Showing posts from June, 2019

Kids Connect with Nature through Five Points West Library Potting Classes

by Carrie Campbell, Five Points West Regional Branch Library

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

“No, no, no, no, no!” they cried.

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

This delightful bit of mayhem occurred during the third class Five Points West Library has offered for our younger patrons to pot, plant, and take home to nurture their own plants. In each class the students learn how to take care of each type of plant, and, as they’ve taken the lessons to heart, talki…

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

by Floyd Council, Executive Director, Birmingham Public Library

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

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

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

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

2019 Lambda Literary Awards Winners

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

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

And the Lammy goes to...! 

Lesbian Fiction:The Tiger Flu by Larissa Lai
Gay Fiction:Jonny Appleseedby Joshua Whitehead
Bisexual Fiction:Disorientalby Négar Djavadi
Transgender Fiction:Little Fish by Casey Plett
Bisexual Nonfiction:Out of Step: A Memoir by Anthony Moll
Transgender Nonfiction:Histories of the Transgender Child by Julian Gill-Peterson
LGBTQ Nonfiction:Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry by Imani Perry
Lesbian Mystery:A Study in Honor by Claire O’Dell
Gay Mystery:Late Fees: …

Nonprofit Management Workshop Series Returns Beginning at Central Library July 2

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

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

The workshop series, previously held at noon, is being offered from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., this time to accommodate patrons unable to make it last time due to work. All of the classes will take place in the Central Li…

2019 BPL Summer Learning Spotlight: Critters and Constellations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summer Beach Reads

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

Queen Bee by Dorothea Benton Frank

Beekeeper Holly McNee Jensen quietly lives in a world of her own on Sullivans Island, tending her hives and working at the local island library. Holly calls her mother The Queen Bee because she's a demanding hulk of a woman...  To escape the drama, Holly's sister Leslie married and moved away, wanting little to do with island life. Holly's escape is to submerge herself in the lives of the two young boys next door and their widowed father, Archie.  Her world is upended when the more flamboyant Leslie returns and both sisters, polar opposites, fixate on what's happening in their neighbor's home. …

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

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

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

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

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

The ALA Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table Program Planning Committee plans, promo…

Sacred Harp Singing Reception for Sacred Sounds of Alabama Exhibit at Central Library June 30

What: Sacred Harp singing reception for Sacred Sounds of Alabama exhibit
When: Sunday, June 30, 2019, 3:00–5:00 p.m.
The Central Library Fourth Floor Gallery
Details: Free and open to the public

The Sacred Harp singers will be at the Central Library on Saturday, June 30, 3:00–5:00 p.m., after the group performs an Alabama Bicentennial Singing on the sixth floor of the Jefferson County Courthouse, located just across the street. The all-day singing event will celebrate the forthcoming release of Alan Lomax’s field recordings for the Library of Congress. They were made during a singing on the site of the courthouse in August 1942.

We’ll Sing Hallelujah: Sacred Sounds of Alabama is produced by the Alabama Folklife Association and pays tribute to genres of music that have been passed on through generations. The exhibit will be on display in the Central Library’s Fourth Floor Gallery through Monday, July 22, 2019.

We'll Sing Hallelujah displays historic photographs and contemporary…

2019 Summer Learning Spotlight: Adult Programs for Week of June 24-28

Adults, did you know the Birmingham Public Library has plenty of fun activities to help you both have fun and learn as part of our 2019 BPL Summer Learning programs?

To find out more about our Summer Learning activities, go to the calendar at our website or click here for a highlight.

Here are 20 programs for adults taking place between Monday, June 24, and Friday, June 28, at nine of our 19 BPL locations:

Avondale Library

Finding African American Records in,,, and FamilySearch, Monday, June 24, 2:00 p.m. Learn how to use BPL's most popular genealogy databases to pinpoint African American records. This workshop will show you tips and tricks to quickly locate records specifically relating to African Americans.

Avondale Book Club Freestyle, Monday, June 24, 6:00 p.m.
The Avondale Book Club Freestyle is book club allows patrons to read any book they like and join fellow book-lovers to discuss what everyone else is reading. For more information or t…

Summer Mini-Camps Underway at Five Points West Library: Crochet, Quilting, Wii

The Five Points West Regional Branch Library is hosting free week-long mini-camps during June and July as part of BPL's 2019 Summer Learning.

