Press Release - Detail
For immediate release Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016
CONTACT: Roy L. Williams                                                 
Director of Public Relations                         
Birmingham Public Library                                               
Phone: (205) 226-3746 cell (205) 568-0067                                                        
Summer Reading patron meets her favorite author at Five Points West Regional Library
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama-One of the many attributes of the Birmingham Public Library (BPL)’s Summer Reading program is how it spurs young people to continue reading during the traditional summer break from school. The programs also allow BPL staff to see first-hand the joy that reading can bring to folks of all ages.
In 2015, 18,418 BPL patrons attended 558 programs and read more than 52,000 books at 19 libraries across the city. Statistics for 2016 Summer Reading season from June to July are still being compiled.
Fontaine Alison, a storyteller in the youth department at the Five Points Regional Library, recently wrote a blog detailing her first experience working the BPL’s 2016 Summer Reading program. See a link to her blog detailing what it was like below, in which she describes how one Summer Reading participant got to meet her favorite author, Irene Latham, whose latest work is “Leaving Gee’s Bend”:

By Fontaine Alison of Five Points West Regional Library Youth Department:
Whew! I survived my first summer reading season. If you don't work in a library youth department, you have no idea how busy these last two months have been. (Imagine performing in all three rings of a three-ring circus!) But for all the frenzy and long hours, the effort was definitely worth it. It's the little moments that best prove the point.

To capture those moments, I began posting photos of "Today's Featured Reader" on our Five Points West Regional Branch Library (FPW) Facebook page. There was young Elliott, a snaggle-toothed 5-year-old thrilled with his first library card. And Joi, who read every book in the “Dork Diaries” series and offered her recommendations to fellow readers. One dedicated mother read over 150 books with her toddler between June and July. What a lucky little girl. 

I was even amused by kids who tried to bluff their way to a prize. Daniel, a regular at FPW, would claim to have read a book after 15 minutes paging through it. Our compromise: he would read aloud to me while I worked at my desk. Hey, if I can coax a kid to read with the promise of a Tootsie Pop, I'm down with that!

But the high point of the summer came when Sydni introduced me to her favorite book, “Leaving Gee’s Bend,” by Irene Latham. As a Selma native and proud owner of a Gee's Bend quilt, I naturally wanted to know more. Sydni happily complied, effusive with details from the story as well as the author's visit to her school. In return, I told her about buying my quilt and taking a ride on the Gee's Bend Ferry, which she is dying to try.

Curious about this author who had captured a young girl's imagination, I looked up Irene Latham’s website ( On a whim, I sent her an e-mail with a link to Sydni's photo on the Five Points West Facebook page.

Thus began the conversation which led to a delightful meeting between author and reader. Latham brought Sydni a signed copy of the book, and Sydni brought handmade gifts for Latham. The author asked Sydni to add a bit of wisdom she learned from her mother to a quilt block.  (Latham collects these motherly sayings because The Wisdom of Mothers is a major theme in the book.). “The best part of my job is meeting readers like Sydni,” Latham said.

 And meanwhile, this English teacher turned library storyteller got to watch. Goosebumps! After Ms. Latham had left, Sydni hugged her new book and confided, "My friends will be so jealous!" So will mine, Sydni. So will mine.

Learn more about Gee's Bend Quilts
“Leaving Gee’s Bend” - Set in 1932 and inspired by the rich quilting history of Gee's Bend, Alabama,Leaving Gee's Bend is a heart-touching tale of a young girl's unexpected adventure. (From author's website)
“Stichin’ and Pullin: A Gee’s Bend Quit” by Pat McKissack 
“The Quilts of Gee’s Bend” by John Beardsly, et al.
“The Quiltmakers of Gee’s Bend”  [videorecording] Alabama Public Television 

If you would like to learn how to quilt, the Springville Road Regional Branch Library, 1224 Old Springville Road, offers quilting classes for beginners every month. The next class is scheduled for Sept. 2, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. 

For additional information about the programs and services of the Birmingham Public Library, visit our website at and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter @BPL. The mission of Birmingham Public Library is to provide the highest quality library service to our citizens for life-long learning, cultural enrichment, and enjoyment. This system—with 19 locations and serving the community for 129 years—is one of the largest library systems in the southeast. 
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