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Monday, September 9, 2019

Welcome to the MLC Board, Becky Wright!

Join us in welcoming Becky Wright, president of the GFWC-Mississippi Federation of Women's Clubs (MFWC), to the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC) Board. A little bit of history: nearly 100 years ago, the MFWC decided that every county in the state needed their own library. In fact, when MLC was officially created in 1926, the house bill that was submitted and approved specifically stated that the president of the Federation or a member recommended by her would always be a member of the Board. (1) MFWC is a fixed and integral part of Mississippi library growth and development and we're extremely pleased to have their continued valuable support.


Becky's local public library is the Jesse Yancy Memorial Library in Bruce. Not only is she a big library fan, but she has been a library volunteer for many years. She has shared books by reading them to students at local schools, but she is most involved with their Brown Bag Luncheons. She says she loves the opportunity to get to know local authors and make them welcome in their community. Bruce is a small town of about 2,000 people, but they've been able to entice some big names. Tom Franklin and Ace Atkins were just two authors whom she loved meeting at the library.

Becky and her husband own and operate the Piggly Wiggly grocery store in Bruce, Mississippi. She brings a wealth of experience to MLC's Board: she has been actively involved with the Bruce Chamber of Commerce for 25 years and has served on their board for 22 years. Becky has seven grandchildren and says that one of the things she wants to accomplish while on MLC's Board is "making sure that libraries are always open and available. My grandchildren and their peers always need to have a place to go to learn, especially in cases where they don't have the means to gain information anywhere else." She adds, "Funding for libraries is something we always have to keep pushing for. Our organization will not hesitate to lobby for the continuance of full funding each year."

Becky has been most impressed with MLC's programs and achievements. She thinks the agency's goals are commendable and really likes that MLC staff is consistently out in the state, visiting libraries, training front-line librarians, and being available for consultations. MLC's Talking Book Services has also blown her away; their readiness to speak about the program to local clubs and service groups is a huge plus in her book. She is also excited about the Mississippi Book Festival and MLC's involvement with that from its inception. Regretting that she wasn't able to attend this year's festival due to a prior commitment, Becky pledged to make it to next year's event.

Congratulations on joining the Board of the Mississippi Library Commission, Becky Wright!

(1) A History of Mississippi Libraries, edited by Margarete Peebles and J.B. Howell

Monday, August 5, 2019

Welcome to the MLC Board, Lori Ward Barnes!

Join us in welcoming Lori Ward Barnes, the director of the Jackson-George Regional Library System (JGRLS), to the Mississippi Library Commission Board. Lori was in her mid-20s when librarianship "found her" and she has been a professional librarian ever since. She started as the director of a very small, single-county library system in Alabama. She switched to youth services for a while, but has been back in administration for about ten years. Lori says she gets the most enjoyment from administration because it puts her in a position to make a difference in how a library system progresses. Outreach as one of the most important things her library system does and Lori is proud that JGRLS's outreach has expanded exponentially since she became director. This has been as varied as a prom at a local nursing home (participants visited the library to research planning and costumes and library staff assisted in throwing the event) and Head Start and day care visits (they bring the library to the children).


Lori has now worked in libraries for thirty years and is at the pinnacle of her career, making her a great addition to the MLC Board. Not only does she have a lot to offer by way of expertise and experience, but she's eager to learn and grow. She wants to make a difference in public libraries across Mississippi and feels very positively about what MLC does for them. She says MLC's services are extremely valuable, especially to our state's small, rural libraries. These libraries can do just as many wonderful things as library systems with multi-million dollar budgets--they do it all the time, but MLC is key to making that happen. These libraries may not have the local resources or funding to do everything they want to do, but then MLC steps forward with resources like e-magazine trials, book club kits, and special collection kits that supplement programs and collections. MLC also facilitates the LSTA grant program, which is incredibly important to all libraries in Mississippi.

Lori has been married to her dear husband Jim for many years. They are proud parents of a son and a daughter and are also new grandparents. She says that being a brand-new grandma eats up all of her non-library time, but that she loves every minute of it. Congratulations, Lori!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Get Outside Your Comfort Zone

For most of us, stepping outside our comfort zone is difficult and stressful. I like to be challenged and to experiment with new technology, but I am intimidated by things that are difficult for me to understand. I recently faced this dilemma and it really sent me into a tailspin.

The executive director of MLC told me earlier in the year that he would like me to start a podcast for the agency. I knew absolutely nothing about podcasts and the prospect of creating one sent me way outside my comfort zone. There is a whole lot more to podcasting than I ever imagined!


