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Friday, November 10, 2017

Honoring Our Veterans: Children's Book Edition

The concept of Veterans Day began back in World War I when a cease fire, or armistice, went into effect November 11, 1918 at 11:00 AM. In 1938, an act was signed making Armistice Day an official annual holiday in the United States. After World War II and the Korean Conflict, the name was changed to Veterans Day reflect the service of all Americans who served during wartime. Mississippi is home to nearly 200,000 veterans. These men and women served in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

The following children's books all feature children and teens whose parents, friends, and neighbors serve in the United States military. In some of the young adult titles, a teen soldier not much older than the intended audience is featured. For younger children, these types of books can help them grasp the difficult concept of war, as well as bring them to a better understanding of why people they know serve their country. For older children and teens, the books tackle more complicated issues like disabling injuries, PTSD, and death.

  • While You Are Away
    Eileen Spinelli and Renee Graef
    Preschool-Grade 2
  • How My Parents Learned to Eat
    Ina Friedman and Allen Say
    Preschool-Grade 3
  • My Red Balloon
    Eve Bunting and Kay Life
    Preschool-Grade 4
  • Fish in a Tree
    Lynda Mullaly Hunt
    Grades 4-6
  • The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story
    Gloria Houston and Barbara Cooney
    Kindergarten-Grade 3
    World War I
  • The Poppy Lady: Moina Bell Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans
    Barbara Walsh and Layne Johnson
    Grades 2-5
    World War I
  • The Harlem Hellfighters: When Pride Met Courage
    Walter Dean Myers and Bill Miles
    Grades 5-8
    World War I
  • Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers: Volume I
    Arigon Starr (editor)
    Grades 7-Adult
    World War I, World War II, Korea
  • All Those Secrets of the World
    Jane Yolen and Leslie Baker
    Preschool-Grade 3
    World War II
  • Across the Blue Pacific: A World War II Story
    Louise Borden and Robert Parker
    Grades 2-5
    World War II
  • Lily's Crossing
    Patricia Reilly Giff
    Grades 3-7
    World War II 
  • Eyes of the Emperor
    Graham Salisbury
    Grades 7-12
    World War II
  • Heroes
    Ken Mochizuki and Dom Lee
    Kindergarten-Grade 3
    World War II, Korea, Vietnam
  • Devotion
    Adam Makos
    Grades 10-Adult
  • The Wall
    Eve Bunting and Ronald Himler
    Preschool-Grade 3
  • Almost Forever
    Maria Testa
    Gr. 4-7
  • Fallen Angels
    Walter Dean Myers
    Grades 7-12
  • Operation YesSara Holmes
    Grades 4-7
  • The Saturday Boy
    David Fleming
    Grades 5-7
  • I'll Meet You There
    Heather Demetrios
    Grades 9-12
  • Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine, and a Miracle
    Brian Dennis, Mary Nethery, and Kirby Larson
    Grades 2-5
  • Peace, Locomotion
    Jacqueline Woodson
    Gr. 4-6
  • Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am
    Harry Mazer
    Peter Lerangis
    Grades 7-12
  • The Impossible Knife of Memory
    Laurie Halse Anderson
    Grades 9-12
Though these are difficult topics to approach with anyone, using books to tackle these issues can smooth the way to asking tough questions and help children realize that they are not alone in their situation. Books like these remind us of our history and keep us grounded in our past.

Thank you to all who served and still serve our country. We hope you find your story reflected on these pages and share them with the children in your life. Until next time, happy reading!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Suzanne Byrd Poynor Named MLC Board of Commissioners Chair

We are pleased to announce that  Suzanne Byrd Poynor has been named MLC Board of Commissioners Chair. Poynor was the president of the Mississippi Federation of Women's Clubs from 2012-2014 and has served on MLC's Board since 2014.

Poynor is a Mississippi lady through and through. Born in Forest, she grew up in Tupelo and moved on to Clinton for her higher education. After obtaining her bachelor's degree and master's degree in elementary education at Mississippi College, she taught for over thirty years in Rankin County, mainly in Florence. She and her husband Larry have been married forty years.

A huge book lover, Suzanne was raised in a reading family. Her grandparents and parents all loved to read, and she raised her son to be a reader too. Suzanne says that she's one of "those" people. "I always have a book with me. Reading is my favorite hobby."

