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Introducing the Bessemer Public Library Mobile Technology Lab!

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The Inside Scoop on is probably the best known genealogy database on the market. But did you know that you can access the Library Edition of free at any public library in Alabama? Keep reading for some research tips and tricks and then make plans to visit your local library to try them out.

Census Records
One of my favorite sources and, arguably, the most important one for genealogists is the U.S. Census. Ancestry has every population schedule currently available for genealogy research (1790-1940) and they are fully indexed. You can search by name, location, age range, etc. You can even search by occupation in the later years. As with any database taken from handwritten documents, expect to find some interesting transcription errors. For instance, I became very curious about John H. Cheney who appears in the 1870 census. The index lists his occupation as retired sea cat. Upon closer inspection of the image on which his name appears, it is obvious that he was a retired sea captain.

City Directories
Like telephone books, but better, city directories from all over the country can be found on They have an excellent collection for Birmingham with coverage from 1888-1960 (minus a few years). However, cities such as Denver, CO, Charleston, SC, and Honolulu, HI are among the many others included. City directories pre-date the telephone book and include additional information such as a person’s occupation or place of employment and the name of their spouse. Most also offer the ability to do reverse look-ups if you know an address, but not the name of the person who lived there.

School Yearbooks
Whether you’re looking for an ancestor, interested in the fashions of the day, or just strolling down memory lane, old high school and college yearbooks are a must. has got a massive collection of digitized and keyword searchable yearbooks from all across the country. I was thrilled to use the yearbooks to locate a picture of someone’s grandfather who was orphaned at a young age and for whom no childhood pictures exist.

If you’d like to learn more, I hope you can attend one of our upcoming classes on the Library Edition of There will be one at the Wylam Branch Library on Wednesday, June 27. at 10:00 a.m., and again at the Avondale Branch on Monday, July 2, at 2:00 p.m.

National Library Service
"Talking Book" Service

Welcome to our new SmartAlec, an online resource to upload your documents. Documents can be release/printed at any Print Release Station at any library location. To login, click HERE to enter your Library Card number and PIN. If this is your first time using our new service, please click HERE to access the "First Time User" button.

The Public Libraries In Jefferson County have a new text messaging service called Shoutbomb What is Shoutbomb? It is a software service that allows libraries to send SMS messages to all text message enabled phones. Library users who sign up on their smart device will receive SMS messages about hold notices, overdue notices, courtesy notices, etc. Users will be able to opt in to receive these text messages.

What are the main reminder services?

MYBOOKS: Can be used at any time to inquire about the status of all your library items.

RENEWAL: Items are due in the next few days. You can request a list of items due for renewal and have the ability to renew selected items.

COURTESY: Items are due in the next few days. Patrons can request a list of items due, however, you cannot renew from the text message.

OVERDUE: Items are overdue. You can request a list of items due and have the ability to renew selected items.

FEES: A reminder that fees are due for payment.

HOLDS: Items placed on hold are now available for pickup.

IOWEU: Will show the cumulated fee/fines on each registered library card.

LIBRARY CARD EXPIRATION: The library can inform you when your library card is soon to expire.

What do you need in order to use the service?
1. A text messaging capable phone. You do not need a smart phone.
2. Subscription to a text messaging plan with your wireless carrier.
3. Phone must be able to send a text message to an email address.

More information can be found at

The Public Libraries In Jefferson County, DBA Jefferson County Library Cooperative, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c) (3) organization that links the 40 public libraries throughout Jefferson County. These include 20 municipal libraries, the 19 locations of the Birmingham Public Library System and The Library at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The mission of the Public Libraries In Jefferson County is to connect all citizens countywide by providing resources and community-building opportunities that inspire life-long learning.

Visit our website @

For more information:
Contact: Pat Ryan, Public Libraries In Jefferson County
Phone: (205) 226-3615 work



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