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Friday, August 17, 2018

A Quick Shot of Authors at the Mississippi Book Festival


Photos from the 2017 Mississippi Book Festival


There will be over 80 authors and artists signing books, speaking on panels, or manning a table in the author’s alley at the Mississippi Book Festival. While we don’t have enough space to feature everyone, here’s a sampling of some of the authors and speakers present at the Book Festival!

Radley Balko is a criminal justice reporter for the Washington Post. He was named the L.A. Press Club Journalist of the Year in 2011 and his work has been cited by the US Supreme Court. With Tucker Carrington, he co-authored the book The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist: A True Story of Injustice in the American South. He will answer questions in the Lighting Round (11:00 am) and will appear on the panel “True Crime” (4:00 pm, State Capitol Room 201 H). His book signing is at 3:00 pm in the book signing tent

Jack E. Davis is a professor of environmental history at the University of Florida. His most recent book, The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea, won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in History. He will appear on the panels “American History” (10:45 am, C-SPAN Room, Old Supreme Court Room) and “The Gulf with Jack E. Davis” (2:45 pm, State Capitol Room 202). His book signing is at 9:45 am in the book signing tent.

Matthew Guinn is an associate professor of creative writing at Belhaven University. His novels include The Resurrectionist and The Scribe. He will answer questions in the Lightning Round (11:30 am) and will appear on the panel  “Southern Gothic Revisited” (2:45 pm, Galloway Foundery). His book signing is at 4:15 pm in the book signing tent.

Edward Lee is the chef/owner of 610 Magnolia, MilkWood, and Whiskey Dry in Louisville, Kentucky; and culinary director of Succotash in Penn Quarter, Washington, D.C., and National Harbor, Maryland. He is the author of Buttermilk Graffiti and Smoke & Pickles, and wrote and hosted the feature documentary Fermented. He will appear on the panel “Our Nation’s New Melting Pot Cuisine” (10:45 am, Galloway Fellowship Center). His book signing is at 9:45 am in the book signing tent.

Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the poetry editor of Orion magazine and the author of four books of poetry including Miracle Fruit and Oceanic. Awards include a Pushcart Prize, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Angoff Award, and the Boatwright Prize. She will answer questions in the Lightning Round (2:45 pm) and will appear at the panel “Waxing Poetic with the Pros” (9:30 am, State Capitol Room 201 A). Her book signing is at 11:00 am in the book signing tent.

Salman Rushdie is the author of multiple books, including The Satanic Verses, Midnight’s Children, and Shalimar the Clown. Rushdie has won multiple awards including the Booker Prize for Fiction, the Hans Christian Anderson Literary Award, the Norman Mailer Prize, the PEN Pinter Prize, and the Whitbread Novel Award. In 2007, Rushdie was knighted for services to literature in the Queen's Birthday Honours. He has an Outstanding Lifetime Achievement in Cultural Humanism from Harvard University and has an Honorary Professorship from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He will appear on the panel “Salman Rushdie: The Welty Lecture” (2:45 pm, Galloway Sanctuary).

Katy Simpson Smith is the author of multiple books, including the novel Free Men and the nonfiction work We Have Raised All of You: Motherhood in the South, 1750-1835. Her work has also appeared in The Oxford American, Garden & Gun, and Literary Hub. She will answer questions in the Lightning Round (12:15 pm) and will appear on the panel “Best Bets in Historical Fiction” (2:45 pm, State Capitol Room 113). Her book signing is at 4:15 pm in the book signing tent.

Angie Thomas is the author of the young adult novel The Hate U Give. The Hate U Give has won multiple awards, including the Coretta Scott King Award, the William C. Morris Award, and the Michael L. Printz Award. A film adaptation is currently in development.  She will appear on the panels “Angie Thomas: Kidnote” (9:30 am, Galloway Sanctuary) and “Hope (Nation) and Other Four-Letter Words” (10:45 am, Galloway Sanctuary). Her book signing is at 12:15 pm in the book signing tent.

