Showing posts from April, 2019

2019 NBA Playoffs



by Mary Beth Newbill, Southern History Department, Central Library

As our nation’s record keeper, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) looms large in the world of family history research. What genealogist hasn’t mined census, land, and military records in the hopes of finding a long lost nugget of information on their ancestors? Possessing over 10 billion documents, 12 million maps, and 25 million photographs, NARA’s holdings are vast and growing every year. But what, if any, of this bounty does NARA make available on its website,

Sadly, most of the records held by NARA have not been digitized and made searchable. Of the records that are available online, most are accessible via subscription sites such as or (see this handy chart for a list of NARA records that have been digitized and by whom). is not and probably never will be a one-stop shop for genealogy research. That’s not its goal or its purpose. What genealog…

Wylam Library Hosts "Closing" Ceremony on April 26 to Make Way for New Building

Elected officials, area residents, Birmingham Public Library employees, library board members and community partners will gather at the Wylam Library on Friday, April 26, to participate in a "closing" ceremony at 10:00 a.m. to mark the building's past as supporters prepare for the construction of a new building.

The library's address is 4300 Seventh Ave., Wylam.

 The library will officially close at 6 p.m. on April 26. Between April 29 – May 1, employees will pack boxes for the move. And even though the library will be closed next week, the library staff will offer after school programming next week for children, said Birmingham Public Library Executive Director Floyd Council.

Demolition is expected to start in May. The old, 2,000 square foot building will be replaced with a new, 6,000 square foot building. The new library is slated to open in January 2020.

"I'm happy to see this $1.6 million project finally become a reality. The residents of Wylam have wai…

Birmingham Public Library Young Professionals Chipotle Fundraiser

Join the Birmingham Public Library Young Professionals at UAB Chipotle Mexican Grill on Tuesday,April 30, any time from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m., and tell the cashier you're supporting Birmingham Public Library and a portion of the proceeds will go to help fund BPL.

Ex Alabama Death Row Inmate Turned Author Hinton Draws Crowd to North Avondale Library

Anthony Ray Hinton and members of the North Avondale Library Chapter Chatters Club 

Anthony Ray Hinton's inspirational message about enduring 30 years on Alabama's death row for a crime he didn't commit captivated a packed crowd at North Avondale Branch Library on April 24.

Hinton, who became a New York Times best-selling author after writing the memoir "The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row," was invited to speak in Birmingham by the North Avondale Library Chapter Chatters Book Club.

In 1985, Hinton was arrested and charged with two counts of capital murder after investigators said a gun found at his mother’s home was used in two Birmingham homicides. After Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative took on Hinton's case, Hinton was finally released on April 3, 2015. 

Unlike other states where men wrongly convicted of crimes were financially compensated for spending years in jail without justification,  Hinton told the audience t…

Bards & Brews Open Mic Poetry to be Held May 3 at the Central Library

Voice Porter, host and emcee of Bards & Brews

What: Bards & Brews Open Mic Poetry
When: Friday, May 3, 2019, 6:30-9 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.

Looking for a fun night of entertainment featuring some of Birmingham's most talented poets while enjoying free samples of craft beer?

Then make plans to be at the Central Library downtown Friday, May 3, 2019, for Bards & Brews, the Birmingham Public Library's monthly spoken word poetry-craft beer event.

Join us in the Central Library East Grand Reading Room for light refreshments at 6:30 p.m., followed by poetry at 7 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 provid…

Because I’m Happy! – Discover What Happiness Means to You

by Alisha Johnson, Ensley Branch Library

At some point in our lives, whether it is personal or professional, we all feel a need to change something about us. Once we look at our own attitudes or mindsets, then we are able to decide whether those things are working well for us or not. People learn and change only after true self-reflection and not because other people say so. There are a number of choices that we can make to support change and they include:

Giving freely of your experiencesListen and appreciate other points of viewAsk questions when you don’t understand or need clarificationBe open to learning and developingKeep ConfidencesEnjoy and have fun
After implementing these aspects that support change we should be able to apply relevant definitions of what accountability, responsibility, and empowerment means to us.

Check out these self-help resources at your local library:

Calm the F*ck Down: How to Control What You Can and Accept What You Can't So You Can Stop Freaking O…

Former Death Row Inmate to Speak to North Avondale Library Book Club April 24

Former Alabama Death Row inmate and New York Times Best-Selling Author Anthony Ray Hinton will speak to the North Avondale Library Chapter Chatters Book Club on Wednesday, April 24 at North Avondale Library at 10:30 a.m.

