Showing posts from March, 2019

Book Review: Extreme Government Makeover: In Your Face

by Alisha Johnson, Ensley Branch Library

Extreme Government Makeover
Ken Miller

In response to the widely accepted belief that public sector jobs provide individuals with security, great opportunities for growth, and full visibility—as it relates to budget and accountability—these jobs are not without its share of problems. In the book Extreme Government Makeover by Ken Miller, he has produced a valuable introduction to the government’s work culture and, in particular, the necessity of process change.

Although the book is titled Extreme Government Makeover, this work brings all career pitfalls to life in a humorous, yet telling display while revealing strategies and secrets for making work better.

We could all use a little makeover every now and then!

The book Extreme Government Makeover is not available for checkout through the Jefferson County Library Cooperative (JCLC) system. But wait! Did you know that JCLC offers a service called Interlibrary Loan (ILL) where book…

Southern History Book of the Month: The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy

by Mary Anne Ellis, Southern History Department, Central Library

The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy
Blaine T. Bettinger

If you’ve read the Harry Potter books or seen the films, you know that Harry is often told that he looks like his father—except for his eyes. “You have your mother’s eyes.” Many of us generally think of genetics only as it pertains to family traits like hair and eye color or certain health conditions, but genetics for genealogical research is a trend that shows no signs of slowing down. If you are interested in genetic testing to help you seek out ancestors and relatives, Blaine Bettinger’s The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy is an excellent place to start your research.

Bettinger, the creator of The Genetic Genealogist blog, starts with the basics of genetic genealogy, rightly pointing out that “Genealogical records are not perfect. Our ancestors had poor memories just like we do. They bent the truth to make themselves…

Bards & Brews Open Mic/Art After 5 Being Held at Birmingham Museum of Art April 5

What: Bards & Brews Open Mic Poetry/Art After 5
When: Friday, April 5, 5:00-9:00 p.m.
Where:Birmingham Museum of Art
Details: This collaboration of BPL’s Bards & Brews and the Birmingham Museum of Art’s “Art After 5” will feature art making, spoken word poetry and a beer tasting. Free food and beer samples will be available for attendees aged 21 and older. Open to attendees 18 and older.

Bards & Brews, the Birmingham Public Library's signature monthly spoken-word poetry program, is joining forces with Art After 5, a popular art making program held at the Birmingham Museum of Art.

Bards & Brews Open Mic/Art After 5, a collaboration of both programs, will take place from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Friday, April 5, 2019.

The Birmingham Museum of Art will kick off the event at 5:00 p.m. with its “Art After 5” program, featuring art making. It will be followed from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. by Bards & Brews, BPL’s popular monthly spoken word poetry/craft beer event.

Both events will…

BPL Diversity Reading Challenge Kicks Off April 7 During National Library Week

Join the Birmingham Public Library in celebration of National Library Week by participating in a reading challenge celebrating diversity through literature.

The theme for the Diversity Reading Challenge is the same as the one for 2019 National Library Week: Libraries = Strong Communities, April 7-30, 2019.

As part of the reading challenge, patrons in all 19 BPL locations are encouraged to read at least 240 minutes - that's just 10 minutes a day – between April 7 and April 30, 2019, and log the minutes in their Beanstack account.

You can create a Beanstack Diversity Reading Challenge account by clicking here

The BPL staff has a list of suggested readings of books reflecting the topic of diversity. The reading suggestions are listed for children, teens and adult patrons.

For a listing of BPL suggested books on diversity, click here

Patrons who complete the challenge will be entered into a drawing to win prizes.

For Spring Break, How About a Trip to Fireball Island!

by Vincent Solfronk, Eastwood Branch Library

During spring break week (March 25-28), the Eastwood Branch Library will be hosting tours/games of Fireball Island. Come see beautiful tropical wilderness, including the awesome volcano Vul Kar. While taking photos and collecting treasure, try to dodge tigers, wasps, snakes, other players, and, of course, fireballs! Tours/games start at 2:00 p.m. and end at 4:30 p.m. March 25-28.

Seating/playing is limited so reservations are necessary. Call the library branch or register online through the BPL events calendar. The game/tours are open to ages 8 or older. No passport is required although having a will made out before departure is suggested. Come by and have fun with Fireball Island!

Also while at the Eastwood Library, come check out our awesome board games!

Several BPL Locations are Hosting Spring Break Activities March 25-29

Looking for free, family-friendly activities while your kids are out of school for Spring Break next week?

Several Birmingham Public Library locations are hosting programs to give students on break something fun to do. Here is a listing by library location:


Tot Time with Mrs. Eve: Happy Spring!, Monday, March 25, 9:30, 11:00 a.m.
Yes, we have a Spring Break Tot Time, and Mrs. Eve be sharing some of her favorite stories! Hope to see you here! Tot Time is designed for 2 to 4 year olds, with a parent or caregiver; no groups, please. 24-hour advanced registration required.

Family Fun Night: "Mo Madness," Tuesday, March 26, 6:00-7:00 p.m.
Looking for a fun, free family activity during Spring Break? Join us for an evening of "Mo Madness" as we feature award-winning contemporary children's book author and illustrator Mo Willems. An evening of stories, songs, and games are just a few of the festivities that await you and your family. It's Mo Madness!

