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Monday, June 1, 2020

Meet MLC Monday: Kayla Martin-Gant

Meet Kayla Martin-Gant, Continuing Education Coordinator at the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC)! Kayla, who began working at here at the beginning of March, develops, schedules, presents, and coordinates training and workshops for MLC. Since the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic in Mississippi, she has worked to develop, locate, and distribute resources to librarians across the state, both for their own professional development and for sharing with patrons. She has even created a Facebook group specifically for Mississippi librarians and staff to share ideas and resources among themselves.

Kayla holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature from Belhaven University. She will graduate from the University of Southern Mississippi in December with a master's degree in Library and Information Science (MLIS).

3 small pics of MLC at top and bottom. Middle left shows a picture of a white woman with short brown hair and glasses. next to her text reads Meet Kayla Martin-Gant.  To me, libraries aren’t just important, they’re vital, because they’re one of the last places left where the bottom line for the people there is you and your needs, not your wallet.

Researching and finding resources for other librarians to use has quickly become her favorite part of working at MLC. Kayla says, "I love organizing information so that it's easy for everyone to navigate and utilize, and I love helping fellow librarians come up with new ideas, workshop old ideas, and solve problems in their libraries."

Kayla thinks that libraries can be a positive force for everyone. "I genuinely believe that libraries are, or should be, the backbone of the community. Libraries, and the people who staff them, are one of the only places you can go in this country where your existence is all that is required for entry. Librarians work endlessly to educate and entertain people of all ages and backgrounds. To me, libraries aren’t just important, they’re vital, because they’re one of the last places left where the bottom line for the people there is you and your needs, not your wallet."

Kayla is a reading enthusiast, too. A few of her recent favorites include Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration by Bryan Caplan, Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone, and I’ll Be Gone In the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara. She also enjoys writing, creating Spotify playlists and Pinterest boards based on characters/stories/aesthetics/vibes, and taking goofy pics of her dog. Kayla listens to a lot of podcasts and the subjects range from history and true crime to science, society, and culture. (She especially loves it if it's something spooooky.) Fair warning: Kayla lives to spread the news about her favorite shows, stories, and podcasts, so be prepared to add to your to read/to watch/to listen lists!

Please welcome Kayla to the Mississippi Library Commission!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Picking a Video Platform Right for You

During the past few months, the COVID-19 pandemic has radically changed lives worldwide. Video conferencing apps have taken off as work, school, and social interactions have shifted to an online space. But with so many video conferencing and video uploading programs out there, which one would be best for your library’s needs?

Face to Face Video Chats
Face to face video chat apps have sprung up in popularity. The beauty of these apps is the face to face interaction: after staying at home all day, it’s nice to see someone. The downside is that these apps might not be ideal for patrons with limited internet access. While most of these applications do have a chat client, the constant stream of video and audio can cause lagging or delays for patrons with limited internet access.

Zoom
Zoom has easily become the star of stay-at-home meetings. The video service allows one-on-one calls as well as larger audio and video conference calls. If you have a school-aged child, you might be using Zoom already since classrooms have started to pivot to the app as an essential component to online learning. The biggest draw of Zoom is the number of people it can hold—free meetings can last up to 40 minutes and can hold up to 100 people without restricting any app features. The biggest problem with Zoom is it’s lack of privacy features. Likewise, as the app grows in popularity, so has “zoombombing,” where people hijack a video call and post hate speech and offensive images. Make sure to check your privacy settings before starting a Zoom call.

Google
Google has two video chat solutions. Google Meet (also known as Google Hangouts Meet) is a video conferencing tool that can hold up to 250 people at the highest price point. The app was designed for businesses and offers many features that are useful for a large, corporate-style video conference. However, it is linked to the paid G Suite program and the lowest price tier is $6 a month. Google Hangouts is a free video-calling app that supports up to 10 people. The app is very basic; you can share video screens and add text messages and that’s about it. It’s a quick and easy solution without many other bells and whistles attached. While Google Hangouts works right now, it will not be an ideal long-term solution: Google is starting to remove features of the Hangouts video chat as it focuses more on Google Meet.

Facebook Messenger
For smaller, more personal meetings, Facebook Messenger is a useful option. As most modern Americans have a Facebook, it’s a platform most people are used to already. When opening up a group chat in Facebook Messenger (either on the desktop or the Messenger app), simply hit the video icon to start a video call. Since Facebook Messenger is based off of an already existing group chat from existing Facebook accounts, it isn’t an ideal situation for any chat involving a lot of people or that will be open to the public and the person who starts the Facebook Messenger video chat must be friends with everyone in the chat. Likewise, as this is a Facebook program, expect the same level of privacy (or lack thereof) compared to other Facebook applications. Facebook Messenger could be best used for a small book club meeting or a chat with a Friends group.

Presenter & Audience Platforms
But what if you have a program where you DON’T want people to be able to respond via video? With programs like story time, author chats, or anything involving an audience of over 100 people, a little more audience control might be ideal. Twitch, Kast, and Facebook Live are video platforms where one person can stream video from a webcam and viewers can react, offer feedback, or respond to the video in a chat platform. These services offer more of a ‘performer-to-audience’ type of relationship than a ‘person-to-person conversation.’ None of these services require the audience to download an application, though they do require a little set-up or downloading an application on the presenter’s end.

