Wednesday, February 27, 2019

So, You Work with the Library

by Caitlin Jackson, Youth Department, Central Library

What does a librarian do? When another librarian and I went to a career fair, most replies dealt in books. It is true that librarians work with information and providing said information can often come in the form of books. However, when working with today’s youth, we also have to provide opportunities through programming and programming requires partners.

So, “shhhhhhhh,” here’s the secret: You don’t have to be a librarian to work with the library. Just ask two of our University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Engineering mentors, Allaire and Mo.

A few years ago, a librarian had a dream (thank you, Lance!) which was to create a STEM-based program that could travel to many different branches throughout the city. This afterschool program would allow middle and high schoolers access to coding, soldering, and robotics classes. The people who developed these programs were librarians and UAB engineering students and professors.

Mo (left) and Allaire (right) in the Central Library downtown

Meet the Mentors
“Don’t be afraid to try anything, even if you fail, you still learned! (I think there is a quote similar to this. Maybe Einstein?)” – Advice for teens

Allaire Doussan is a student in biomedical engineering with a minor in mathematics and set to graduate in April 2019. She works with an ophthalmology lab developing image processing software and medical devices. When she’s not helping “save the world” (we like to think so, at least), she’s teaching middle and high schoolers engineering skills. She encourages all teenagers to take advantage of the Teens Engineer BHM programs, as well as open source curriculum available online, believing that “exposing teens to engineering principles and ideas and seeing them get excited about opportunities they didn’t previously know about” is one of the most important aspects of her work. While BPL offers robotics, Arduino coding, and soldering, there are many other skills out there that fit with different types of engineering.

Allaire teaching about different engineering professions

Allaire became interested in engineering because of her childhood desire to build and fix things. While attending East Lake High School, she participated in an engineering program that taught the basics and provided the opportunity to join the first FRC robotics team at the school. (“My senior year robot was six feet tall.”) The robotics and electrical teams played a significant part in solidifying her desire to pursue engineering. In high school Allaire was one of a handful of girls interested in the program, but she found out that there were more interested during college.

Allaire at the East Lake Library soldering class

Allaire started her work with future engineers in October 2015 during her first semester of college. She stated, “I asked my professors for robotics mentoring opportunities after being a member of a robotics team in high school,” showcasing the drive that she still puts forth in her work today. One of her professors worked with the Blazer BEST robotics program and the library program and it was an instant click. Allaire is currently one of the program’s curriculum developers and hopes to see participants of all ages develop independent learning on different levels with more hands-on experiences.

Allaire still excels in her professional and personal life as she has recently been accepted into Dartmouth’s PhD Innovation Program.

“Follow your passion, stick with it, always work hard, and listen to your elders.” – Advice for teens

Mo at the 2017 Teens Engineer BHM Robotics Camp 

Mohsine “Mo” Taarji joined the Teens Engineer BHM team three years ago under the advisement of Dr. Abidin Yildirim at UAB. Mo both leads and develops programming designed as a gateway to new experiences. “When you bring something new to them that they’ve never seen before, they’re happy.” His best experiences have been at the Southside and Woodlawn Libraries. The Woodlawn Library program had grown from one to nine students, all because of the connection and encouragement given to the first student.

The experience has been beneficial to Mo as well. He believes that developing the lessons has allowed him to delve into different areas in ways that he may not have before. “Teaching is not easy. It is a lot of hard work, especially for those who are coming from the heart.” Mo hopes to reach more kids by expanding the program for all ages and credits his parents and teachers for inspiring him to spare his passion.

Mo helping a teen design a house at the Woodlawn Library 

Mo has a master’s degree in electrical engineering and is currently working on his computer engineering PhD. He hopes to graduate in two years. Outside of working in the library, Mo focuses on hands-on work, including building and design. He has helped develop technology which sends an instant report of flooding to insurance companies, improving response time and preventing fraud. He is currently working on autonomous car systems for monitoring driving habits of impaired vision drivers. The system uses cameras, sensors, and GPS to collect data for researchers that wish to develop car features for these specific driver types.

So, how did Mo start engineering? His grandfather’s radio and a family TV. Both the radio and the TV did not work. Mo decided he would fix them. He opened them up and started tinkering. He had no idea what he was doing but he fixed them both, which is why if he could choose any other field, it would be mechanical engineering.

Teens Engineer BHM

 Middle schoolers work on soldering projects in Central Library's Open Lab

These programs are currently funded by the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham and were previously funded by the 2016 UAB Benevolent Fund. The Teens Engineer BHM program has provided various programs to branches as well as Open Lab at Central. These programs cover robotics, soldering, and Arduino.

