest of the trilogy is already released to indulge your binging desires!

Steps to Starting a Franchise Business Seminars Offered at Noon, Evening on September 24 at Central Library

What: Steps to Starting a Franchise Business seminar
Dates and Times: 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 October 22 and 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.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Teens Engineer BHM Is Coming to a Birmingham Public Library Near You This Fall

A School of Engineering mentor and teens at the Ensley Branch Library

What: Teens Engineer BHM
Details: Teens Engineer BHM is a partnership between Birmingham Public Library (BPL) and The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Engineering that teaches teens interested in math and science careers engineering skills, robotics, and computer coding.

For information about Teens Engineer BHM, call Bessie Miller of BPL’s Central Library at 205-226-3655. Click on this link to find out more:

Middle and high school students with a passion for engineering will learn how to program robots, how to solder and gain computer coding skills this fall at Birmingham Public Library locations across the city. Teens Engineer BHM kicked off its fall after-school schedule this week.

Between September and late November, the popular program will be held at 12 of BPL’s 19 locations: Central Library, Avondale Regional Branch Library, North Birmingham Regional Branch Library, Five Points West Regional Branch Library, and eight branch libraries: Ensley, East Ensley, North Avondale, East Lake, Southside, West End, Smithfield, Inglenook, and Powderly.

The program is made possible by a generous donation from the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham

Teens Engineer BHM fall schedule:

Central Library
Monday through Thursdays, 4:00–5:00 p.m. from now through November 28, 2018 – classes include Robotics I, Robotics II, Soldering, and Arduino

East Ensley Library
Tuesday, September 18, 3:45 p.m. – Robotics 1
Thursday, September 27, 3:45 p.m. – Robotics 2
Thursday, October 25, 3:45 p.m. – Soldering
Thursday, November 1, 3:45 p.m. – Soldering

East Lake Library
Thursday, September 13, 3:45 p.m. – Arduino
Monday, November 5, 3:45 p.m. – Arduino

Ensley Library
Monday, September 17, 4:00 p.m. – Robotics 2
Monday, October 19, 4:00 p.m. – Soldering
Tuesday, November 13, 4:00 p.m. – Soldering

Five Points West Library
Thursday, October 4, 3:30 p.m. – Robotics 1 
Wednesday, October 24, 3:30 p.m. – Robotics 2
Thursday, November 15, 3:30 p.m. – Arduino 
Wednesday, November 28, 3:30 p.m. – Arduino

Inglenook Library
Monday, September 24, 3:30 p.m. – Arduino
Monday, October 15, 3:30 p.m. – Robotics 1
Monday, October 22, 3:30 p.m. – Robotics 2
Monday, November 26, 3:30 p.m. – Arduino

North Avondale Library
Wednesday, September 19, 3:45 p.m. – Robotics 2

North Birmingham Library
Wednesday, October 17, 4:00 p.m. – Robotics 1
Wednesday, November 14, 4:00 p.m. – Arduino
Thursday, November 29, 4:00 p.m. – Robotics II

Powderly Library
Tuesday, October 30, 4:00 p.m. – Robotics 1
Friday, November 2, 4:00 p.m. – Robotics 2

Smithfield Library
Thursday, September 20, 4:00 p.m. – Soldering
Tuesday, October 9, 4:00 p.m. – Robotics 1
Thursday, October 11, 4:00 p.m. – Robotics 2
Thursday, November 8, 4:00 p.m. – Soldering

Southside Library
Tuesday, September 25, 4:00 p.m. – Arduino
Tuesday, October 16, 4:00 p.m. – Robotics 1
Tuesday, October 23, 4:00 p.m. – Robotics 2
Tuesday, November 6, 4:00 p.m. – Arduino

West End Library
Wednesday, September 26, 4:00 p.m. – Robotics 1
Wednesday, October 3, 4:00 p.m. – Robotics 2

Gaming Days Returns to Woodlawn Branch Library

Now that school is back in session, the Woodlawn Branch Library has brought back one of its more popular after-school activities—Gaming Days at Woodlawn Library.

On Wednesday afternoons from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m., youth of all ages are invited to participate in friendly competition—both in video games such as X-Box One, Retro NES, Wii, and classic board games such as chess and checkers.

