Showing posts from May, 2020

Join Avondale Library Mondays for Tot Time With Mrs. Eve

Hey kids, are you ready to shake, shake, shake your beanbag?

Join Mrs. Eve on Mondays at 8:00 a.m. for an exciting morning of Tot Time fun via Avondale Library Facebook page. Her next program will be Monday, June 1, at 8:00 a.m.

 Click on to join in the fun.


A veteran BPL storyteller, Mrs. Eve has been entertaining patrons of all ages online for months since the City of Birmingham joined cities across the nation in closing city libraries temporarily in mid-March.

Book Review: The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

By Catherine Oseas Champion | Archives and Manuscripts Department, Central Library 

Leopold Gursky, Holocaust survivor, is a lonely old man who dreams of his long-lost love Alma Mereminski and survives each day with the desire to just be noticed by someone. He has one single soul he can call a friend in this world, Bruno, his “old faithful.”

Alma Singer is a 14-year-old-girl who lost her father and who aches for the mother who can barely get out of bed and make it to the next day. Alma and her brother, Bird, have each other, but Alma needs her mother to be happy and live in this world once again, not simply getting by with just her memories. Then comes the day when Alma’s mother is asked to translate a book called The History of Love—the very same book that Alma’s father gave to her mother all those years ago and the one that provided the inspiration behind Alma’s own name. Alma begins a quest to find a partner for her mother and becomes involved in researching the background of this…

Nursing in Birmingham

By Mary Beth Newbill | Southern History Department, Central Library 

The American Nurses Association (ANA) has declared the month of May to be Nurses Month. In years past, the ANA has celebrated National Nurses Week in the second week of May. However, due to the extraordinary circumstances under which many nurses are working this spring, the decision was made to honor nurses for the entire month. While the world’s nurses are working harder than ever to keep us safe and healthy, let’s remember some of the individuals and institutions that broke ground for the nursing profession in Alabama and here in Birmingham.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the training and education of nurses primarily took place in hospitals. It wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century that collegiate nursing programs became commonplace. In the early days of Birmingham, hospitals and infirmaries were being established and so were their nursing programs. St. Vincent’s Hospital, Hillman Hospital, Carraw…

Amid Covid-19 Pandemic, 2020 Census Self-Response Deadline Has Been Extended to October 31

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

Due to the upheaval created by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Census Bureau has decided to shift the deadline for resident self-response to the 2020 Census questionnaire from July 31 to October 31. Resident self-response is the principle means by which the bureau collects and records demographic information about the population for the decennial Census. Whereas, throughout much of its history the bureau obtained this information by having enumerators contact residents, for the past several decades they have giving residents the opportunity to be proactive and “self-respond” by providing answers to the Census questionnaire by either mail, phone, or, for the first time in 2020, the internet.

Most U.S. residents were mailed an invitation to self-respond online to the 2020 Census in mid-March. The invitation included a unique Census ID number that matches the self-responder to his or her address. This ID is not, howe…

Watch BPL’s Bards & Brews Virtual Poetry Online on Friday, June 5

What: Bards & Brews Virtual Poetry Event
When: 6:00 p.m. on Friday, June 5, 2020
Where: Watch online on the Bards & Brews Facebook page – 
Details: Since the Birmingham Public Library’s popular spoken word poetry-craft beer event is unable to be held on site due to the coronavirus pandemic, BPL is hosting its third online version on its Bards & Brews Facebook page at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, June 5.

Have a talent for spoken word poetry but nervous about performing in front of live audiences?

Then take advantage of the Birmingham Public Library’s Bards & Brews Virtual, an online version of  a popular monthly spoken word poetry/craft beer event celebrating its 10th year.

On Friday, June 5, at 6:00 p.m., fans will be able to watch some of metro Birmingham’s most talented poets online – as well as newbies - on the Bards & Brews Facebook page.