The library’s address is 501 43rd St. North. The library is next to Hayes K-8 School. Wednesday’s event is free and open to the public. However, space is limited.

Interested attendees should call North Avondale Library at 205-592-2082 to reserve a seat.

Hinton spent nearly 30 years on Death Row for a Birmingham crime he did not commit. In 1985, he was arrested and charged with two counts of capital murder after investigators said a gun found at his mother’s home was used in two Birmingham homicides.

Hinton's book is called "The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row." 

Apply for a Passport at the Central Library’s Passport Fair on May 11

by Lynn Hutchins, Circulation Department, Central Library

If you are thinking about traveling abroad in the near future and need a passport, then plan on being at the Birmingham Public Library’s Passport Fair on Saturday May 11, 2019. The passport fair provides passport service so you can get the process underway without an appointment.

Date: Saturday, May 11, 2019
Time: 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Location: Central Library, East Grand Reading Room

Walk-ins are welcome, and passport photo service will be available. Local travel agents will be available to help plan your next getaway.

Please bring the following with you on May 11, 2019:
Completed Form DS-11 if you are applying for the first time, or are under age 16Evidence of U.S Citizenship, such as: U.S. Birth Certificate (original or certified copies only) Certificate of Naturalization Certificate of Citizenship Personal identification with a recent photo, such as:
U.S. Driver’s License Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship Government…

April 23 Taste & Trivia Challenge Postponed

The Avondale Progressive Taste & Trivia event has been postponed until further notice. The new date will be announced as soon as it has been selected. Please check back for updates on the Friends of the Birmingham Public Library's page.

Have a Plan

by Selina Johnson, Wylam Branch Library

Are you prepared for a disaster? Emergencies, whether natural or man-made, are occurrences that will affect millions of people each year. Therefore, it is imperative that you are aware of disasters that are most likely to affect your area. It is also even more important that you have a plan of action.

Tornadoes are common natural disasters in our state and have overwhelming effects such as power outages. Are you prepared to be without power for days? How will you keep in touch with others if phone services and internet services are disabled? There is also the possibility of injuries and damage to property. Our first instinct is to panic in these situations. However, just a bit of preparation will make a difficult situation a little easier to manage. Statistics show that disaster survivors will typically have to wait up to 72 hours for help to arrive. To this end, it is crucial to be prepared and have the ability to be self-sustaining for th…

Artist Erin Mitchell Talks about Her New Exhibit at the Central Library

What:Keep Looking Beautiful art exhibit
When: April 16 through June 7, 2019
Where: Central Library Fourth Floor Gallery
Details: Keep Looking Beautiful showcases artwork by Erin LeAnn Mitchell. The exhibit is open to the public during Central Library operating hours. Click here for more information

Birmingham artist Erin LeAnn Mitchell's art work has gained worldwide exposure from being featured on the hit Fox television series Empire along with being commissioned to do a portrait of Birmingham activist Dr. Angela Davis. 

Now, visitors to the Central Library can see Mitchell’s paintings up close, on display in Keep Looking Beautiful, a new art exhibit that opened Tuesday, April 16, in the Central Library's Fourth Floor Gallery.

In an interview with BPL, Mitchell talked about what inspires her work and shares advice for other young artists.

BPL: Describe your artwork style 
Mitchell: I'm most inspired by Kerry James Marshall (Birmingham native), Mickalene Thomas, and Jacob Law…

BPL Board of Trustees May 14 Meeting to be Held at Five Points West Library

The Birmingham Public Library Board of Trustees will hold its next board meeting at the Five Points West Regional Library at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 14, 2019.

The board normally meets in the fourth floor Board Room of the Central Library on the second Tuesday every month. The May meeting at Five Points West Library will kick off its 2019 Community Library Tour of locations across the city of Birmingham, said BPL Executive Director Floyd Council.

"On behalf of the board members, we are taking the meetings to a few different locations to better engage the community,” said BPL Executive Director Floyd Council.

A schedule will be released later this year about other libraries that will host BPL Board of Trustees meetings as part of the 2019 Community Library Tour. The public is invited to attend each BPL board meeting.

Fight Cognitive Decline at Your Library

by Kelly Laney, Springville Road Regional Branch Library

As an adult librarian, I have the opportunity to interact daily with many patrons, some of whom are enjoying the autumns of their lives. One thing I have noticed in this population is an ever-growing interest in mental acuity. Whether they are worried about their own minds or are caretaking either a spouse, parents, or sibling, the requests for information on what they can do to stave off memory loss and delay Alzheimer’s or dementia are ongoing.