What can my child learn?

Summer 2017 Teens Engineer BHM Robotics Camp

Robotics covers programming and coding specifically dealing with robots. Participants have learned to code robots to move with remotes or by sensing the lack of light in lines, as well how to dodge obstacles. Some advanced robotics classes allow participants to build the robots, as well as program.

2018 Summer Learning participants working on Arduino microcomputers

Arduino also teaches coding but often with projects related to electrical engineering. Our mentors have taught participants to code their own rudimentary Simon Says, a water detector, and a light that can send Morse code.

Soldering at the Ensley Branch Library 

Soldering allows participants to melt solder (metal) and use it as an adhesive to join components in a circuit. The Teen Engineer BHM program starts with simple projects such as making LED lamps or nightlights on a protoboard. These same skills are used for building circuits in computers, TVs, and other electronics.

3D printing at the Titusville Branch Library

3D Printing uses CAD software to design 3D objects. These designs are then sent to a 3D printer to create the objects. Depending on how big the object, it can take 30 minutes or even 15 hours to print. While this program is still in development, in February, students were able to use printers to create miniature models of African American inventions.

When is this happening?

Teens Engineer BHM
Each program has a maximum capacity of 20 people.
March 5 – Avondale Library – 3:45-4:30 p.m. – Robotics
March 6 – Springville Road Library – 4:00-5:00 p.m. – Robotics
March 7 – Five Points West Library – 3:30-5:00 p.m. – Robotics
March 19 – Woodlawn Library – 4:00-5:30 p.m. – Soldering
March 21 – West End Library – 4:00-5:30 p.m. – Arduino

Teen Tech Week
March 5-7 – Central Library – 3:30-5:00 p.m. – Robotics

Open Lab
March 19-21 – Central Library – 3:30-5:00 p.m. – Soldering

So, now that you know about who’s already working here, what can you bring to the library?

See more Teens Engineer BHM on Flickr.

The Green Book

by Jim Baggett, Archives Department, Central Library

This year’s Academy Award winner for best picture, Green Book, tells the story of an African American man and a white man traveling together in the 1960s segregated South. The inspiration for the film’s title is a little pocket size book that was well known to black Americans of the time.

The Negro Motorist Green Book was a travel guide for African Americans published in New York from 1936 to 1966 and distributed throughout the country. Known simply as The Green Book, the guide helped black people who were taking trips find hotels, restaurants, and other businesses that welcomed black customers. Many white owned businesses in the South and throughout the United States did not serve African Americans. For a black traveler in an unfamiliar town or city, walking into such an establishment could be embarrassing or even dangerous. The Green Book and other guides like it (similar books were published for Jewish Americans) helped marginalized people tour their own country with an added sense of comfort and safety.

This copy of the 1948 Green Book, originally found in the office files of the African American newspaper the Birmingham World, is preserved in the collections of the Birmingham Public Library Archives.

To see more examples of The Green Book visit the New York Public Library digital collections.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

From Page to Stage: Charlotte’s Web – 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), invites you to attend From Page to Stage: Charlotte’s Web - A Readers’ Theater Workshop for Children.

In anticipation of the upcoming BCT performance of Charlotte’s Web, 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 Charlotte’s Web production on April 6 or 7, 2019.

The farm gang is all here: Wilbur, the young pig with a zest for life; Fern, his first friend and savior; Templeton, the gluttonous rat; the Zuckermans; the Arables; and the extraordinary spider, Charlotte. When “Some Pig” mysteriously appears written in the web, Wilbur is given a second chance at life and a taste of fame. Based on the popular novel by E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web is a classic tale that shows us friends come in all shapes and sizes. 

Workshop space is limited, so contact your participating library location to register a child for the workshop. Libraries and dates are as follows:

East Lake: Saturday, March 9, 2019, at 2:30 p.m.
Avondale: Sunday, March 10, 2019, at 2:30 p.m.
West End: Saturday, March 16, 2019, at 2:30 p.m.
Five Points West: Sunday, March 17, 2019, at 2:30 p.m.

African American Read-In at East Ensley Library

by Mark Skinner, East Ensley Branch Library

Read-In participants at the East Ensley Library

In an effort to promote literacy during Black History Month, the National Council of Teachers of English created the African American Read-In. Started in 1990, the read-ins are held throughout the United States and participants are asked to read the work of an African American author. So far, over 6 million people have participated in this important event that spotlights African American authors and their works.

For Black History Month, the East Ensley branch hosted a Read-In and encouraged some of our younger patrons to participate. They were asked to read aloud for two minutes from their favorite book by an African American author, or they could choose one of the books available at the library. They chose to read from authors like Deloris Jordan, Eloise Greenfield, Spike Lee, Barack Obama, Rosa Parks, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Below is a sample of the works that were read and are available at your library.