Poets, if you want to participate, the deadline to register is Monday, June 1. Email Candice.Ha…

BPL Remembers Thracie Pace, Longtime BPL Friends Bookstore Manager

Thracie Pace, who recently retired as longtime manager of the BPL Friends Bookstore, has passed away.

A visitation time for friends and family is scheduled for Thursday, May 21, from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m., at Johns-Ridout's Funeral Parlor Southside Chapel, 2116 University Blvd., in Birmingham. Pace died on February 22, 2020, at age 60 from pneumonia complications.

Pat Rumore, immediate past president of the Friends Foundation of the Birmingham Public Library, said Pace "left an indelible mark" on the BPL Friends Bookstore.

"(Thracie) was popular with both Bookstore patrons and library staff, as well as having a smart business mind and a book-loving heart," Rumore said. "I worked closely with her and admired her commitment as a volunteer and her leadership in the Bookstore. She will be greatly missed and my condolences go out to her family and friends.”

The Birmingham Public Library is grateful for the tremendous contributions and dedication that Thracie P…

BSC Students Use Birmingham Public Library Archives to Research Jefferson County Lynching Victims

Three Birmingham-Southern College (BSC) students who used Birmingham Public Library digital archives as part of a research project on lynching victims in Jefferson County have been recognized by their college.

A BSC blog released last week highlights the contributions of students Alexandra Coberly, Dorona Dancy and Jackie Lamars, who served as 2019-2020 Jefferson County Memorial Project (JCMP) Fellows. Over the past academic year, the BSC trio joined students from other Birmingham area colleges to research Jefferson County newspapers and other sources to honor victims of racial terror. 

Their assignment as fellows with the Jefferson County Memorial Project (JCMP): to report on undocumented lynching victims in Jefferson County, find updated information on documented victims or discover an event that upheld racial terror in Jefferson County.

Read the BSC release about  the students by clicking here

The trio of BSC students were among JCMP Fellows from five colleges- Birmingham-Southe…

BPL Virtual Resources Spotlight: Birmingham Public Library Online Entertainment

By Caleb West, BPL Director of Collection Management 

 BACKGROUND: Today is the debut of BPL Virtual Resources Spotlight, a new weekly blog highlighting the Birmingham Public Library’s vast free online resources available to serve the public. Thanks to our library partners such as Homework Alabama, Freegal, Hoopla, Kanopy, and Overdrive BPL is able to assist patrons stuck at home or on the go via their smartphones by providing access to free homework assistance, e-books, downloadable music, and free DVDs they can watch from their phones, iPads, laptops and other computer devices.

We welcome your feedback. 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. While our buildings have been closed for the safety of the public to prevent coronavirus spread, BPL h…

2020 BPL Summer Learning Registration Begins Saturday, May 16

By Bessie Miller, Regional Manager & Chief Strategist for BPL 2020 Summer Learning 

Are you ready for Summer Learning at the Birmingham Public Library? We are #BHAMSTRONG!

Registration for the 2020 Birmingham Public Library Virtual Summer Learning program will kick off this Saturday, May 16th!

This year Summer Learning will be hosted virtually- completely online for the first time.

But do not worry as BPL will still include fan favorites including local performers and amazing prizes. We will offer everything from STEM, fitness, Bubble Lady, Magicians, Henna Tattoos, Martial Arts, cooking, genealogy, storytimes, reading tutoring, crafts, 4H, Science Lady, Alabama Ballet, Jugglers, Poetry Contest, and much more.

Register for BPL Summer Learning at this link

We will host daily activities virtually beginning June 8th! So get ready to join us as we Imagine a NEW Story!

Like our Birmingham Public Library Facebook page and share this post for a…

Kanopy Instructional Series – How to Grow Anything

By Shea Robinson | Fiction Department, Central Library 

How to Grow Anything is an instructional film series from The Great Courses collection on Kanopy. The Great Courses offer a wealth of knowledge spanning several subjects such as foreign language, investing, and photography among others. It is an invaluable resource for lifelong learning and personal enrichment.

