Showing posts from 2020

Attention Job Seekers! The Birmingham Public Library is Offering Virtual Classes in July to Help You Utilize Google Applications in Your Job Search

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

What: Two classes will be offered on Zoom: Find Your Next Job Using Google and Create Your Resume Using Google Dates: Wednesday July 15, 2020 – Find Your Next Job Using Google Wednesday July 29, 2020 – Create Your Resume Using Google Time:  11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. CST
Details: Both classes will be taught on Zoom. The classes are free but registration is required. Attendance is limited to the first 20 registrants. To register for each class, please go to the Birmingham Public Library’s events calendar. Once registered, participants will receive a Zoom invitation included in the registration confirmation email with which they will log into the class on the scheduled date and time. For further information about the classes, please contact Maurice Harley at
The Birmingham Public Library is offering two virtual job search classes in July on Zoom. The first class, Find Your Next Job Using …

Imagine Your Story: Unicorns or Dragons?

By Cheryl Burgess and Gelenda Norman | Youth Department, Central Library 

The theme for our Virtual Summer Learning Program 2020 is “Imagine Your Story.” Truth be told, the imagination has had to work overtime to keep busy kids busy. There are only so many binge-watching marathons and video games and app challenges that a kid can take. Birmingham Public Library is encouraging kids to not only read this summer, but to “Imagine Your Story” by creating your own.

At the onset of COVID-19 in Jefferson County, many people swarmed to stores in search of toilet paper. Rolls of toilet paper equal to tons of cardboard toilet paper rolls . . . or not. BPL Central Youth Department wants you to hold on to a few of those cardboard rolls. Let’s re-imagine those rolls and venture into your imagination to create YOUR story and bring it to life.

Take a break from streaming videos and create your own fantasy character to bring to life. For Family Night, imagine a land of dragons and unicorns and knigh…

Book Review: The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

By Mary Anne Ellis | Southern History Department, Central Library

Since the COVID crisis began, many of us with time on our hands started trying experiments in the kitchen and pushing the limits of our cooking and baking skills. If you enjoy baking, you need to take a look at The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. The author has long been fascinated by the more precise aspects of baking—she even wrote a graduate school paper on the topic of how sifting the dry ingredients affects the quality of a yellow cake—and admits that “it was never the flavor of desserts alone that beguiled me. It was also my fascination with the variety of textures derived from so few ingredients . . . When faced with three chocolate buttercream recipes—one with yolks, one with whites, and one with cream—how could I decide which to make?”

If such subtleties appeal to you, or if you just want to check out a range of tempting recipes and jaw-dropping photographs of the finished product, this book is a must for you…

BPL “Read-In for Justice” Returns on Saturday, July 11

What: Read-in For Justice
When: Saturday, July 11, 2020, from 10:00-11:00 a.m.
Where: Online on Birmingham Public Library Facebook Page
Description:Join us virtually and enjoy the voices of local storytellers from across metro Birmingham reading books on the topics of race and social injustice. Check out for your connection to books written by persons of color.

Birmingham, Ala. - Birmingham area storytellers will be “reading for justice” again at the Birmingham Public Library in July. Beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 11, 2020, BPL is hosting “Read-In for Justice” Pt. 2, a virtual event featuring books written by persons of color.

Patrons are encouraged to tune in via the Birmingham Public Library Facebook page 

This second event is in response to demand from patrons who watched the inaugural “Read-In for Justice” held on June 27.

"We are elated that this pilot initiative was well-received by the public as we cont…

Watch BPL’s Bards & Brews: Poetic Justice Online on Friday, July 10

What: Bards & Brews: Poetic Justice Spoken Word Poetry
When: 6:00 p.m. on Friday, July 10, 2020
Where: Watch online on the Bards & Brews Facebook page – 
Details: The Birmingham Public Library’s popular spoken word poetry-craft beer event will focus on the topic of race and social justice on the Bards & Brews Facebook page. To register, poets must their contact information to

Birmingham, Ala. – For much of its 10-year history, many participants in the Birmingham Public Library’s Bards & Brews spoken word poetry-craft beer event have tackled the topic of race and social injustice in their poems. Held monthly, BPL's Bards & Brews has been hailed as a unifying voice for Birmingham's arts community.

