Monday, July 15, 2019

Central Library to Host Steps to Starting Your Business Workshop Tuesday, July 16

Looking to start a business? Small business owners, want to take your company to the next level?

 Then join us at the Central Library's Arrington Auditorium, 4th Floor of the Linn-Henley Research Building, downtown at noon-1 p.m. on Tuesday, July 16, for "Steps to Starting Your Business."

 This free monthly workshop is presented by the Birmingham Public Library in partnership with the City of Birmingham's Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity and the Birmingham chapter of SCORE (Service Corp of Retired Executives). SCORE representatives will provide an overview of the various aspects involved in planning, starting and operating a business.

Advanced registration is required. To register, contact Valencia Fisher of the city's Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity at 205-254-2799 or

The remaining 2019 dates for "Steps to Starting Your Business" workshops (all 12-1 p.m. at the Central Library's Arrington Auditorium) are as follows:

Tuesday, July 16

Tuesday, August 20

Tuesday, September 17

Tuesday, October 15

Tuesday, November 19

Archives Speakers Bureau Adds New Programs

By Jim Baggett, Archives Department, Central Library

Jim Baggett speaking at B. B. Comer Memorial Library (Sylacuaga)

Staff from of the Birmingham Public Library Archives present programs throughout the year to clubs and other organizations, churches, and for speakers programs at public libraries and museums in the Birmingham area and around the state.

Focusing on Birmingham and Alabama history, the programs draw from and highlight the collections of the BPL Archives. The programs, which last about 30 minutes, are presented free of charge.

The Archives has added three new programs to the Speakers Bureau offerings. They are:

All's Fair...
The end of that idiom is the framework for this presentation. Using love letters sent between a young World War II soldier and his sweetheart at home in Birmingham, we journey through a relationship torn apart by distance and war. (Catherine Champion)

Southern Belles in the Big Apple
Using travel diaries preserved in the Birmingham Public Library Archives, this presentation recounts the experiences of three Birmingham women who visited New York City in the 1890s, the 1930s, and the 2000s.

"It Came Like a Cyclone": Alabama and the 1918 Influenza
As World War One came to a close, tens of millions of people around the world contracted influenza in the worst pandemic in human history. Alabama was not spared the misery, and almost 150,000 Alabamians became ill in every part of the state. Thousands, including whole families, died. Stores, theaters, fairs, schools, and even churches were closed to try and stop the spread of the disease. With not enough doctors or hospital beds to tend the sick, neighbors pulled together to care for one another. This talk explores the story of the great influenza in Alabama and around the world.

Visit BPL's website to learn more about the Speakers Bureau programs.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Social Workers at the Birmingham Library July–September 2019

What: Citizen Services – Social Workers at the Birmingham Public Library
Where: At the following library locations: Central, East Ensley, East Lake, Eastwood, Ensley, Inglenook, North Avondale, Powderly, Pratt City, Smithfield, Southside, Titusville, and Woodlawn
When: At Central Library (East Building/Social Sciences Department/3rd floor) every Wednesday July–September 2019, and Wednesdays at select branch locations July–September 2019
Details: Free and open to the public

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) is partnering with The Dannon Project to continue to provide free social worker consultations to the public. These consultations will provide assistance and resources to help patrons with issues of drug abuse, mental health, healthcare, domestic violence, homelessness, and more. One Roof, an organization that helps people with housing needs, will be available with the social worker at the Central Library every Wednesday. Please contact a specific branch to find out when One Roof will be available at that location.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Inglenook Library Hosting 40th Birthday Celebration on Wednesday, July 17

Inglenook Library Branch Manager Karnecia Williams in front of bay window of former firehouse converted into library. 

What: Inglenook Branch Library 40th Birthday Celebration
When: Wednesday, July 17, 3:30 p.m.
Where: Inglenook Branch Library, 4100 40th Terrace North, Birmingham, AL 35217
Details: Join us for cake as we celebrate 40 years of serving Inglenook. For more information, call 205-849-8739 or visit the library.

On Wednesday, July 17 at 3:30 p.m., the Inglenook Branch Library is celebrating 40 years of providing quality library services for the community.

Inglenook Branch Library opened its doors on June 17, 1979. The building began its life as a fire station serving as Birmingham Fire Station #23 from 1927 until 1979, serving the Inglenook neighborhood. When the neighborhood received a new fire station, members of the community saw the opportunity to bring a branch library to serve the community.

Karnecia Williams, branch manager of Inglenook Library, is inviting the public to come join the celebration. “Stop by and enjoy a piece of cake as we celebrate 40 years of serving the Inglenook Community,” Williams said.

Inglenook Library maintains some of the original features of the old Inglenook fire station, including the original bay window.

Today, Inglenook Library is known for unique programs that serve patrons of all ages. Among them: The Readers Are Leaders Youth Book Club, the first annual Inglenook Library Royal Princess Tea  Party (a youth tea for girls taking place Friday, July 12, 6:30 p.m.), and Appreciation for Women in Inglenook, a quarterly celebration honoring women who give back to the community.

Many families in Inglenook are led by single mothers who are unsung heroes who deserve recognition and support for their contributions to society, said Williams, a wife and mother who came up with the program over two years ago to celebrate them. The series, featuring various speakers discussing timely topics of interest to women, is a past recipient of the BPL Board of Trustees Innovative & Cool Award, which honors programs that go above and beyond in service to library patrons.