This film series contains six episodes that provide detailed information from the initial planning of a garden space to soil composition and pest control. It also offers solutions for small living spaces with minimal growing room and non-ideal temperature conditions. Each episode lasts approximately 30 minutes and can be viewed separately to allow self-paced implementation of the content.

Additional gardening resources can be found on Hoopla and OverDrive. Sign up for a temporary eCard here!

BPL Thanks Public for Supporting Libraries on #GivingTuesdayNow

By Catherine Frey, Director of Library Development

On behalf of the leadership and entire staff of the Birmingham Public Library, I want to thank you for participating in #GivingTuesdayNow, a special worldwide day dedicated to giving back held on May 5, 2020. This event was created to assist organizations that have helped communities deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

The Birmingham Public Library is grateful for all of the support past and present. Whether you participated by donating on #GivingTuesdayNow or always have donated to BPL...we say thank you! Your continued efforts will help BPL with virtual programming so that those at home can enjoy all the library has to offer.

We will open our doors soon and cannot wait to see you. Please help us move forward with our virtual services to so that patrons can continue accessing our services and programming online.

 Please donate by visiting

Supporting our libraries helps BPL continue to provide free educational programs …

Smithfield Library Releases Recipe as part of National Apple Die Day

By Heather McWilliams, Branch Manager of Smithfield Branch Library

Today, Wednesday, May 13, is National Apple Pie Day. 

In celebration, Smithfield Branch Library released a video link to a recipe for the popular dessert dish.

Did you know that apple pies date back to the Middle Ages? Apple pies were a popular dish in Europe and eventually traveled to America in the 17th century.

It’s a delicious dish, requires few ingredients, and is very easy to make.

Join Smithfield Library in making our favorite apple pie recipe or you can try a recipe that we used.

Check out our video of our apple pie recipe by clicking here:

Reba Williams of Smithfield Library Reflects on Graduating Amidst COVID-19

By Reba Williams of Smithfield Branch Library

The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa postponed its commencement planned for May over fears of spreading the coronavirus — one of what is likely to be many such college ceremonies to be reconsidered in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A library assistant at Smithfield Branch Library, I have worked full time for 20 years at BPL and in my spare time took three to four classes per semester in pursuing my degree in MLIS (Masters in Library & Information Studies) at UA. The hard work paid off as I am graduating this year with all As and just one B.

To have something you're looking forward to for so long get suddenly taken away was really hard on me as a graduate student who had been  excited about the commencement ceremony originally scheduled for this May.

I shouldn’t be thinking about these things. In this crisis, there are more important issues that I should be focusing my feelings toward. But as a graduate who had devoted so muc…

A Cozy Mystery Book Review

By Lynn Hutchins | Information/Circulation, Central Library 

Charlie Harris, a librarian in Athena, Mississippi, finds himself in the middle of another murder investigation in Classified as Murder, the second book in Miranda James’s Cats in the Stacks series.

Accompanied by his giant cat named Diesel, Charlie gets started on a rare book inventory for an eccentric library patron named James Delacorte, who thinks someone is stealing from his expensive private library. Soon after they begin, Delacorte is found dead at his desk, and Charlie finds himself with a bigger task than inventorying books. The story really heats up when a highly valued copy of Edgar Allan Poe’s "Tamerlane" goes missing. When a second murder occurs, Charlie realizes that he and Diesel must solve the case before the killer strikes again. Miranda James began writing the Cats in the Stacks series in 2010 with Murder Past Due. The latest book in the series, published in 2020, is called Careless Whiskers.