On Friday, July 10, at 6:00 p.m., all of the poems presented during Bards & Brews: Poetic Justice virtual event will c…

Book Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

By Jennifer Hancock | Central Library

Although I had already read and enjoyed this popular young adult story years ago, and it has already been released as a popular movie, self-quarantine inspired my entire family to reread Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and it gave me a somewhat different perspective. Set in the year 2045, this futuristic tale spends a huge amount of time in a virtual world called the Oasis, where children go to school online, a large population works from home, and families can actually go months at a time as productive citizens without ever leaving the safety of their homes. I won't lie, with the pandemic and now the societal upheavals, the Oasis concept is extremely intriguing! And this book isn't afraid to tackle some of the "results" of the stay-at-home lifestyle, including the technology necessary to access the virtual world, the effects stagnation has on our bodies, and the importance of "essential workers" who can deliver gro…

Avondale Library Pride Month Activities Draw to a Close on Tuesday, June 30

Avondale Regional Branch Library’s celebration of Gay Pride Month draws to a close on Tuesday, June 30, 2020.

In honor of Pride, Avondale Library’s Adult Department is hosting the last of a five-week online interview series that will be posted at 11:00 a.m. today, Monday, June 29, and Tuesday, June 30, on the Avondale Regional Library’s Facebook page.  Today’s interview was with Jay Wall of the Magic City Wellness Center.

Hosted by Librarian Joan Inman, the series highlights LGBTQ individuals who are working within Birmingham non-profit sectors such as Magic City Acceptance Center and AIDS Alabama, and includes their personal takes on the importance of celebrating Pride, preserving history, and the integral role that libraries continue to play through their community partnerships by providing access to information for all.

The final interview, to be posted at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, June 30, will have Avondale Librarians Joan Inman and Sydney Leach discussing their own nonprofit work at the…

Book Review: Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

By Mary Beth Newbill | Southern History Department, Central Library

Mild-mannered bookseller Malcolm Kershaw’s life is about to take an interesting turn. Years ago when he was a new employee at the Old Devil’s Bookstore in Boston, he wrote the inaugural post for the store’s new blog. The post, titled “Eight Perfect Murders,” was Malcolm’s homage to the best, most clever murders in all of crime fiction. Fast forward to the present and Malcolm, now a co-owner of the Old Devil’s, is being asked to assist the FBI in a rather unusual investigation. It seems that several recently committed (and unsolved) murders bear a striking resemblance to those on Malcolm’s list. Is the list serving as a blueprint for the ultimate copycat killer? Can Malcolm, with his encyclopedic knowledge of crime fiction, help the FBI connect the dots?

Of course, poor Malcolm can’t help but wonder if the FBI actually suspects him of the crimes. Although he has several air-tight alibis, Malcolm is no innocent. As is s…

BPL Hosting Pride Conversations Q&A with Josh Coleman, LGBTQ Liaison for City of Birmingham

As national Gay Pride Month draws to a close, the Birmingham Public Library is preparing to host “Pride Conversations,” a virtual Question & Answer Session with Josh Coleman, LGBTQ Liaison for the City of Birmingham.

The Q&A between BPL Outreach Librarian Candice Hardy and Coleman will take place via the video platform Zoom on Monday, June 29, at 2:00 p.m. on the Birmingham Public Library Facebook page ( The public is invited to tune in for this timely conversation.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin hired Coleman as the city’s first LGBTQ liaison in June 2018.  As LGBTQ liaison, Coleman focuses on the public safety of Birmingham’s LGBTQ communities, and builds relationships through provision of fair and professional policies and services. For more information on the LGBTQ Affairs and social justice office at the City of Birmingham, click here .

BPL Presents “Read-In for Justice” on Saturday, June 27

What: "Read-in For Justice"
When: Saturday, June 27, 2020, from 10:00-11:00 a.m.
Where: Online on Birmingham Public Library Facebook Page 
Description: Join us virtually and enjoy the voices of local storytellers. This event will feature children's authors Kioka Tuck and DeCorey Hale as well as Theater Arts Instructor Shronda Major of Bush Hills Steam Academy. Check out for your connection to books written by persons of color.

