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Monday, August 29, 2016

Meet MLC Monday: Megan Sills

Meet Megan Sills, Collection Management Librarian at the Mississippi Library Commission! Megan spends her days adding monographs and state-published documents to our collection. Sound dull? She also gets to add all sorts of things that you might not normally think of libraries owning, like board games, puppets, Lego sets, and book club kits. Add to those duties the creation of an index of cataloged documents, the removal of items that are too worn or damaged for use from the catalog, and acting as a backup for the Reference Desk, and you can see that this lady stays pretty busy. She's been at it since February of 2015 and we love having her here.

Sills has an Master's Degree in Library and Information Science from Long Island University and is almost done with her Master's Degree in Ancient Near Eastern and Egyptian Studies from New York University. She received her Bachelor's Degree from Webster University in Religious Studies. Megan is a past recipient of the Laura Bush 21st Century Library Stipend.

When asked her favorite part of her job, Sills jokingly replied, "Getting first dibs on all the new books!" Laughing, she points out that she was only kidding, but that she really does enjoy looking through all the new materials she adds to the collection. "I like the challenge of writing accurate and concise cataloging. I like the structure and complexity of classification systems. I like the process of building call numbers and applying subject headings." Of the Mississippi Library Commission itself, she says, "Everyone here is so dedicated to their jobs. It's a beautiful thing, seeing such care being given to every task. The people who work here genuinely love their jobs and care about the services they provide."

On the subject of libraries, this lifelong library lover said, "Libraries have a certain ambience to them that I find very appealing. They are peaceful. They are book havens and refuges for book lovers and information seekers. Plus, libraries offer materials and services to everyone free of charge. They provide access to so many things that are not readily available elsewhere to the general public" Megan loves to read, so much so that she usually has at least three books going at the same time. She  has no idea what her favorite book is and she doesn't think she would ever be able to choose, but her favorite genre is fantasy. The last book she read and enjoyed was The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen.

Megan spends most of her spare time reading and collecting books. She also likes traveling, making lists, petting cats, finding and watching cute animal videos, and dancing. She, her husband, and their cat Charles live in Simpson County, Mississippi.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Flight of the Hummingbirds

Way up in Holly Springs lays a natural treasure many Mississippians may not be aware of. The Strawberry Plains Audubon Center is a 2500-acre tract of Marshall County land left to the National Audubon Society by Ruth Finley and Margaret Finley Shackelford, sisters whose ancestors acquired the land in the 1830s. The sisters were raised with an appreciation of nature, especially of birds; their mother's pet parakeet could say his name and phone number: "Chuckles Finley, 63" (McAlexander).

That love of nature and birds is evident at the Strawberry Plains Audubon Center today, where visitors can attempt to check almost 200 different birds off the Bird Checklist. One bird that visitors will be certain to see in September is the ruby-throated hummingbird; as the hummingbirds migrate south for the winter, they stop to refuel on the various tasty delights cultivated for them at Strawberry Plains. From "Feeders and an abundance of native plants that provide nectar and insects help the hummingbirds pack on the required weight for the 22-hour Gulf crossing." (22 hours?!) You can observe this pit stop firsthand this year at the Hummingbird Migration and Nature Celebration, held September 9-11 from 9 am-5 pm. The festival features speakers, wagon rides, a native plant sale, and all the hummingbirds you care to admire.

For more information on Strawberry Fields, the Mississippi documentary film company Blue Magnolia Films has produced a gorgeous film about the center and its commitment to conservation.

Also, Hubert H. McAlexander's Strawberry Plains Audubon Center: Four Centuries of a Mississippi Landscape provides the history of the land itself-from Cherokee Indians, to the slaves that worked the land, to the family that donated it so that its treasures could be preserved and enjoyed.

Happy hummingbirding!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Mississippi Book Festival Wrap-up

The second annual Mississippi Book Festival is in the books and, boy, was it a blast! The whole shebang kicked off at 9:30 with Newbery winning author Kate DiCamillo, who immediately opened the floor to questions.We loved her writing advice to prospective authors, which was, "The only wrong way to write a book is just to not sit down and do it."
There were a multitude things to do to fill the day between DiCamillo and the final panel at 5:30. It was definitely a day of hard decision making. How do you choose between seeing a panel with Ellen Gilchrist and one with Michael Farris Smith? Or Trent Lott and Jeff Zenter? Or even Julia Reed and Jesmyn Ward? If you were equally stumped, you can catch up on some of the events you may have missed. C-Span has some of the panels available to stream online:

Panel Discussion on Race
Panel Discussion on Education
Panel Discussion on Civil Rights History
Panel Discussion on Mississippi History
Panel Discussion on Civil Rights
Panel Discussion on Campaign 2016

There were a number of things to do outside of author panels and interviews. We spent some time meeting indie authors on Authors Alley. We also indulged and bought a few books from Lemuria Bookstore. Getting your favorite author's signature can be quite a rush!

Talking Book Services shared a booth with the Mississippi Center for the Book. TBS Director Shellie Zeigler declared this year's event even better than last year. She said she spoke with a record number of people about the service, even a few who didn't realize that they or their family members were eligible to receive the free service.

Our 3D printer was a huge hit again this year. A continuous line of legislators, authors, students, librarians, grandparents, parents, and kids all stopped by our display area on the second floor to learn more about 3D printing from Library Development Director Joy Garretson.
If you had a ball at this year's festival, be sure to take a moment to reply to the Mississippi Book Festival's survey. Feedback will only improve next year's festival. By the way, you can go ahead and mark your calendars for that. The third annual Mississippi Book Festival is August 19, 2017.