Did …

2020 Census Field Operations Resume in Alabama with Census Employees Following Strict Public Health Guidelines

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

Last week the U.S. Census Bureau announced that field operations for the 2020 Census would resume in several states, including Alabama. These operations, which had begun on March 15, were temporarily suspended on March 18 due to concerns about COVID-19. This resumption of activities is the first step of the Bureau’s gradual, phased-in approach to fulfilling its decennial mission of getting a complete and accurate count of the population.
On May 6 Census Bureau staffers began dropping off packets at households in Alabama that normally receive mail at a P.O. Box rather than at their residence. The packets include a paper 2020 Census questionnaire that can be completed and returned, as well as an invitation to self-respond by phone or online. The Bureau refers to this operation as “Update Leave” because Bureau employees are instructed to leave a questionnaire packet at the front door of the residence and also upd…

UAB Provides Online Resource to Improve Literacy

By Shea Robinson | Fiction Department, Central Library

As time away from the classroom increases for students due to the COVID-19 pandemic, literacy difficulties may go unaddressed. UAB School of Education has created an online resource, Electronic Portal for Assistance Learning (EPAL), to assist students with reading comprehension, phonics, and fluency. This portal provides parents and educators with access to online resources targeted to the specific needs of students.

By answering a series of questions, the student’s literacy challenges can be diagnosed. Next, a detailed strategy is presented along with the resources needed for implementation. These resources include video presentations, online interactive activities, and printable materials to review with students.

The Birmingham Public Library's Electronic Resources for K-12 Students page contains links pertaining to homework help, test prep, book/video titles that promote reading improvement, full text articles for research…

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, an issue that is getting renewed scrutiny in the wake of coronavirus pandemic that has led cities and states across the country to implement shelter in place orders for weeks.

Even if they haven’t been personally infected by COVID-19, most Americans have had their lives disrupted by coronavirus – from job loss to pay cuts or knowing someone who has gotten sick or died. A constant barrage of negative news coverage about the pandemic can also take a toll on one’s mental health.

The Birmingham Public Library has plenty of free mental health resources including books and videos available online on our website. Click at and search by topic of mental health.

CBS’ “60 Minutes” news program recently spotlighted how coronavirus can take a toll on individuals’ mental health

 According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, nearly 450 million people worldwide are currently living with a mental illness, yet nearly two thirds of …

Book Review: I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

By Mary Beth Newbill | Southern History Department, Central Library

Part domestic thriller and part police procedural, I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh does a fantastic job of making you question everything you read in the first half of the book. The reveal at the halfway mark was so well done that I had to go back to the beginning to see if I could find how I had been taken in. Unfortunately, the book’s second half does not live up to its first. This is largely due to the introduction of a character so stereotypically villainous that he would be more at home in the pages of a comic book.

Part 1 of I Let You Go focuses on the police investigation following the hit and run death of five-year- old Jacob on a rainy afternoon. His mother is devastated and blames herself for letting go of his hand and allowing him to run across the street to their home. Alternating with chapters about the investigation, are chapters told from Jenna’s point of view. We see her struggling to make a new life…

Q & A with Counselor Eddie Sharpe on How to Cope with Mental Stress of Coronavirus

As the nation observes Mental Health Awareness Month, the Birmingham Public Library talked to Eddie Sharpe Jr., a licensed professional counselor in Birmingham, to share tips for the community on how to cope with the mental stress of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sharpe and Latoria Greenhill are co-founders of Restoring Hopes LLC, which focuses on providing low cost community mental health services in schools and homes of Jefferson and Shelby counties.

Sharpe is also a collaborator with Brother Let’s Talk, a Birmingham organization dedicated to "reducing the stigma and addressing the stress" as it pertains to black men's mental health. Brother Let's Talk hosts monthly Barbershop Talks addressing mental health in men.

BPL: Why is it important for people to take the issue of coronavirus seriously when it comes to our mental health?

 Sharpe: Covid-19 has been a very trying time for everyone. The coronavirus pandemic has changed society as we know it, and the stress that come…

Support BPL Today on #GivingTuesdayNow

#GivingTuesdayNow, a global day to spread generosity, build community and support for organizations that are helping others cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, is today, Tuesday, May 5, 2020.

As you consider giving, please consider donating to the Birmingham Public Library.   To make a donation, visit

#GivingTuesdayNow is a great time to help organizations, like BPL, that are helping to support our community during this difficult time, said Catherine Frey, Director of Library Development. "Your help will support BPL's efforts to expand our virtual programs."