The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson
Rosa Parks: My Story by Rosa Parks
My Brother Martin by Christine King Farris
Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges
Salt in his Shoes: Michael Jordan in the Pursuit of His Dreams by Deloris Jordan
Why We Can’t Wait by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Aunt Flossie’s Hats by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard
Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to my Daughters by Barack Obama

Graphic Novel Review: The Highest House

by Maya Jones, West End Branch Library

The Highest House
Mike Carey (Writer), Peter Gross (Artist) & Fabien Alquier (Colorist)

I’ve always loved graphic novels and anime and when I ordered this book, for West End Library’s collection, I thought it might be a good choice. This graphic novel is excellent. The story takes place in a fantasy world/country called Ossaniul that was conquered by the Koviki 90 years ago. This is the tale of Moth who is sold as a slave by his mother at the beginning of the novel and is taken to Highest House, which is the castle and stronghold of the Aldercrest family.

After he is brought to Highest House, he is begins working as a roofer. Roofing is the most dangerous job at Highest House because the castle has a hundred roofs that need constant upkeep. Moth befriends a mysterious entity that lives under the castle and speaks to him telepathically to give him advice and help him magically. Moth wants to free all the slaves and through the intervention of the entity, he befriends the Lord of Aldercrest’s daughter, secretly learns to read, and becomes a valued slave in Lord Aldercrest’s household.

The author never lets you forget that Moth is a slave; no matter how high he rises in Highest House he is still not free. The artwork with its shades and colors, in dark sepia tones, also keeps the issue of slavery and slave labor in the reader’s mind. But Moth is a survivor and the book ends on a hopeful note that we will see more of Moth in the future.

Highest House is a graphic novel for adults rated 17+.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Bards & Brews Returns to the Central Library on Friday, March 1

What: Bards & Brews Open Mic Poetry
When: Friday, March 1, 2019, 6:30-9:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library East Grand Reading Room
Details: Free to the public aged 18 and up, but you must be 21 and older to drink beer samples

If you want to hear some of metro Birmingham's most talented poets, make plans to be at the Central Library downtown Friday, March 1, 2019, for Bards & Brews, the Birmingham Public Library's monthly spoken word poetry-craft beer event.

Sign up begins at 6:30 p.m. and poetry will begin to flow at 7:00 p.m. Voice Porter will again serve as host and emcee. Both seasoned veterans  and novice spoken word artists are invited to share their poetry.

Bards & Brews is made possible by a generous donation of the Friends of the Birmingham Public Library Foundation. Craft beer samples are being provided by Hop City Craft Beer & Wine. Light refreshments will be served.

Join us for an unforgettable night of poetry and fellowship in the Central Library. For more information, visit Bards & Brews on Facebook.

Southern History Book of the Month: Lizards and Snakes of Alabama

by Mary Anne Ellis, Southern History Department, Central Library

Lizards and Snakes of Alabama
Craig Guyer, Mark A. Bailey, and Robert H. Mount

It’s almost spring. Warm weather means flowers blooming, birds singing and building nests, and people spending more time outside. If you like to go hiking or dig in the garden, you might want to have a copy of Lizards and Snakes of Alabama on hand, because the change of seasons means increased activity for reptiles as well. This handsome guidebook includes full-color plates illustrating different varieties of snakes and lizards, along with detailed species descriptions and maps showing their distribution throughout the state. In the text, there is also a good balance between the scientific terminology intended for professional herpetologists and the more garden-variety descriptions appropriate for the person who just wants to know what that creature is in his back yard.

Lizards are a common enough sight in our yards and around our houses; most of us have seen the anole inflating the red dewlap on its throat in a courtship display or caught a glimpse of a striped skink hurrying across the lawn and disappearing under a rock. But there are more lizards in Alabama than I expected, such as the Horned and Spiny Lizards reminiscent of the Desert Southwest region of the U.S. And there is the family of Glass Lizards, some of which could be mistaken for snakes because they are long and legless.

Most people probably have a far more visceral reaction to snakes than to lizards, as ophidiophobia (fear of snakes) is frequently cited in top ten lists of fears and aversions; other people have a fear of reptiles in general. But as Lizards and Snakes points out, “Worldwide, there about 3600 species of snakes. The vast majority are non-venomous. Forty-four species are native to Alabama, only six of which are dangerously venomous to humans.” That doesn’t mean a non-venomous species can’t deliver a nasty bite if provoked, but most snakes would prefer to avoid us if possible—and most of them do this so well that we never see many of the snakes that undoubtedly see us.

