Friday, August 30, 2019

September is Food for Fines and National Library Card Sign-Up Month

Through the month of September, all public libraries in Jefferson County will be participating in a food drive that helps support local charities by replenishing food pantries in anticipation of the coming holidays.

How does it work?
One dollar in fines will be waived for each canned or boxed food item donated in September for up to $10 per library card holder. The donations will be applied to fines only, not lost/damaged materials. Expiration dates must be visible and legible on all items; expired food will not be accepted.

When and where can donations be made?
Donations will be accepted at the circulation desks of all 40 Jefferson County libraries during September 2019. Visit the Public Libraries in Jefferson County's website for more information and for a list of suggested food items to donate.

Food for Fines is held in conjunction with the annual National Library Card Sign-Up Month. There is no charge for Birmingham residents to apply for a card, or to replace a damaged or lost library card. Get more information about applying for a library card.

What is Library Card Sign-Up Month?
Since 1987, Library Card Sign-Up Month has been held each September to mark the beginning of the school year. Libraries work to remind parents and youth that signing up for a library card is the first step towards academic achievement and lifelong learning.

Throughout the school year, public librarians and library staff will assist parents and caregivers with saving hundreds of dollars on educational resources and services for students. From free access to STEAM programs/activities, educational apps, in-person and virtual homework help, technology workshops, to the expertise of librarians, a library card is one of the most cost effective back-to-school supplies available!

But it's not only students who benefit from owning a library card, but everyone.

With a JCLC library card you have FREE access to:

  • Delivery service so you can pick up materials at any public library location 
  • Nearly 2 million items in 40 libraries countywide
  • In person or online holds on items at any library in the county; text messaging reminders
  • 24/7 catalog, downloadable movies, music, magazines, audiobooks, and e-books
  • Information databases
  • Internet access plus free WiFi available in 40 libraries
  • Books-By-Mail for the homebound, and more!

Thursday, August 29, 2019

BPL Notarizes Its First Marriage Applications under New State Law

Bryan Orzco Zarco and Rosa Espinoza, first couple to get marriage
application notarized at BPL

Due to the new Alabama marriage application law that went into effect Thursday, August 29, 2019, the Birmingham Public Library is expecting a spike in demand for its notary services.

The new law no longer requires a couple to apply for a marriage license at their local probate court. Instead, they have to complete the Alabama Marriage Certificate form, have it notarized, and turn it in to the probate court within 30 days of completion. Once the certificate is recorded, you are considered married.

The new marriage certificate requires two notary stamps so the cost to notarize the form at BPL is $10.

Cheryl Burgess assists Bryan Orzco Zarco and Rosa Espinoza, first
couple to get a marriage application notarized at BPL

Cheryl Burgess of the Central Library notarized BPL’s first marriage application August 29, shortly after 12:00 p.m. The newly married couple is Bryan Orzco Zarco and Rosa Espinoza. Two other couples later came in to get their marriage applications notarized Thursday, and another came on Friday, August 30.

How to apply for a marriage application.

Downton Abbey Celebration Tea

Event: Downton Abbey Celebration Tea
Place: Avondale Public Library Auditorium
Date: September 14, 2019
Time: 1:00 p.m.

You are invited to attend a celebration tea at Avondale Public Library, in the auditorium on Saturday, September 14 @ 1:00 to celebrate all seasons of Downton Abbey. The Downton Abbey Movie will premiere in North America on September 20. We can't wait! The movie will pick up in the fall of 1927 and includes a royal visit, a bit of sibling rivalry, romance, intrigue and, of course, spectacular costumes, and even a few tiaras.

We will have tea, enjoy delicious treats, discuss our favorite episodes, talk about our favorite characters and answer trivia questions based on seasons 1-6. Costume is encouraged but not required. Prizes will be awarded to the trivia winners.

We hope to see you there dressed in your Downton best!

Please send an email to with the subject line “Downton Abbey Tea ” to register for this event.

 View the official movie trailer below:

LRNG Teaches Money Management to Holy Family Cristo Rey Students at the Central Library

LRNG Program Manager Tish Fletcher teaches money management to Holy Family Cristo Rey students.

LRNG is committed to building work and learn pathways for students in Birmingham.

On Thursday, August 29, LRNG's program manager, Tish Fletcher, introduced Holy Family Cristo Rey High School students interning at the Central Library to the learning platform and their career readiness playlists.

Student Leandro Felips said, "LRNG is helpful and today I learned how check cashing places operate. Now in the future I will know how to pick a bank and manage my more spending it all at Starbucks."

In 2018, Southern New Hampshire University and LRNG, two of the most innovative educational organizations in the nation, merged to build a learning and workforce solution for cities and employers across the U.S.