Suzanne is also a big fan of her local public library in Florence. "I believe that every child deserves to have a book in their hands. Access to libraries makes this possible for so many people that otherwise wouldn't have this advantage." Poynor also admires libraries for their role in making technology available to people who don't have access to WiFi, computers, and the internet.  She points out that, "In many towns, the library is the center of the community."

Suzanne follows MLC on Facebook and was tickled to find herself in this #ThrowbackThursday picture. She's the little girl on the right wearing black pants.

The Mississippi Library Commission's Board of Commissioners comprises five members. Four members are appointed by the governor and one is the President of the Mississippi Federation of Women's Clubs (or her appointee.) Of the four gubernatorial appointed members, two are appointed at large by the governor and two are chosen from a list presented to the governor by the Mississippi Library Association. Of the two chosen from MLA's list, one must be an active librarian and one must be an active board of trustees member of a Mississippi public library.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Sharman Smith Named Interim Executive Director of MLC

The Board of Commissioners of the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC) is pleased to announce that Sharman Bridges Smith will be returning to the agency as Interim Executive Director beginning November 1, 2017. She is stepping into the role after the recent retirement of Susan Cassagne, who served in the position since October, 2013.

Smith comes to the agency with a wealth of knowledge after having served in the position at MLC from 2001 to 2013. She also served as the State Librarian of Iowa from 1992 to 2001. In addition to managing the day to day operations at MLC, she will assist the Board of Commissioners with their search for a new executive director, as well as represent the agency’s interests at the state capitol during the upcoming legislative session.

"It is an honor and a pleasure to be asked back to the Mississippi Library Commission,” stated Smith. “I look forward to again working with the library community in support of libraries' critical role in the success of Mississippi’s communities and its citizens."

Friday, October 27, 2017

How to Build a Franken-Bear

Sometimes, the simplest ideas are the best. One day, Purvis Public Library's Youth Librarian Chancey Windham and Brandon Public Library's Reference Supervisor Kayla Martin-Gant were talking about Toy Story. (Who doesn't love discussing Pixar's first feature film?) When one of them mentioned destructive Sid Phillips and his toy mutilation predilection, inspiration struck.

Mutant toys from Toy Story
Why not host a program where kids could create their own crazy creations? That's when the Franken-Bear Workshop was born.

Event header from Purvis Public Library

Chancy talked local thrift stores and patrons into donating unwanted dolls and stuffed animals. He amassed quite the collection of stuffed dogs, bears, and babies. Patrons also donated assorted nails and screws. Buttons and fake plastic bones from previous programs were added to the pile. Chancy said, "Our cost for this program was practically nothing. After donations, all we had to buy was hot glue and some thread."

Donations from local thrift stores and patrons
Kids of all ages had a blast ripping apart the old toys.

Then they sewed and glued and stitched their new creations together, adding buttons and other gee-gaws as they saw fit. 

The finishing touch came when Chancy helped add a plastic bone to "bring the Franken-Bear to life," much like the heart ceremony at Build-a-Bear Workshops.

The program was a huge hit, bringing in many, many more participants than initially anticipated. Chancy said, "We had nearly 50 participants. When I think of something easy like this, I think no one will show up to the program. It's such a simple idea, but they came and it really blew up. We had such a great time and the kids loved their creations." Check them out--what do you think of these creative kids' Franken-Bears?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Outstanding Achievement Award for Vivian Sanderford

Congratulations to Vivian Sanderford, Senior Network Specialist and E-Rate Specialist here at MLC! Vivian was honored at last week's annual Mississippi Library Association Conference with an Outstanding Achievement Award for her years of service to Mississippi libraries. The nomination, quoted in part below, came from Jennifer Wann, Director of the Bolivar County Library System.
"The success of public libraries in the twenty-first century is directly dependent on our ability to connect users to the Internet and all of the myriad information resources and tools necessary for modern life. Yet, for many of our state’s small and rural communities providing high speed Internet access at the public library is not just difficult; it’s almost impossible. This perhaps sounds hyperbolic in the era of free Wi-Fi at every McDonald’s and seemingly universal smartphone ownership. Yet obstacles such as lack of funding, lack of technical expertise, and the Byzantine federal e-rate program inhibit public libraries’ abilities to provide adequate access to our patrons. Vivian has dedicated her career to helping public libraries overcome these obstacles"
Jennifer went on to praise Vivian's patience in assisting Mississippi's librarians and her tenacity, skill, and savvy in dealing with statewide network and vendor issues. She has saved Mississippi libraries hundreds of thousands of dollars with filtering and firewall protection and even more by assuring that annual e-rate applications are filed correctly and on time. Jennifer went on to say, "In 2015 (the last year that information is currently publicly available) 2,500,843 sessions were logged on public access computers in Mississippi’s public libraries. Every single one of those 2.5 million sessions was in some small way supported by the work that Vivian Sanderford performs in her role... at the Mississippi Library Commission."

