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Monday, February 11, 2019

Meet MLC Monday: Nathan McCoy

Meet Nathan McCoy, Facilities Maintenance at the Mississippi Library Commission! Nathan helps make sure our beautiful building is cleaned daily and that the grounds are kept up. He has been working at MLC for about two and a half years and says that it's a great place to be employed. He says he's always meeting new people, plus he really likes the other staff who work here.

Nathan says, "Libraries are important because people use them to find information they need and to find books to read." He enjoys George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones series and playing soccer. His true joy are his two girls, who he says love to dance, love to play softball, and love their cell phones. We're pretty sure Nathan is on that list, too.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Meet MLC Monday: Wesley Von Hoene

Meet Wesley Von Hoene, who began working at the Mississippi Library Commission as a Systems Administrator last August. He helps with the maintenance and upkeep of computers and software. He is also assisting Mississippi public libraries with Office 365 migrations. Wesley holds associate degrees in Computer Networking and Cyber Security, as well as certifications in Comp TIA/TestOut's A+, Network+, and Security+. He is currently working on his CCNA.

Wesley likes working at MLC because of the opportunities to learn and expand. He enjoys problem solving and enlightening analytical questions and adds, "I really enjoy the atmosphere at MLC and the people I work with are some of the finest people I’ve had the privilege of meeting."

Wesley says,  "I like libraries because, starting thousands of years ago, they began serving as storehouses of our history. If it weren’t for libraries, a lot of information would have been lost. Libraries are a way for people to pool all their information together and create a valuable wealth of knowledge for everyone."

Wesley was an avid reader when he was in college. The Harry Potter series is his favorite set of books. He also enjoys watching sports, deep sea fishing, video games, and movies. He quips, "It is fascinating seeing how far Elon Musk has brought space travel through SpaceX."

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

On the Road with MLC: Mid-Mississippi Regional Library System

Small towns in Mississippi are like brilliant gems. They are filled with bits of times-gone-by, but also the promise of great things to come. It is an honor for me to have the opportunity to visit such places and feel the commitments of the residents to their little community.

Recently I hit the road with Library Consultant Louisa Whitfield-Smith. Even though it was our first trip together, I knew we our library visits would be fun because we share mutual thoughts and ideas. We were headed to Mid-Mississippi Regional Library System (MMRLS) to meet with their director Josh Haidet. I visited the Kosciusko Library a year ago, but never had the opportunity to see the other twelve branches.

We started at the Attala County Library, the headquarters of the system, and Josh gave us a great tour of the library. The building is filled with light and has all the components of a great library, like a teen area, a children's area, and an outstanding genealogy department.

After a wonderful visit with several staff members, we headed to the Winston County Library in Louisville. The county seat of Winston County, Louisville has over 6,000 residents. Hard hit by a tornado in 2014 when ten residents were killed, the community has bounced back and is going strong. The library has a lovely space, an accomplished branch manager, Beth Edwards, and highly qualified staff.

Beth showed us around the library and told us about some of the neat things they do. She is a big believer in public relations (a lady after my heart) and showed us Thank You cards the children's librarian has drawn. Kids who visit the library or participate in library activities sign them. Then the library sends them to local businesses that fund programs and projects... how clever!

Our next stop was the Carthage Library in Leake County. This community boasts a population of over 5,000. The library has a wonderful children's area with new Playaway Launchpads purchased with funds from an Institute of Museums and Library Services (IMLS) LSTA grant. These easy-to-use tablets have preloaded content for kids that help them learn while they're having fun.

The final stop that day was the Walnut Grove, also located in Leake County. With a population of almost 2,000 residents, this community has a relatively new library that is incredibly cozy.

Located next to a walking track that features workout stations, this awesome library is brimming over with great books and programs for the residents of Walnut Grove. Of course, we had to take advantage of the location before heading back to Kosciusko!

I got some really great ideas from visiting Mid-Mississippi that day. They create an annual "scrapbook" at each branch that includes visitors, programs, events, and all the rest of the fun stuff going on in each library. What a great tool to share with potential funders so they can see how monies are spent! Also, each branch hosts "Souper Tuesdays"; homemade soup is made available to all patrons and the recipes are shared right along with the hot food. What a great idea for a cold, wintry day!

We have several more libraries to visit at MMRLS and we're excited for our return trip. Thanks to Josh Haidet and all the folks who made us feel so welcome!

Friday, January 25, 2019

On the Road with MLC: Jackson George Regional Library System

Creative communities have a different feel, like something exciting is about to happen at any moment. I've always gotten that feeling when I visit Ocean Springs. It is so picturesque and quaint, with its streets lined with galleries and eateries, that I get swept up in the atmosphere of the place. Recently I had the chance to travel to this lovely community with two of my colleagues, MLC Consultants Shellie Zeigler and Louisa Whitfield-Smith. We met up with Lori Barnes, Jackson-George Regional Library System Director, and several of her qualified staff at one of the charming eateries along the oak-lined main street.

After a lively discussion and a hearty lunch, we headed out to the St. Martin branch to see the new teen area funded by an Institute of Museums and Library Services (IMLS) LSTA grant. St. Martin is a fast-growing community in Jackson County with a population of almost 8,000. With a highly rated school system, it is the perfect community for families.

When we arrived at the St. Martin Library, we were greeted by Branch Manager Meg Henderson; she was ready to show us around her wonderful library. As we headed inside, Meg was proud to show off a community garden space filled with edible greens. What a great way to promote healthy eating habits to members of the community! The project has also allowed the library branch the opportunity to partner with the MSU Extension Service and the Pine Belt Master Gardeners.