After a new Inglenook fire station was opened in 1978, members of the community pushed to bring the first library in the area to replace it. Jack Bulow and members of the library administration agreed with the proposal.

Using Community Development Money ($22,000), and a portion of the City of Birmingham revenue sharing funds (over $70,000), the building was converted from a fire station to a library. The Inglenook Library debuted on June 17, 1979. Former features of the fire station remain today inside the library.

 As a result of combined efforts of the community and library, Inglenook Library won second place in the Birmingham Magazine Beautification Awards in 1980 for Restoration and Renovation. Inglenook Library sits in a quite nook between Inglenook Elementary School and Alabama Highway 79.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Royal Princess Tea Party at Inglenook Library July 12

By Karnecia Williams, Inglenook Branch Library 

Calling all princesses ages 9–12 to join the Inglenook Branch Library for its first Royal Princess Tea Party! The tea party will edify young ladies by teaching them different etiquettes and how to build their character and self-esteem.

What: Royal Princess Tea Party
Who: Young ladies 9–12
Where: Inglenook Library
When: Friday, July 12, 2019
Time: 6:00–8:00 p.m.

Young ladies will leave empowered and knowing and understanding their worth. For further reading on how to encourage and instill self-esteem in young ladies, check out the books below at your local Birmingham Public Library.

Step into Your Power by Jamia Wilson
Bold and Blessed: How to Stay True to Yourself and Stand out from the Crowd by Trinitee Stokes
Stand up for Yourself & Your Friends: Dealing with Bullies & Bossiness and Finding a Better Way by Patti Kelley Criswell
Girl Power Guidebook for Parents and Instructors: The Program, Strategies, and Insights That Transform and Empower Girls by Erin C. Mahoney
Girl Power 5-Minute Stories: 10 Books in 1

Coding Gems Camp for Girls under Way at the Central Library

Coding Gems, a free Summer Fun Coding Camp for girls ages 10-15, presented by the Birmingham Public Library and NCWIT AspireIT, kicked off Tuesday, July 9, at the Central Library.

Slots remain open for the following sessions: Thursday, July 11, Tuesday, July 16, Thursday July 18, Tuesday, July 23, and the final one, Thursday, July 25, all being held from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.

For more info or to register, contact Cheryl Burgess of the Central Library Youth Department at 205-226-3665 or

British TV Talk & Trivia Group

Do you love PBS’s murder-mystery series Grantchester? Are you ready for an exciting new season?

In this popular drama, Sidney Chambers, a charismatic, jazz-loving vicar, and methodical Geordie Keating pair up to solve murder investigations in the small idyllic village of 1950s Grantchester, England.

Grantchester returns for season 4 on PBS and will feature more murders, intrigue, and a mysterious new vicar. Join us as we discuss the characters and storylines and predict what will happen next.

The British TV Talk & Trivia group will meet on Tuesday, July 16, 2:00 p.m., at the Avondale Regional Branch Library.

For more information, contact Leslie Deason at 205-226-4000 or at

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Springville Road Regional Branch Library Receives $1,500 Grant from State Rep. Rolanda Hollis

State Rep. Rolanda Hollis, r, presents BPL's Yolanda Hardy with a $1,500 donation for Springville Road Library. 

Alabama State Representative Rolanda Hollis (District 58) has given a $1,500 donation to the Springville Road Regional Branch Library to help it provide services for patrons residing in the eastern Birmingham area she represents.

Hollis presented the $1,500 check on Monday, July 8, at the Springville Road Library to Yolanda Hardy, regional manager for the Birmingham Public Library’s eastern region. Hardy gave thanks for Hollis' donation, adding BPL is very appreciative of  the lawmaker's passionate support for Springville Road Library.

It's her second time providing financial support for the library. In March 2018, Rep. Hollis gave Springville Road Library a $500 donation. At the time, her public assistant, Kimberly Hayes, said in a statement, “This library branch serves many of her students (in District 58) and she is honored to be donating these funds.”

In 2017 former Birmingham City Councilor Lashunda Scales of District 1 (now Jefferson County District 1 Commissioner) gave the Springville Road Library a $25,000 donation that helped the library buy furniture and other items to better serve patrons.

Monday, July 08, 2019

Tween Book Review: The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James

By Mollie McFarland, Springville Road Regional Branch Library

The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James
Ashley Herring Blake

Twelve-year-old Sunny is going through a lot of changes. While this is true for every tween in the world, it’s especially true for Sunny. She was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy at the age of ten and her heart is gradually giving out. Thanks to an organ donor, Sunny receives a new heart after two years of suffering with the disease. She emerges from the surgery with a new lease on life. It’s easier to breathe and she’s able to run and swim and live like a normal kid again. This inspires her to make a list of all the things she will do with her brand new life.

“Step One: Do awesome amazing things I could never do before. Step Two: Find a new best friend. Step Three: Find a boy and kiss him.”