I had no idea where to begin, so I requested that MLC purchase some books on podcasting, read a lot of articles, and spent several months researching ideas. I listened to some incredibly good podcasts, a lot of average podcasts, and some exceptionally bad ones, all of which gave me concrete ideas about what would work best for MLC. I reached out to my peers across the country to see who's podcasting and I received lots of great feedback from them. (Thanks, ALA PR Talk!) I did a few test runs in the beginning that were bad... really bad. No one in their right mind would listen to my first efforts unless they needed a good nap! The biggest challenge was coming up with an interesting story line for my show.

About six weeks ago, with some additional input from colleagues, I worked out a plan that has serious potential. Once our executive director signed off, I hit the road for my first interview... then my second. I am on my way to creating an informative, interesting, and, hopefully, successful podcast for MLC and I can't wait to share it with all of you.


The moral of this story: never be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. You can accomplish anything you want with outstanding results through a little bit of research and planning.

P.S. Be on the lookout for the podcast in the coming months! More details to follow soon!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Not Even the Sky's the Limit!

Do you have a great idea? Have you thought of something innovative and extraordinary? Something unique and useful? If you are an inventor, an entrepreneur, or an innovator, you need to get to know the Patents and Trademarks division of the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC). For over twenty years, MLC's Patent Librarian Lawrence Smith has been assisting people in the know research patents and trademarks.

One such patron is Martin McCurtis. Many years ago, Martin was waiting for his then-fiancée to finish at the beauty salon. After seeing how uncomfortable she was after an hour under a hooded hair dryer, he was astonished that her hairdresser said she needed at least another hour before her hair would be dry. He had what he called a "God breathed" moment and got to work. Once finished with his design, he visited Lawrence at MLC to find out more about trademarks and patents. Lawrence pointed him in the right direction and now Martin holds the patent for the Momentum Hair Dryer. (You can read more about his hair dryer in this Mississippi Business Journal article.)

Two men sit in a room with a computer and smile at the camera. There is a black and white picture on the wall and a very large book is open on the desk.
Lawrence Smith and Martin McCurtis in MLC's Patent and Trademark search room

While Lawrence is always available to assist patrons, representatives from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the Mississippi Secretary of State's Office, and the Mississippi Small Business Development Center will be here tomorrow, July 10, for a special Patent and Trademark Workshop. The workshop runs from 8:30-4:30. Sign up through our Survey Monkey link and join the ranks of those innovators who have gone the extra step to make their inventions reality. Not even the sky's the limit!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Remembering our Mississippi Heroes

Two of the most influential figures in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement were born on the same day only three years apart. Aaron Henry entered the world on July 2, 1922, in Dublin, Mississippi; his friend Medgar Evers was born July 2, 1925, in Decatur, Mississippi. Both men were Army veterans and college graduates. Both were members of the NAACP and fought for the civil rights of African-American citizens in Mississippi, whom the white population segregated, disenfranchised, terrorized, and murdered. Evers was assassinated in his driveway when he was only 37. Henry became a long-time member of the Mississippi House of Representatives before passing in 1997.

The covers of "The autobiography of Medgar Evers" edited by Myrlie Evers-Williams & Manning Marable and "Aaron Henry of Mississippi"  by Minion K.C. Morrison

To learn more about Medgar Evers, check out:
  • For Us, the Living
    Myrlie B. Evers
  • The Autobiography of Medgar Evers: A Hero's Life and Legacy Revealed Through His Writings, Letters, and Speeches
    edited by Myrlie Evers-Williams and Manning Marable
  • Medgar Evers: Mississippi Martyr
    Michael Vinson Williams
  • Never Too Late: A Prosecutor's Story of Justice in the Medgar Evers Case
    Bobby DeLaughter
  • Medgar Evers
    Mississippi Encyclopedia
  • Medgar Evers
    Mississippi History Now
To learn more about Aaron Henry, check out:
  • Aaron Henry of Mississippi: Inside Agitator
    Minion K.C. Morrison
  • Aaron Henry: the Fire Ever Burning
    Aaron Henry
  • Aaron Henry
    Mississippi Encyclopedia
  • Aaron Henry
    Mississippi History Now
If you're in Mississippi, consider a field trip to:
Both of these Mississippi heroes and icons deserve our attention and our respect. Join us in honoring their memory and their accomplishments. Happy birthday, Mr. Evers and Representative Henry!