BPL partners with the Friends Foundation of the Birmingham Public Library so all donations are tax-deductible.

Although our 19 buildings have been closed to the public since mid-March, BPL has continued to provide services 24/7 online including virtual storytelling by Mrs. Eve of Avondale Library, Local Author reading challenges, free resources like Homework …

Q & A with BPL Regional Manager Bessie Miller About #GivingTuesdayNow

By Catherine Frey, Director of Library Development 

The Birmingham Public Library is joining nonprofits and other organizations worldwide on Tuesday, May 5, 2020, to participate in #GivingTuesdayNow, a global day to spread generosity and join together to support organizations that are helping others in many ways during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 In a Q & A interview, BPL Director of Library Development Catherine Frey talked to Bessie Miller, BPL Regional Manager and Chief Strategist of BPL's Summer Learning programs, about virtual programs and other services our 19 libraries across the City of Birmingham have in place to assist the public. She also discussed that #GivingTuesdayNow is a way to help BPL continue to provide free educational programs 24-7 for those in need.

•  How has BPL adapted to this pandemic to continue serving the public?

Miller: The building may be closed, however BPL remains open online 24-7 for all patrons. Patrons can read an eBooks, listen to music, watch a…

Wylam Library Assistant Wins JCLPA Photo Challenge

Romelia Pattillo, a Library Assistant III at Wylam Branch Library, is the winner of The Jefferson County Public Library Association Photo Challenge.

The JCPLA Photo challenge was issued to all library workers countywide, not just JCPLA members, on April 20 to celebrate 2020 National Library Week.

Participants were asked to post a photo with their favorite book, talk about what the book meant to them, and draw a new cover of the book.

Pattillo, who has been working at BPL nearly a year, posted a photo in front of Pratt City Branch Library, holding a copy of the book Preparing Your Teens for College, by Alex Chediak.

Her photo caption was, “This book means a lot to me right about now. My 2020 HFCRCHS (Holy Family Cristo Rey High School) senior is still making plans for college.”

Pattillo won the grand prize - free admission to the 2020 Christmas luncheon and payment of her yearly JCPLA dues.

The JCPLA Photo Challenge is a spin-off of the Birmingham Public Library Photo Challenge, which…

Kanopy - Instructional Films and Lessons

You are probably aware that Kanopy offers an array of high-quality documentaries, foreign language films and other "thoughtful entertainment."  Part of this excellent collection of films also includes an entire category of Instructional Films and Lessons. Think of this category as browsing your library's nonfiction DVD collection. To access this category of films, just use the Browse tab at the top of the screen.  Categories include:

Food TechnologyHair & BeautyHealth & SafetyTravel & TourismK-12 LessonsLibrary & Information ManagementTechnical Expertise The following are examples of some of the great films that you can find in this category.  The descriptions are provided by Kanopy.
The Everyday Gourmet: How to Master Outdoor Cooking Steak. Asparagus. Pineapple. On a pleasant day when family or friends are near, nothing beats firing up the grill for a great meal. Most of us, however, don't take full advantage of all the possibilities for outdoor cooki…

BPL Honors Volunteers Who Help Make Birmingham Public Libraries Special

The Birmingham Public Library is extending a virtual appreciation for its many volunteers who give of their time and energy to help make BPL's 19 library locations special. BPL's Annual Volunteers Luncheon was canceled this week due to the coronavirus pandemic, but BPL desires to give thanks to those who have helped its staff put people first in the City of Birmingham.

Among the many BPL volunteers highlighted for their contributions in 2019-20:

* Supporters who keep the BPL Friends Bookstore operational

* A couple who provided science education activities at Ensley Branch Library

* Presenters of quilting workshops at West End and North Birmingham libraries

* Instructors who teach young people how to play chess at East Lake Library and West End Library.

* Volunteers who help collect and process collections in the BPL Archives Department

* An insurance agent who helps patrons navigate Medicare and SCORE mentors who host monthly small business workshops at the Central Library