Sunny makes a new best friend right away when she meets Quinn on the beach. Quinn’s mother’s job brought them to Sunny’s small island for the summer and maybe longer. Things are really falling into place! But her plan is thrown into disarray when her estranged mother shows up, hoping to be a part of her life after eight years apart. Sunny begins to question who she really is and where she belongs when she decides to give her mother a chance. And friendship with Quinn is causing Sunny to question whether she really wants to kiss boys after all. Sunny has a lot to figure out all at once, but she manages to make the most out of her brand new life and become the new person she dreamed of, just not in the way she expected.

This book was so fun! It has all the great makings of a beach read. Sunny lives on an island and she enjoys surfing and swimming, but there is a lot more to this title than fun in the sun. This book has a lot of heart (no pun intended.) Sunny is such a relatable character and I totally get why she is struggling. She is funny, vulnerable, creative, and brave. This book offers a very welcome point of view for middle grade readers. Sunny is a tween trying to grapple with her identity in every way. While she is trying to figure out her place in her family, she is also working to understand and accept the fact that she is attracted to girls.

This is a wonderful book about growth and acceptance. Everyone from middle grade reader to grown-ups like me will find entertainment and value in this heart-warming coming of age story.

BPL Featured in American Libraries Magazine Story on 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing

The Birmingham Public Library is featured in an American Libraries magazine story on this summer's 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

The article spotlights how libraries across the country are highlighting the historic space flight. Click here to read the full feature.

Thousands of libraries across the country are putting together programs to celebrate space exploration in their summer reading programs, with “A Universe of Stories” as the slogan. The initiative, Summer of Space, is a partnership among NASA, the Collaborative Summer Learning Program consortium, and the Space Science Institute (SSI), and was formed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20 as well as encourage science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.

Below is the part that features BPL.

The Birmingham (Ala.) Public Library (BPL) has 400 programs planned this summer across its 19 branches. Bessie Miller, head of the learning center at BPL, says the library is hosting four to five programs a day, including one called Critters and Constellations.

“Constellations resemble creatures,” she says, “so we’re teaching kids how to compare them by bringing actual animals into the library.” Interest in STEM learning at the library is sky-high year-round, Miller says, thanks to the nearby McWane Science Center (MSC) and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center (in Huntsville).

As a result, BPL hosts STEM exposure throughout the school year, shifting to weeklong programs once summer break starts. “Our STEM programs are all booked out,” Miller says. “We’ve even had a program booked with 22 girls.”

The weeklong programs include science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) camp where some participants practice coding, soldering, and robotics; and a robotics camp to allow kids to build robots and battle them in competition. BPL will also partner with McWane to help highlight the 50th anniversary of the Apollo landing.

Wylam Branch Library Takes Its Youth Summer Learning Programs on the Road

by Selina Johnson, Wylam Branch Library

Wylam Branch Library is closed for construction but that has not hindered the implementation of the summer learning experiences and activities that our youth have become accustomed to throughout the months of June and July. Our summer programs will continue as usual because of the graciousness of Faith Chapel Christian Center. They opened up their activity room for us to use so that all of the youth summer learning programs will carry on seamlessly. So each Tuesday morning at 10:00 a.m. in the months of June and July, we take our summer youth programs to Faith Chapel. It has been a wonderful experience and the children have been thoroughly entertained and enlightened thus far with interactive and creative storytelling along with engaging science activities.

If you are interested in your youth participating in the summer learning experiences that Wylam Branch Library has to offer, there are three programs left in July that will be held at Faith Chapel Christian Center:

Rocket Science – Tuesday, July 9, 10:00 a.m.
Science Stories that Changed the World – Tuesday, July 16, 10:00 a.m.
Rollin' Beats Traveling Music Lab – Wednesday, July 17, 2:00 p.m. (Registration required)
Tug of War – Tuesday, July 23, 10:00 a.m.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Nonprofit Management Class Series – Introduction to Grant Writing Class at Central Library August 6

Nonprofit organizations come in many different shapes and sizes, but they all have one thing in common: they want to develop, fund, and implement creative programs that serve to fulfill their mission. Most people who work in the nonprofit world have the desire and commitment to make this happen, but they often lack access to learning resources that will help them understand how best to get there. If you feel like this applies to you, whether you are an experienced nonprofit leader or someone brand new to the field, then you will want to attend the Birmingham Public Library’s Nonprofit Management Class Series. The classes will be offered at the library’s Central Location from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the following months: July–October, December 2019. The classes are offered as part of a collaboration between BPL and the Harvard Club of Birmingham.

The series instructor is John Whitman, PhD. A veteran of both the private and nonprofit sectors, Dr. Whitman has also taught leadership and management courses at American University, Babson College, Georgetown University, Harvard University, Northeastern University, and the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He recently served as a member of Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin's Transition Committee for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

What: Birmingham Public Library’s Nonprofit Management Class Series
When: First Tuesday of the following months: July-October, December 2019
Time: 5:30–6:30 p.m.
Where: Birmingham Public Library – Central Library/Linn-Henley Research Library, 4th floor, Arrington Auditorium
Details: Free but registration is required

Upcoming classes:

Tuesday August 6, 2019
Introduction to Grant Writing – Participants will be taught the basics of writing proposals for the purpose of securing grant funding from organizations such as philanthropic foundations and government agencies. Register

Tuesday September 3, 2019
Assessment and Evaluation of Nonprofit Programs – This class will introduce participants to the systematic collection of data that can be used to assess and evaluate programs. Register

Tuesday October 1, 2019
Logic Models and Theory of Change – Participants will be introduced to basic conceptual models that can help them develop more complete and thorough justifications of the programs for which funding is being sought. Register

Tuesday December 3, 2019
Tools for Social Change – Participants will be introduced to over 10 different approaches to help them, and their nonprofit organizations, achieve incremental and systemic social change. Register

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 series and other nonprofit resources available at BPL, please contact Jim Murray of the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department by email at or by calling 205-226-3691.