Friday, June 28, 2019

MLC's MRB at NLS in DC

Talking Book Services Director Mary Rodgers Beal recently returned from a whirlwind training trip to Washington, D.C. While there, she attended National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) Orientation, a training hosted three times each year for network librarians from across the United States. NLS is "a free braille and talking book library service for people with temporary or permanent low vision, blindness, or a physical disability that prevents them from reading or holding the printed page. Through a national network of cooperating libraries, NLS circulates books and magazines in braille or audio formats, delivered by postage-free mail or instantly downloadable."

A smiling woman takes a selfie with shelves of books in the background
TBS Director Mary Rodgers Beal at the Library of Congress

Mary Rodgers says that some of her favorite parts of the training were touring the NLS recording booth and experiencing the book recording process firsthand, learning more about talking book player repair, and the tour of the Library of Congress.

A large building with many columns says Archives of the United States of America. A guard stands at the doorway.
The National Archives and Records Administration building
Rows and rows of card catalogs
Did you know the Library of Congress still has a physical card catalog for part of its collection?
A circular desk with shelves in the middle sits in the middle of the room. Long straight desks with lights and people sitting at them circle this. Statues and archways surround the outside of the room.
The prettiest, most stately reading room in existence, found at the Library of Congress

Mary Rodgers also loved hearing from the book and magazine production team. "It was neat to hear all of the different parts of the process of picking which books to order and record and then how they go on and process the books in their catalog to share with the network libraries."

Sitting next to a lectern and microphone is a large banner that says free braille and talking books and has a picture of two boys using a TBS machine. A paper nameplate that says Mary Rodgers Beal is in the foreground.
NLS seminar
Mary Rodgers said that networking with other NLS staff was fun and informative, but that she was ready to get back to Mississippi to apply what she had learned. You can learn more about Talking Book Services here in the Magnolia State by visiting their webpage. Welcome back, Mary Rodgers!


Monday, June 17, 2019

New Albany Library Is Far From Ordinary

MLC Library Consultant Shellie Zeigler visited the Jennie Stephens Smith Library in New Albany, MS, a few weeks ago to conduct a site visit and attend their first summer library program of the season. Union County Library System Director Sissy Bullock oversees the system that caters to 27,000 people in this northeast Mississippi county. While the library offers a great selection of books, naturally, Sissy has found new and innovative ways to involve the library in this community and the community loves it.

Two smiling women stand with their arms around each other and facing the camera. They are outside at the front of a building. A sign next to them says Welcome Shellie Zeigler Mississippi Library Commission Bentley Burns Magician 3pm
Union County Library System Director Sissy Bullock and MLC Library Consultant Shellie Zeigler
Tanglewood Trail, a Rails-to-Trails Conservancy project located on the old Mississippi Tennessee railroad line, runs right by the library. The library decided the community needed better access to the trail and began a bicycle checkout program. All of the bicycles were donated by local patrons and businesses and the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services donated bicycle helmets. They even have a volunteer bike mechanic! Right now, their twenty-one bikes live inside the library, but the county is building them a storage shed right behind the building.

A collection of about twenty bicycles sits in the middle of a library.
Bicycles available for checkout at New Albany library

Bicycle helmets sit on top of library bookshelves. Books fill the bottom shelves.
Safety first! Each checked out bicycle comes with a helmet.
The library has also begun participating in the local "Biscuits and Jam" Farmers' Market. They truck their little trolley down the street on market days and pass out bookmarks, library card applications, and news about upcoming events. Want to learn about their summer library program? Head to the Farmers' Market!

A red wagon sits in the middle of a library. A sign on the wagon says library and colorful books are in the wagon. Books about gardening are displayed in front of the wagon.
Little Red Library Wagon
Speaking of their Summer Library Program, Shellie said the kickoff was a lot of fun. A slew of kids turned out to see Magician Bentley Burns perform a special space-themed show and a good time was had by all. If you're near Union County, you should drop by the library for more interesting and educative programming!

A man stands at the front of a room of people. They sit in chairs and on the floor and he is talking to them.
Magician Bentley Burns performs for a rapt audience.
A pile of books, all on Mississippi or written by Mississippi authors
These books were purchased with money from an LSTA grant.
Shellie also noticed this display of new books about Mississippi and by Mississippi authors. The purchase of the books was made possible by an LSTA grant administered by the Mississippi Library Commission. As a MLC Library Consultant, Shellie will check in on Sissy in New Albany again in several months, but will be back sooner if she needs advice or help with any issues. For right now, we love seeing the novel ways Sissy makes this library an essential community hub.
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