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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Books and Bourbon

In honor of National Bourbon Day, June 14, we're exploring the history of bourbon and some writers who enjoyed drinking it.
Our Faulkner bust with a couple of books from our collection.

The history of alcohol, and more specifically bourbon, is an interesting one. While not America’s first distilled beverage--that would be rum--it is perhaps the most distinguished. It is often called bourbon whiskey, but please note that not all whiskey is bourbon but all bourbon is whiskey.

The rise of bourbon began in Bourbon County, Kentucky, during the Revolutionary War. Several accounts suggest that farmers distilled the liquor when they could not transport or sell all of their corn crops. This distilled liquor, stored in casks, could easily be transported and just got better with age. According to sources, 95% of all bourbon is still made in Kentucky.

The criteria for a liquor to be called bourbon are as follows:
  • Made in America
  • Must be 51 percent corn        
  • Stored in new, not aged casks
  • Distilled no more than 160 proof/barreled at 125 proof
In 1964, a Congressional resolution was passed that made bourbon a “distinctive product” of the United States that can only be made in America. Since then it has been called the “Native Spirit of America”.

This got me thinking about writers who were known to imbibe. Visit your local library to check them out and enjoy!

"I've been drinking beer most of the day, but don't worry, kid - I'm not gonna stick my fist through the window or bust up any furniture. I'm a pretty benign beer drinker...most of the time. It's the whiskey that gets me in trouble. When I'm drinking it around people, I tend to get silly or pugnacious or wild, which can cause problems. So when I drink it these days, I try to drink it alone. That's the sign of a good whiskey drinker anyway - drinking it by yourself shows a proper reverence for it. The stuff even makes the lampshades look different." Charles Bukowski

“You see, I usually write at night. I always keep my whiskey within reach; so many ideas that I can’t remember in the morning pop into my head.” William Faulkner, to his French translator Maurice Edgar Coindreau, Conversations with William Faulkner

“The only way that I could figure they could improve upon Coca-Cola, one of life's most delightful elixirs, which studies prove will heal the sick and occasionally raise the dead, is to put bourbon in it.” Lewis Grizzard 

“Enjoyed it? One more drink and I’d have been under the host.” Dorothy Parker in Try and Stop Me by Bennett Cerf

"All you have to do is drink a little whiskey, smoke a joint, eat some acid, and you too can write like this."  Hunter S. Thompson, Conversations with Hunter S. Thompson

“I'm an occasional drinker, the kind of guy who goes out for a beer and wakes up in Singapore with a full beard.” Raymond Chandler, "The King in Yellow" Collected Stories

Kristina Kelly
Administrative Services Administrative Assistant

Monday, June 11, 2018

Wisdom Teeth, Genealogy, and the World Cup

The summer of 1990 I had my wisdom teeth removed. Of the procedure I remember this: one minute I am sitting in the doctor’s office counting backwards from 100 and the next, I am at home on the couch. My mother had safely tucked me in with ice nestled against my cheeks, in the feet of a pair of pantyhose wrapped around my head. I wasn’t allowed to do much, including eating anything solid or leaving the general vicinity of the couch.

As luck would have it, the main show on TV was coverage of the FIFA World Cup and the miracle of this quadrennial world championship was that the Irish National Team made it to the finals. I was enthralled by the world’s enthusiasm for the sport and was consumed by “Irish Pride”. Team Ireland played their hearts out and Sheedy, a mid-fielder for Ireland, was my favorite. I became a soccer fan that summer.

The official song of the Republic of Ireland’s National Football Team for the 1990 World Cup.

Speed forward to 2018. The United States National Men's Team (USNMT) failed to make it to the finals of the World Cup. For a lot of American fans, that was it. Who should we root for now? It was USA or go home.

Except that 23 and Me and FIFA came out with a brilliant idea for keeping Americans involved with the World Cup: the campaign “Root for your Roots”. What better way to celebrate the melting pot that is the United States than by encouraging its citizens to find out more about their heritage?

