Monday, April 29, 2019

2019 NBA Playoffs

NBA Playoffs

The NBA Playoffs are underway. One of the most notable things about the 2019 NBA Playoffs is the absence of LeBron James.  His current team, the Los Angeles Lakers, failed to reach the playoffs in the Western Conference.  This is very significant because not only has LeBron James competed in the playoffs every season since 2005-06, his teams (Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers, respectively) have reached the NBA Finals for the last eight consecutive seasons. This resulted in two championships with the Miami Heat and one with the Cleveland Cavaliers.  

What does the Eastern Conference look like without LeBron James?  The top four teams took care of business in the first round.  Two of the series ended in sweeps (Milwaukee over Detroit, Boston over Indiana) while the other two ended with a 4-1 record (Toronto over Orlando, Philadelphia over Brooklyn).  The Western Conference first round looked a lot different, although the top four teams were victorious.  There were no sweeps in the west, but two series ended with 4-1 records (Houston over Utah, Portland over OKC).  Despite being the number one seed, the Golden State Warriors battled the eighth seed Los Angeles Clippers to their 4-2 victory.  The number two seed Denver Nuggets had to play seven games to defeat the 7th seed San Antonio Spurs.  Whenever you play the Spurs in the first round, you better pack a lunch because they do not go away easily. Game seven for the Nuggets was far from a blowout with them winning by only four points (90-86).  

The second round, which started Saturday, has already been exciting to watch.  Toronto comfortably defeated Philadelphia (108-95) at home in game one, but Milwaukee saw a huge upset in game one, losing to Boston (112-90) at home.  Despite being the top seed in the Eastern Conference, Milwaukee is already playing from behind in the second round.  Their Western Conference counterpart Golden State Warriors traded shot for shot with the Houston Rockets in game one.  The game was tied at halftime (53-53) and ended with only a four-point victory for Golden State (104-100).  In my opinion, not just because Golden State is the defending NBA Champion, this will be the series to watch, perhaps the best in this year’s playoffs.  If you’re not already watching, be sure to take advantage of this great basketball.  Once the NCAA Tournament ends, I start looking forward to the NBA Playoffs.  Enjoy the games.  


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 genealogists will find on is a treasure trove of information about every aspect of genealogy research, how to locate different types of records, and how to get the most out of them.

The best way for a family historian to begin peeling back the layers of (like NARA’s holdings, its website is vast) is to start with the link from the homepage for genealogists. This is the jumping-off point for all of the genealogy related content. Genealogists at every skill level will, I believe, find something of value within these pages. Let’s take a look at some of my favorite corners of

Genealogy Notes from Prologue Magazine
Arranged alphabetically, each topic (African American History, Census Records, etc.) is a link to articles that previously appeared in NARA’s official magazine, Prologue. Some articles are case studies and others are more instructional, but all include information on how NARA’s records can be used to further genealogical research.

Know Your Records videos on YouTube
This incredible collection of online lectures and workshops should be front and center on, but for reasons unclear to me it’s one of the most obscure and difficult-to-find links on the entire site! Once you do find it, however, you will never want to leave. The videos are very substantial (some over an hour) and are conducted by archivists and records experts at NARA. There is a great variety of topics, from the general to the very specific. They have videos on getting started with genealogy, how to use Freedmen’s Bureau records, naturalization records, census records, and more. You can even stream previous workshops from the annual Virtual Genealogy Fair.

History Hub
Got a genealogy problem? Hit a brick wall? Post your query on the History Hub and see what the experts at NARA have to say! Reading the older questions and responses is a great way to see what records and techniques might be helpful for your research problem.

These are just a few of the features on that I think are wonderful for genealogists and might be flying under the radar. To see these and even more features, join us Sunday, May 5, 2019, 2:30 p.m., at the Central Library for our workshop, Exploring
Register »

Call the Southern History Department at 205-226-3665 for more information.

Friday, April 26, 2019

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 waited a long time to see a new library, and I'm glad that we can provide it for them,'' said Mayor Randall Woodfin. "This new building will feature a covered, outdoor patio; a reading room; a meeting room; work rooms; and landscaping. The sidewalk will be replaced on Seventh Avenue and there will be a new parking lot."

Friday's event will allow community members to reminisce about the old Wylam Library. Its first location was at the Wylam Fraternal Hall in 1921. Later, the library saw other locations up and down Seventh Avenue and Huron Street in Wylam. The library found its final home at its current location in 1962.

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.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

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 the State of Alabama never gave him any money for the wrongdoing and suffering he endured.

Several Birmingham media outlets interviewed Hinton during his appearance, getting his thoughts on a variety of topics including how violence in Alabama's are being investigated by the U.S. Justice Department and voting rights for ex-prisoners. CBS 42 was among the outlets covering his talk.  

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 provided by Hop City Craft Beer & Wine.

For more information, click here to visit Bards & Brews on Facebook.