Facebook Live
Facebook Live is probably the easiest of these presenter and audience platforms to manage. If your library has a Facebook page, you can easily “go live” and stream live video directly from the Facebook page. If your library has a robust Facebook presence, this can be a good method to get information or content out to as many users as possible, as Facebook Live gives you the option to save recordings after going live. However, this platform is less good for immediate, real-time feedback. There is no way to tell who’s watching a Facebook Live program unless that person is on your friends list. And like I mentioned with Messenger, keep in mind Facebook’s privacy settings before recording.

Twitch
Twitch already has a wide, pre-established community that is easily sorted into various categories. The site is best known as a hub for people streaming computer games and tabletop RPGs but the site’s broad category system can support anything from live music to educational talks. Tapping into Twitch’s infrastructure and properly tagging your content under the right category (ex: “Special Events”) could help boost your events past a local community. Likewise, Twitch gives you the option to save broadcasts for rewatch capabilities. The problem with Twitch is that it requires a lot of back-end setup if you’re streaming from a computer: you will also need to download a streaming software like OBS in order to properly stream video.

Kast
Kast brands itself as a “watch party” app. One person can stream a window or an application to anyone who’s entered the chat room. Kast’s biggest benefit compared to Facebook Live and Twitch is the ability to set up a private room: anyone who wishes to enter the chat room must be approved by the room’s creator. Likewise, streaming to Kast involves a lot less behind the scenes set-up than streaming to Twitch. The downside is that Kast has a relatively small pool of users compared to other streaming apps like Twitch and is much more prone to lagging or outright not working. While this small user base and private room function might seem a little counter-intuitive for public events, this makes Kast a viable option if you have something you wish to share with a small group of people, such as a webinar for virtual staff training.

YouTube
Finally, don’t discount YouTube. This video platform stalwart has one factor in which it’s head and shoulders above the other platforms I’ve listed here: permanence. Once you upload a video to Youtube, you can go back and watch it as many times as you want. While this is relatively unhelpful for real-time virtual communication, it is exceedingly useful for uploading talks or webinars that you know will be referred to time and time again.

Unfortunately, there isn’t really a ‘one size fits all’ video app that’s perfect for hitting every single one of a library’s needs. Use your best judgement in examining the pros and cons of each video service before deciding which one fits your library’s needs. And remember: this is an uncertain time. Both librarians and patrons are adjusting to new situations and new experiences. No matter what video app you use or how you do your outreach, the important thing is that you’ve attempted the outreach services to begin with.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Just the Facts, Ma'am.

coronavirus pictured as tan balls with red triangles sticking out all over
COVID-19
COVID-19
The coronavirus has officially made it to Mississippi, but panic is not the answer. What is COVID-19, you ask? That's a fair question. COVID stands for COronaVIrus Disease, first identified in 2019. It spreads easily from person-to-person. You can learn more about it from the CDC. Be wary of where you get your news about the virus. Fake news is real, but you can combat it by becoming a regular fact checker.

What should I do?
The thing about COVID-19 is that it isn't necessarily about keeping yourself from getting sick, but keeping other people from getting sick and the virus from spreading. This is known as flattening the curve, and social distancing is the best way to make that happen.

If you have an essential job and have to go out in public, remember to keep your hands away from your face, cover your face when you cough and/or sneeze, and wash your hands after you use the toilet, touch your face, and cough and/or sneeze.

As of this post, the Mississippi Library Commission remains open to the public. We have postponed our upcoming continuing education workshops for the month of March. Keep an eye on your public library's social media feeds as well as our own for up-to-date information.

A librarian's suggestion
This is the perfect time to catch up on your reading. Many Mississippi public libraries offer digital and audio books and magazines through services like Overdrive, hoopla, and RBdigital. Check your library's website or call them up to see what they offer. Find your library here.

You may also want to try some of those bucket list items you've been meaning to get to. Want to learn a new language? See if your library offers Mango Languages or Rosetta Stone. How about tracing your family tree? Your library may have a subscription to Ancestry or Heritage Quest.

Above all, remain calm and read on.

**********

March 13, 2020 Update!

Due to the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic, the Mississippi Library Commission will be closed to the public beginning March 16, 2020 until further notice. Please note that staff will still be available Monday-Friday, 8:00 AM-5:00 PM, via the following methods:

Chat
Email
Facebook
Fax: 601-432-4476
Instagram
Phone: 1-800-647-7542
Text: 601-208-0868
Twitter

We will be ready to answer reference and library questions, help with Talking Books, and fill interlibrary loan and regular loan requests. You will still be able to pick up books via our new curbside service

**********

March 16, 2020 Update! 