So, armed with a little knowledge of my ancestry, I hit MLC's online genealogy services. (Learn more below!) I began with Heritage Quest, a genealogy database that contains U.S. Census information, as well as articles from historical journals and information from the Freedman’s Bank. My mother’s family is German and immigrated, to my surprise, ten years earlier than I thought. It was also listed that my family came from Bohemia in Germany. My family – true Bohemians.
23 and Me Ancestry Composition
My husband’s side is a little trickier and not as well known to me. But his family is Irish in an almost unbroken line to the old country. He tells me that our family can only research to the crossing. To look further would be to invoke the Geas. You see, his family comes with a magical curse. I AM NOT KIDDING. Just like the Irish Heroes in Táin Bó Cúailnge, my husband also carries a Geas. So, no one has ever researched their family ancestry beyond when they crossed the Atlantic and neither will I. With the above knowledge, my Roots led me to one team in the World cup: Germany. I am trying to be happy with that, but Germany won in 2014 and is favored heavily to win again. I may keep searching for a USNMT type underdog.

Further, if you feel like a lone soccer fan, I would encourage you to look for your local American Outlaws chapter. Their mission is to “To support the United States National Soccer Teams through a unified and dedicated group of supporters. Creating a community locally and nationally to Unite and Strengthen U.S. Soccer fans from all parts of this country.”There are currently three chapters in Mississippi.

For a full list of countries competing in this year's World Cup, visit the FIFA website.

Finally, for help with genealogy research, visit the Mississippi Library Commission! You'll have complete access to Ancestry Library Edition here in the building. Better yet, while you're here you can sign up for an MLC library card. Those with MLC library cards can access Heritage Quest from the comfort of their own homes. Either way, our reference librarians would be glad to help you get started tracing your family tree!

Kristina Kelly
Administrative Services Administrative Assistant

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Sowing Some Seeds

I've always loved to get my hands dirty. Growing up on a farm helps a kid learn to like messy. Not much has changed since then, even though I'm a somewhat grown woman. Now the only difference is that I have a partner to help me and he is even better at growing things (and at getting dirty). My husband is a born farmer, even though his career path led him in a different direction. So we have our own little patch of green heaven out in Madison County, where in the summer BLTs are on the menu about twice a week and friends and family get our canned figs during the holidays.

We aren't the only ones in Madison County on the growing bandwagon. Tonja Johnson, Director of the Madison County Library System, is currently developing community gardens for a couple of her branches. The first library in the Madison County Library System to try community gardening was the Flora Public Library. Flora Branch Manager Dee Export has worked with Nichole Kitchens of Keep Flora Beautiful to establish raised beds; the community gardening group now meets the second Friday of each month. Recently, Larry Stephenson of Southern Cultured Orchards and Nursery came to one of the group's meetings and planted an apple tree, a fig tree, and a persimmon tree, as well as a blackberry vine. He plans to come back in the fall to talk about different types of apples. This community garden is off to a great start!

Southern Cultured Orchards and Nursery's Larry Stephenson, Flora Public Library
Branch Manager Dee Export, and Keep Flora Beautiful's Nicole Kitchens

Community Garden at the Flora Public Library

Recently, I asked Tonja if I could tag along for a meeting she was having for folks in the community of Camden. Camden, a charming area in the northeast area of Madison County, has a wonderful library located next to a community center, a large pavilion, and a playground... and it has the perfect garden spot. One beautiful morning, I headed that way. Tonja was expecting an agent with the Alcorn Extension Program and I couldn't wait to learn from this agricultural educator. Ralph Arrington was extremely knowledgeable and shared some sound advice on locations and a few other good tips to help them get started. Alcorn even has a Mobile Farmer's Market, so Tonja scheduled it to come to the library on June 23rd from 5-7. (This is one of two family programs the library is planning around the Mobile Farmers Market; the other will be in July.) The preparations for the community garden project will begin in August and the beds will be filled in September... just in time for delicious fall crops.