Lizards and snakes may not be what we think of as “cuddly” animals but they serve us well with lizards helping to keep down the insect population and with snakes preying on rodents that carry diseases. Many a farmer might swear at the snake that ate some of the baby chickens, but another farmer might encourage a snake to hang out in his corncrib and keep the rats and mice away. Whatever our feelings might be about reptiles, they play their part in the balance of nature and if you want to learn more about this part of the animal kingdom, Lizards and Snakes of Alabama would make a well-researched and interesting addition to your library.

For further information:
Reptiles—Outdoor Alabama
Reptiles of Alabama—iNaturalist
“The Insect Diet of Alabama Lizards”
“Snakes of Alabama: How to Identify All 50 Species”
“21 Interesting Facts About Reptiles”

Friday, February 22, 2019

Central Library Create205 Learning Lab Allowing Teens to Turn Spoken Word into Rap Music

Gavin Tucker, right, records students in the Create205 Learning Lab

The Central Library's Create205 Learning Lab is allowing young patrons in downtown Birmingham to get a chance to experience what it is like to record their own rap record.

Through a popular Black History Month program called Poetry + Beats = Unique Rhythms and Sounds, Create205 on Mondays and Wednesdays throughout February opened its mics to aspiring artists of spoken word poetry, music, and rap. Under the tutelage of Gavin Tucker, the Central Library Youth Department's self proclaimed "music engineer," the music studio aims to help patrons create their own rap records, said Bessie Miller, head of the department.

Poetry + Beats has been well received by Central Library Youth Department patrons. It is among the most popular programs used by after school students from nearby Phillips Academy. This week, on Wednesday, February 20, three teens from Higdon Hill School in Birmingham recited original poetry about the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. as Central Library's Tucker recorded them.

Tucker had both students give them a rap song recorded by one of their favorite artists. He then had the students read the lyrics to their poems, added the words to the music, and put his magic touch as a music producer to work. Less than two hours later, the students—using their rap monikers "T.G.E. Lil David," "DJ Round Boy," and "Ms. Miller's Son,"—got a chance hear the first version of their very own original rap songs.

If you desire to learn how to create your own rap song or other musical recording, stop by the Create205 Learning Lab in the Central Library.   

BPL Hosting 19 programs to Close Out 2019 Black History Month

The Birmingham Public Library has 19 programs at 14 locations across the city between February 22 and February 28 to close out its 2019 celebration of Black History Month.

Among the events: A Black Panther party on February 22 and a pianist concert on February 24 at the Central Library, free movie screenings at various libraries, and a Springville Road Library tribute to George Crum, an African American inventor famous for making the potato chip.

Below is a listing of many of the BPL programs. You can find out more information about these programs by clicking on the BPL calendar.

Afterschool Black Panther Party and Movie, Friday, February 22, 3:30 p.m., Central Library – Join us in the Youth Game Zone as we make Black Panther masks and watch a showing of the Black Panther movie about an African American superhero.

Screening of Kanopy Documentary Goin' to Chicago, Friday, February 22, 10:00 a.m., Springville Road Library  Join us for this documentary about the migration of African Americans from the rural South to cities in the North and West during and after World War II, told through the personal stories of  group of Chicagoans born in the Mississippi Delta.

Black Migrations: Spoken Word, Friday, February 22, 3:30 p.m., Inglenook Library – Celebrate the 2019 Black History Month theme "Black Migrations" by reciting a poem written by your favorite African American author.

Smithfield Presents: Selma, Friday, February 22, 3:30 p.m., Smithfield Library  Join us for a showing of the award-winning film about the civil rights movement in Selma.

Freedom: The Underground Railroad Game, Saturday, February 23, 2:00-5:00 p.m., Eastwood Library  Join us in playing Freedom: The Underground Railroad board game. By raising support for the cause and moving slaves to freedom in Canada, the minds of Americans can be changed and the institution of slavery can be brought down. Eastwood Library is BPL's first location that checks out board games to patrons.

Presentation and Lecture on Jacob Lawrence's The Migration Series, Saturday, February 23, 2:30 p.m., Five Points West Library –Professor and artist Steven Walker of Lawson State Community College presents a lecture to close out Five Points West Library's month-long  tribute to the Great Migration of blacks from the South in search of a better life in the North, Midwest, and West.

Scavenger Hunt: Famous Alabamians, Avondale, North Avondale, and Eastwood Libraries, through Saturday, February 23 – Find photographs of Alabamians hidden throughout the library and match each champion to the statement that best describes him or her.