Local Documentary Filmmaker Sonya “Sam” Mitchell Will Be Speaking at Central Library July 18

Sonya Mitchell
Birmingham native Sonya “Sam” Mitchell will share her knowledge and experience of making films in her presentation, The Documentary Filmmaking Process, at the Central Library on Thursday, July 18, 12:00–1:00 p.m.

Two of Mitchell’s short films, Jesse “Speeks” and The Truth Up and Comingare profiles of interesting friends and both have been screened in recent years at the local Sidewalk Film Festival. Her latest film, The State Wins, takes a look at Alabama’s favorite pastime—college football.

What: The Documentary Filmmaking Process with Sonya “Sam” Mitchell
When: Thursday, July 18, 2019
Time: 12:00–1:00 p.m.
Where: Birmingham Public Library – Central Library/Linn-Henley Research Library/Arrington Auditorium/4th floor

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

The Resurgence of Record Players

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

A drawing of a phonautographic recording session

Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville created the phonautograph in 1857 to study sound waves by inscribing airborne noise onto paper for visual study. The phonautograph was mainly used in lab settings.

Thomas Edison and his early phonograph, c. 1877

Afterwards, Thomas Edison furthered this development by inventing the phonograph in 1877, which could record and play sound. It inscribed audio to tinfoil wrapped along a cardboard cylinder for subsequent playback.

A Columbia model AZ Graphophone, c. 1905-07

Alexander Graham Bell added wax to Edison’s phonograph design in order to record waves of sound. This was called a graphophone.

Emile Berliner with the model of the first phonograph
c. 1910–1929

Emile Berliner developed the gradophone concept further by creating the gramophone and secured a patent for the device in 1887. The gramophone was made of hard rubber and shellac. It could interpret grooves on flat discs instead of a cylinder. This was the basis for the contemporary record player.

 Dual 1225 turntable, c. 1970s

The first commercial release for the contemporary record player was in 1895. They sold well in the 1930s and 1940s. Record players became very popular in the 1960s and 1970s when Dual released the first turntables to provide stereo playback. The automatic high-fidelity turntable was an immediate hit in the early 1960s, which was called “The Golden Age” of record players. During this era Electrohome released its famous space-aged Apollo Record Player alongside their classic wooden stereo consoles.

I witnessed the popularity of the 1980s record players decline due to the invention of CD players and MP3 devices. Hip-hop DJs used record player turntables creatively through the '80s, '90s, and beyond by connecting audio mixers to record players. They would guide their hands along the records so they “scratched” against a needle to produce a rhythmic sound which added another element to their music.

Streaming and downloadable music has invaded our lives but music obtained by these means do not offer the sound quality that vinyl records can because the music has been compressed so many times to make it fit onto their service and to make it easier to download.

Here are a few reasons for the resurgence of record players and vinyl:

  • There is a more intimate experience with listening to vinyl records. You actually get to hold the album in your hand and take it out of the cover and place it on to the turntable to begin your musical journey. This yields a very high sense of pleasure.
  • A big plus is you own the music through your purchase of vinyl. It is yours to keep and you can listen to it as many times as you like. Buying vinyl also puts more money into the artists’ hands by you purchasing LPs.
  • It just looks cool to have a record player in the home and some vinyl that is guaranteed to be an eye catcher and subject of good conversation. It is easy to find vinyl for sale in the many record stores that have recently opened or been in business over the years.

For a blast from the past, watch the the documentary about the rise and fall
    of Tower Records, available in streaming on Hoopla and Kanopy, and on DVD

Record players have evolved to include Bluetooth wireless capabilities. Readers, in case you are wondering, yes, I have a record player, turntable, or whatever you want to call it. There is nothing like hearing that snap, crackle, pop, and crisp sound coming through the speakers when I need to renew, rediscover, and energize my musical palette.

I can remember in the 1970s how enthralled I was rummaging through one of my older brother’s album collection. Looking at the album covers of new and old purchases was the biggest highlight before I started my listening experience. Typically, when my brother was away, I would indulge in the great pleasure of listening to those big round vinyl discs on the turntable. I knew that I had to be very careful because if I were to drop the album and break it, he would not have been happy. The snap, crackle, pop, and occasional skip of vinyl playing through the speakers always sounded so good. On occasion I would sneak an album to school for show and tell because I knew he would be at work during those times. He always had the highest tech sound system that included a top end turntable, huge speakers, an amplifier, cassette deck, and, at one time, a reel to reel player. His love of music definitely influenced mine.

Sources: – "The History of The Record Player"
Baltimore Post-Examiner – "How vinyl records influenced the culture and pop music," May 06, 2019

Get Your Foodie on at the Library Will Help You Learn More About the World of Gastronomy

Are you interested in food and cooking, but don’t have time to keep up with culinary trends? Well, the resources of the Birmingham Public Library are always available to help you “get your foodie on” and stay properly informed. Please join us for Get Your Foodie on at the Library, an hour-long program that will lead you on an entertaining tour of what’s happening in the world of cooking, nutrition, and food culture.