East …

BPL 7 Neighborhood Libraries Expand Operating Hours for Daylight Saving Time

The Birmingham Public Library's seven neighborhood branches have ended their winter operating schedule and expanded hours to better serve BPL patrons.

The change went into effect on Monday, March 11, after daylight saving time went to effect.

 Neighborhood libraries—East Ensley, Ensley, Inglenook, North Avondale, Powderly, Woodlawn, and Wylam— are now open on an operating schedule listed below.

 Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

 Wednesday 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

 These BPL neighborhood locations are closed on weekends and from noon to 1:00 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

All other BPL locations will maintain their regular schedules.

Avondale Progressive Taste & Trivia: Clues to Questions

by Pat Rumore, President of Friends of the Birmingham Public Library

Are you preparing to make sure your trivia team wins this year's progressive taste and trivia event happening Tuesday, April 23, in the Avondale district? Check out this essay about the history of Avondale and its eastern neighbors. There are clues to the trivia answers in the essay below. Good luck!

You might call Birmingham a planned city since its founders incorporated the Elyton Land Company in 1871 for the purpose of creating an industrial center where the Alabama & Chattanooga and the South & North railroads were to intersect in Jones Valley. Conveniently located at the foot of Red Mountain, which was full of iron ore and limestone, and within a few miles of three different coal fields, the new city had the natural resources upon which to build the coal and steel industries with which it would become identified throughout its first 100 years.

The “city” was incorporated by the state legislature in …

It's So Easy to Exercise at Central Library March 22

What: It's So Easy to Exercise
When: Friday, March 22nd
Time: 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor

Wednesday is the first day of spring.  What better way to kick off the new season than to start getting some exercise.  A lot of people will be heading to the beach for spring break and this is a great time to start a new exercise regimen.  You may feel intimidated about going to a gym or health club, but there are a number of low-impact exercises that you can do at home.

On Friday, March 22nd, certified fitness instructor Russell Lee will introduce participants to a low impact/chair exercise program designed for cardiovascular activity, strength training, and flexibility techniques.  Participants are encouraged to bring a towel, wear workout clothes and athletic shoes.  One of the benefits of doing chair exercise, in my opinion, is that it allows you to exercise while you are watching March Madness on television.  Enjoy the…

Board Game Ticket to Ride Available at Eastwood Library

by Vincent Solfronk, Eastwood Branch Library 

Staying home during spring break? Then take a train ticket and play the board game Ticket to Ride!

Designed by Alana R. Moon in 2004, Ticket to Ride is a railroad-themed board game. With elegantly simple gameplay, Ticket to Ride can be learned in under 15 minutes, while providing players with intense strategic and tactical decisions every turn. Players collect cards of various types of train cars they then use to claim railway routes in North America. The longer the routes, the more points they earn. Additional points come to those who fulfill Destination Tickets—goal cards that connect distant cities; and to the player who builds the longest continuous route. There are several country expansions out, and even a children’s version of the game.

Ticket to Ride has won several awards and is one of the most popular board games in the world. The rules are simple enough but offers enough complexity that it offers continual enjoyment. Children ca…

BPL among 145 Members of Urban Libraries Council Signing Commitment to Racial and Social Equity

Birmingham Public Library Executive Director Floyd Council announced the Birmingham Public Library Board of Trustees’ vote to officially sign on to the Urban Libraries Council (ULC) Statement on Race and Social Equity to all BPL staff today. “This is a strong investment in all American communities,” he said.

Susan Benton, president of the Washington, D.C.-based ULC, said she is “thrilled” to hear that BPL has signed the statement. Libraries, Benton said, are trusted, venerable and enduring institutions, central to their communities and an essential participant in the movement for racial and social equity.

ULC began an initiative on issues relating to race and social equity in libraries and communities in 2015. Since then, members have shared their libraries' work through webinars, the annual Innovations Initiative, and ULC conferences.

Benton said the list of 145 member library signatories has real value—giving voice to ULC’s commitment to racial and social equity in communities …

BPL To Celebrate 2019 National Library Week April 7-13 with Nearly 30 Programs

The Birmingham Public Library’s 19 locations will host nearly 30 programs as part of the 2019 celebration of National Library Week from Sunday, April 7 through Saturday, April 13. The 2019 theme is “Libraries = Strong Communities.” 

The American Library Association will kick off 2019 National Library Week on Monday, April 8, by releasing the 2019 State of America's Libraries Report.  Other highlights include National Library Workers Day  on Tuesday, April 9,  National Bookmobile Day   on Wednesday, April 10, and  Take Action for Libraries Day on Thursday, April 11, a day to speak up for libraries and share your library story on social media via the hashtag #MyLibraryMyStory. 