Birmingham Public Library Presents Dr. Anthony Pattin, Sunday, February 24, 3:00 p.m., Central Library's Arrington Auditorium – Dr. Anthony Pattin will perform music by African American composers on piano in celebration of Black History Month.

Sunday Matinee Hidden Figures, 2:00 p.m., Five Points West Library – Free showing of the movie about three black women who played a pivotal role in space exploration at NASA in the 1960s.

Poetry + Beats = Unique Rhythms and Sounds, Central Library Youth Department, Monday, February 25 and Wednesday, February 27, 3:30 p.m. – The teen music lab is opening its mics to aspiring artists of spoken word poetry, music, and rap. Come create and record your own record.

Escape Room Game, Tuesday, February 26, 3:30 p.m., Titusville Library – Afterschool children embark on a fun scavenger hunt, solving puzzles and decoding interesting facts that honor the achievements of black Americans.

African American Arts and Crafts, Tuesday, February 26, 3:30 p.m., Wylam Library – Create and design your own African-inspired bracelet.

Made in Africa: Make It Your Own, Wednesday, February 27, 3:30 p.m., Central Library, Create205 Learning Lab With the use of various beads, shells, and other materials, patrons will create jewelry paying homage to African culture. For details, click here.

African American Inventors: George Crum, Wednesday, February 27, 4:00 p.m., Springville Road Library – Join us as we sample George Crum's most popular invention, the potato chip. Sample all kinds of chips as we discuss the story of how this snack was invented.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Central Library Hosts The Art of Stepping with Mr. Chris on February 21

Chris Reid

The stepping tradition is a popular song and dance ritual practiced by African American fraternities and sororities on college campuses across the United States. At 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 21, the Central Library Youth Department will host The Art of Stepping with Mr. Chris, a Black History Month program designed to give a brief history and demonstration of the art.

The program, to take place in the Story Castle on the 2nd floor, will be led by Chris Reid, a part-time Library Assistant III in the Central Library. Reid learned how to step as a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity at Alabama State University.

"We will talk about the art of stepping past and present," Reid said.

Stepping is a popular part of African American artistic and cultural heritage. In stepping, the body is used to create rhythms and sounds through a combination of footsteps, claps, and the spoken word.

In addition to talking about his experience stepping while in college, Reid will show videos sharing how the roots of stepping stem from traditional African dance, including the "Gumboot Dance" originally conceived by miners in South Africa as an alternative to drumming, which was banned by authorities.

Read more about the African origins of stepping by clicking here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Celebrate Black History Month with Free Black Panther Comics

by Shea Robinson, Fiction Department, Central Library

Comic readers can visit to pick up free digital copies of Black Panther in celebration of Black History Month. Use the code—FOREVER—to receive the following selections:

Black Panther #1 (2005)

Black Panther #1 (2018)
Black Panther: World of Wakanda #1 (2016)

Marvel's Black Panther Prelude #1 (2017)
Shuri #1 (2018)

These stories lay the foundation for the adventures of the Wakandan-based superhero, T’Challa and his genius sister, Shuri. Including both the original launch of the Black Panther series in 2005 and the 2018 reboot from Ta-Nehisi Coates, the selections are satisfying solo reads and also provide an entertaining accompaniment to the Black Panther film.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Chinese New Year – Year of the Pig

by Alisha Johnson, Ensley Branch Library

Not only is February the month that was chosen to celebrate Black History Month and Valentine’s Day, but it is also the month to celebrate the Chinese New Year – Year of the Pig 2019. The Chinese New Year began on February 5, 2019, and continues until the Year of the Rat takes over on January 25, 2020.

In reference to Chinese astrology, the New Year is very important. The Chinese celebrate by taking part in activities such as putting up decorations, eating reunion dinner with family on New Year's Eve, firecrackers and fireworks, and giving red envelopes and other gifts. Red is the main color for the festivals and is believed to be auspicious. There are some lucky and unlucky things to do at the New Year and giving money in red envelopes is considered to be very lucky. Non-essential staff persons take the seven day Chinese New Year holiday while enjoying one another and at the end of the seven days, life returns back to normal.

To learn more about the Chinese New Year, check out these resources at your local library:

The Animals of Chinese New Year by Jen Sookfong Lee
Celebrating Chinese New Year by Fay Robinson
Chinese New Year Crafts by Karen E. Bledsoe
Chinese New Year by Katie Dicker

Friday, February 15, 2019

Book Review: The Dinner List

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

The Dinner List
Rebecca Serle

As someone who is very indecisive, I have not been able to create a “dinner list”—you know, the ice-breaker question where you pick the five people you’d like to share a meal with? This simple premise has been turned into a beautiful story of a 30th birthday dinner for Sabrina, which, surprisingly, includes:
We begin to learn about unresolved issues between the players in the present through their dinner conversation, while also being taken back in time to the stories of love and friendship between these complex characters in the past. For me, what gave this book five stars was the turn that occurred halfway through the story, which flipped my expectations upside-down. The story that followed was more profound than I expected from this sweet book and made me love it all the more. This story of longing, grief, and redemption will stay with me for a long time.