Refer to this handy spreadsheet for Mississippi public library temporary closings due to the coronavirus: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/17i8zUeLPwUXoGSW4Y3NsRmeSvNcMPHRK3XWSjQle5xs/edit

Monday, March 2, 2020

Meet MLC Monday: Brian McGee

Meet Brian McGee, Facilities Maintenance employee at the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC)! He helps clean, maintain, and beautify MLC's building and grounds, as well as assisting with any repairs that are needed.

center left an african american man stands next to some sort of equipment center right text says meet brian mcgee Libraries give people opportunities to do things like find jobs and explore the world of reading 3 small pictures of MLC grounds are at top and bottom

Brian started working at MLC in February and says that he enjoys learning new skills here. He also likes the easygoing relationship he has formed with his supervisor that allows him to do the job he was hired to do.

Brian finds libraries very helpful for researching. He also says, "Libraries give people opportunities to do things like find jobs and explore the world of reading." When he's not at MLC, he enjoys being around family and friends.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Mississippi's Star Libraries

Recently the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC) named 12 library systems as Mississippi Library Stars for FY 2018. The concept of Library Stars is based on the national professional magazine, Library Journal. The publication separates library systems into categories by expenditures that they report on the annual Public Library Statistics report that is submitted to the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The Mississippi Library Star ratings are then calculated by comparing libraries in the following areas:
  • Mississippi Measures, an amalgamation of ILL, statewide database use, number of registered users, and items withdrawn. Mississippi public libraries are required to report on these items annually as part of the Mississippi Public Library System Accreditation Program since they represent nationally recognized standards in library service. Additionally, some of these measures are provided to all public libraries and do not represent a cost to individual libraries.
  • Circulation per capita
  • Total program attendance per capita
  • Public Internet terminal uses per capita
MLC has awarded Mississippi Library Stars to the three highest-scoring library systems in each of four expenditure categories. Mississippi Library Stars go to the following libraries for their performance in Fiscal Year 2018 (October 1, 2017-September 30, 2018):

Up to $300,000 Expenditure Category
smiling woman holds star recognition certificate for union county library system

$300,001-$600,001
smiling man holds a certificate of recognition for east mississippi regional library system
smiling woman holds a certificate of recognition for judge george w armstrong library

$600,001-$1,000,000
smiling woman holds a certificate of recognition for columbus lowndes public library system

smiling woman holds a certificate of recognition for northeast regional library system

$1,000,000+
smiling woman holds a certificate of recognition for jackson george regional library system

smiling woman holds a certificate of recognition for lincoln lawrence franklin regional library system

The winning libraries received a certificate and a Mississippi Star Library star to feature on their website. Watch our social media platforms for local coverage highlights. Congratulations to the winners for all their hard work!

Monday, February 10, 2020

Meet MLC Monday: Kristen Hillman

Meet Kristen Hillman, Patron Services Librarian in Talking Book Services (TBS) for the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC)! Kristen has been working at MLC for just over a month. She assists patrons with searching for books, as well as providing support with digital book players, assisting the TBS circulation department, and attending and coordinating outreach events.











Kristen holds a bachelor's degree in Secondary English Education from The University of Mississippi and spent three years as a 9-12th classroom teacher. She also holds her Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from the University of Southern Mississippi (USM). Prior to coming to MLC, she worked for two years as a Youth Services Librarian at the Pearl Public Library.

The people are part of Kristen's favorite part of working at MLC. "Getting to assist the patrons in finding the right book for them is my favorite part of the job." She also notes that MLC has supported her in her career as a librarian with workshops and other training. She feels honored to be able to assist others on the same path by leading the same types of trainings and workshops. Kristen led her first training, the SLP Early Literacy Workshop, on January 22.

She has a long history with libraries; they've been important to her since she was little. "When I was a child, my mom would bring me to the public library to select books and movies each week. Without that early start, I do not think I would enjoy reading as much as I do now. I believe that libraries are essential to the early development of the children we serve as well as providing occupational and educational assistance to adults and fun programs for all ages"

Kristen loves to read. Her favorite books are actually book series: The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. She also enjoys the classics, such as works by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Mary Shelley. She admits to an obsession with Henry VIII and his six wives, especially Anne Boleyn, and loves to read about them. The last book she read was Julia Fox's Sister Queens: The Noble, Tragic Lives of Katherine of Aragon and Juana, Queen of Castile, a non-fiction book about the life of Henry VIII’s first wife, Katherine of Aragon, and her sister, Juana of Castile.

When Kristen isn't absorbed by the library life and reading, she likes gardening, kayaking, traveling, and playing video games. She bakes some of the finest chocolate chip cookies you will ever eat and she likes to eat them while lazing around on the couch with her two dogs, Foxy Brown and Mikey.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

University Press of Mississippi Starts 50th Anniversary with Cake at the Mississippi Library Commission


logo for university press of mississippi stylized u p m and 50
Steve Yates
Associate Director, UPM

The University Press of Mississippi (UPM) turns 50 in 2020. Founded in 1970, UPM is the only university press and the largest publisher of any kind in Mississippi. Its twenty employees work on the fifth and third floors of the Paul B. Johnson Tower diagonally across campus from the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC). The press began with two employees publishing seven books in its first year. In 2020 it will publish eighty-five new books. UPM is proud to represent the people of Mississippi and its eight sponsoring state universities.

Friday, January 24 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., the press will sponsor cake and giveaways at the MLC, and an array of food trucks will be on campus selling food as well.
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