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 experiences
  • Listen and appreciate other points of view
  • Ask questions when you don’t understand or need clarification
  • Be open to learning and developing
  • Keep Confidences
  • Enjoy 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 Out and Get On with Your Life by Sarah Knight
Coping with Anxiety: Ten Simple Ways to Relieve Anxiety, Fear, and Worry by Edmund Bourne and Lorna Garano
Emotional First Aid: Practical Strategies for Treating Failure, Rejection, Guilt, and Other Everyday Psychological Injuries by Guy Winch

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

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 16
  • Evidence 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 Employee ID
U.S. Military or U.S Military Dependent ID
  • Photocopy of personal identification (front and back)
  • Passport photograph (2x2 color photograph) – photos available at the fair for $15
  • Payment
$110 application fee, payable to the U.S. Department of
State (check or money order)
$35 execution fee, payable to the Birmingham Public Library
(cash, check, or credit/debit)

Download and complete a passport application beforehand. All applicants must appear in person (including minors). Minors under the age of 16 must appear with both parents.

The U.S. Department of State provides detailed guidelines for preparing passport applications and supporting documents.

Please be aware that, on average, it takes 4 to 6 weeks to receive your passport in the mail after completing your application. You can request expedited service for an added fee.

Please call 205-226-3600/3601 for more information.

Monday, April 22, 2019

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.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

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 the first 72 hours after the disaster.

The American Red Cross has been in the emergency response business since 1881 and provides emergency assistance, disaster relief, and disaster preparedness education. According to their website, they respond to an emergency every eight minutes and 90% of the disasters that they respond to are home fires. Fires are fast and can engulf a home minutes. What is your fire escape plan? Do you have smoke detectors and are they working properly? The need to plan is real.

A representative from the American Red Cross will be presenting a disaster preparedness session at Wylam Branch Library on Tuesday, April 23, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. Forms will be available on that day for Wylam residents to complete in order to receive free smoke detectors. These smoke detectors will be installed in Wylam homes by the fire department. There will also be a drawing for a NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather radio. Come out and get some productive information that you can use to assist you in having a well-prepared emergency plan.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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

Erin LeAnn Mitchell, Birmingham artist

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 Lawrence. I'd say my style is a mix of the three

BPL: What inspired your Keep Looking Beautiful art exhibit? 
Mitchell: Keep Looking Beautiful is a revival of a project I started in college during my transition to natural hair. The slogan became my motto for combating self-doubt and insecurity and has since evolved into various aspects of black womanhood.

BPL: How old were you when you decided on art as a career?
Mitchell: 29. Art is all I've ever been invested in but it wasn't until the eve of my 30s that I decided to make a plan, take a leap of faith and use all I'd learned to be a full time artist.

BPL: Describe the excitement of out of all artists out there you were commissioned to do portrait for Dr. Angela Davis that was unveiled Feb. 16 during her event in Birmingham. 
Mitchell: I was very honored to be chosen to present Dr. Davis with my work as her award for her humanitarian achievements. My goal upon returning home was to make impactful work specifically for the city of Birmingham and it was very serendipitous that this opportunity presented itself.

BPL: What it was like to meet her at the “A Conversation with Dr. Angela Davis” event? 
Mitchell: Up until the Feb 16 event, I had only known of Dr. Davis through history books and photos so it was very surreal to be standing next to such a prominent figure and experiencing her wisdom. It was an empowering moment as a black female artist and native of Birmingham, to show my gratitude to Dr. Davis through my artistic vision and to see it be showcased.

BPL: Any advice for other young artists on how to fulfill their dreams? 
Mitchell: Persistence is key. Manifestation is real.

Study your craft, you can always learn more.

Use the Internet wisely: make connections.

Showcase your work even if things aren't perfect, the process is part of the journey and you never know who's watching.

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—but it’s got a great payoff.

Research indicates that exercise and a good diet (especially containing omega-3 oils) helps to form a protein that promotes neurogenesis. The catch is that if you don’t actively stimulate those neurons, they die. If you do, they integrate into your brain and help to fight cognitive decline!
So, we exercise. We eat right. Then we actively engage our brains in learning something that we’ve never done before, like reading up on a new topic, learning a new language, or learning to play a musical instrument. If we produce the protein (BDNF—brain-derived neurotropic factor) and challenge our brains, evidence suggests that we can stay mentally sharper longer in our lives. There are so many ways to engage and use your brain; and if you find some like-minded people to learn with, you’ll increase your socialization, too.

At the Springville Road Library, we offer Brain Jam (the next class is April 30 at 1:00 p.m.). We have fun, learn a little about music and different instruments, sing, dance, and make new friends. Don’t worry if you don’t have an instrument, know nothing about music, and can’t carry a tune in a bucket. We have simple instruments and you can help keep the beat on tambourine or rhythm sticks or hum through a kazoo. At the very least you can practice and share your dance moves! I don’t know about you, but a few years, months, or even weeks that I can hang onto my mind would be well worth a little exercise and energy.

But don’t take my word for it. Do a little research on your own and see if you find that being interested in something and spending a little time reading up on it gives you the incentive to take a walk, eat some fish, and attend a program at your local library.