Birmingham, Ala. - This Saturday, June 27, at 10 a.m., the Birmingham Public Library is hosting a virtual “Read-In for Justice.” Storytellers participating include Kioka Tuck, author of "Dream Sweet Baby"DeCorey Hale, author of  "Ebeneezer the Sneezer," and  Theater Arts Instructor Shronda Major of Bush Hills Steam Academy.

This event was derived as conversations of racial and social injustices have spiked across the United States. Patrons are encouraged to tune in via the Birmingham Public Library Facebook page https:…

Book Review: The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

He thinks we’re what we look like on the outside: nice Southern ladies. Let me tell you something…there’s nothing nice about Southern ladies.”
– Grady Hendrix, The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires

The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires surprised me with how much it has to offer, which shouldn't have even been a surprise because I read Grady Hendrix's My Best Friend's Exorcism("which is like Beaches meets The Exorcist, only it's set in the Eighties")last year and felt the same way about that book too. Both could have just ridden a satisfying long, campy wave till the end, but both books dip deeper than mere camp, with Book Club touching upon the topics of patriarchy, classism, feminism, marriage, motherhood, sisterhood, victimhood, and race. Phew.

In Book Club, middle-aged housewife and mother of two Patricia is bored with the book club's choices of stale classics that don’t resonate with her life at all, what with all the c…

BPL Virtual Resources Spotlight: Self-Improvement, Career Development Package

 By Caleb West, BPL Collection Management

BACKGROUND: Today is Part II of the BPL Virtual Resources Spotlight, a new blog highlighting the Birmingham Public Library’s vast free online resources available to serve the public. This week, we spotlight BPL’s Self-Improvement and Career Development Package. 
For more about BPL’s virtual resources, click here 
The Birmingham Public Library is ALWAYS open 24/7 through our FREE online digital resources.

The value of our virtual resources has been elevated the past few months during the COVID-19 pandemic. BPL has continued to serve the public through our free online resources and by creating new virtual programming.

This week we spotlight our BPL Self-Improvement, Career Development package, which provides for career, educational, and self-betterment. All resources below are also available on the Birmingham Public Library website page ( and on our Digital Library page…

BPL Southern History Department to Host Genetic Genealogy News and Q & A on June 30

What: Genetic Genealogy News and Q & A
When: Tuesday, June 30, 2020, at 12:00 p.m.
Description: BPL Map Conservator Paul Boncella will lead this Southern History Department online class that provides an overview of key developments in direct to consumer DNA testing companies and their websites, as well as an opportunity to ask any question whatsoever about any aspect of genetic genealogy.
Registration is required at A Zoom invitation will be included in the registration confirmation email. For those unable to join us, the program will be posted at a later date on the Southern History Facebook page at

Discovering your ancestral roots is on the rise these days. If you have ever wanted to learn more about how use DNA to trace your family tree and what new tools are available to help you, the Birmingham Public Library’s Southern History Department has an online class designed to get you started on that journey.

This …

Study Vividly Highlights the Connection Between 2020 Census Response and Federal Funding for Alabama’s 7th Congressional District

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

In May, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Reform and Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties prepared a report that emphasized the importance of responding to the 2020 Census for residents of Alabama’s 7th Congressional District.

The district, currently represented by Congresswoman Terri Sewell, stretches from Jefferson County all the way to Clarke County in the southwestern part of the state. It encompasses much of the City of Birmingham, as well as parts of Tuscaloosa and Montgomery. It has both the highest percentage of minority residents in Alabama (67%) and the highest poverty rate (19%). Coincidentally, with only 51% of the district’s residents having completed the 2020 Census questionnaire, it also currently has the lowest self–response rate of all congressional districts in the state.