"Introduction to Grant Writing" Workshop to be Held at Central Library February 21

What: Birmingham Public Library’s Nonprofit Management Class Series: Introduction to Grant Writing 
When: Thursday, February 21, 2019 
Time: 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m. 
Where: Birmingham Public Library – Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Building, 4th floor, Arrington Auditorium 

The Birmingham Public Library is hosting a  Nonprofit Management Class Series through May 2019 in collaboration with the Harvard  Club of Birmingham. The second in the series of free monthly workshops, "Introduction to Grant Writing," will be held on Thursday, February 21,  12:00–1:00 p.m., in the Linn-Henley Research Library, 4th Floor, Arrington Auditorium. 

There are no more slots open for the grant writing seminar. BPL, however, will live stream the workshop for those unable to attend. You can watch live on BPL's Facebook page.  

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. The nonprofit workshop series began in January 2019.  

Brief descriptions of the remaining classes: 

Thursday, February 21, 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. Registration closed. PowerPoint Presentation Slides (pdf)

Thursday, March 7, 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

Thursday April 4, 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

Thursday May 2, 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, contact Jim Murray of the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department by email at or by calling 205-226-3691.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Spring Break and Summer Travel Plans? Apply For Your Passports at BPL

Rachel Howard (center) of the Central Library Circulation Department with
BPL's first passport customers

Planning to travel out of the United States during spring break or this summer? You can apply for your passports at five Birmingham Public Library locations: the Central Library downtown and four regional libraries—Avondale, Five Points WestNorth Birmingham, and Springville RoadRead more about BPL’s passport services here
BPL became an official Passport Acceptance Facility last September after several employees underwent months of Passport Acceptance Agent Training. The service is available by appointment only. For details on forms and documentation needed click here

You must supply your own photo except at the Central Library, where passport photos may be purchased for $15.  Please note that there are special requirements for minors under age 16, minors age 16 and 17, and no-fee passports when submitting Form DS-11.

Smithfield Library to Host Program Remembering the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing February 21

Refurbished Sixteenth Street Baptist Church as it looks today

On Thursday, February 21, at 3:30 p.m., the Smithfield Branch Library is hosting a program paying tribute to the four little girls who died during the 1963 bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.

When the Blast Occurred: Remembering the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing will feature Jim Baggett, head of Birmingham Public Library's Archives Department. In addition to discussing that incident that shocked the world during the civil rights movement in Birmingham, Baggett will discuss bombings of the Bethel Baptist Church in Collegeville.

Jim Baggett at Avondale Library's Everyday Heroes summer
learning program teaching children about Birmingham civil
rights crusaders

Using FBI files and forensic evidence stored in BPL's archives, Baggett will recall the experiences of people who survived the blasts. The program is among 90 free Black History Month activities and events being held at BPL's 19 locations throughout February. For a list of Black History Month programs and other activities at BPL, visit our events calendar.

Board Games @ BPL

by Vincent Solfronk, Eastwood Branch Library

Starting in November 2018, the Eastwood Branch Library has been collecting and circulating board games at its location. Libraries throughout the world collect and check out materials other than books, and board games are a logical addition. Why board games? Board games promote literacy and community. Children and adults are looking for greater connection to their families and community and board games offer an excellent way to connect face-to-face. Board games are fun, entertaining, and educational.

The board game collection at Eastwood Library is founded on several “gateway” games. These are games that help introduce non-gamers to popular and exciting board games. Games like Ticket To Ride, which is about train travel, is entertaining and helps introduce United States geography to players. Terraforming Mars has the players try to turn Mars into a habitable planet and introduces science and economic concepts. Some games are just fun, such as King of Tokyo, which is a dice game about mega-monsters fighting each other in Tokyo.

The board games at Eastwood Library can be checked out for one week at a time with an adult library card. Currently the games are for middle school to adults, although the collection will be expanding with children’s games.

Come to the Eastwood Library and check out our games!

Central Library's Diana Prince Begins Baby's First Storybook Program

Diana Prince

About Operation: Baby's First Storybook: Provides patrons who hold a baby shower at the Central Library with a gift bag containing a children's storybook, a thank-you note containing a few facts about the benefits of reading regularly to your child at an early age, a comment card, and a tissue pack with the BPL logo that reads "We Are Champions for Learning."