Starbucks Coffee Stories Spotlight: Voice Porter, Host of BPL's Bards & Brews

Voice Porter, host of Bards & Brews
Voice Porter, longtime host of Bards & Brews, the Birmingham Public Library's spoken word poetry/craft beer event, has been featured in Starbucks Coffee Stories & News.

The feature details Porter's growing notoriety in the spoken word field in metro Birmingham and across Alabama. See link to Voice Porter''s story here.

Under the format, Starbucks walks up to perfect strangers sitting in a Starbucks and asks if they will share their story. The company has hit the road to find out and is posting the stories on their website.

 Come see Voice Porter in person at 6:30 p.m. next Friday, September 6, as Bards & Brews returns to Iron City Grill on Birmingham's Southside. Nearly 90 people attended the Bards poetry event held at Iron City Grill on August 2. 
Voice Porter during August Bards & Brews at Iron City Grill

Join us for an unforgettable night featuring many of metro Birmingham's best spoken word poets sharing their talent in one of the city's most popular nightspots.

For more information, visit Bards & Brews on Facebook or on the BPL events calendar.

Bards & Brews is made possible by support from the Friends Foundation of the Birmingham Public Library.

West End Library Hosting Understanding Alzheimer's and Dementia September 4

Alzheimer's disease is not a normal part of aging. If you or someone you know is affected by Alzheimer's disease or dementia, it's time to learn the facts.

On Wednesday, September 4, from noon to 1:00 p.m., West End Branch Library is hosting Understanding Alzheimer's and Dementia. Attendees will learn valuable information on detection, causes and risk factors, plus stages of the disease, treatment options, and much more. The class is being taught by prevention expert Rev. Dr. Tremain Davis.

The program is the second offered at the Birmingham Public Library to help prevent the dreaded memory lost disease that afflicts the aging. Statistics show Alabama has one of the highest numbers f Alzheimer’s victims in the nation.

Brain Jam, a Springville Road Regional Branch Library program designed to stimulate the minds of senior citizens, was one of five finalists for a $1,000 grant from the Awesome Foundation Birmingham. Kelly Laney, the founder of the Brain Jam program, made the pitch before judges August 26 at Carrigan's Public House brewery downtown on Morris

Understanding Alzheimer’s is one of several unique programs West End Library is offering over the next several weeks.

Here is a listing:

Check Out STREAM (Science Technology Reading Engineering Art and Math) Topic: The Human Body - Thursdays in September, 3:30-4:30 p.m.: September 5, September 12, September 19, September 26 

Check Out STREAM affords students an opportunity to be exposed to STREAM disciplines in the library with activities primarily focused on students in 3rd - 6th grade.

Once a week, a live STREAM demonstration is held for students to participate through hands on activities. Limit of 20. To register, call (205) 226-4089.

Basic Crochet With Joan Black - Every Wednesday, 10:00 a.m.- 11:00 a.m. in September: September 3, September 10, September 17, September 24 

Whether you are just learning how to crochet or need a refresher course, join in and learn all the basic techniques of crochet and have fun while you learn. This class meets every Wednesday at the West End Branch Library. Joan Black's crochet class was featured on Fox 6 News in August 2018. 

Line Dance – “Move Over and Let Me Dance” Every Wednesday, noon to 12:45 p.m. beginning October 2 through November 13

West End Library brings back its popular adult line dance classes that debuted in 2018. What can be more fun than hanging out with friends and making new friends while learning how to line dance? Instructor George Mauldin will walk through the dance steps before dancing to the music. Wear comfortable clothes and footwear. Powderly Branch Library and West End Library both offer free adult line dance classes. 

Real MENtors: Fatherhood-Thursday, October 3, 2019, 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. 

This monthly program will discuss the importance of a father's presence in a child's life. For more information, call West End Library at 205-226-4089. “Fathering is not something perfect men do, but something that perfects the man.” – Frank Pittman. The West End Fatherhood program is a part of a new male mentoring program BPL is launching this fall called Real MENtors Talk. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Central Library Monumental Stairs Construction Project Begins September 16

First Floor Rendering of Central Library Monumental Stairs Project

A start date has been set for the Central Library Monumental Construction Project.

Monday, September 16, is the official start date for a winding staircase to replace escalators in the downtown Central East Building that have been broken down since December 2014.

On Monday, August 26, the Birmingham Public Library Board of Trustees approved notice to proceed with construction.

Taylor & Miree of Mountain Brook won a bid to be construction contractor; Creig Hoskins of Birmingham is serving as architect.

In July BPL released images of what the Central Library Monumental Stairs Project replacing the escalators will look like once completed. Stay tuned for more photos and information over the next few months as the project construction begins.