On September 12 two teens who had just finished playing checkers engaged in a spirited card game. "Uno!" one yelled, slapping his cards down on the table. Across the room, two other teenagers were competing in a game of Wii tennis.

Woodlawn Library branch manager Pamela Jessie said that the library began Gaming Days in the early spring and it was an instant hit. They took a break to focus on 2018 Summer Learning activities, and decided to resume Gaming Days after students from nearby Woodlawn High School returned to school.

“It gives the kids something fun to do after school,” Jessie said. “Gaming Days has been well received.”

For information about Gaming Days and other free activities and services for patrons, call Woodlawn Library at 205-595-2001 or stop by. You can find a listing of programs taking place at BPL’s 19 libraries across the city by clicking on the events calendar.

Powderly Library Hosting Diabetes Prevention Workshop Series

What: Everyone with Diabetes Counts workshops
Where: Powderly Branch Library
When: Remaining classes are September 27, October 4, 11, and 25, all at 10:00 a.m.
Who: Medicare recipients with diabetes or pre-diabetes, their family members or caregivers; any remaining slots are open to the public.
Details: Pre-registration requested. Register online through the BPL events calendar or call the library at 205-925-6178.

A diabetes educator is conducting a series of workshops at Powderly Library designed to help community residents prevent diabetes and prevent health problems due to uncontrolled blood sugars.

Maxine Starks, a performance improvement adviser at Birmingham’s Alabama Quality Assurance Foundation (AQAF), began conducting the free workshop series Everyone with Diabetes Counts on September 6 at Powderly Library. The remaining dates are September 27 and October 4, 11, and 25.

The classes will focus on these topics:

  • Diabetes and its health risks
  • Healthy eating and exercise
  • Talking with your health care team
  • Managing medications
  • Monitoring blood sugar levels

Starks said the diabetes prevention workshops are designed for persons with diabetes, those with pre-diabetes, their family members and caregivers. Non-Medicare persons with diabetes are welcome to attend.

Starks, a registered nurse, said AQAF has a contract with Medicare to help educate undeserved Alabamians and others at risk about how to prevent and manage diabetes. Alabama has the third highest prevalence of diabetes in the nation, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the nation.

Starks has previously conducted similar diabetes prevention seminars at other BPL locations including West End Library and Wylam Library. She hopes the classes at Powderly Library help save lives.

“The response to the first class was very good,” Starks said. “Our goal is to help make a difference.” 
More than 12 percent of Alabama's adults have been diagnosed with diabetes, but many with the condition are undiagnosed. African Americans and lower-income residents are most likely to have and die of diabetes.

Type I and Type II diabetes are both hereditary. Risk factors for Type II diabetes include lifestyle factors such as poor diet, obesity and lack of exercise. In addition to death, diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, blindness, and poor circulation that causes a need for amputations.

Read more about diabetes at or check out materials from the library.

Book Review: Summer Hours in the Robbers Library

by Jonathan Newman, Avondale Regional Branch Library

Summer Hours in the Robbers Library
Sue Halpern

Kit (formerly Katherine) has changed her name and moved far away after being caught up in a wrongful death case involving her former husband. She works as the head librarian in the fading industrial town of Seldom Falls, PA. As the narrative unfolds, it changes from the viewpoint of Kit to those of a newly unemployed Wall Street whiz kid named Rusty to a 15-year-old girl, a member of a “Rainbow Family,” named Sunny. Sunny is sentenced to community service for stealing a dictionary from the mall bookstore and will serve it through the summer in the Riverton Public Library.

Sunny (full name: Solstice Arkinsky) lives with her parents, Willow and Steve, and relates various stages of their nomadic life traveling cross country to sell handmade crafts at various fairs and malls. Sunny is 15 and opinionated and questioning—not what Kit really needs. Several years into her self-imposed exile, Kit has no close friends, lives in a run-down old house that she is spending a lot of money on to update, and keeps a series of notebooks that she unobtrusively journals something in ever day at the library. Rusty is seeking escape from financial ruin by trying to track down a bank account that his mother deposited over 50 years earlier. All he knows is that it was in “a” Riverton National Bank. The bank is gone be he hopes to recover it from the state. He spends days researching the area, visiting the library every day, and getting to know the staff and four old friends who meet there every morning.