If the response rate in the 7th District does not improve, the results will ha…

Book Review: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

By Elizabeth Lorino | Five Points West Regional Branch Library

And I think about all the things we could be if we were never told our bodies were not built for them.”
–  Elizabeth Acevedo, The Poet X

Xiomara Batista loves her family but feels distant from both her present but emotionally absent father and strict devout mother. Unable to speak her own truth, Xiomara keeps a journal of poems, spilling her feelings about her body and its place in the world, her budding sexuality, and her spiritual journey on the page that she can tuck away from sight. But when she is invited to join a slam poetry club at her school, she has to fight between her growing desire to speak her truth on stage and not wanting to disappoint her mother in the process.

The Poet X is a deeply emotional book written through prose poetry that I listened to in a single sitting. And here’s the thing: I’m not the biggest fan of reading poetry on its own. While the book can be read on its own, the audiobook transports yo…

BPL to Host Facebook Live Medicare Workshops Beginning July 2

What: Let’s Talk about Medicare: Questions & Answers
When: Virtual Facebook Live workshops taking place at noon first Thursday of the month beginning July 2, 2020 on the BPL Facebook page 
Details:  Birmingham licensed insurance advisor Albert McWilliams Sr. is taking his popular Medicare Q & A sessions virtual, helping BPL patrons learn more about their Medicare options and eligibility. For information, contact the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department by email at or by calling 205-226-3691.

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

The Birmingham Public Library continues to offer resources and programs to patrons using a variety of virtual platforms. If you are interested in taking part in a virtual learning experience that will help you gain a better understanding of your Medicare options and eligibility, tune into the library’s Facebook page on the …

Books on Race and Social Justice: Recommendations from the Birmingham Public Library Staff

In response to weeks of racial unrest and protests since an unarmed black man, George Floyd, was killed by Minneapolis police officers charged with his death, libraries such as the Birmingham Public Library System have seen a huge jump in books being checked out or downloaded on the subject of race and the black experience in America. Sales of books on those subjects are also on the rise.

Staff the Birmingham Public Library have responded to patrons' questions by giving recommendations of good books that help educate the public about racism and social injustice.

Among the books BPL employees have been recommending to patrons is "Dear Martin," a bestselling fiction novel bout the fallout of an unarmed black teen fatally shot by a police officer. The book is written by Atlanta author Nic Stone, who in January 2020 held a book talk/book signing at the Central Library celebrating the release of her new young adult novel, “Clean Getaway.” 

Stone, in response the Floyd shootin…

Black Lives Matter Spotlight on Kanopy

Kanopy is shining a spotlight on the Black Lives Matter movement by curating a collection of films dealing with Social and Systemic Injustice.  The films listed below are just a sample of the excellent documentaries on Kanopy dealing with this sensitive subject.  If you're using a computer, you can click on the Black Lives Matter banner on the home screen to access this collection.  On all devices, you can simply scroll down to the Social and Systemic Injustice subject heading.  The descriptions of the documentaries are provided by Kanopy.

Policing the Police

The new FRONTLINE documentary, Policing the Police, is a provocative journey inside one police force that's been ordered to reform by the Department of Justice: the Newark Police Department in New Jersey. Take a nuanced glimpse into how topics in the national discussion about race and policing are playing out every day on the streets of Newark, in community members' homes, and in the city's police precincts.


BPL, BCRI to Host Virtual Program “From Juneteenth to Justice” on June 19

What:"From Juneteenth to Justice," a Virtual Program Partnership Between the Birmingham Public Library and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
When: Friday, June 19, 2020
Time: 12:00 p.m. on BPL Facebook page 
Presented by Barry McNeely, Education Programs Consultant for BCRI (Birmingham Civil Rights Institute)
Details: Candice Hardy, Outreach Librarian for the Birmingham Public Library, will host a Zoom Video Presentation of this powerful discussion to celebrate Juneteeth. Books of interest on the subject of race and social justice will be shared.

On Friday, June 19, 2020, African-Americans across the United States will celebrate Juneteenth, the oldest known national celebration of the end of slavery. Also called Emancipation Day, it marks the day black slaves learned that President Abraham Lincoln had on Jan. 1, 1863 issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing them.

Most slaves did not receive word of Lincoln’s action until over two years later in June 1865, thus the nam…