The stair project is expected to take four months or so, with estimated completion projected for early 2020.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Brain Jam at Springville Road Regional Library Finalist for Awesome Foundation Grant

Yolanda Hardy, regional manager, Kelly Laney, center, with a fellow Awesome Foundation finalist
Brain Jam, a Springville Road Regional Branch Library program designed to stimulate the minds of senior citizens, was a finalist for a $1,000 grant in Birmingham.

Kelly Laney, adult services librarian at Springville Road Regional Library who came up with the idea for Brain Jam, was among five finalists selected by Awesome Foundation Birmingham. Laney and the other four finalists made five-minute pitches before the judges August 26 at Carrigan's Public House brewery downtown on Morris Avenue.

The winner selected by the Awesome Foundation judges was Perfect Punctuality, a program at Minor Community School in western Jefferson County that rewards students with perfect attendance at the K-8 school.

Besides Brain Jam and Perfect Punctuality, the other three finalists were Coosa Riverkeepers, Our Firm Foundation, a mentoring program at Inglenook K-8 School, and Project Open Mic, a violence prevention program.

Brain Jam began at Springville Road Library in March, and strives to provide mental stimulation that helps prevent aging adults from developing Alzheimer's disease. Brain Jam offers programs that keep senior adults actively engaged in exercise, teaches nutritional information on healthy eating, and social interaction.

During her presentation, Laney said studies have show that mental stimulation that exercises the mind can improve the quality of life and slow cognitive decline that often occurs as adults age.

Too see Brain Jam in action, come to Springville  Road Library this Friday, August 30, at 11:00 a.m.

The Birmingham Chapter of the Awesome Foundation provides 10 $1,000 grants a year to support projects that help make the Magic City more "awesome" in the categories of science, arts, education, civic engagement an entertainment.   You do not have to be a 501c3 nonprofit to qualify. The grants can go to groups, individuals, and small nonprofits.

The Awesome Foundation Birmingham hosts finalists its The Grand Idea presentations by finalists 10 time a year at Carrigan's Public House. A $1,000 winner is selected after each meeting.

Southern History Book of the Month: The Great Galveston Disaster

By Mary Anne Ellis, Southern History Department, Central Library

The Great Galveston Disaster
Paul Lester
With an introduction by Richard Spillane

As we enter the most active period of hurricane season, weather services have stepped up advisories to prepare for stronger storms, be aware of evacuation routes, and take threatening weather seriously. With our current notification tools and computer models, we can see a hurricane forming far in advance. But imagine yourself as a resident of Galveston, Texas, in September of 1900, when there was no Weather Channel, no radar, no James Spann or Jim Cantore. With hardly any warning or time to prepare, the residents of Galveston were engulfed by a storm that holds the record as the worst natural disaster in U.S. history. There have been many books about the hurricane, but few have the immediacy of The Great Galveston Disaster, which was published in 1900 shortly after the storm and contains numerous eyewitness accounts and photographs.

The late Victorian character of the book can be seen right away on the title page, which refers to “Thrilling Tales of Heroic Deeds; Panic-Stricken Multitudes and Heart-Rending Scenes of Agony, Etc.” But thrills can also be thrills of horror, and any temptation to smile over florid Victorian verbiage is wiped out by actually reading about the horrors, agonies, and dreadful deaths. In his introduction, Spillane dispels the myth that the storm appeared without warning:

The same storm, less ferocious perhaps, had swept along the South Atlantic coast several days before . . . but no one expected such a tempest as was destined to devastate the city . . . what height the winds reached will never be known. The wind gauge at the weather bureau recorded an average of 84 miles an hour for five consecutive minutes, and then the instruments were carried away. That was before the storm had become really serious. (Emphasis added)

If Spillane’s introduction awes with its not so “serious” Before picture of Galveston, the rest of the book is an appalling survey of the After. Paul Lester takes up the narrative by plunging us right away into chapter headings like “Galveston Almost Totally Destroyed by Winds and Waves” and “Thousands Swept to Instant Death.” It is hard for us now to comprehend just how quickly the Galveston storm became a dire emergency that even then was being called “The Worst Hurricane Ever Known.” Photographs reveal ships overturned, driven aground, or broken into pieces. Houses were reduced to rubble, turned upside down, swept into the ocean. Miles of shoreline were choked by floating wreckage. One man on duty at a nearby fort was carried out to sea and somehow survived five days, but he is the exception rather than the rule; people who were caught on shore by the storm surge “will never be accounted for” and probably numbered in the hundreds. Buildings were torn from their foundations. The bodies of men and women were found holding so tightly to the bodies of their children that they could not be separated, even in death. Add to these scenes of destruction the inevitable aftermath of fire, famine, looters, and threat of disease outbreaks and the story becomes more nightmarish page by page.