In developing our adult collection at the Springville Road Regional Branch Library, I have tried to stay current on research that deals with this problem, and one of the facts I recently learned was contrary to what I’d learned as a psychology undergrad at UAB in the '80s, human beings continue to develop neurons in our brains our entire lives! The old saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” is wrong. We continue to learn, it just requires more of an effort as we age—…

BPL to Appear at Summer Learning Expo April 27 at Birmingham Crossplex

What: 2019 Summer Fun and Learning Expo at the Birmingham Crossplex.
When: Saturday, April 27, 2019, 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Where:Bill Harris Arena at the Birmingham Crossplex
Details: This free event , open to families and students in grades K-12, will feature representatives from the Birmingham Public Library, Birmingham Division of Youth Services, Birmingham City Schools, and Birmingham Park and Recreation Department. Come pick up information about academic and recreational opportunities available to keep students excited about learning during the summer break.

Want to learn about hundreds of free programs available for families and students across the City of Birmingham during the 2019 summer break?

Then make plans now to join the Birmingham Public LibraryBirmingham Division of Youth Services,Birmingham City Schools, and the Birmingham Park and Recreation Department on Saturday, April 27, 2019 for the 2019 Summer Fun and Learning Expo at the Birmingham Crossplex.

Representatives …

Root: A Board Game of Cute Woodland Creatures...and Murder!

by Vincent Solfronk, Eastwood Branch Library

The board game Root, designed by Cole Wehrle and produced by Leder Games, is an asymmetrical game where players control certain animal factions who try to dominate a woodland area. Reminiscent of Brian Jacques’ Redwall series of fantasy books, players can play the Marquis de Cats, a cat faction that currently rule the woods, or the Eyrie Dynasties, birds who used to be the rulers but who now plot to re-establish their kingdom. Then there is the Woodland Alliance, a group of bunnies, foxes and mice who want to infiltrate and take over. Last there is the Vagabond, a wandering adventurer who creates alliances with the other factions and adventures around the game board, with a bit of assassination.

Being asymmetrical, each faction has their own agendas, abilities, and unique style. Do not let their cute demeanor fool you, this is a game of conquest and combat! Recently awarded game of the year by BoardGameGeek, along with other awards, Root is…

2019 Pulitzer Prize Book Winners

On April 15 the Pulitzer Prize winners and finalists for 2019 were announced via livestream at Columbia University. The winners receive $15,000 along with the lifelong honor of being a "Pulitzer Prize winner." The Pulitzers are divided into two categories: Journalism and Letters, Drama & Music. Here are the winners in the Letters, Drama & Music category:

The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction:The Overstory by Richard Powers
The Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction:Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America by Eliza Griswold
The Pulitzer Prize for Drama: Fairview by Jackie Sibblies Drury
The Pulitzer Prize for History:Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedomby David W. Blight
The Pulitzer Prize for Autobiography or Biography:The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke by Jeffrey C. Stewart
The Pulitzer Prize for Poetry:Be With by Forrest Gander

Aretha Franklin received a Special Award for her "indelible contribution to American music and culture for more than fiv…

Happy 103rd Birthday, Beverly Cleary!

Today is author Beverly Cleary's 103rd birthday! As a lifelong fan of Beverly Cleary's books for children and teens, I think Cleary should be celebrated all the other 364 days of the year too. She's just that good!

I first came across Beverly Cleary's name on the Scholastic book order form in elementary school in the seventies. For this shy book lover, marking the books I wanted was the anticipated highlight of my school year, only topped by them actually arriving on my desk in a stack to take home and devour. The first book I ever ordered was Cleary's Ramona the Pest, my favorite childhood book to this day.

Oh, it's true that authors of children's and teen books have tackled some increasingly tough subject matter over the decades since Cleary stopped writing—rape, murder, drug addiction, racism, LGBTQ themes—but some may have forgotten that it wasn't always rainbows and lollipops for Cleary's characters either, and the author beautifully balanced …

Bob Doonan Retiring After 49 Years at BPL

Robert "Bob" Doonan

Robert "Bob" Doonan has spent five decades at the Birmingham Public Library since he began working on Jan. 1, 1970, as a part-time page.

 He has been a full-time employee at BPL over 42 years since Feb. 28, 1977, when he was promoted to be an assistant resource center specialist.

Effective this Friday, April 12, Doonan, currently a Network System Administrator I in the Information Technology Department, is retiring after 49 years at BPL.

 Doonan said he has enjoyed the many friendships built with employees who he has helped better serve patrons thanks to his computer expertise.