We look forward to seeing you at next year's Literary Lawn Party, the hottest event of the year!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Plan Your Day at the Mississippi Book Festival

We've had the hardest time deciding who to see and what to do at the 2nd annual Mississippi Book Festival. There are so many great authors and panels this year, plus children's activities, book signings, book sales, and book related booths. How to narrow down all that goodness into just one day's worth of activities? After much agonizing, we came up with several possible #LiteraryLawnParty lineups from which to choose.

Of course, you may want to spend the day having old photos digitized by the Mississippi Digital Library... Or checking out the Mississippi Library Commission's 3D printer... Or collecting books and authors signatures on the south lawn. Click here for a complete printable list of activities; we wish you the best of luck planning your literary day. We'll see you at the Mississippi Book Festival!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Get Your Library On at the Mississippi Book Festival

The Mississippi Library Commission and its staff will be out in force during the second annual Mississippi Book Festival this Saturday, August 20, 2016. The Mississippi Center for the Book and Mississippi Talking Book Services will be exhibiting in the Rotunda. We have some fun activities prepared, like filling out Mississippi Mad Libs and picking up some cool schwag. You'll be also able to vote for your favorite Mississippi author and discover the secret to becoming the next great Mississippi author. As a special bonus, you can learn how those with visual or physical impairments can get audio books (by both Mississippi and other authors!) mailed to their homes free of charge.

Upstairs in room 204 (from 10 am-3 pm) you won't want to miss MLC's 3D printer on display. MLC's 3D printers travel to public schools and libraries to enhance STEM understanding. MLC will share space again this year with the Mississippi Digital Library, who will be digitizing photos for the public--for free! (That's just how they roll.) All they ask is that the photos be ready to be scanned (already out of their albums, etc...) There's a 30-minute limit on how much MDL can scan if there's a crowd.

"We had a great time participating in the book festival last year and are delighted to be back," says Tracy Carr, MLC's Library Services Director. "Our agency is in the business of books, so being a part of the Mississippi Book Festival is the right fit for us. We support their efforts one hundred percent."

We can't wait to see you Saturday at the Capitol. Until next time, happy reading!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Library Stories: Mississippi's Congressional District 4

The fourth Congressional District in Mississippi reaches across the southern region of the state and includes all of the Gulf Coast, stretching 90 miles between the Alabama border and the Louisiana border. It also extends north into the Pine Belt, and includes three of Mississippi's four most heavily populated cities: Biloxi, Gulfport, and Hattiesburg.

The residents of this large area are represented by Representative Steven Palazzo of Gulfport. Did you know that Senator Thad Cochran represented the area from January 3, 1973 to December 26, 1978? He resigned to take his seat on the United States Senate and continues to serve in that capacity today. His fellow senator is Senator Roger Wicker.

As we visit this district, the last in our series, I am reminded of what a beautiful and diverse area of the state it covers. From the Piney Woods to the Gulf Coast, it is one of the most visited areas in our state. Many outstanding libraries with a vast list of services cater to the needs of the citizens of this area.

Two of the projects from libraries included in the brochure I put together for our Washington "Library Advocacy Day" travelers were from this district. The Library of Hattiesburg, Petal, and Forrest County is one of the most beautiful libraries in the area. With its expansive space and beautiful artwork, it is a testament to the dedication of this community to providing outstanding library services. One of the projects they completed with LSTA funding was something that is crucial to the success of our children: providing ample computers so that they may conduct research, complete homework projects and reports, and improve their digital skills.

The Jackson-George Regional Library System also used their LSTA funding to impact the lives of children in their area. The Vancleave Public Library is now equipped with an Early Literacy Station to help children ages eight and under learn about digital literacy through a variety of interactive and entertaining programs. The station is also used by a group of older special-needs students from Vancleave High School.

Now that you've seen the great benefits of LSTA funding in this series of stories, you hopefully have a better understanding of the importance of federal dollars for our state's libraries. Please take a moment to email, call, or write your United States Representative, as well as Senators Cochran and Wicker, to let them know that these funds are being put to good use in communities across Mississippi. Stay tuned for more important Mississippi library advocacy tips, news, and stories!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Join the MLC Team

Would you like to work for a team of enthusiastic knowledge lovers? Does your dream job involve a lovely library in a gorgeous setting? Look no further! We have the perfect job for you.
The Mississippi Library Commission has opened the following position for recruitment:

Systems Administrator I
Open until 8/25/2016
This position is located within the Technology Services Division of the Mississippi Library Commission. This position may require expertise in any of the following areas:
  • Website design and development (i.e., Wordpress)
  • Knowledge and understanding of local area network (LAN) and/or wide area network (WAN)
  • Software/hardware installation and support (i.e., Microsoft Office 365 and Adobe products
  • Microsoft Office 365 migrations
  • Database creation and support (i.e., Structured Query Language (SQL) and Access)
  • Training classes
  • Creating and delivering presentations  (i.e., presenting to board, directors, staff, and librarians)
  • Project planning
  • Communication and time management skills
Experience is not required in all of the listed areas as some training will be provided.

Applications for this position must go through the Mississippi State Personnel Board. They are available on the job opening page on their website. We can't wait to have you working with our team!
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