Photo of Richard Spillane, newspaper editor and Associated Press
correspondent, who was chosen by the mayor of Galveston to

report on the aftermath of the hurricane; and the sensational title
page that hints of the hurricane horror stories inside 

However, there are also scenes of heroism and compassion. One photograph shows a soup kitchen serving the injured and homeless. Clara Barton, president of the American Red Cross, telegraphed the Governor of Texas: “Do you need the Red Cross in Texas? We are ready.”

A longshoreman named Hughes carried bodies to a temporary morgue. Appeals for money and relief supplies were met with generous outpourings of funds in the thousands of dollars. As in any disaster of this kind, human nature—both good and evil—is on full contradictory display.

There is no way we will ever know the full loss of life or amount of property damage from the Galveston hurricane; the introductory material cites that “estimates range from $25,000, 000 to $50,000,000” in property damage and this is an estimate from the year 1900, immediately after the event; the cost today would undoubtedly be far higher. The death toll is generally cited as between six thousand and twelve thousand, since the same hurricane system caused fatalities outside of Texas. However, the Galveston Hurricane helped usher in the era of up-to-the-minute weather forecasting and attempts to predict the formation and course of dangerous storms.

Take advantage of one of the few good things to come out of that disaster. Prepare. Be safe.

For further information:

National Hurricane Center
National Weather Service
The 1900 Storm
National Public Radio: “The Tempest at Galveston” Accounts of Galveston Hurricane
“1900 Hurricane Changed Galveston—and Forecasting”

Monday, August 26, 2019

Citizen Services – How to Get Unstuck out of a Rut Seminar at Central Library September 7

What: Citizen Services – How to Get Unstuck out of a Rut seminar
When: Saturday, September 7, 11:45 a.m.–1:45 p.m.
Where: Central Library/Linn-Henley Research Library/Regional Library Computer Center/4th floor
Details: Hosted by Sophia Hampton, educator and Magic City Toastmaster. Free but registration required.

Is your life filled with stress, worry, and anxiety? Are you tired of being sick and tired, feeling stuck with no way out? You’ve been down so long until getting up hasn’t crossed your mind. This seminar is sure to give you the boost that you need to get unstuck out of a rut.

By attending this seminar you will:

  • Become familiar with the signs of being in a rut and walk away feeling empowered and prepared to get unstuck.
  • Discover ways of how to get from where you are to where you want to be.
  • Develop insight into the crutches that are keeping you in the stuck position.
  • Learn fun ways to boost your self-esteem and self-confidence and reignite your passions.
  • Be inspired with out-of-the-box ideas to help you eliminate stagnation and to see things differently and promote more positive results.

If this sounds like the boost you need, then join us, and bring a friend or two. There will be door prizes and light refreshments will be served.

Visit the BPL events calendar to register. Limited space available.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Estimated Wait Time Feature on Libby

As Tom Petty so sagely wailed, "The wai-aiting is the hardest part!" That's true about love, and especially true about a book we really want to read that's checked out. But with Libby's "estimated wait time" feature, you can at least know how long the wait is going to be. In Libby, just click on the calendar icon to learn how long the wait time is, how many copies are in use, and how many people are waiting. Learn more about Libby at

LearningExpress Library: School Center

LearningExpress Library: School Center

LearningExpress Library is a very extensive digital library of information covering everything from career preparation to computer instruction. Features include ACT and SAT prep, ebooks to prepare for occupation exams, video tutorials for Microsoft Office, GED preparation, skills improvement for elementary school through high school, preparation for graduate school exams, and more.    

The part of the database designed especially for students is called the School Center. It provides “skill-building resources for classroom and homework success.”  The School Center has a module for elementary, middle, and high school.  The elementary school module has resources for mathematics skills improvement and English language arts skills improvement.  The middle school module includes these resources as well as social studies skills improvement and high school entrance exams preparation.  The high school module includes mathematics, English language arts, and social studies as well as science skills improvement, technology skills improvement, and logic and reasoning skills improvement.  These resources are ebooks, tutorials, and tests that students can use to support their education in these subjects.

LearningExpress Library is a great resource which can be accessed from home, school, or at your local library.  It is designed to provide support for students throughout their school career and beyond.  Be sure to take advantage of this valuable resource. 

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Let’s Talk about Medicare: Questions and Answers Program at Central Library September 5

What: Let’s Talk about Medicare: Questions and Answers
When: First Thursday of each month
Time: 12:00–1:00 p.m.
Where: Birmingham Public Library – Central Library/Linn-Henley Research Library/4th floor/Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC)

If you have questions about Medicare, you are not alone. As a health insurance program administered by the federal government, Medicare is laden with many policies, procedures, and guidelines that can be very confusing for the average American consumer. Who is eligible for Medicare? What kind of coverage does it provide? Is there more than one plan available? How much does it cost? When should I enroll? These are just some of the important questions that everyone needs answered in order to help them make good, informed decisions about their healthcare coverage. Not getting accurate and up-to-date answers to these questions can mean missing out on valuable benefits that you and your loved ones are entitled to claim.