Camden Public Library

Alcorn Extension Program Educator Ralph Arrington, Madison County Library
System Director Tonja Johnson, and Camden resident Dr. BJ Luchion

Clean living is all the rage right now and you don't have to be an expert to get on the bandwagon. Visit your library and read up on how a little time and effort in the garden will get huge results. Or go to these branches in Madison County and tag along with them on their community garden adventures. Libraries in Mississippi are doing some of the most innovative yet back-to-basics things! With all of the chemicals and toxins in our food these days, learning to be self-sustaining (at least a little) is more important than ever. And those fresh Mississippi tomatoes on BLTs just can't be beat!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Camp Kudzu: Libraries Rock!

Welcome back campers! It’s year three at Camp Kudzu and we’re promoting the Collaborative Summer Library Program theme Libraries Rock! MLC staffers Lacy, Ally, Mac, Lorietha, Margaret, Elisabeth, Katie, and our favorite volunteer Melvin celebrated our Mississippi musical heritage this year. We hope that your local Summer Library Program is just as much fun.
We had so many fun activities as the pics prove. Our band practiced diligently, and we even had an outdoor concert. Lacy provided some great guitar solos and Lorietha was outstanding as lead vocalist. Margaret and Melvin performed a special duet that everyone raved about.
We had such fun wearing our camp shirts and having fun with music. We never seemed to stop. Everyone was excited and couldn’t wait for the next camp activity. We had karaoke and it’s true – Mac can’t carry a tune in a bucket. A favorite this year was “Strike an Elvis Pose.” We can’t decide who had the better sneer, Katie or Elisabeth?
 Traditional camp activities were crafts (we made our own instruments) and a campfire sing-along.
 Ally taught us a new song but we all ended up doing different animal poses somehow! Oops!
Our merry band is already talking about going back to Camp Kudzu next year!

Mac Buntin
Senior Library Consultant

Thursday, May 10, 2018

MLC at the IMLS Grants to States Conference

The Institute of Museum and Library Science (IMLS) recently held its annual Grants to States conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Representatives from each state were invited to attend to learn and discuss what is happening with Library Service Technology Act (LSTA) funds. Grant Programs Director David Collins and I attended this year for Mississippi. The theme this year was the Olympics and we were excited to win two medals, a gold and silver, for excellent reporting. This is a big win when you serve in an administrative role.
The focus this year was on a look back over the past five years and the various trends as each state moves toward the start of their new Five Year Plan. (View Mississippi's Grants to States profile here.) Focusing on better ways to nationally report what projects are being accomplished with LSTA money was a priority. By recognizing where the federal money comes from, our legislators can be more informed of how these funds help both statewide and locally in your communities. Without these federal funds, our state would be at a huge disadvantage.

One of the big takeaways this year was to remember to acknowledge IMLS whenever LSTA funds are used for projects. IMLS is active on social media in many platforms and can be recognized.
I appreciate these annual meetings and the opportunity to network with other LSTA Coordinators to share ideas and discuss issues.

Jennifer Peacock
Administrative Services Director

Monday, May 7, 2018

Margaret Murray - In Memoriam

Margaret Anne Murray
July 12, 1948 – April 24, 2018

Before coming to Mississippi, Margaret had been a Collection Development Librarian in Texas, and a Consultant in both Alabama and Missouri. She was the first Development Services Director employed by MLC. She retired from the Mississippi Library Commission on January 3, 2014 with twenty years of service.

Margaret received her MLS from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee in May 1972. Although she lived most of her adult life in the South she remained faithful to her school. Go Badgers!

Here are a few highlights from her career in Mississippi Libraries:

As part of her work with the Friends of Mississippi Libraries, she began an all-time favorite program at MLA called “Afternoon Tea with Authors.” Margaret was so good at using her carefully cultivated contacts to promote recently published Mississippi authors at this annual event.