The program is scheduled to be presented on three dates in July. For more information about the program, please contact Jim Murray of the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department by email at or by calling 205-226-3690.

Wednesday, July 10, 11:00 a.m.Southside Branch Library Registration Appreciated
Thursday, July 11, 12:00 p.m.Central Library/Linn-Henley Research Library, Regional Library Computer Center, 4th floor
Monday, July 29, 11:00 a.m.North Birmingham Regional Branch Library

Monday, July 01, 2019

2019 Summer Learning Spotlight: Bib & Tucker Sew-Op Quilting Program

Hey teens, do you want to learn the ancient art of quilting?

As part of its 2019 Summer Learning activities, the Birmingham Public Library has teamed up with the Bib & Tucker Sew-Op to offer four free quilting workshops during the month of July.

Join participating BPL locations as Bib & Tucker Sew-Op teaches elementary-level math fundamentals through sewing and the principles of art such as pattern, shape, and color. Learn the basics of quilting by participating in the QUARK (Quilting Activity Resource Kit) quilting program.

The free workshops kick off Monday, July 8, at Five Points West Regional Branch Library and run through Thursday, July 11, at East Lake Branch Library. See time and locations of each of the four workshops below:

Monday, July 8, 1:00 p.m., Five Points West Library No Registration Required
Tuesday, July 9, 10:00 a.m., East Ensley Library Register
Wednesday, July 10, 10:00 a.m., Central Library Register
Thursday, July 11, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. East Lake Library Register

Fiction Book Review: No Exit

by Shea Robinson, Fiction Department, Central Library

No Exit
Taylor Adams

Mom, if you find this message on my phone, something happened to me. I’m trapped overnight at a rest stop as I write this, and one of the people here might be dangerous. I hope I’m just being paranoid. But if I’m not…just know that I’m sorry for everything. All the things I said and did to you. I’m sorry about our phone call on Thanksgiving. You don’t deserve any of that. Mom, I love you so much. And I’m so sorry.

Love, Darby.

This is a story about someone pulled into a dangerous situation by chance. This is a story about someone who decides not to remain on the sidelines.

A college student traveling home to see her mother, Darby Thorne becomes stranded overnight at a rest area due to weather conditions. She discovers a girl caged in the back of a vehicle in the parking lot. One of the four other travelers has abducted a child. Lacking cell service, viable escape route, or any clue regarding who to trust, Darby repeatedly risks her life to save this girl and make an escape.

While all of her decisions may not be the right ones, it’s difficult to find fault in the choices she makes due to the nature of her predicament. Life-or-death situations are messy and can lead to judgment calls that are neither right nor wrong. They are often simply the result of quick thinking, instinct, and an immense measure of hope. As the villain states, “Protecting others, doing the right thing, was an instinct for her, whether she knew it or not.” Darby is far from perfect, but it’s not difficult to root for her character.

The pacing of No Exit is perfect, with no dull spots or lagging between each newly uncovered truth and turn. It wasn’t my intention to complete this book within a day, but the story increasingly occupied my mind every time I put it down. And as any avid reader knows, the “just one more chapter” adage can often easily result in a promptly finished book. If you’re looking for a suspense thriller that contains a skillful mixture of both action and psychological tension, this novel is a great pick.

Bards & Brews Open Mic at Central Library July 12

What: Bards & Brews Open Mic poetry event
When: Friday, July 12, 6:30–9:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library/East Grand Reading Room
Details: FREE and open to the public. Must be 18+ to enter and 21+ to drink. IDs will be checked.

Normally scheduled the first Friday of the month, this edition of Bards & Brews Open Mic will take place the SECOND Friday in July (July 12) due to the Birmingham Public Library being closed July 5 for the 4th of July holiday.

Beer samples will be provided by Hop City Craft Beer & Wine and light refreshments will be served.

For more information, visit Bards & Brews on Facebook.

Bards & Brews is made possible by a generous donation from the Friends Foundation of the Birmingham Public Library.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Kids Connect with Nature through Five Points West Library Potting Classes

by Carrie Campbell, Five Points West Regional Branch Library

A good omen appeared in the Five Points West Regional Branch Library's How to Plant & Care for Succulents summer class. Our visitor, an American green tree frog, flew out of the bag of soil and over my head, and the world slowed down for a moment. The children’s mouths and eyes made perfect O’s as they awkwardly leapt onto the chairs and tables. And just as quickly as the world slowed down, shrill chaos reigned and now there was hollering.

“No, no, no, no, no!” they cried.

First, I needed to secure our new classmate, and then the hard part began: convincing our would-be gardeners that the frog was actually our friend.

This delightful bit of mayhem occurred during the third class Five Points West Library has offered for our younger patrons to pot, plant, and take home to nurture their own plants. In each class the students learn how to take care of each type of plant, and, as they’ve taken the lessons to heart, talking about care has turned into a call-and-response routine:

Succulents belong in a dark closet, right?
“What? No!” the children yell. “They need a lot of sun!”

Potted Zinnia seeds need to be watered only once a week and with a tiny amount of water, right?
“No!” they cry. “They need a lot of water in bright sun!”