If you would like to learn more about your options and eligibility for Medicare, please join us at the Central Library on the first Thursday of each month for the program Let’s Talk about Medicare: Questions and Answers. The program is held from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. in the Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC), which is located on the 4th floor of the Linn-Henley Research Library. The program presenter is local licensed insurance agent Albert McWilliams, Sr. McWilliams has been working as an insurance agent in Birmingham since 2001. He has been a licensed Medicare agent since 2013 and a licensed ACA (Affordable Care Act) Agent since 2017.

For more information about the Let's Talk about Medicare: Questions and Answers program, please contact Jim Murray of the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department by email at or by calling 205-226-3691.

Visit the BPL events calendar for specific dates.

BPL Spotlight: Springville Road Regional Library Adult Programs for August 26-30

Coffee Conversation and Crafts at Springville Road Regional Library
The Birmingham Public Library has started a new feature highlighting the many innovative, fun and educational programs offered every week at our 19 locations across the City of Birmingham.

This week's spotlight is Springville Road Regional Branch Library's adult programs, which attract adults of all ages and backgrounds every week.

Here is a listing of programs for adults being offered at Springville Road Library from Monday, August 26 through Friday, August 30:

Monday, August 26

 * Coffee, Conversation and Crafts, 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. 

This is a community building and crafting program held every Monday except holidays. All craft materials and instructions are provided, but you may also bring your own projects to work on while enjoying the company and light refreshments. You do not have to work on anything if you prefer; just come visit and chat.

* Body Changers, 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Body Changers is a volunteer-led weight management support group using the informational resources of the library. No specific diet plan is encouraged over any other. Group members weigh in and receive tips on food choices, exercise, recipes, and healthy lifestyles, as well as incentives for meeting.

 Tuesday, August 27 

* Bend & Stretch, 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. 

Gentle chair and standing exercises based on the National Institute on Aging's Go4Life program. Emphasis is on increasing strength, flexibility, balance, and endurance. No experience necessary. 

Thursday, August 29

*Card Party, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. 

Do you enjoy playing cards, but don't have a regular group to play with? Come join the library card party on Thursday mornings at 10:00 and meet other people who share your interest. We play poker, canasta, gin, and are looking forward to learning hearts, continental gin, spades, and maybe even bridge.

 Friday, August 30

*Brain Jam – Musical Brain Training, 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. 

 Recent research proves that playing and/or singing music grows your brain and fights cognitive decline. Participants will play simple instruments and/or learn simple songs and rhythms to stimulate neurons in their brain. Patrons may bring their own instruments; simple instruments will also be provided.

Yarn Club to Debut September 7 at the Central Library

Have you tried knitting or crocheting with a group of people instead of doing it all alone? It is a completely different experience when you get to chat with people, starting a new project or continuing something you have started, then expanding to topics you are not so familiar with, or techniques you are not that skillful at, you may end up teaching others a thing or two.

Join us at the Central Library downtown on Saturday, September 7, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m., for the debut of Yarn Club @ BPL. Yarn Club is open to crafters at all skill levels.

The club will meet once a month on every second Saturday afternoon from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. in the Central Library's First Floor Conference Room. The Yarn Club will have the newest knitting/crocheting magazines and books on hand, plus a computer available in case you need to watch a live demo on YouTube.

We have yarns to get you started and instructors for some sessions to help patrons tackle challenging techniques.

So what would you like to make? Come and join the Club. We look forward to seeing you. For more information, contact Jiemin Fan at 205-226-3601 or via email at 

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Magic City Toastmasters Open House Reception at Central Library August 26

What: Magic City Toastmasters Open House Reception
When: Monday, August 26, 6:00–7:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library/First Floor Conference Room
Details: Free and open to the public. For more information contact 205-215-0220 or 404-543-0054.

On Monday, August 26, the Magic City Toastmasters cordially invites you to attend their open house reception at the Central Library. The event will be an opportunity to learn about the Magic City Toastmasters, meet local professionals, and learn ways to become a more effective public speaker with the "Steps to Better Presentations" discussion.

Summer Reading Sur-Prize!

By Fontaine Alison, Five Points West Regional Branch Library

I’ve always said I was someone who never wins prizes, but this summer proved me wrong when I won the drawing for the 2019 Staff Summer Learning prize: a Samsung Galaxy tablet! Isn’t it great when something you enjoy doing has so many benefits?

Fontaine Alison, storyteller at the Five
Points West Library, compares her new
Samsung Galaxy to her phone
When my sister Olivia was in first grade, she would come home and play “school” with me, so I learned to read at age 4. It didn’t take me long to realize that being a reader got me noticed—quite the cachet for a middle child.