Jesmyn Ward is the author of the novels Salvage the Bones and Sing, Unburied, Sing. Both Bones and Sing won a National Book Award, making her the first woman to win two National Book Awards for fiction. Other awards include an Alex Award for Salvage the Bones and a MacArthur "genius grant" from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. She is currently an associate professor of creative writing at Tulane University. She will appear on the panel “A Conversation with Jesmyn Ward” (12:00 pm, State Capitol Room 113). Her book signing is at 11:00 am in the book signing tent.

Check out the Mississippi Book Festival’s website for information on panelists we haven’t covered here! Which author are you most excited to see? Chime off in the comments below!

Monday, July 2, 2018

C3 Wellness Center Challenges MLC Staff

You know the routine. You work hard all day and come home tired. Then there's the rigamarole of cleaning, cooking, and the rest of our daily routines. It's hard to find the energy to exercise and keep fit, especially with all the extra challenges life throws at us. For Mississippi state employees at the Education and Research Complex in Jackson, it recently became a little bit easier to stay motivated, keep active, and lose a few pounds. The idea that a healthy workforce makes for a more productive workforce has been extolled by organizations as varied as the CDC , Harvard, and the Wall Street Journal. Last October, the Mississippi Community College Board, located in the Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) building on the complex, received a grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation to open the C3 Wellness Center. This wellness center, located in the Jackson State University (JSU) building on the complex, offers health education and exercise facilities for the 500+ state employees who work at the complex.

MLC's Purchasing Specialist Veronica Dunning

The C3 Wellness Center immediately began offering classes and challenges to help people maintain their drive for physical health. Many people jumped on the fitness bandwagon right away, including MLC's Purchasing Specialist Veronica Dunning. She has been walking the loop at the complex for several years, but was excited to try something new when she heard about the new facility. "I realized a long time ago that my weight wasn’t a healthy weight. The desire to make better choices and become more active was on my mind constantly. I needed an extra push and a challenge. Having the C3 Wellness Center on this campus has given me that and more. It provided a fully equipped fitness center with flexible hours that allowed me to work out at times that were convenient for me."


Veronica has entered several of the C3 Wellness Center's challenges, including their 180 Day Makeover Challenge, a 21 Day Trim Your Waist Challenge, and the Hot Diggity Dog Walking Challenge. Veronica placed second in the Walking Challenge and received a medal. In the 21 Day Waist Challenge, she won a $100 gift card. In the 180 Day Makeover Challenge, Veronica lost the highest percentage of body fat, earning her over $600 in gift cards and prizes to places like Stinky Feet, Blue Apron, and Bellagio Nails and Salon.
MLC's Purchasing Specialist Veronica Dunning
"Overall, the Wellness Center assisted me with weight loss as well as a decreased BMI. The challenges gave me something to be accountable to by requiring regular check-ins. I started walking and exercising more as well as being more conscious of what and how much I was eating. My overall goal is to be healthier and loss fifty more pounds. Continued participation in challenges provided by the C3 Wellness Center will help me reach my goal. Now, I have hope. With hope, anything is possible."

We wish Veronica and the rest of our state employees the best of luck at being active, keeping fit, and staying productive. Way to go!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

My Mississippi Libraries: Port Gibson

After years of working in home health out of state, I moved back to Mississippi and began working in libraries. For the past fourteen years, twelve of them here at the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC), I've checked out books, answered reference questions, and mastered the intricacies of interlibrary loan. While all this makes me a better library staff member, my job is significantly different from that of someone who works at one of Mississippi's many academic libraries, public libraries, or other special libraries. In my role as Social Media Coordinator, I was recently given the opportunity to connect with Mississippi libraries in a new and rewarding way: by accompanying MLC's library consultants and public relations staff on site visits.

