By Ariel Worthy
The Birmingham Times
The Birmingham Public Library Young Professionals (BPLYP) is currently preparing for the Eat Drink Read Write Festival, which is held from Oct. 1-7. This year’s focus is on seeking out adventurous food and “great culinary experiences.”
“It helps us younger generations meet our neighbors and community,” said Leah Bigbee, president of the BPLYP. “It’s such a diverse group of people in Birmingham so these events help to bring people together that wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to meet each other.”
The first night will kick off with Evening with Chef Bryant Terry. Terry will present a program in which he discusses the need for a healthy and sustainable food system, and talk about how jazz, reggae and soul music have influenced his cooking.
Other events part of the festival:
- Monday Oct. 3: Children’s Adventurous Food Art Reception at the Central Library Downtown.
- Tuesday Oct. 4: Fermented and Foraged Food Panel Discussion at the Linn-Henley Research Library Downtown.
- Thursday Oct. 6: Happy Hour with Literary Cocktails will be at the Wine Loft.
- Friday Oct. 7: Bards & Brews.
Bards & Brews is a free spoken word poetry performance and beer tasting event hosted by the Birmingham Public Library. It is usually held on the first Friday of each month, except December. The final Bards & Brews is held at Botanical Gardens. The event is usually emceed by performance artist Voice Porter.
“You get to be creative and drink,” said Bigbee said.
The Young Professionals have lined up a number of events to attract a newer generation to the library.
Several members of the group remember coming to the library regularly when they were younger.
“I would drag my mom to the library when I was a kid,” said Tevis Owens, BPLYP vice president. “To see that the library hasn’t been promoted as the resource that it could possibly be was sad.”
Being part of the board gives her a voice in promoting the library for all that it is, Owens said.
Technology has been a big factor in the decline of library visits, Owens said.
“Everything is, ‘I can just pick up my phone and Google it,’” Owens said. “Now people are missing out on the fact that the library has free wi-fi, and classes for so many things.”
Some of the classes that she feels older people could attend, but do not often know about are the computer literacy classes.
“There are workshops for Microsoft Word, Power Point, Excel; the library is now becoming part of the technology age.”
Owens, who is a teacher, said another problem is students aren’t being taught about the library and its resources as much anymore either.
“I have students who grew up without ever setting foot in a library, or not knowing what a card catalog is,” Owens said. “We have to promote it as more than just a place where books are, but we have to show them that this place is also a resource.”
Sebrina Stoutermire, another board member, believes that in order to keep the library thriving, it starts at a young age.
“If you want younger kids involved, parents have to get involved,” Stoutermire said.
Getting children to read more than watching TV is also vital, said Stoutermire, who is the author of “Strength is What I Found When I Removed My Makeup.”
“The visual you get with a television, you can get the same thing from a book,” Stoutermire said. “You just have to use your imagination; the words can come to life in the same way. With reading, people are learning and growing and you’re not having to worry about something babysitting them that you might not want to babysit them.”
Another important factor about the library is that it gives knowledge that can’t be found through Google, Stoutermire added.
“Google doesn’t always have all of the answers, Google doesn’t have a lot of factual answers all the time,” she said. “The library holds a host of books that gives you a variety of answers that will actually help you with your life. Google is a hit-or-miss when it comes to facts.”