You simply cannot grow a new succulent plant out of a succulent leaf! Impossible!
“That’s not right!” they insist. “You put the leaf in a cool dark place and wait a long time! Leaves will start to grow out of the bottom of the leaves!”

But where do they get their water?
“From the leaf!” comes the correct answer. “Succulents grow new plants with the water stored in their leaves!”

Most librarians who work with children want them to understand more about the natural world, and the best way to do that is to get their fingers in soil, understand the plants they’re working with, and take care of them. It’s more fun for the kids (and for the librarian, too). Our hope, through these programs and others like it, is to encourage these young patrons to recognize that they are connected to and part of the natural world. As more and more of these children’s social, educational, and entertainment options become mediated by a form of technology, libraries can play an important role in strengthening that connection.

In previous generations, that connection came, if you’ll pardon the pun, as second nature. My great aunt was a sort of Johnny Appleseed in my hometown of Dauphin Island, Alabama, and planted various native plants around the neighborhood when I was a child. Those plants somehow managed to spread from one end of the tiny island to the other. My dad taught me to watch birds as they visited the island on their way to Cuba and South America in the fall, and back through on their way north in the spring. My grandparents grew large fruit and vegetable gardens. This was all a bit miraculous for me—as were the gazillion tree frogs singing after each rainstorm that blew in from the Gulf of Mexico. They have gone, those tree frogs on the island, but I have hope when I hear our planting class’s frog, now a permanent resident in my backyard, that we can turn this around—especially for our children.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

“Preserving the Past, Exploring the Future” – BPL Community Engagement Update

by Floyd Council, Executive Director, Birmingham Public Library

Note: This column was written during the 2019 American Library Association Annual Conference.

BPL staff at Grow With Google workshop outside Central Library

Greetings, BPL patrons and friends from the 2019 American Library Association Conference in Washington, D.C. I write to you this morning from the nation’s capital where team members are attending the American Library Association Annual Conference.

Now more than ever our public library system is the center of all of our 99 neighborhoods and 23 communities in the City of Birmingham. BPL partnered with Google last August to be the first American Public Library to kick off the Alabama and National Grow with Google tour of digital skills.

As a result, you see many key members of the BPL team and the tech community featured this month in The Atlantic magazine in partnership with Google. BPL has also recently returned to the national spotlight as a true beacon in the Southeast as the only Urban Libraries Council library member in the State of Alabama.

BPL has been the headquarters location and member of Jefferson County Library Cooperative for over 40 years.

Mayor Randall Woodfin greets BPL board trustee Eunice Johnson Rogers

Currently, BPL is providing all of our traditional programs, services, and partnerships as well as collaborating at the center of major City of Birmingham community engagement projects such as A Citizen’s Experience, Peace in the Park, and Complete Communities, to name a view. BPL has long been about much more than just our beautiful books and maps.

We are working actively to take library service to the next level in Birmingham.

Here are 10 of the top updates of what we are working on and some of what we are planning to do soon to keep putting library patrons first in the City of Birmingham:

1. The Wylam Library Construction Project is a $1.6 million new library which has been 20 years in the making and now scheduled to open in January 2020.

2. The long-awaited Central Library Monumental Stairs Project is a $1.4 million project that just finished the bidding process. This project will replace the escalators with a beautiful new design of interactive public stairs and create a new path of interior light for the building. We also hope to replace elevators when funding is available.

3. Last fall we transformed the first floor of the Central Library East Building into a flexible programming space that can seat about 400 people, and we have hosted wonderful programs in the space such as the historic Wayne Wiegand lecture on desegregation of Birmingham Public Libraries, Grow with Google Day of Digital Skills, UniverSoul Circus, Staff Day 2018, Local Authors Expo 2018, Bards & Brews (BPL's monthly spoken word poetry event, which was featured by a national blogger from North Carolina), and Reading Between the Wines 2019. We also hosted amazing programs and partnerships at all Birmingham Public Library locations during the last year.

4. Current: Working on planning and funding for redesign of our BPL website and BPL mobile application.

5. Current: Working on planning and funding for Central Library East Building flooring and interior design upgrades.

6. Current: Working on staffing models to keep all neighborhood libraries open without closing for lunch hours.

7. Current: Working to improve security infrastructure and measures system-wide.

8. Current: Working on a new marketing and communications plan. This includes updates to signage, interior merchandising, and branding.

9. Current: Working on a comprehensive Business Operations Plan which includes new development and grants objectives.

10. Current: Working on an interactive community engagement plan with use of the ALA Libraries Transform practice and Harwood methodology for community engagement.

This fall the BPL Library Board will meet on scheduled dates at two of our regional library locations, and we also look forward to listening as we host community engagement table talks at three of our regional library locations.

All citizens are always welcome to visit our monthly board of trustees meeting to speak on our public voices agenda. Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month. Citizens and visitors are welcome to reach out to us at any time with questions, comments, and suggestions by email to us at

See the BPL Annual Report of performance.

We are thankful to our Mayor Randall Woodfin and City of Birmingham leadership team, the Birmingham City Council, all BPL Trustees, Friends Foundation of the Birmingham Public Library, staff, volunteers, retirees, friends, and, always first, library patrons.

Please click on our website for more news about BPL.