Here are a few items you might want to “check out”:

The Brain's Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity by Norman Doidge, M.D.
Calm Clarity: How to Use Science to Rewire Your Brain for Greater Wisdom, Fulfillment, and Joy by Due Quach
The Mind and the brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force by Jeffrey M. Schwartz and Sharon Begley
The Power of Neuroplasticity [electronic resource] by Shad Helmstetter
My Plastic Brain: One Woman's Yearlong Journey to Discover If Science Can Improve Her Mind by Caroline Williams
Reclaim Your Brain: How to Calm Your Thoughts, Heal Your Mind, and Bring Your Life Back Under Control by Joseph A. Annibali
Real Happy Pill: Power Up Your Brain by Moving Your Body by Anders Hansen

You can also check out an immersive learning experience through the great courses that are available through the library in DVD, audiobook, and streaming through Hoopla. Here’s just a few of the selections (there are hundreds available):

Understanding Nonverbal Communication by Mark G. Frank
The Barbarian Empires of the Steppes by Kenneth W. Harl
Ancient Civilizations of North America by Edwin Barnhart
12 Essential Scientific Concepts by Indre Viskontas
Brain Myths Exploded: Lessons from Neuroscience by Professor Indre Viskontas

You've got a lot to learn, and the good news is that with a little effort, you can learn longer. So, get on it, Fido and Fiddette! Get with the new tricks already!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

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 from BPL, DYS, the city park and recreation department and city schools will have staff at booths available to answer questions and share information about resources and programs taking place this summer.

This free event is open to families and parents/guardians of students in grades K-12 in Birmingham. Attendees will receive information about exciting academic and recreational opportunities to keep students engaged and excited about learning during the summer.

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 a complex, beautiful, and intriguing game that has won many fans worldwide. Come by the Eastwood and Hoover Libraries to check it out along with other board games!

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 Freedom by 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 five decades."

For a full list of the winners and finalists, visit The Pulitzer Prizes official website.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Happy 103rd Birthday, Beverly Cleary!

Beverly Cleary and...could it be...the muse for her
beloved book Socks

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 childhood wonder and innocence with some stark subjects of the day for children's lit—bullying, divorce, unemployment, the stress of two-working-parent households, anger issues, sibling rivalry. I mean, Ramona's cat Picky-Picky dies in Ramona Forever, for Pete's sake! While she and Beezus were home after school...alone.

Discover the world of Beverly Cleary for the first time (or books about her), or, if you're getting on up there like I am, take a stroll through memory lane by re-reading some of her books. See what's available on the JCLC catalog.

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.

 Artist Erin LeAnn Mitchell
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 commissioned portrait of Dr. Angela Davis highlighting her humanitarian achievements. Mitchell presented the portrait to Dr. Davis during an event held in her honor at the Boutwell Auditorium on Feb. 16. 

Mitchell is currently preparing for her solo show in New York at Kravets & Wehby gallery this fall.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

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 computer workshops at the Central Library, take ACT prep classes at the Smithfield Library, research your family history through BPL's Beyond the Basics of Genealogy workshops, and teens can record music in the Central Library Youth Department Create 205 Learning Lab.

 For information on more programs at BPL, click on the BPL calendar 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Things We May Take for Granted at BPL

by John Paul Lawhead, Youth Department, Central Library

Youth Department staff attending the 2018 City of Birmingham
Harvest Festival in Linn Park

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?

Teens Engineer BHM Robotics Build & Battle competition

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 are stocked with a wide variety of subjects and interests that are consistently and constantly being called upon from fellow libraries that we are happy to accommodate. Programs range from any number of art projects, crafting constructs, and adapted ideas of the staff who exercise participant ingenuity and imagination. Our robotics program is fantastic and offers amazing opportunities to take part in a burgeoning career field of the future. The “Beat Studio” is an amazing top of the line music recording booth that allows youth to create music and expand their knowledge of the music industry, how to produce and create music and, also, enjoy making their poetry into real recordings. There are laptops and computers available for study and homework. Visitors even have access to Xbox One, Nintendo Wii, and TV/DVD to unwind after a long school day.

Building birdhouses

Black Panther party

Our visitors regularly enjoy the company of a staff that believes in the mission of Mayor Woodfin of “Putting People First.” Whether it is a school assignment, personal interest, or leisure activity, we are dedicated to making sure all patrons leave satisfied, that their needs were met, and that they are looking forward to their next chance to visit the Birmingham Public Library. We strive to make a difference in the lives of each member of our community who chooses to visit our floor or whom we visit outside the walls of the library. Each day offers new opportunity to assist others in taking the next step toward their hopes and dreams while making the most of one of the greatest gifts a community can have: a library that cares.

Enjoying a treat at the Engineers: Build a Haunted House program

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

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 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.

Friday, April 05, 2019

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 Birmingham School of Engineering. The program is sponsored by a $95,000 grant received in 2017 from the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham.

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 Public Radio, and C-SPAN. Baggett has written two books about Alabama history, edited three others, and written downs of articles in various publications. Baggett also writes the "Reading Birmingham" book column for the online news site BirminghamWatch.  

Baggett lives in Birmingham with his wife and daughter.

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