Sunny begins to become attached to Kit, who also begins to see Sunny as a reflection of herself. Rusty is staying in a motel and begins talking to the Four, who begin to school him on life and and a few other mysteries.

As the novel progresses, each of the three main character are revealed to be seeking a new life, a purpose, and perhaps a new family in their own way. The mystery of Kit/Katherine is slowly unveiled and Sunnys parent’s nomadic ways are explained. In the end, all is not well, but there is a renewed hope for most of the characters.

Hispanic Heritage Month

by Mary Beth Newbill, Southern History Department, Central Library

The contributions and accomplishments of Hispanic Americans are celebrated each year from September 15 to October 15. This time is officially designated as National Hispanic Heritage Month. The celebration first began as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968 at the request of Congress and was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The week-long celebration was extended to a month on August 17, 1988, by President Ronald Reagan.

The influence of Hispanic cultures is deeply felt throughout the southeastern United States. Mobile, Florida, and Louisiana have all been under Spanish rule at various points in time. The effects of Spain’s early explorations to North America can still be observed in place names, architecture, religion, and many other ways. The oldest European settlement in the United States is St. Augustine, FL, settled by the Spanish in 1565 (that’s 42 years before Jamestown and 55 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth).

More recently, cultural influences from Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean have become integral to everyday life in the United States. With Hispanic and Latin Americans making up 18% of the U.S. population, their impact on film, art, music, sports, food, etc. is enormous.

For anyone wanting to learn more about their Hispanic heritage, the library’s Southern History Department has many books to help you. Some good ones to start with are Finding Your Hispanic Roots by George Ryskamp and the Hispanic American Genealogical Sourcebook by Paula K. Byers. We also have titles such as My Heart Is in the Earth: True Stories of Alabama and Mexico and Coraz√≥n de Dixie: Mexicanos in the U.S. South since 1910.

Check out our newest subject guide on Hispanic Heritage for more titles, websites, and information about National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Q&A with Eve Parker, AKA Popular Avondale Library Storyteller Ms. Eve

Storyteller Ms. Eve at the Southside Branch Library

Eve Parker was in a zone, leading about two dozen kids in a dance to the Pharrell Williams hit song “Happy,” then stopping the music and coaxing the children to hug their neighbor.

It was a fitting scene as a few minutes earlier Parker had been reading a book called Hug, and used the story to teach the children how to spell the word "hug."  The storytime program held September 7 at Southside Branch Library is among many led throughout the year by Parker aka Ms. Eve, Avondale Regional Branch Library’s popular storyteller.

Though Parker has only been a full-time storyteller for BPL for four years, she has been involved at Avondale Library since she was first hired as a part-time storyteller 20 years ago. Ironically, she first became acquainted with Avondale Library while bringing her kids to storytime. “I brought my children to storytime at the Avondale Library on a regular basis for 11 years—from the time they were born until my youngest started kindergarten,” Ms. Eve said.

In a Q&A interview, Parker talked about the joy of bringing smiles to the faces of BPL patrons as storyteller Ms. Eve.

Ukulele 101 at Avondale Library
BPL: What do you love most about being a storyteller?
Ms. Eve: Everything! I love introducing children to stories and music and math and science. I love seeing their "ah-ha" faces as they make connections. I love introducing them to the many resources we offer—books, movies, music, and even ukuleles! I love making props that will help bring the stories to life, and creating crafts that will extend the story for our Tot Time children. I love writing songs to accompany stories. I love getting to know our families and seeing friendships develop between the families that regularly attend Tot Time.

I love helping parents help their children learn to love reading by bringing books to life through the art of storytelling. I love exposing children to big ideas in stories such as: was what happened fair?; did the character make good choices?; how did the character's choice affect the outcome?; etc. I love that I get to fuse music and story and art—all things that I love—when creating and executing programs.

I especially love to think that by encouraging our young patrons to realize their creative potential, they will become better innovators, critical thinkers, and problem solvers. I do love everything about storytelling!