Thank you, Jennifer Wann, for nominating Vivian Sanderford, and to the MLA Awards Committee for honoring her with this award. The biggest thanks, however, go to Vivian herself, for her many years of service to MLC and to Mississippi libraries. Congratulations!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Letters About Literature 2017-2018

It’s Letters About Literature time again!

Mississippi's 2016-2017 Letters About Literature winners
Letters About Literature is a state and national writing contest for students in grades 4-12. Each student is encouraged to write a letter to the author of their favorite book explaining how the book changed their life, changed their outlook, or helped them through a hard time. It’s a personal letter, not an essay, so students can feel free to express how they feel!

There are three age categories:
  • Level 1: grades 4-6
  • Level 2: grades 7-8
  • Level 3: grades 9-12
Letters are due by December 9.

Statewide prizes are as follows:
  • First place (for each of the three age levels): $100
  • Second place (for each of the three age levels): $75
  • Third place (for each of the three age levels): $50
First place winners move on to national judging. National prizes are $1,000 for first place in each of the three age levels and $200 for Honor Winners in each of the three age levels.

Mississippi's 2015-2016 Letters About Literature winners
The 25th annual writing contest for young readers is made possible by a generous grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, with additional support from gifts to the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, which promotes the contest through its affiliate Centers for the Book, state libraries, and other organizations. Statewide, this contest is made possible by the Mississippi Library Commission, the Mississippi Center for the Book, and the Friends of Mississippi Libraries.

Teachers, librarians, and parents, please share this information widely! Additional information and entry coupons can be found here. We can’t wait to read your students’ letters!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Storytelling Through a Lens

I'm a movie buff... always have been. I remember seeing Gone with the Wind with my folks when I was a child; when Clark Gable first came on screen all the women in the audience gasped. For a film created in the 1930s it was beautifully done, despite its somewhat distasteful story line. That experience stuck with me; not the story, but how the imagery and music made me feel. Films do that to us. They invoke our inner-most feelings, whether good or bad.

Today, filmmaking has become something that anyone can do thanks to the technologies most of us are afforded. Just pick up your iPhone and you too can tell a story. Most folks do it all the time and don't even realize it. They film their dog or their grandchildren doing the cute things they do and post it on Instagram or Facebook. They are telling a story through film.

Now imagine an important topic or passion that you want to share. Put a little more planning into the message and it can become a story told through film. Who could be a part of the film to properly convey your story? What location would make the most sense to serve as your backdrop? Now take that iPhone and get these images and interviews on camera. There is even simple software on your iPhone that will allow you to edit and add music. Now you have something that can truly achieve benefits for your passion projects.

My class partner, David Rae Morris, and me shooting our film
Drawing on a Dream featuring deceased Delta artist, Duff Durrough
In 2011, I had the pleasure of attending a month-long workshop in Clarksdale to learn about documentary filmmaking by the talented folks of Barefoot Workshops. It was a transformative experience for me. I learned the power of storytelling through the lens. I also learned to tell a compelling story in the time it takes for someone to sit down, turn on their computer, and drink a cup of coffee. In this day and age, instant and quick messages are the most effective.

I encourage librarians to use these tools to share the stories of their outstanding work. I have traveled across the state and have seen first-hand the dynamic, life-changing programs going on. Let's get these on film and share them with lawmakers and stakeholders. We need decision-makers to know how valuable libraries are to Mississippi communities.

I'm grateful that my chosen profession has allowed me the opportunity to see some interesting places, to meet some great folks, and to be able to tell their story through my lens. Too bad Clark Gable is no longer with us... it would have been really fun to make women gasp!

Visit MLC's YouTube channel to check out the stories we've told through film. Look for more to come very soon.
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