Later, reading was also a great way to avoid chores. Mama never liked seeing an idle child: she would find something for us to do. But I discovered that reading could pass for “homework” as long as she didn’t notice I was reading yet another book in Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series.

I went on to study literature in college, but these days, I confess to reading mostly thrillers and mysteries…the literary equivalent of a diet of ice cream and French fries. I’ve also switched to audiobooks, which I can download free from the library. I enjoy listening while driving, gardening or, well, eating ice cream! Using the tablet is easier, and it’s saving the battery of my aging cell phone.

I can also take advantage of many other digital resources available at the Birmingham Public Library. My phone’s tiny 4” screen is fine for audiobooks, but with my tablet, I can read the New York Times, browse favorite magazines on Flipster, check email, or even stream free videos from Hoopla and Kanopy. Yes, I’ve always said that summer reading pays off, but this summer, I hit the jackpot!

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Children's Nonfiction Book Review: Who Would Win?: Polar Bear vs. Grizzly Bear

By Andrei Jones, Five Points West Regional Branch Library

Who Would Win?: Polar Bear vs. Grizzly Bear
Written by Jerry Pallotta
Illustrated by Rob Bolster

I love animals, and this new animal series caught my eye. Polar Bear vs. Grizzly Bear describes what would happen if two somewhat similar animals would somehow meet and engage in a fight. The book lists interesting details about each animal. For example, did you know that all polar bears are left-handed? This book gives a brief description of each animal, the scientific name, and any special characteristics that would help that animal win in a fight against its chosen opponent. I read Polar Bear vs.Grizzly Bear, but there are several other fight books in the Who Would Win series.

Reading this book was an amazingly fun and interesting way to learn about specific animal facts and to find out who would win in a possible fight between two chosen animals. Check out this book and others in the series that may pique your curiosity about “Who Would Win?" at the Five Points West Library.

Monday, August 19, 2019

The State Wins Documentary Film Premiere at Central Library August 24

By Jim Murray, Business, Science and Technology Department, Central Library

What: The State Wins Documentary Film Premiere
When: Saturday, August 24, 2019
Time: 1:00–2:30pm
Where: Birmingham Public Library – Central Library/Linn-Henley Research Library/Arrington Auditorium/4th floor

Football season is right around the corner, and, in Alabama, that’s like having your birthday, Christmas, and the 4th of July all rolled into one. What’s that? You’re not familiar with the anticipation and excitement that grips all residents of the Heart of Dixie at this time of year? Well, that is just unacceptable. Not having an adequate understanding of the place football holds in the heritage of our state is certainly a dangerous symptom of cultural illiteracy and must be attended to immediately. Fortunately, a remedy is available in the form of the documentary film The State Wins, which is directed by local Birmingham filmmaker Sonya “Sam” Mitchell. The film will make its public premiere at the Birmingham Public Library’s Central location on Saturday, August 24, 2019 at 1:00 p.m.

Mixing old photographs, contemporary footage, and interviews, The State Wins tells the story of football in Alabama from the vantage point of two of the sport’s most celebrated games: the Iron Bowl and the Magic City Classic. These annual contests have been going on for decades and their outcomes have profound ramifications on the emotional state of Alabamians for 365 days a year. The Iron Bowl pits the teams from our flagship state universities, the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers, while the Magic City Classic is the rivalry game between the largest of our historically black universities, Alabama A&M and Alabama State. For many years, the two games were linked by the venue in which they were played, Birmingham’s Legion Field. Alas, the Iron Bowl is no longer contested at “the Old Gray Lady,” as the stadium is affectionately known, but 2019 will mark the 73rd consecutive year that the Magic City Classic will be held at this Birmingham landmark. Memories and reminiscences of the great games and players abound in the film’s interviews, as tailgating fans of each school exude the passion and enthusiasm that help make football such a vital component of the culture our state.

For further information about the screening of The State Wins, please contact Jim Murray in the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department at or 205-226-3691.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Central Library Youth Department Hosting Coffee with Cops: Teen Edition August 21

City of Birmingham police officers and Jefferson County sheriff's deputies put their lives on the line every day to protect citizens in our neighborhoods, schools, libraries, parks, and other places.

To show their appreciation for Birmingham's Men and Women in Blue, the Central Library Youth Department is hosting a new program called Coffee with Cops: Teen Edition. Police officers and deputies are invited to join our teens at the Central Library Youth Department's Create205 Learning Lab for free coffee on Wednesday, August 21, from 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Another Coffee with Cops: Teen Edition will also be held at the Central Library on Wednesday, October 23, 3:30–4:30 p.m. For more information, call 205-226-3655 or visit

Smithfield Branch Library Debuts Monthly Teen Slime Lab; Job Hunting Class for Adults

Slime Lab is one of several new programs being offered at Smithfield Branch Library. 
With school back in session, the Smithfield Branch Library has several new programs to entertain Birmingham students who drop in after school  this fall.