Give an estimate of how many times you have read stories to kids at BPL over the years and how many storytelling events at BPL do you attend per year?
The idea that storytellers read stories is a common misconception. Storytelling is performance art and as such I do not read stories—I tell stories. While the stories I share with the younger children are primarily prop driven, the stories I share with older children are much more complex. It might take days or weeks to arrange and learn a story for oral retelling.

Over the years I have planned and executed many thousands of programs for toddlers, preschoolers, elementary school aged groups, family groups, and even senior citizens.

What does it take to be good at reading stories to kids—aka what is the secret to keeping them engaged and participating? 
It is important to know your audience and to select age appropriate material. I often have much more material than necessary so that I can adjust the program to the needs of my audience. For my youngest audiences, storytime includes lots of music and movement. Beyond that, my storytime programs are interactive, literacy based, and adrenaline fueled!

Ms. Eve and former Tot Timers!
Anything else to add?
Storytime, especially Tot Time, is often an introduction of families to their local library. Many of the parents have not visited a library since they themselves were young, and they don’t know what we offer. They are looking for a connection to their community and for literacy-based experiences to share with their young children. These families learn about our many resources—books, music, CDs, DVDs, computers, and programming.

They also connect with other families to form neighborhood networks and playgroups. Their children have an opportunity to meet other children and share early literary experiences, thus creating life-long learners and library users. As parents and educators, both in and out of storytime, we all have an amazing opportunity to model and encourage good habits in our children.

Empathy, kindness, honesty, curiosity, and critical thinking are just a few of the habits, formed in youth, that we can encourage and model on a daily basis. Children’s literature provides us the perfect springboard, and youth librarians all over are eager to recommend the perfect books for our children.

At Avondale Library we have a Reader’s Advisory display in our Youth Department called “Let’s Talk About It.” The display contains books with big ideas for little people, and bookmarks with suggestions for starter questions for philosophical discussion. Even if you can’t make it to a storytime program, we hope you will come by to check out some of our sensational books!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

"The Price of Incivility: Lack of Respect Hurts Morale and the Bottom Line"

by Kelly Laney, Springville Road Regional Branch Library

"The Price of Incivility: Lack of Respect Hurts Morale and the Bottom Line" by Christine Porath and Christine Pearson from Everyday Emotional Intelligence: Big Idea 

Did you know that being nice to folks doesn’t just make work more pleasant, it actually promotes your business or organization? Christine Porath and Christine Pearson, writing in an essay for the book Everyday Emotional Intelligence: Big Ideas and Practical Advice on How to Be Human at Work, state that incivility at work hurts morale and the bottom line. Customers who view an employee treating another employee with disrespect can form a negative image of the business and avoid returning. A disrespectful working environment affects employees’ creativity, performance, and commitment.

Incivility can take many forms, and are sometimes the result of thoughtlessness instead of malice. Gross incivility would include publicly correcting, criticizing, belittling, or bullying someone. More subtle forms include texting or emailing during a meeting, taking credit for good results while calling out other people when something goes wrong, and gossiping about another employee’s personal business, performance, or appearance. Mean girls (and boys) are not just in middle school, and they have a deleterious effect on an organization.

According to Porath and Pearson, their poll of 800 managers and employees in 17 industries reveal the personal and business cost of being on the receiving end of incivility:

  • 48% intentionally decreased their work effort.
  • 47% intentionally decreased the time spent at work.
  • 38% intentionally decreased the quality of their work.
  • 80% lost work time worrying about the incident.
  • 63% lost work time avoiding the offender.
  • 78% said that their commitment to the organization declined.
  • 12% said that they left their job because of the uncivil treatment.
  • 25% admitted to taking their frustration out on customers.

It is impossible to foster teamwork when rudeness and disrespect cause negative and hostile feelings in a work group. People don’t have to be close personal friends, but animosity, cut-throat competition, and throwing others under the bus are not activities that promote working together.

The good news is that leaders can mentor and direct the team members by modeling good behavior, asking for feedback, rewarding improvement, and penalizing bad behavior. They can make civility a priority in hiring, and teach it to all employees. They can establish protocols with specific ideas for improving a hostile or toxic working environment. One such rule is called the “10/5 way.” If you’re within 10 feet of someone, make eye contact and smile. If you’re within 5 feet, say hello. With longstanding “bad blood” between employees, it may take a little time, but if goals are established, utilized fairly for all employees, and there are consequences for infractions, the situation should improve.

