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Resource of the Week

Atlas of Historical County Boundaries

A project of the William M. Scholl Center for American History and Culture at The Newberry Library in Chicago, the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries is a powerful historical research and reference tool in electronic form. The Atlas presents in maps and text complete data about the creation and all subsequent changes (dated to the day) in the size, shape, and location of every county in the fifty United States and the District of Columbia. It also includes non-county areas, unsuccessful authorizations for new counties, changes in county names and organization, and the temporary attachments of non-county areas and unorganized counties to fully functioning counties. The principal sources for these data are the most authoritative available: the session laws of the colonies, territories, and states that created and changed the counties.





Did You Know?

Full-service library cards expire one year from when issued or renewed. To renew your library card, visit any public library in Jefferson County. But don't toss your expired card—your library record will be updated but you will use the same card to check out materials. There is a replacement fee of $3 for lost cards.










Civil Rights Activists and Author at BPL


Nationally known children’s author Cynthia Levinson will speak and sign copies of her new book We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March (Peachtree Publishers, 2012) at the Central Library, Thursday, February 23, at 6:30 p.m. In her book, written for young readers age ten and up, Levinson tells the story of four young civil rights activists who took part in the Birmingham demonstrations. Three of those activists, James W. Stewart (age 15 in 1963), Arnetta Streeter (age 16 in 1962), and Washington Booker III (age 14 in 1963), will join the author to share their memories.

Cynthia Levinson joins a long list of hundreds of authors who have researched books in the collections of the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) Archives. These authors spend hours, months, or even years working closely with Archives staff. Reflecting on her research, Levinson says, “The book would not have been so comprehensive or revealing without the expertise of the library staff. In addition to providing excellent photographs from the library's collection and background information on ‘Bull’ Connor, the Archives team led me to resources providing answers on confounding but essential issues. Dr. King's mission was to ‘fill the jails.’ But, what did that mean? Nowhere could I find data on the number of jail cells in Birmingham in 1963. The BPL collection included a report from the American Civil Liberties Union that pinpointed the figure. That, combined with arrest records available from other sources, dramatically conveyed the inability of adults to ‘fill the jails’ in April 1963 and the need to turn to children." ... learn more




Book Review
Selkirk’s Island: The True and Strange Adventures of The Real Robinson Crusoe

The subtitle of Selkirk's Island is, for once, not just a publisher’s come-on. For those like me who were entranced by the Daniel Defoe novel, this biography of Alexander Selkirk, the model for Crusoe, will be welcomed. Surprised that there was a Selkirk biography, I was even more surprised, when I looked into the matter, that there were several. This one seems to be the best. Among other things, it won Britain’s Whitbread award for biography in 2001.

My start with Selkirk was in the 1970s. The delightful People’s Almanac had a short piece on Selkirk that I read several times. Decades later, when I discovered the Souhami book at a library sale, it seemed too good to be true. They’d written an entire book on Selkirk? And later: Several books on him? But he’s still obscure, though he doesn’t deserve to be. Perhaps only the gigantic shadow of the character Crusoe has made Selkirk largely unknown. But Selkirk is equally fascinating. ...learn more



Gardening from Seeds

It’s not too early. If you’ve been studying seed catalogs all winter and have already bought your peat pots, you know what I mean. It’s almost time to start seeds indoors! The Old Farmer's Almanac has some helpful tips in "Starting Seeds Indoors," as does Fine Gardening's "10 Seed-Starting Tips."

Most seeds can be started about six weeks before the last frost date, so you have about a month left to decide which varieties of peppers, tomatoes, and squash you want to start, or maybe you’re more interested in zinnias or cosmos. Whether you choose to plant flowers or vegetables, the library has the books for you. ...learn more


February 17, 2012
Birmingham Public Library
2100 Park Place
Birmingham, Alabama 35203
(205) 226-3600