Margaret was instrumental in pushing for Literary Landmark recognition of Mississippi authors while she was involved with the executive board of FOLUSA (now United for Libraries). Nine different recognitions can be traced to her involvement in the national and state level of the “Friends.” Among those honored were Stephen E. Ambrose, Tennessee Williams, William Johnson, Willie Morris, Eudora Welty, Stark Young, and Larry Brown.

In the aftermath of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, Margaret formed a coalition between the Mississippi Library Commission, the Mississippi Library Association, and the Friends of Mississippi Libraries. This effort came to be known as Rebuild Mississippi Libraries. Thanks to Margaret’s leadership, the Mississippi Library Commission was honored with a Special Recognition Award by the Mississippi Humanities Council in February 2006 for Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts. This effort was also recognized by the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service in the Art and Humanities in 2007 with a GIVE Award presented by Governor Haley Barbour and First Lady Marsha Barbour.

One of Margaret’s first accomplishments upon her arrival in Mississippi was the implementation of a statewide Summer Library Program supported by the Mississippi Library Commission. Thanks to Margaret every public library in the state had access to a manual and publicity materials. Who can forget that she even had the Mississippi Catfish Council as official sponsors of the program with “Reada the Catfish” as the Mascot.

But most of all she was a friend. Ginny Holtcamp, the director of Starkville-Oktibbeha County Public Library System had this to say about Margaret.
She was our consultant for many years, but more than that, she was a dear friend. Whenever we came to Jackson, Margaret always had something special planned for us to do – whether it was dining somewhere special and fun or going somewhere interesting. I always treasure the time that Mary Helen (then director of Tombigbee) and Margaret and I went to the Every Day Gourmet Cooking School and the featured presenter was “Nick” from Nick’s wonderful restaurant in Jackson. We had a super fun time and I still have and use those recipes!! Margaret was a genius too with grants by suggesting some excellent wording for the particular grant – she was absolutely on top of how to present a grant so that it was really exceptional. Margaret saw our library system through our largest building addition. I have missed her as a friend and as a truly excellent resource for helping us write grants so that we got the grant award. Thank you again for letting me know.

Margaret Murray passed from this life after a brief illness and hospitalization. She will be missed by her many friends.

Mac Buntin
Senior Library Consultant

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Mellon Selected for First Library Freedom Institute

The Library Freedom Institute (LFI) is a syndicate of librarians, technologists, attorneys, and private advocates dedicated to eliminating mass surveillance from communities across the country. The organization recently announced the first cohort of librarians from across the nation who will participate in a collaborative program with New York University. Ally Mellon, Information Services Director at the Mississippi Library Commission, was chosen to participate in this innovative program that aims to turn librarians into Privacy Advocates. With over 70 applicants, Mellon was one of only 14 who were selected.

By teaching librarians about surveillance threats, as well as privacy rights and responsibilities, the Library Freedom Project hopes to create a privacy-centric paradigm shift in libraries and the communities they serve. Over a six-month course, Mellon will learn from LFI staff and guest trainers how to lead privacy-focused computer classes including how to install privacy software, and how to approach members of the community about privacy concerns.

Lectures, class discussion, and assignments will require about five hours of commitment per week. There will be an intensive two-day training in New York City in August. “I'm incredibly honored to be chosen to be a part of this first cohort,” stated Ms. Mellon. “I'm excited to learn more about best practices in privacy and digital security and I can't wait to share what I learn with libraries throughout the state of Mississippi!” The program is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and will begin in June.

The Mississippi Library Commission supports innovative programs and initiatives to strengthen and enhance library services for all Mississippians. The agency is funded by the Mississippi Legislature, with additional funding provided through the Institute of Museum and Library Services under provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), offering leadership in library services, advocacy, and training for library professionals.
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