Steps to Starting Your Business Seminar Scheduled for September 18 at Central Library

What: Steps to Starting Your Business
When: Tuesday, September 18 (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: 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.

Public Can Obtain Passports at Five Birmingham Public Library Locations

Do you need to get a US passport? It is now easier than ever in Birmingham. You can now obtain US passports or have questions answered at five Birmingham Public Library locations across the city.

The Central Library downtown and four regional libraries—Avondale, Five Points WestNorth Birmingham, and Springville Road—will serve as official Passport Acceptance Facilities. The service will be available during the following times by appointment only: Saturdays, 9:00 a.m–12:00 p.m.; Mondays and Tuesdays, 5:00–7:00 p.m. You must supply your own photo.

BPL employees at all five facilities have undergone months of Passport Acceptance Agent Training from the New Orleans Passport Center of the US. Department of State.

For more information on what’s needed to obtain your passport and charges involved, please see the following information:

In Memory of September 11, 2001

by Leigh Wilson, North Birmingham Regional Branch Library

Among the Heroes: United Flight 93 & the Passengers and Crew Who Fought Back
Jere Longman

Among the Heroes: United Flight 93 & the Passengers and Crew Who Fought Back is the moving account of the extraordinary passengers and crew aboard United Flight 93, which was the fourth plane hijacked on September 11, 2001. New York Times reporter Jere Longman details the remarkable lives of the passengers and crew of United Flight 93, set against the backdrop of the terrible events that unfolded during the airplane’s hijacking. Many of the passengers phoned their families after the hijacking occurred and learned of the other hijackings, which had used commercial airplanes as suicide missions to attack the World Trade Center. This is the story of the heroic efforts of these passengers and crew to fight back against the terrorists, ultimately saving perhaps hundreds or thousands of lives. You will weep but also cheer with the heroes of United Flight 93 who inspired a nation with their courage.

Monday, September 10, 2018

From Page to Stage: And in This Corner: Cassius Clay – A Reader’s Theater Workshop for Children

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL), in partnership with the Birmingham Children’s Theatre (BCT) and Junior League of Birmingham (JLB), would like to invite you to attend From Page to Stage: And in This Corner: Cassius Clay – A Readers’ Theater Workshop for Children.

In anticipation of the upcoming BCT performance of School House Rock Live!, BPL will be hosting free workshops at several of its area libraries. Children, aged 7 to 12, will learn how stories come alive through the magic of theater. JLB members will coach the children and introduce them to similar literature located in their local library. Each child will receive two free tickets (one child and one adult ticket) to the BCT And in This Corner: Cassius Clay production on October 6 or 7, 2018.

Ding! Ding! Ding! A young Cassius Clay Jr. takes his first steps into the ring and on the path to becoming boxing legend Muhammad Ali. This historical drama takes our audiences back to Jim Crow Louisville where, despite a culture of segregation and racism, a young man finds inspiration in his community and the power of his own potential.

Workshop space is limited, so register online through the BPL events calendar or call your participating library location.

Libraries and dates are as follows:

East Lake Library – Saturday, September 22, 2:30 p.m.
Avondale Regional Branch Library – Sunday, September 23, 2:30 p.m.
West End Branch Library – Saturday, September 29, 2:30 p.m.
Five Points West Regional Branch Library – Sunday, September 30, 2:30 p.m.

1-2-3 Play with Me Program for Parents and Young Kids Kicks Off Fall Season September 6

The Birmingham Public Library is kicking off new sessions of 1-2-3 Play with Me at four library locations.

Playing with your baby is not only important for bonding, but is also an educational experience for your child. We are providing a special time and place for you to come to the public library and spend one-on-one time playing with your child. This five-week program involves children birth through age 3 and their parents or caregivers. The library will have age appropriate toys, books, and art activities just for you and your child. Also, we have invited special guests from the community to join us each week to answer your questions about parenting.

1-2-3 Play with Me emphasizes the role of parents as the first teachers of their children, facilitates early intervention and teaches strategies for healthy child development and early literacy. 1-2-3 Play with Me is the signature event for Family Place Libraries and is a community project grant recipient of the Junior League of Birmingham.