Harriette Person Memorial Library Director Helen McComb shows off new comic books acquired through an LSTA grant.
Harriette Person Memorial Library in Port Gibson was my first destination and I was thrilled to reconnect with Director Helen McComb, a fellow comic book fiend and book lover. When we arrived in the small town of almost 1,600 near the Mississippi River, she gave us the grand tour of the library located in the historic Main Street District. It's packed to the brim with books for kids and adults, as well as a periodical section, several small reading areas, a children's area, and an AWE Early Learning Literacy Station. This station was purchased several years ago with Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant funds. (LSTA funds are administered through the Institute of Museum and Library Services and MLC.) From the moment we arrived there was a continuous flow of people in and out of the building, making it obvious that this library was a well-used community staple.

The Claiborne County Board of Supervisors purchased this historic building on Market Street to serve as the library in 1991.

Every inch of space is used while still keeping a light, airy, and inviting feel in the building.
This AWE Learning Early Literacy Station entertains while teaching key skills kids need for school and life.

The YA/Teen section of the library is filled to the max with new books purchased with LSTA funds prominently displayed.
After the tour, my coworkers and I quickly pitched in to prepare a craft that would follow storytime. Helen collaborated with other Mississippi library staff and dreamt up an ingenious idea for DIY tambourines: this project was quick, easy, low-cost, and kept to the Summer Library Program's 2018 theme Libraries Rock. (Instructions at end.) I was impressed! We watched as the people streaming into the library became shorter when community day camps, like those at Cultural Crossroads and Families First, arrived with groups of children and mothers and fathers brought in their kids. This has to be one of the most familiar sights for librarians across the state; the beautiful thing is that these stalwart partnerships develop hundreds of lifelong library lovers.

MLC Library Consultant Ally Watkins reads Mole Music by David McPhail to a rapt audience for storytime.

Library Director Helen McComb prepares rudimentary tambourines for her Summer Library Program.

MLC Social Media Coordinator Elisabeth Scott assists with some tricky threading.

After an engaging storytime that was filled with music and moles, questions and answers, and laughter and applause, seats around the tables were quickly filled with kids ready to be creative and make some noise. Helen and her staff deftly moved between helping children make tambourines and assisting regular patrons meet their needs. As tambourines were completed and the group began to thin, we slipped away with a box of collection boost books. (Collection boost is a program that allows public libraries to borrow popular materials from MLC and circulate them to their communities for up to a year.) Library staff sent us to a nearby eatery popular with locals; Rosie's catfish is light and tasty, y'all. Helen told us she would write up her event and other library happenings and deliver them to the Port Gibson Reveille, the community's now weekly newspaper that has reported the news since the 1800s. Her relationship with the paper allows her to share the library's past and future events with the community at large and keep them informed about important news.

Shake your tambourine!
Public Relations Director Susan Liles shows off a finished tambourine.
When I think of libraries, places like Harriette Person Memorial Library spring to mind before such noble buildings as the New York Public Library or the Library of Congress. While those libraries perform exceptional services, small town libraries like this one are the backbone of library service in Mississippi. They know their patrons, the people who walk through their front door every single day. They know their community, including local businesses and nonprofits, and work with them to make their library a community hub. And their librarians know their libraries, eking out entertaining programs on limited budgets and pinching pennies to get the next great book in a child's hands. These are my libraries and I'm proud of them.

"Shake It Like Helen" Tambourine

Supplies needed:
2 small paper plates
5 bells
36 inch length of yarn
markers, crayons, or colored pencils 
stapler
hole punch
scissors
tape
  • Decorate backs of both plates
  • Line up plates and staple together using 1 or 2 staples
  • Punch 6-8 holes around the rims of the plates
  • Wrap a piece of tape around the end of the yarn, making it easier for small fingers to thread
  • Thread yarn through the holes using a whipstitch
  • Add bells as desired
  • Shake your tambourine
  • Remember that libraries rock!
Until next time, visit your local library and enjoy happy reading!

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
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