This week, from June 17 through Thursday,  June 20, the library hosted Camp Crochet. During the eight-hour mini-camp, Five Points West Library's Lynn Carpenter taught young patrons the ancient art of turning yarn into useful objects.

Earlier this year, a story went viral online about an 11-year-old boy who learned how to crochet at age 5 by watching YouTube videos. Today, Jonah Lawson of Wisconsin has 46,000 followers on Instragram and over 2,500 orders for his work online. All Things Considered, a syndicated National Public Radio series that runs on WBHM in Birmingham, did a spotlight on him in February during Black History Month. Read more about the 11-year-old's crochet business.

Upcoming mini-camps at Five Points West Library for patrons aged 10 and up (all 12:00–2:00 p.m.) are as follows (register in advance by calling 205-226-401…

The Atlantic Spotlights BPL on Role Libraries Play in Digital Skills Training

New York-based The Atlantic magazine spotlighted the Birmingham Public Library System in an article highlighting how libraries around the U.S. are helping provide patrons the digital skills needed in today's society.

The article by Atlantic Re:think, in a series called Ideas on Main, is titled "America Has a Digital Skills Gap. Libraries Can Help Fix It." It went live online on Wednesday, June 19, 2019.

Writer Jordan Teicher and art director Drew Campbell led a team representing Atlantic Re:think, who spent three days at BPL in mid-May 2019. TheAtlantic's focus on BPL's computer training came as a a result of a partnership BPL began with Google after hosting the first Grow With Google workshops in Alabama last August. Since those workshops, BPL has hosted several free Google classes.

Teicher sat in on computer workshops at the Central Library and Ensley Branch Library led by Maurice Harley, BPL training coordinator. He interviewed BPL patrons, including Calveste…

Steps to Starting Your Business Continues at Central Library July 16

What: Steps to Starting Your Business
When: 3rd Tuesday of each month, July–November 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 continue hosting the monthly seminar Steps to Starting Your Business from July to September 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: July 16, August 20, September 17, October 15, November 19.

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, an…

Unlimited Access, Intellectual Freedom & Prisons

by Alisha Johnson, Ensley Branch Library

After reading an article about Georgia prisons and how books have contributed to low recidivism rates, it is apparently clear that more institutions should adopt the idea of acquiring more books and maintaining prison collections.

Historically Georgia, among many other states, have faced years of zero funding and have had to rely solely on donations to keep libraries functioning. Even after books are donated, much of the materials are scrutinized in a manner in which a number of them never reach the prison population. In fact, if a book or magazine includes an excerpt that has potential of inciting a riot, then that material is immediately taken and discarded. Consequently, other information contained in the book is never accessed by inmates as a result of safety concerns.

Literacy for inmates and all others is based on the fundamentals of unlimited access and choice. Without having these elements as a basis for investment and building in our …

What to Read Next

by Lynn Hutchins, Circulation Department, Central Library

Have you read Where the Crawdads Singby Delia Owens? Did you enjoy it? Are you looking for what to read next? If you liked Where the Crawdads Sing, try one of these eight books published in the last eight years. One of them might become your next favorite book.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
A stunningly ambitious and beautiful novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
The story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes.

The Snow Child by E…

Podcast Discussion Club

What? Podcast Discussion Club
When? Monday, July 8, 6:00-7:00 p.m.
Where?Avondale Regional Branch Library Conference Room

Have you ever listened to a podcast and wished you could discuss it with someone else? Well, this is the group for you! This month we're focusing on living a happier life.

Prior to the meeting, listen to the following episodes. Click on the links below to listen. Join us on the meeting date for an interesting discussion.

The Science of Compassion (NPR's Hidden Brain Podcast)
Outer Order, Inner Calm with Gretchen Rubin (Live Happy Now Podcast)

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

Sims Saturday Sitdown: Life Coaches Help Navigate Life's Journey

by Lynn Hutchins, Circulation Department, Central Library

Join us at the Central Library on Saturday, June 29, and Saturday, July 27, 2:00–4:00 p.m., for the Sims Saturday Sitdown.

Life Coaches Angelik and Victor Sims and their team will help you find and define the motivation and tools to navigate through this journey called life. The Sims Saturday Sitdown is a community outreach program that highlights and focuses on building individuals and teaching others.

