Birmingham Public Library
When entering the central branch of the Birmingham Public Library in Birmingham, AL, kids are in awe of the facility's expansive atrium that includes walls of windows, indoor plant life and a sky-high ceiling. The wide-eyed stares don't stop there. After climbing to the library's second floor to enter the Youth Department, kids can take in rows of colorful books, an array of sea creatures and plant life hanging from the ceiling, with stuffed animals and painted pillars rounding out the experience.
But where the library really shines is the fantastic programs that captivate kids. Children on the younger end of the spectrum can enjoy story time activities and the 1-2-3 Play With Me program open to newborns through 3-year-olds and their caregivers. The program includes activities with books, toys, crafts and visits from special guests from the community. Teenagers can take part in WORD UP!, the annual teen poetry slam competition, as well as a Ghouls' Ball during the Halloween season. In addition, kids ages 11 through 18 can participate in a summer reading program that packs quite a punch; the library teams up with NFL player Jerricho Cothery to keep kids motivated and offers a teen tailgate party and a football clinic.
The library system also focuses on serving the community by participating in Library Card Outreach Campaigns, where staff members partner with local schools and Head Starts to give children library cards. Another effort is the Valentine Outreach Program, which has been taking place for 29 years; the library's Youth Department joins the local Children's Hospital in creating and delivering approximately 2,000 Valentine messages to hospital-bound children.
Wow Factor: The Birmingham Public Library offers 18 locations throughout the community making the library system one of the largest in the southeast.
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