The library also has several new workshops to help adult patrons looking for a job or needing help sprucing up their resume.

Here is a listing of programs being offered at Smithfield Library in August and beyond:

Job Hunting Class for Adults, August 19, 11:00 a.m.
On August 19 the Smithfield Branch Library is kicking off a new monthly class for patrons looking for jobs. The class will take place at 11:00 a.m. on the third Monday every month. Participants will use Google's platform to search and apply for jobs.

NBA 2K19 Basketball Tournament, August 23, 3:30 p.m.
Smithfield Library is hosting a fun event allowing young gaming enthusiasts to show off their NBK 2K19 skills. Free but advanced registration is required by August 22 at 6:00 p.m.

Waffle Day Monday, August 26, 3:30 p.m. 
This afterschool program is celebrating National Waffle Day, while also teaching teens some practical baking skills.

Pretzel Roller Coasters, Thursday, August 29, 3:30 p.m.
This STEAM program allows teens to build their own roller coaster out of pretzels or team up and build a roller coaster with a partner.

Resume Class, September 5, 4:00 p.m.
Every 1st Thursday of the month at 4:00 p.m, Smithfield Library staffers will provide one-on-one assistance for patrons in creating, editing, and reviewing their resumes.

Slime Lab, September 9, 3:30 p.m.
Every 2nd Wednesday of the month at 3:30 p.m., teens will make a new slime creation.

Tech Tuesday, September 10, 2:30 p.m.
Every 2nd Tuesday every month at 2:30 p.m., patrons will receive one-on-one assistance with their computer/tablet/phone or other device.

Job Hunting, September 16, 11:00 a.m.
Every 3rd Monday of the month at 11:00 a.m., this class will be using Google's job search platform to search and apply for jobs.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Beat the Heat at BPL

Beat the Heat at the Library

By Lynn Hutchins, Central Library

Where do you go when you need somewhere cool to visit? Why don’t you head over to your local library?

Here are seven cool ways to beat the heat at the library:

  • Find a quiet spot to read – All branches have newspapers, magazines, and plenty of books.
  • Use a computer – Browse the internet, learn a new skill, or conduct a job search. These are just a few ways to use the library’s computers.
  • Research your family history – You can use our genealogy databases for researching your family tree. Drop by our Southern History Department at the Central Library to ask a genealogy question and get help from our library staff.
  • Take a class or attend a lecture – The library has so many interesting and informative programs. Visit to find the right one for you.
  • Find a new hobby – Learn a new craft at the library. Make some art, relax, have some fun, or even play some games.
  • Check out books – Ask a library staff member to help you discover your next favorite book.
  • Watch a movie – Use the library’s free Wi-Fi to access movies on Hoopla or Kanopy and watch them on your computer or one of ours.

Whatever you choose to do, enjoy it in cool air-conditioned comfort!

Beat the Heat with These "Cool" Books

By Leigh Wilson, North Birmingham Regional Branch Library

It may be 100 degrees outside, but you can check out and beat the heat
with these “cool” fiction books and many more at your library, whose settings take place in cold climates:

Deep Freeze, cold case criminal investigation by John Sandford, 2017
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, classic children’s book by C.S. Lewis, 1950
The Shining, horror novel by Stephen King, 1977

You can also enjoy the “dog days” of summer by checking out these fiction books and many more at your library that feature dogs:

Because of Winn-Dixie, children’s book by Kate DiCamillo, 2000
Bite Club, cozy mystery by Laurien Berenson, 2019
The Call of the Wild, 1903, and White Fang, 1906, classic adventure fiction by Jack London

Monday, August 12, 2019

Virtual Investing Made Easy

By Alisha Johnson, Ensley Branch Library

If you are like me, you are always seeking new avenues to make your money work for you. Traditionally, starting a savings account has been the tried-and-true way to save a few coins, but over the years there have been a number of online investment strategies developed to help you do just that. If you are feeling a bit unsure of where to start, there are a few online options to give you the nudge you need.

  • Acorns – Uses “roundups” to invest when you make purchases by using your debit card allowing access to one portfolio offering
  • Robinhood – Works like Acorns but allows for diverse portfolio options
  • Stash – Deals with individual stocks no diverse portfolios

Analyze your financial situation, do a bit of research and discover which investment strategies work best for you.

Check out these resources at your local library!