On Tuesday, April 9, as part of the City of Birmingham's Library Appreciation Day program at the Boutwell Auditorium, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin publicly thanked Doonan for his many years of service to the citizens of Birmingham.

BPL employees will hold a retirement celebration event for Doonan on Friday, April 12, his last day.

Keep Looking Beautiful Exhibit Opens April 16 at the Central Library

The Central Library Fourth Floor Gallery is opening a new art exhibit featuring works by a Birmingham artist who recently presented activist Dr. Angela Davis with a commissioned portrait during the activist's appearance in Birmingham at "A Conversation with Dr. Angela Davis" on February 16.

The new exhibit, Keep Looking Beautiful, will showcase paintings by Erin LeAnn Mitchell. It opens on April 16, 2019, on the Central Library's fourth floor, and will be accessible to the public during library operating hours.

A self-described interdisciplinary artist, Mitchell's work draws from Western art history, pop art and visual culture to examine ideas around femininity, beauty, and race.

Mitchell received a Bachelor's in Fine Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2011 and a Master's in Art Education from Columbia College in Chicago in 2016.

Mitchell has had her work featured on the television series "Empire" and was selected to do a com…

BPL Celebration of 2019 National Library Week Concludes April 13

The Birmingham Public Library has been celebrating 2019 National Library Week, with more than 30 programs taking place across the city showcasing the valuable services we provide.

The theme is Libraries = Strong Communities.

Public libraries are more than just a place to check out books, DVDs, music, and do research. BPL offers free WiFi access, partners with organizations like The Dannon Project through its Social Workers @BPL program, offers public access to computers, hosts town hall and neighborhood meetings.

BPL also offers innovative programs like Bards & Brews, a monthly spoken word poetry-craft beer event, and partners with the UAB School of Engineering to offer Teens Engineer BHM, which offered a Robotics Build & Battle at the Central Library April 6 thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham. 

 At BPL, you can check out Ukuleles at Avondale Library, check out board games at Eastwood Library, take advantage of dozens of free monthly compute…

The Things We May Take for Granted at BPL

by John Paul Lawhead, Youth Department, Central Library

It is often said that one of the greatest places to make investments is in the future. People are constantly searching for the “next big thing” that may add to their wealth or be able to immortalize their name through the ages. Here on the second floor of the Central Library, we search for the “next little thing or person” to visit us and make investments in their futures. We see each of our young patrons as priceless and do our best to provide a safe, educational environment that allows children and young adults to have a place to follow their dreams, or perhaps even discover a new pursuit. What activities, opportunities, and knowledge do the youth of BPL have a chance to acquire when visiting the second floor throughout the year?

Each person who is a part of the BPL Youth Department creates activities and programs that are a part of their own unique skill sets or something they can learn and teach to youth. Our books and media…

Steps to Starting Your Business Seminar at Central Library April 16

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: 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 e…

Central Library Hosts Teens Engineer BHM Robotics Build & Battle Saturday

The Central Library downtown will host the inaugural Teens Engineer BHM Robotics Build and Battle Competition  this Saturday, April 6 in the Central Library East Grand Reading Room. This fun, friendly competition will kick off at 8:30 a.m. and conclude at 5:00 p.m.

The Robotics Build & Battle will feature 50 tech-savvy teens from high schools across the metro area, including Huffman in Birmingham, Oak Mountain in Shelby County, Hueytown and Fairfield.

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.

 The event will kick off the Birmingham Public Library (BPL)’s observance of 2019 National Library Week, which begins Sunday and concludes Saturday, April 13.

Teens Engineer BHM is a partnership between BPL and the University of Alabama at Birmingh…

BPL Archivist Jim Baggett Wins 2019 Eminent Librarian Award at Alabama Library Association Conference

Longtime Birmingham Public Library Archivist Jim Baggett received the 2019 Eminent Librarian Award Thursday, April 4, during the Alabama Library Association annual conference in Point Clear, Ala.

The recognition is in honor of his many contributions to the library industry in Alabama as head of BPL's Department of Archives and Manuscripts, and as archivist for the City of Birmingham. Baggett holds a Masters of Library and Information Studies degree at the University of Alabama a Masters in Public History from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Baggett has served as president of the Society of Alabama Archivists, Chair of the Jefferson County Historical Commission, and as a trustee for several historical associations. Known for his knowledge of the civil rights movement in Birmingham and other historical events in Alabama, Baggett has presented lectures across the United States and Europe.

He has been featured on Alabama Public Television, Alabama Public Radio, National Pub…