Here is a detailed listing of BPL's Library Week programs by participating locations alphabetically: 
All 19 locations
National Library Week Reading Challenge with Beanstack - Theme: Libraries = Strong Communities, April 7-30, 2019- Join the Birmingham Public Library in celebration of National Library Week b…

Inglenook Library Hosting Appreciation for Women: Relationship Goals Program March 15

What: An Expression of Appreciation for Women of the Inglenook Community: Relationship Goals
When: Friday, March 15, 6:30 p.m. Where:Inglenook Branch Library  Details:  This free program, "Relationship Goals,” will feature a movie about marriage followed by a group discussion about how to build positive personal relationships. Refreshments will be served. To help Inglenook Library get an accurate head count, register in advance.  Call 205-849-8739 or visit the library. 
On Friday, March 15, in honor of  National Women's History Month, the Inglenook Branch Library is hosting a program focused on helping women build better personal relationships. The program, beginning at 6:30 p.m., is titled An Appreciation for the Women of the Inglenook Community: Relationship Goals.
Karnecia Williams, branch manager of Inglenook Library, said the role of women in relationships has changed dramatically over the years. As a librarian and mother, Williams hopes the special appreciation Inglenook L…

Steps to Starting Your Business Seminar at Central Library March 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: 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 busi…

Book Review: The Invisible Man

by Barbara Hutto, Government Documents Department, Central Library

The Invisible Man
Ralph Ellison

If you haven’t read this literary novel that won the National Book Award during the 1950s, you might want to look at the narrator’s view of New York City in the late 1940s. In Ralph Ellison's The Invisible Man, the narrator, a young African American man, seeks an education in spite of his poverty. It is more than a story of race. Within in the story, the tight-fisted wealthy look down at and sometimes abuse those with less. The invisible man lives a life underground, below the subway lines with light bulbs hooked up to the city’s grid to stay warm. Even other African Americans turn their eyes from him because of his darkness and poverty.

In the speaker’s recollection 25 years later, he gives advice from his older self to anyone who is like his younger self: Keep your eyes open to see the possibility of opportunity so it can be discovered, such as winning a scholarship to a college…

Teens Engineer BHM Robotics Build and Battle Competition to be Held April 6 & 7 at the Central Library

Hey Birmingham area teens with a love for designing robots and computer programming—want to put your passion for engineering to work in a friendly competition and potentially win a $50 gift card at the same time?

Then make plans now to participate in the Teens Engineer BHM Robotics Build and Battle Competition on Saturday and Sunday, April 6 and 7, 2019, at the Central Library East Grand Reading Room.

A total of nine teams, comprised of five students each, will design and build a robot to play against other teams in a game-based engineering challenge. Participation is open to current middle or high school students in grades 7 through 12.

Each member of the winning team will receive a $50 gift card. To register, call 205-226-3655 or email

Teens Engineer BHM is a  partnership between the Birmingham Public Library and the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Engineering. The program is sponsored by the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham. Teens Engi…

Magic City Toastmasters Club to Meet Bi-Weekly at the Central Library Beginning March 11

The Magic City Toastmasters Club will begin meeting at the Central Library downtown beginning Monday, March 11, 2019. The meeting will take place from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the 4th floor Boardroom.

The club will meet on the second and fourth Monday of each month, with the next session slated for the same time and place on Monday, March 25. After March, all future meetings will be held in the Central Library First Floor Conference Room.

According to its website, Magic City Toastmasters, also known as Club # 572, was chartered in 1948 and is  the second oldest Toastmasters club in Alabama.  Magic City Toastmasters is a member of Toastmasters International, a US-based nonprofit with clubs around the world that help members enhance their public speaking, listening, and leadership skills.

The March 11 and March 25 meetings will be informational sessions allowing prospective members to learn more about the club. Magic City Toastmasters is open to all with no membership restrictions. Th…

Beyond the Basics of Genealogy Workshop Series at the Birmingham Public Library

The Southern History Department of the Birmingham Public Library is offering a series of workshops called Beyond the Basics of Genealogy that will cover various topics of genealogical research. The staff of the Southern History Department will conduct each of these workshops in the Central Library Arrington Auditorium from 2:30-4:00 p.m. Workshops are free of charge but registration is requested.

Sunday, April 7 – Map Your DNA
Discover how to trace segments of your DNA to specific ancestors and how to use this information to identify unknown matches. You need only one known match to get started. Register »

Sunday, May 5 – Exploring
The National Archives and Records Administration's website contains many hidden treasures for genealogists. Take an in-depth look at the genealogy tools available and learn how to maximize the indexes, articles, catalog, and videos for your research. Register »

Sunday, June 16 – DNA and Family Secrets
What happens when your DNA tests reveal u…

Women’s Work: Genealogy Resources for Women’s Employment

by Mary Beth Newbill, Southern History Department, Central Library

It’s quite likely that you are very well aware of the occupations and professions of your male ancestors, but have you ever wondered about the employment history of your female relatives? While we may think of the “working woman” as a fairly modern invention, women have a long history of working in a variety of occupations. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, let’s take a look at several sources that can shed some light on what our female ancestors did for a living.

The first place to look for anyone’s occupation is in the Federal Census which has included this type of information since 1850. Interestingly, the Census Bureau must not have thought that women would be working for pay in 1850, as the enumerators were instructed to list the “Profession, occupation, or trade of each male person over 15 years of age.” By 1860, the instructions had been expanded to include the occupation of “each person, male and female ov…