Investing 101: From Stocks and Bonds to ETFs and IPOs, an Essential Primer on Building a Profitable Portfolio by Michele Cagan, CPA
Investing for Beginners: Essentials to Start Investing Wisely
Investing for the Utterly Confused by Paul Petillo

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

BPL Local Author Lectures: Jim Baggett on Using BPL Archives to Research Books

When: Saturday, August 24, 10:00 a.m-12:00 p.m.
Where: Avondale Regional Branch Library 
About the lecture: Jim Baggett, BPL archivist, helps researchers and authors from across the globe do civil rights and other research for books using Birmingham Public Library's extensive archives collection. He will share tips on how BPL can help them in a talk titled “Getting in Their Heads: Using Archives to Understand Ordinary People in the Past”

Jim Baggett, BPL Archivist, with his 2019 Eminent Librarian Award from ALA

The Birmingham Public Library’s Local Author Lectures series concludes on Saturday, August 24, 10:00 a.m., at Avondale Library when BPL Archivist Jim Baggett speaks on the topic "Getting in Their Heads: Using Archives to Understand Ordinary People in the Past."

Baggett helps researchers and authors from across the globe do civil rights and other research for books and papers using BPL’s extensive archives collection. He will share tips on how BPL can help writers.

Baggett’s work as an archivist won him a statewide honor, the 2019 Eminent Librarian Award, from the Alabama Library Association earlier this year

BPL's 2019 Local Author Lectures began on June 8 with a presentation at Five Points West Regional Branch Library by Ruby Y. Davis, author of Hearsay. It continued July 20 at the Central Library with an inspirational message from Timothy Alexander, author of Ever Faithful, Every Loyal.

Citizen Services – How to Get Unstuck out of a Rut Seminar at Central Library September 7

What: Citizen Services – How to Get Unstuck out of a Rut seminar
When: Saturday, September 7, 11:45 a.m.–1:45 p.m.
Where: Central Library/Linn-Henley Research Library/Regional Library Computer Center/4th floor
Details: Hosted by Sophia Hampton, educator and Magic City Toastmaster. Free but registration required.

Is your life filled with stress, worry, and anxiety? Are you tired of being sick and tired, feeling stuck with no way out? You’ve been down so long until getting up hasn’t crossed your mind. This seminar is sure to give you the boost that you need to get unstuck out of a rut.

By attending this seminar you will:

  • Become familiar with the signs of being in a rut and walk away feeling empowered and prepared to get unstuck.
  • Discover ways of how to get from where you are to where you want to be.
  • Develop insight into the crutches that are keeping you in the stuck position.
  • Learn fun ways to boost your self-esteem and self-confidence and reignite your passions.
  • Be inspired with out-of-the-box ideas to help you eliminate stagnation and to see things differently and promote more positive results.

If this sounds like the boost you need, then join us, and bring a friend or two. There will be door prizes and light refreshments will be served.

Visit the BPL events calendar to register. Limited space available.

Nonprofit Management Class Series – Assessment and Evaluation of Nonprofit Programs Class at Central Library September 3

Nonprofit organizations come in many different shapes and sizes, but they all have one thing in common: they want to develop, fund, and implement creative programs that serve to fulfill their mission. Most people who work in the nonprofit world have the desire and commitment to make this happen, but they often lack access to learning resources that will help them understand how best to get there. If you feel like this applies to you, whether you are an experienced nonprofit leader or someone brand new to the field, then you will want to attend the Birmingham Public Library’s Nonprofit Management Class Series. The classes will be offered at the library’s Central Location from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the following months: July–October, December 2019. The classes are offered as part of a collaboration between BPL and the Harvard Club of Birmingham.

The series instructor is John Whitman, PhD. A veteran of both the private and nonprofit sectors, Dr. Whitman has also taught leadership and management courses at American University, Babson College, Georgetown University, Harvard University, Northeastern University, and the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He recently served as a member of Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin's Transition Committee for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

What: Birmingham Public Library’s Nonprofit Management Class Series
When: First Tuesday of the following months: July-October, December 2019
Time: 5:30–6:30 p.m.
Where: Birmingham Public Library – Central Library/Linn-Henley Research Library, 4th floor, Arrington Auditorium
Details: Free but registration is required

Upcoming classes:

Tuesday September 3, 2019
Assessment and Evaluation of Nonprofit Programs – This class will introduce participants to the systematic collection of data that can be used to assess and evaluate programs. Register

Tuesday October 1, 2019
Logic Models and Theory of Change – Participants will be introduced to basic conceptual models that can help them develop more complete and thorough justifications of the programs for which funding is being sought. Register

Tuesday December 3, 2019
Tools for Social Change – Participants will be introduced to over 10 different approaches to help them, and their nonprofit organizations, achieve incremental and systemic social change. Register

The workshops are free of charge, but registration is required. To register for each workshop, please go to the Birmingham Public Library’s events calendar. For more information about the series and other nonprofit resources available at BPL, please contact Jim Murray of the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department by email at or by calling 205-226-3691.

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