The branch was filled with activity when we moved inside. The new teen area was easy to spot and we immediately gravitated that way. It turned out to be a fun, lively space to engage teens in reading and studying. There were computers designated for teen use, along with a table for studying that users are encouraged to use as notepads. This library tries hard to instill a love of libraries in their youth and it's definitely working!

At the back of the library, a large public computer area was filled with patrons. This is a well-used library with very knowledgeable staff who are filled with creative ideas.

With one last quick word, we made our way to the door for the ride home. Filled with a great lunch and lively conversation about all-things-library, we hit the road north for Jackson. Special thanks to Lori Barnes and all the great folks with Jackson-George Regional Library System for a perfect day. They dropped some tantalizing tidbits about programs and such going on at their other branches. We can't wait for them to invite us back for another consulting visit!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Meet MLC Monday: Natalie Dunaway

Meet Natalie Dunaway, Continuing Education Coordinator at the Mississippi Library Commission! Natalie works with our team of Library Consultants and the Library Development administration to build and produce workshops and educational resources for librarians across the state. She joined MLC's staff in October of 2017. She holds a bachelor's degree in Anthropology with a dual minor in Japanese and English and a master's degree in Asian Studies.

Natalie says one of the many reasons she loves working for MLC is the advocacy work done for libraries. "Libraries are such crucial parts of the community and community development. They are essentially educational gateways."

Natalie likes to read and has made it a goal to read even more books this year. Her favorite book from 2018 was Educated by Tara Westover. She also really likes to watch movies and speak Japanese.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

On the Road with MLC: Waynesboro

You've heard of the term "a force of nature." I've met a few of these dynamic folks in my time, and one of them is Patsy Brewer, the Director of the Waynesboro/Wayne County Library System. Patsy made an impression on me the first time we met. She has dynamic ideas and is constantly coming up with new and innovative ways to promote and celebrate her library and community.

Nestled on the southeastern border of the state, Waynesboro has a population of about 5,000 citizens.  The county seat of Wayne County, Waynesboro is a picturesque little Mississippi community. The library's story began in 1934, and since that time it has lived in several locations throughout the community. In 2003, the library opened its doors in its current location... a former Walmart building weighing in at a whopping 17,000 square feet.

With that much space, the library could potentially feel cold and cavernous, but instead, it is extremely warm and welcoming. The very active Friends of the Library group even manages a small gift shop and bookstore on the premises, boasting an array of really cute items to tempt even the most penny-pinching of shoppers. What an outstanding way to raise funds for the library!

My travel companion, Library Consultant Shellie Zeigler, and I didn't realize we were going to visit on the day of the library's annual holiday fund-raiser, but it turned out to be perfect timing! Most of the community was in attendance and it was easy to see the support they bestow on their hometown library. The Friends served delicious food and local music students performed, putting everyone in the holiday spirit.

After we toured the library, Shellie and I checked out a new program the library has implemented to promote literacy in the community. "Laundry & Literacy" is funded by the Margaret Murray Literacy Grant and the Waynesboro-Wayne County Friends of the Library. Spanish materials were also purchased with funds from First Book. The library's partnership with local laundromats makes reading materials available to the users of all ages of these facilities. What a new and fresh idea to make free reading materials readily available to more residents!

I would like to give special thanks to Patsy Brewer and her staff for inviting us to this wonderful holiday event. They're doing outstanding work for the citizens of this special corner of the state of Mississippi and I'll definitely be going back for another visit soon.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Meet MLC Monday: Louisa Whitfield-Smith

Louisa Whitfield-Smith joined MLC's Library Development staff as a Library Consultant in November 2018. She and our other consultants work as liaisons between public libraries in Mississippi, giving advice and providing information and resources to library directors and staff.

Since she started working at MLC, Louisa says she has found that she loves traveling all over Mississippi on state highways and back roads as she visits libraries and librarians who are working to provide the best possible service to our communities. Louisa is a huge library advocate and says, "We librarians are committed to providing the same high-quality service to everyone who walks in our doors. There’s something powerful that happens in a space where all are welcome and treated the same."

Louisa is a Murrah High School legacy; she even graduated on her mother's birthday! She received a master’s in Library and Information Science from Louisiana State University and won an Urban Libraries Council top innovator award for communities in crisis for her work as a civic engagement librarian. She has served on RUSA’s Notable Books Council and the ALA Center for Civic Life Advisory Board, reviewed for Booklist, and judged for the Foreward INDIES awards. She is also a proud graduate of the Granger Leadership Academy.

Louisa has loved to read her entire life; in fact, her first word was book! She claims her allowance growing up was an account at Lemuria Books, which is a great independent bookstore here in Jackson. She says the last good book she read was Dawn Dugle’s The BRAVO! Way: Building a Southern Restaurant Dynasty. "It’s a lucid, engrossing, fast nonfiction account of how Jeff Good and Dan Blumenthal built BRAVO!, Broad Street Bakery, and Sal & Mookie’s through hard work, a commitment to our community, and excellent customer service."

Louisa loves Mississippi, her family, comics, good long form journalism, hiking, swimming in lakes and rivers, S. R. Ranganathan, baking, tabletop gaming, and trashy movies, preferably those featuring a ragtag team working against all odds on one last job. She also loves to travel, having visited all 50 states and circumnavigated the globe.
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