Before you can impact your community, workplace, or world at large, you need to start by taking a look at yourself as an individual. The Sims will host this event one Saturday a month, bringing a new and useful topic to the community during each meeting.


First Session
Saturday, June 29, 2:00–4:00 p.m.
Central Library, First Floor Conference Room

Second Session
Saturday, July 27, 2:00-4:00 p.m.
Central Library/Linn-Henley Research Library, 4th floor, Arrington Auditorium.

2019 Summer Learning: McWane Center Visits BPL

The McWane Science Center is joining forces with the Birmingham Public Library 2019 Summer Learning to help educate patrons of all ages about the valuable role of science in every day life.

Through a program called McWane Center Visits BPL at various library locations across Birmingham, the McWane Center is celebrating this summer's 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 NASA space flight.

During McWane's June 12 visit to the Central Library, 100 people - including 89 kids from the YMCA Youth Center and other camps - were engaged by fascinating demonstrations of rockets, gravity and surviving in space.

You can still register for BPL Summer Learning by clicking on this link.

For a list of other McWane Center programs and over 400 others being offered as part of BPL Summer Learning, click here

Board Game Review: Terraforming Mars

by Vincent Solfronk, Eastwood Branch Library

Celebrating the summer learning theme "A Universe of Stories," I wanted to highlight one of the most popular board games with a space theme: Terraforming Mars. In the 2400s, mankind begins to terraform the planet Mars. Giant corporations, sponsored by the World Government on Earth, initiate huge projects to raise the temperature, the oxygen level, and the ocean coverage until the environment is habitable. In Terraforming Mars, you play one of those corporations and work together in the terraforming process, but compete for getting victory points that are awarded not only for your contribution to the terraforming, but also for advancing human infrastructure throughout the solar system, and doing other commendable things.

The players acquire unique project cards (from over two hundred different ones) by buying them to their hand. The projects (cards) can represent anything from introducing plant life or animals, hurling asteroids at…

2019 Summer Learning Spotlight: Pen Craft Workshops

Looking for a simple gift or a cute display for your desk? Ink pens always come in handy, and the Birmingham Public Library wants to help.

Rachel Marable, a Library Assistant III at the Central Library, is hosting a series of "Pen Craft" workshops at several BPL locations this summer. The workshops are among more than 400 free activities for kids, teens and adults being held as part of the 2019 BPL Summer Learning.

"Participants will decorate ink pens that can be used for display or given away as fun gifts," Marable said. "Crafters will learn how to incorporate seasonal themes to their artwork while displaying their love for learning."

The workshop has already been held at the Springville Road Library and Southside Library.

The remaining Pen Craft schedule is as follows (Registration is required so contact each library):

 June 19, 12:00 p.m. (Adults) - Central Library (First Floor Conference Room)

 July 10, 10:00 a.m. (Adults) - North Birmingham Library

Sonya "Sam" Mitchell To Share Tips on Documentary Filmmaking at Central Library June 13

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

Have you wanted to learn how to make a documentary film?

 Then make plans to be at the Central Library at 12:00 p.m. Thursday, June 13, 2019, as Birmingham film-maker Sonya "Sam" Mitchell shares her personal story of how she turned a lifelong passion for films into an art-form.

 Mitchell will host the first of two free workshops, "The Documentary Film-making Process with Sonya "Sam" Mitchell, at 12:00 p.m. this Thursday in the Linn-Henley Research Library's Arrington Auditorium, 4th Floor. She will repeat the workshop at noon on Thursday, July 18. Read more about Mitchell's documentary workshops by clicking here

The workshops are among more than 400 free activities for kids, teens and adults being held as part of the 2019 BPL…

Summer Family Crafting

by Saundra Ross, North Avondale Branch Library

Crafting can be a fun and beneficial way for families to spend time together. This summer there will be long hot days and this kind of indoor activity can relieve stress, provide an escape from the routine, enhance a positive mood, and help with developing family creativity. The library’s shelves are full of craft books for ideas that will last you all summer.

Get crafting starting with the titles below:

Duct tape mania by Amanda Formaro
Low-mess crafts for kids: 72 projects to create your own magical worlds by Debbie Chapman
Supercaft: easy projects for every weekend by Sophie Pester