2019 Lambda Literary Awards Winners

On June 3 at the NYU Skirball Center, the winners of the 31st Lambda Literary Awards—the Lammys—were announced. In addition to the 25 book award winners, three other individuals were acknowledged for their work in bringing visibility to LGBTQ voices.

Lambda Literary is an organization dedicated to promoting LGBTQ books and advocating for LGBTQ writers. For 31 years the Lambda Literary Awards have identified and honored the best lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender books.

And the Lammy goes to...! 

Lesbian Fiction: The Tiger Flu by Larissa Lai
Gay Fiction: Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead
Bisexual Fiction: Disoriental by Négar Djavadi
Transgender Fiction: Little Fish by Casey Plett
Bisexual Nonfiction: Out of Step: A Memoir by Anthony Moll
Transgender Nonfiction: Histories of the Transgender Child by Julian Gill-Peterson
LGBTQ Nonfiction: Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry by Imani Perry
Lesbian Mystery: A Study in Honor by Claire O’Dell
Gay Mystery: Late Fees: A Pinx Video Mystery by Marshall Thornton
LGBTQ Anthology Fiction: As You Like It: The Gerald Kraak Anthology Volume II by Jacana Media
LGBTQ Anthology Nonfiction: Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture edited by Roxane Gay
LGBTQ Graphic Novel: The Lie and How We Told It by Tommi Parrish
LGBTQ Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror: The Breath of the Sun by Isaac R. Fellman
Lesbian Memoir/Biography: Chronology by Zahra Patterson
Gay Memoir/Biography: No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America by Darnell L. Moore
LGBTQ Children’s/Young Adult: Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender

Lambda’s Trustee Award: Alexander Chee
Visionary Award: Masha Gessen
Publishing Professional Award: Barbara Smith

For a full list of the winners and finalists, visit the Lambda Literary website.

For books listed but not available in the JCLC catalog, try borrowing them through our convenient interlibrary loan service.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Nonprofit Management Workshop Series Returns Beginning at Central Library July 2

What: Birmingham Public Library’s Nonprofit Management Class Series: How to Start a Nonprofit 501(c)3 Organization
When: Tuesday, July 2, 2019
Time: 5:30–6:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, 4th floor, Arrington Auditorium
Details: This five-part Nonprofit Management Class Series is led by instructor John Whitman, PhD., in collaboration with the Harvard Club of Birmingham. The workshops kick off at 5:30 p.m. July 2 with "How to Start a Nonprofit 501(c)3 Organization."

Beginning Tuesday, July 2, in response to patron demand, the Birmingham Public Library is bringing back instructor Dr. John Whitman's five-part monthly Nonprofit Management Class Series. The workshops are being offered in collaboration with the Harvard Club of Birmingham.

The workshop series, previously held at noon, is being offered from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., this time to accommodate patrons unable to make it last time due to work. All of the classes will take place in the Central Library's Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th Floor.

A veteran of both the private and nonprofit sectors, class presenter Whitman has taught leadership and management courses at American University, Babson College, Georgetown University, Harvard University, Northeastern University, and the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He recently served as a member of Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin's Transition Committee for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

The previous nonprofit workshop series, held from January through May 2019, was one of BPL's most popular business workshop series ever.

Here is a description of the Nonprofit Management Class Series (all being held from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in the Central Library's Arrington Auditorium):

Tuesday, July 2, 2019 – How to Start a Nonprofit 501(c)3 Organization
This class will provide an overview of the steps involved in starting a charitable, religious, or educational organization that is exempt from taxation. Register

Tuesday, August 6, 2019 – Introduction to Grant Writing 
Participants will be taught the basics of writing proposals for the purpose of securing grant funding from organizations such as philanthropic foundations and government agencies. View a handout of Whitman's Introduction to Grant Writing workshop held in April 2019. Register

Tuesday, September 3, 2019 – Assessment and Evaluation of Nonprofit Programs
This class will introduce participants to the systematic collection of data that can be used to assess and evaluate programs. Register

Tuesday, October 1, 2019 – Logic Models and Theory of Change
Participants will be introduced to basic conceptual models that can help them develop more complete and thorough justifications of the programs for which funding is being sought. Register

Tuesday, December 3, 2019 – Tools for Social Change
Participants will be introduced to over 10 different approaches to help them, and their nonprofit organizations, achieve incremental and systemic social change. Register

The workshops are free of charge, but registration is required.

For more information about the series and other nonprofit resources available at BPL, please contact Jim Murray of the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department at or 205-226-3691.

2019 BPL Summer Learning Spotlight: Critters and Constellations

Alabama 4-H visits Powderly Library.
Have you ever gazed up at the night sky and wondered what stories the stars have to tell?
 Many of the constellations grouped in our night sky resemble the shape of the real creatures that we see today.

As part of BPL's 2019 Summer Learning activities, Alabama 4-H is sharing interesting tidbits of information like this during a program called "Critters and Constellations."

 Staff from Alabama 4-H introduce patrons to a crew of kid-friendly animals such as snakes and birds, and teach young patrons about their interesting features that make these fascinating creatures "outta this world."