Diana Prince had a passion for reading as a child, even before she had two daughters of her own. Now Prince is helping spread the joy of reading to young mothers thanks to a new program she calls Operation: Baby's First Storybook.

Prince, an administrative clerk at the Central Library, in early January 2019 began Operation: Baby's First Storybook, a program that offers a free gift bag to patrons who book baby shower at the Central Library. In an interview, Prince talked about how Baby's First Storybook came about.

Williams: What inspired you to do this as a service for BPL patrons?
Prince: I want to encourage early literacy. It really saddens me that so many of our kids are reading below their grade level.

Why is reading to kids at a young age so important?
The younger you can get kids to read, the better. It creates an atmosphere that they will imitate. If they get behind in school by third or fourth grade, it's pretty hard to catch up. With my kids, I always made sure they knew how important reading is.

Why are you so passionate about reading?
Because I love learning and reading a good story. And because there are so many wonderful benefits that are a by-product of regular reading.

What are some of the benefits of reading, even in adulthood?

Strengthens the memory.
Improves writing skills.
Enhances your focus and concentration.
Improves analytical skills.
Expands your vocabulary.

In July 2018, the BPL Board of Trustees awarded you with an I Am BPL Award for your idea of a Readers Ball. What is that program?
The Readers Ball is about celebrating reading and those who love to read. It's a program where I would reward children who are excelling in reading and those who are improving. It's about showing children how important regular reading is and encouraging them to make reading a lifestyle.

Where do you go from here with Operation: Baby's First Storybook and Readers Ball?
I hope the Baby's First Storybook grows and reaches other branches, that way we can reach more babies. The public can help by spreading the word about the program. As for help with the Readers Ball, once I get it up and running, I would greatly appreciate their support in attending the ball and rooting our kids on.

Meet Diana Prince, founder of Operation: Baby's First Storybook program:
Hometown: Birmingham
Education: Parker High School and University of Phoenix (Bachelor's in Business Administration E-Business)
Family: Two daughters, Latrese and Kenyetta; four grandchildren.
Years at BPL: Eight and a half, including the past six and a half years as administrative clerk.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Shuttlesworth, the Night He Lost All Fear

by Barbara Hutto, Government Documents Department, Central Library

Civil rights activist Fred Shuttlesworth was a man who realized how much hate some white groups had. These groups did not want equality but wanted to keep the invisible line of segregation and discrimination going even though constructional law said otherwise. As a man he feared for himself and his family.

All that change on December 25, 1956, when Ku Klux Klan bombs exploded at his home and Bethel Baptist Church. His home collapsed around and on top of him while he was in bed. He walked away, declaring it a miracle and a sign from God that he had divine protection. This gave him a passion that existed regardless of circumstances.

There were to be two more bombings of Bethel Baptist Church in 1958 and 1962, and multiple attempts on Reverend Shuttlesworth and his family’s lives. They were guarded around the clock by the by the Citizens Guard Police.

The Birmingham Institute of Civil Rights has so generously shared some of the actual artifacts from the Citizens Guard Police that protected Reverend Shuttlesworth's interests. These can be viewed in the third floor Linn-Henley Research Library display case.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Steps to Starting Your Business Seminar at Central Library February 19

What: Steps to Starting Your Business
When: 3rd Tuesday of each month, January–June 2019
Time: 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor

The Birmingham Public Library, in collaboration with SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) and the City of Birmingham’s Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity, will be hosting the monthly seminar Steps to Starting Your Business from January to June 2019. 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: February 19, March 19, April 16, May 21, June 18.

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.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Stream African American Movies and Documentaries on Kanopy

by Kelly Laney, Springville Road Regional Branch Library

Looking for something new to view? Did you know that the Kanopy platform is available free for Birmingham residents who have a Jefferson County library card, and offers hundreds of videos to stream online?

Kanopy is a video streaming platform for libraries with one of the largest collections in the world (5x Netflix)—over 30,000 films featuring over 1,000 producers including Criterion Collection, Media Education Foundation, Great Courses, Kino Lorber, etc. Kanopy's films are more typically "educative" in nature (documentaries, foreign language films, etc) and their motto is "thoughtful entertainment"—seeking to provide patrons access to films of social and cultural importance.

If you’re looking for something new and different, especially if you are interested in exploring diverse cultures, lands, or people, Kanopy is a great resource. Current offerings include two documentaries on different aspects of African American history:

The Black Press: Soldiers Without Sword discusses through interviews and newspaper archives the importance of newspapers owned and run by African Americans during the early part of the 20th century.

