Press Release - Detail
For immediate release Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016
CONTACT: Roy L. Williams                                  
Director of Public Relations             
Birmingham Public Library                          
Phone: (205) 226-3746 cell (205) 568-0067                        
Birmingham Public Library Board names Innovative Cool award winners for October
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.-Children living in southwestern Birmingham will soon get help in cursive writing and basic penmanship, thanks to a new program being implemented this fall at Powderly Branch Library. At Springville Road Regional Library, parents of children from birth to pre-school will be able to gain new parenting tips thanks to a program. Springville Road Library is also about to  begin a new Vintage Memory Making program teaching the joy of sewing and crafting to kids aged 5 to 9.
The three programs are the latest recipients of the Birmingham Public Library (BPL)’s Innovative Cool Awards, presented during the Oct. 11, 2016, BPL Board of Trustees meeting. The award was established in April to encourage library staff to come up with unique ideas to serve the Birmingham community.

The Birmingham Public Library Innovative Cool Grant recipients for October 2016 are as follows:
  • Powderly Branch Library, “After School Writing Lab (Assistance with Cursive Writing and Basic Penmanship” – This six-week program will focus on teaching second- through fifth-grade students in the Birmingham City School System cursive writing and basic penmanship. Tutors from Birmingham’s Social Security Administration will assist on Monday and Wednesday each week from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
“We were informed by one of our parents that the school system had implemented cursive writing in the school’s curriculum and many of the children are having difficulty,” said Loretta Bitten, branch manager of Powderly Branch Library. “Because of this, we would like to offer a writing lab twice weekly to help strengthen the children with cursive writing and penmanship.”
The grant money will be used to by writing tablets, pencil and pens, stencils, erasers, chalk, markers and stencils, templates and blackboards. Light snacks will be provided each session. At the end of the six-week program, prizes will be awarded to the most improved students. 
  •  Springville Road Regional Library, “New Parenting Program” - Geared towards parents of children from newborns to pre-school, this program will discuss pregnancy, breastfeeding, early childhood development, safety and early literacy. The classes will be led by Chauntel Norris, a library assistant III, childbirth educator, and certified lactation counselor. 
Norris has been conducting a similar program at Woodlawn High School’s young mothers program over the past year, and hopes to replicate its success at Springville Road Library.
“The objective of this program is to allow parents of small children to interact with other parents and learn from their shared experiences as well as the professionals who will be present,” Norris said. “It will also allow the children a time to interact with each other in a safe and fun environment.” 
  • Springville Road Regional Library, “Vintage Memory Making Program” – This program would target children aged 5 to 9 and teach them how to make crafts using common materials including yarn and buttons. Judy Dick of Springville Road Library has enlisted three women from sewing classes to help her instill the joy of sewing and crafting in young children. The class will be limited to 10 children. 
Dick came up with the idea based on how as a small child in the 1950s she and sister were taught by their mother and grandmother how to make memorable crafts using materials such as feed sacks and thread.
“We made potholders that resembled cows, and strawberries with Strawberry Short Cake material prints,” Dick said. “We sewed tiny 9-patch squares by hand and then grandmother would make them stronger by sewing over our seams with her Treadle sewing machine.”        
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. 
The Innovative Cool Awards program was adopted by the library board in March 2016 upon recommendation from the Advocacy, Fundraising, and Development Committee. The grants are designed to encourage BPL staff to develop “innovative and cool” public programs to better serve the communities that surround its 19 locations.  The award will provide up to two $50 stipends to the 18 branches and the Central Library.
“The board is proud of employees’ participation in the Innovative and Cool Award Initiative. We look forward to the display to showcase all programs that engage patrons of all ages," said Dora Sims, chair of the BPL Advocacy Committee.
In order to qualify, staff must submit a brief paragraph or two explaining to the board how they will use the funds.  The funds should assist staff in bringing new ideas to the library or provide extra support to existing programs.  Submissions are due by the 15th of each month.
The idea for the Innovative and Cool award was brought to the Advocacy Committee by committee member Gwendolyn Amamoo.  A committee reviews the selections and forwards their recommendations to the full board for approval. The board anticipates awarding up to $1,900 in new programs this year by Dec. 31, 2016. 
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