 Below is the remaining schedule of BPL locations hosting Alabama 4-H's "Critters and Constellations" program:

 Thursday, June 27, 11:00 a.m. - Eastwood Library

 Tuesday, July 9, 10:00 a.m. - Ensley Library 

Thursday, July 11, 1:00 a.m. - West End Library 

 Wednesday, July l7, 10:30 a.m. - Pratt City Library

Monday, June 24, 2019

Summer Beach Reads

Summer is officially here.  Although it has been hot for months, the calendar has finally caught up with the temperature. It's time for a trip to the beach.  Before you leave, though, make sure you have something great to read.  These new titles might be just what you're looking for.  The descriptions are from the publishers.

Queen BeeQueen Bee by Dorothea Benton Frank

Beekeeper Holly McNee Jensen quietly lives in a world of her own on Sullivans Island, tending her hives and working at the local island library. Holly calls her mother The Queen Bee because she's a demanding hulk of a woman...  To escape the drama, Holly's sister Leslie married and moved away, wanting little to do with island life. Holly's escape is to submerge herself in the lives of the two young boys next door and their widowed father, Archie.  Her world is upended when the more flamboyant Leslie returns and both sisters, polar opposites, fixate on what's happening in their neighbor's home. Is Archie really in love with that awful ice queen of a woman? If Archie marries her, what will become of his little boys? Restless Leslie is desperate for validation after her imploded marriage, squandering her favors on any and all takers. Their mother ups her game in an uproarious and theatrical downward spiral. Scandalized Holly is talking to her honey bees a mile a minute, as though they'll give her a solution to all the chaos. Maybe they will.

Sunset BeachSunset Beach by Mary Kay Andrews

Drue Campbell's life is adrift. Out of a job and down on her luck, life doesn't seem to be getting any better when her estranged father, Brice Campbell, a flamboyant personal injury attorney, shows up at her mother's funeral after a twenty-year absence. Worse, he's remarried - to Drue's eighth grade frenemy, Wendy, now his office manager. And they're offering her a job.  It seems like the job from hell, but the offer is sweetened by the news of her inheritance - her grandparents' beach bungalow in the sleepy town of Sunset Beach, a charming but storm-damaged eyesore now surrounded by waterfront McMansions.  With no other prospects, Drue begrudgingly joins the firm, spending her days screening out the grifters whose phone calls flood the law office. Working with Wendy is no picnic either. But when a suspicious death at an exclusive beach resort nearby exposes possible corruption at her father's firm, she goes from unwilling cubicle rat to unwitting investigator, and is drawn into a case that may - or may not - involve her father. 

The Favorite Daughter
The Favorite Daughter by Patti Callahan Henry

Ten years ago, Lena Donohue experienced a wedding-day betrayal so painful that she fled the small town of Watersend, South Carolina, and reinvented herself in New York City. Though now a freelance travel writer, the one place she rarely goes is home—until she learns of her dad’s failing health. Returning to Watersend means seeing the sister she has avoided for a decade and the brother who runs the family’s Irish pub and has borne the burden of his sisters’ rift. While Alzheimer’s slowly steals their father’s memories, the siblings rush to preserve his life in stories and in photographs. As his secret past brings Lena’s own childhood into focus, it sends her on a journey to discover the true meaning of home.

The Friends We Keep
The Friends We Keep by Jane Green

Evvie, Maggie, and Topher have known one another since college. Their friendship was something they swore would last forever. Now years have passed, the friends have drifted apart, and they never found the lives they wanted--the lives they dreamed of when they were young and everything seemed possible. Evvie starved herself to become a supermodel but derailed her career by sleeping with a married man. Maggie married Ben, the boy she fell in love with in college, never imagining the heartbreak his drinking would cause. Topher became a successful actor, but the shame of a childhood secret shut him off from real intimacy. By their thirtieth reunion, these old friends have lost touch with one another and with the people they dreamed of becoming. Together again, they have a second chance at happiness...until a dark secret is revealed that changes everything.

Rumore of Springville Road Library Appointed to ALA GLBTRT Program Planning Committee

Samuel Moore of Springville Road Regional Library

Samuel Rumore, a Librarian II at the BPL’s Springville Road Regional Library, has been appointed to the American Library Association (ALA)  Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table (GLBTRTProgram Planning Committee).

Rumore will represent the State of Alabama for a two-year-term beginning July 1, 2019, through July 1, 2021. This will be the second time Rumore, a 13-year employee at BPL, has represented Alabama on the committee

Floyd Council, executive director of the Birmingham Public Library, said the entire BPL system is honored at the news of Rumore’s appointment as ALA celebrates national Gay Pride Month 2019 during the month of June.

“We are very proud of the work that Samuel has done at BPL, the Jefferson County Public Library Association (past officer of the JCPLA), and look forward with excitement to his contributions on this ALA national committee,” Council said.

The ALA Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table Program Planning Committee plans, promotes and implements educational sessions and informational programs related to GLBT issues. The planning committee also recruits co-sponsors of GLBRT programs, monitors other programs the round table might want to support and recruits presenters for programs, conferences and other events. 

A Birmingham native, Rumore obtained a major in sociology and minor in philosophy from the University of Montevallo. He obtained a Masters in Library Information Studies (MLIS) from the University of Alabama.

Rumore looks forward to brainstorming with other members of the ALA program planning committee for the GLBGRT.

"I hope to get programming ideas for BPL and for Alabama libraries, in general,” Rumore said.

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