Goin’ To Chicago follows a group of Chicagoans on a reunion tour to their native South, and explains what happened in the Great Migration of African Americans from the South to Northern cities.

To access Kanopy and other free streaming services, visit Birmingham Public Library's website at Documentaries and popular movies may be viewed by streaming, but cannot be downloaded. Take a few minutes today to check out the site and see what wonderful educational information is available!

Friday, February 08, 2019

Central Library Hosts An Emblem of Segregation: The 1926 Birmingham Zoning Map on February 12

Paul Boncella

Even before residential segregation was legal, leaders in the City of Birmingham used laws to keep blacks separate from whites. On Tuesday, February 12, at 6:00 p.m., in the Central Library Arrington Auditorium, Paul Boncella of BPL's Southern History Department will share details of this effort in a program called An Emblem of Segregation: The 1926 Birmingham Zoning Map.

During his discussion, Boncella will talk about how a scheme to segregate the population by race existed both in theory and practice long before the legislation that made it legal was passed in 1926. Boncella's program, among 90 Black History Month programs BPL is hosting in February, is free and open to the public.

Boncella said he came up with the idea for an in-depth examine of the 1926 Birmingham zoning map after seeing a need to educate the public about the history of racism in America.

"Explorations of the African American experience tend to focus on slavery and the mid-20th century quest for civil rights," Boncella said. "I believe that more attention needs to be given to what happened between those two eras. When my work as a map conservator put me into intimate contact with this fascinating relic, I could see that it had an important story to tell, and I set out to tell that story."

BPL's Southern History Department has one of only three known copies of the 1926 Birmingham zoning map. In his lecture, Boncella says he will show how even some experts may be surprised to learn of the existence of one these historic maps.

"The 1926 zoning map with separate residential districts for each race—the only map that was produced for that purpose—made people certain of where the racial lines were drawn in residential districts of the city and where they could and could not live," Boncella said. "This also made it possible for the residents of Birmingham to police the housing choices of other residents, which they often did."

Although Alabama is known for the racist Jim Crow laws that segregated public places, including schools, restaurants, and businesses, not many are aware of the 1926 Birmingham zoning map that dictated which neighborhoods were off limit to blacks. But Boncella said the practice was common  well before the maps were put in place.

"I need to point out that no maps existed in Birmingham before 1926 that established boundaries between the races in residential areas," Boncella said. "However people before that time already had a strong sense of such lines, as well as where such lines could have been drawn, as I will demonstrate in my lecture."

Boncella hopes his lecture will encourage racial tolerance in Birmingham and elsewhere.

"Understanding how the boundaries of racially segregated districts were established in the past will make us sensitive to the presence of such boundaries that may exist in the present," he said.

Central Library Hosts I Am Not My Hair Program February 13

As part of Black History Month, the Central Library is hosting a program for youth designed to build self-esteem and encourage black children to take pride in their hair. Called I Am Not My Hair, the free program will take place on Wednesday, February 13, 3:30 to 5:00 p.m., in the Central Library Youth Department, 2nd Floor.

The program is the brainchild of Youth Department head Bessie Miller, after noticing that the kids, particularly young girls who come in after school, would gather in the bathroom "fixing their hair."

"We observed there would be occasional teasing about the style, the texture, etc., of their hair," said Gelenda Norman, a library assistant in the Youth Department. "Hair has an effect on the self esteem of children, tweens, and teens, even adults."

T.J. Dudley, owner of King's Grooming Lounge, will share his knowledge and expertise in hair care and grooming, along with teen mentor Aaliyah Taylor, to empower and uplift self-esteem and confidence among the young patrons.

"The inclusion of a barber will allow the young boys to get tips on hair grooming as well as entrepreneurship," Norman said. "T.J. will share his journey from simply cutting a fellow's hair to becoming a business owner, instructor, and motivational speaker."

For a listing of nearly 90 other Black History programs being offered at BPL's 19 locations, visit the seasonal events calendar

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Nonprofit Management Class Series – "Assessment and Evaluation of Nonprofit Programs" at Central Library March 7

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 one hour classes will be offered monthly from January to May 2019 at the library’s Central location. 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
Time: 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m.
Where: Birmingham Public Library – Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Building, 4th floor, Arrington Auditorium

Schedule of classes: 

Thursday March 7, 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.

Thursday April 4, 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.

Thursday May 2, 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.

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.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Retirement Planning Workshop – "Managing Savings and Investments" at Central Library February 13

What: Money Matters Retirement Planning Workshop: "Managing Savings and Investments"
When: February 13, 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.

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