The 2018 schedule is as follows. Visit the BPL events calendar for exact dates.

Springville Road Regional Branch Library
September 6–October 4
Every Thursday at 10:00 a.m.

Five Points West Regional Branch Library
September 11–October 9
Every Tuesday at 10:00 a.m.

Avondale Regional Branch Library
September 19–October 17
Every Wednesday at 10:00 a.m.

Southside Branch Library
October 11–November 8
Every Thursday at 11:00 a.m.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Wylam Library, Faith Chapel Christian Center Partner on Summer Push, Vittles for Vitality Programs

L-R: Debra Blaylock, community liaison with Faith Chapel, and Connie Tolbert
and Selina Johnson of the Wylam Library
For nearly a decade Faith Chapel Christian Center has been a strong community partner with the nearby Wylam Branch Library.

Leadership at Faith Chapel, which began in Wylam in April 1981 in the home of founder Pastor Michael D. Moore, feel it is a part of their “responsibility as a church to be an active partner and supporter of community initiatives at Wylam Library,” said Debra Blaylock, community liaison with Faith Chapel.

“We feel that helping to build our community and families is something that requires collaboration and support from everyone in the community,” Blaylock said. “When everyone does their part, then success is much easier to accomplish and it’s not a burden on any one agency, church, or business.”

Wylam K-8 student participants of 2018 Summer Push program at Wylam
Library with Wylam K-8 teacher Constance Blaylock

Since 2009 Faith Chapel has provided monthly financial support to Wylam Library. Wylam Library branch manager Selina Johnson said Faith Chapel’s assistance plays a vital role in helping the library provide valuable services for their patrons, from after-school snacks to a summer program that helps kids retain their education by reading during the summer.  

Funding is not always what we would like it to be, so partnerships are essential to continuing a quality program,” Johnson said. “Partnerships provide libraries with resources and expertise that help expand Wylam Library’s impact by engaging and empowering the community.  This has been a great experience and we look forward to the continued success of current and future collaborations with Faith Chapel.”

Constance Blaylock and her 2018 Summer Push students

One program Faith Chapel helped bring to life is Summer Push, a reading initiative held the past two summers that focuses on helping students on break from Wylam K-8 School avoid the so-called “summer slide,” a phenomenon in which students forget much of the knowledge gained during the previous school year. During Summer Push, founded by Wylam K-8 teacher Constance Blaylock, students get free tutoring from her and reading assignments of books in the Wylam Library that help them retain knowledge while on summer break. Constance Blaylock holds the classes weekly at Wylam Library.

Debra Blaylock said Faith Chapel is excited at how successful the program has been over the past two summers in helping children avoid the summer learning slide.

Selecting more books to read!

“We have had great attendance and the parents have been very supportive,” Blaylock said. “The kids seem excited about reading and coming weekly to the library to talk about their books. This summer, we had kids coming throughout the week to get new books before their weekly meeting with Miss Blaylock. In fact, this summer we had a larger number of students reading more books over the summer.”

Each Tuesday during the months of June and July, the instructor, Constance Blaylock, required students to check out library books, read at least one book a week, and complete a weekly book report. Summer Push helped students gain and retain reading skills over the summer, Johnson said.

Parents and students alike were committed to the program,” Johnson said. The parents brought the students on time or early and the students were always prepared when turning in their assignments. They also were eager to claim their prizes for reaching reading goals.”

Debra Blaylock said everyone can agree that reading is critical to the success of kids in mastering other subjects. “Anything that Faith Chapel can do to assist them in improving their level of reading proficiency is a must,” she said.

Faith Chapel also filled a need in 2010 by providing funds to create Wylam Library’s Vittles for Vitality Program, Johnson said. Many students at nearby Wylam K-8 School are provided lunch quite early and come in hungry while visiting the library after school until closing time.

Afterschool learning activities
Faith Chapel provides this program a monthly stipend to purchase snacks for these students during the school year and a pizza party to celebrate reading accomplishments at the culmination of the library summer reading program,” Johnson said.

Faith Chapel is truly an example of the positive impact of spiritual outreach in the community and we commend them for their unwavering commitment to faith and community.  This has been a great experience and we look forward to the continued success of current and future collaborations with Faith Chapel.”

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