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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.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Welcome to the World of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

One of the many reasons I enjoy working at the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC) as a Reference Librarian is the constant flurry of information that finds its way across my desk. There's always something new to learn, no matter how much I think I know about a subject. We receive more questions about certain areas than others, so my knowledge about genealogy and Mississippi history, for instance, have burgeoned in comparison to my knowledge about, say, pop icons. (Sorry, Beyoncé!) The 91st anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birth is today, January 15, and the  official observance of the day is Monday the 20th, when MLC will be closed. I realized that I have learned a lot less about Dr. King's life and work than I have our homegrown Mississippi civil rights icons, like Medgar Evers, Fannie Lou Hamer, Vernon Dahmer, and Anne Moody. I hustled myself to the shelves!

MLK bust posed with 5 books about MLK on a shelf

These are just a few of the many books and resources I found here at MLC to check out and peruse:
Sometimes I want more than just a book, funny as that may seem for a bookworm, so I decided to browse the Library of Congress's website to see what they have. Y'all. I stumbled across this half-hour documentary called A Time for Freedom. It's about the 1957 Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom and features the first King speech to a national audience, the Give us the Ballot speech. Dr. King appears at the 24:07 mark.

They have even more interesting entries about this inspiring leader, so be sure to take a look at their catalog here. You're going to want to check out these excellent Internet resources as well.
I hope you've enjoyed this quick dip into the world of resources libraries offer about Dr. King. There are events planned across the state for Monday, so check with your local library or chamber to find out what's on tap. There's even free admission at the Two Museums January 18-20! Happy birthday, Dr. King!

Friday, January 10, 2020

Holiday of a Lifetime

What do you get when two state agencies partner to host a holiday event? Holiday of a Lifetime!
The Mississippi Library Commission (MLC) recently partnered with the Mississippi Film Office (MFO) to screen the Lifetime holiday film Christmas in Mississippi at three of the state's libraries.

The partnership came about when Library Consultant Louisa Whitfield Smith brilliantly reached out to Nina Parikh with MFO to see if there was some way to show off Mississippi communities that go all out during the holidays. Christmas in Mississippi was filmed in Gulfport in 2017, and highlighted the annual event Gulfport Harbor Lights Winter Festival. Featuring an all-star cast, the feel-good Lifetime Channel holiday movie even addressed the challenges of dealing with the aftermath of a devastating hurricane and the resilience of Mississippi coastal residents. It is hoped that this partnership will serve as an opportunity to secure another Lifetime Channel holiday movie that will be filmed in the state

The three Mississippi libraries that agreed to participate were the Canton Public Library, the Laurel Jones County Library, and the Columbia-Marion County Public Library. MLC worked with library staff to create special promotional graphics, and facilitated a community question and answer time  about what makes their town special during the holidays that was held after the film screenings.

The Canton Historic Courthouse on the Square
Madison County Library System Director Tonja Johnson and her team were excited to showcase their lovely town decked out for the season. They partnered with Canton Tourism and used it as an opportunity to draw visitors into local businesses by offering discounts from participating merchants. The film was shown in beautiful Canton Historic Courthouse located on the square.

The Laurel-Jones County Library was decked out for the holidays!

A large group of kids from Laurel enjoyed the screening.

The community of Laurel has experienced a great deal of notoriety since the HGTV show Home Town began and the library has been a bustling place ever since! This booming community makes the holidays a very special time for their residents, and the library is no exception. Popcorn and warm apple cider made watching the film an even more enjoyable experience.

Showtime at the Laurel-Jones County Library

The Marion County community of Columbia was the third location for a film screening. Called the "Most Magical Christmas Town in Mississippi," Columbia goes the extra mile when it comes to getting into the holiday spirit. Train rides, ice skating rinks, and visits with Santa himself are all a part of this fun and festival holiday treat. The film was shown at the Marion Theater and a community gathering was held afterward at the Marion County Development Partnership offices.

Nina Parikh with the Mississippi Film Office capturing the beauty of Columbia all decked out for the holidays.

Special thanks to MFO for partnering with MLC to celebrate the holidays by bringing families together and to the libraries that participated in the fun and festive film screening.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

MLC 2020 Reading Challenge

Are you ready for 2020? We sure are! We've been thinking about New Year resolutions as well as the books we're going to read this year, too. While not everyone who works in a library loves to read, a lot of us try to read at least a little to broaden our horizons, learn new things, and just relax. (Okay, okay, a lot of us love to read, too.) Our list of the books we loved reading in 2019 made for quite the eclectic hodgepodge of books. We noticed that even though there were thirteen contributors to our list of 52 books, certain patterns did emerge. We've created this 2020 Reading Challenge from the categories that suggested themselves to us. Drum roll, please!

books are lying on a wooden surface Daisy jones and the 6 in audio, on a sunbeam and misadventures of an awkward black girl in regular print, and the kiss quotient and great believers in large print

January 2020
Read a picture book
Inspired by Nobody Likes a Goblin, What Do They Do With All That Poo?, and Sulwe

February 2020
Read a romance novel by an author of color
Inspired by This is How You Lose the Time War and The Kiss Quotient

March 2020
Read a book by a past or present Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival author
Inspired by Julián is a Mermaid and The Day You Begin

April 2020
Read a book of poetry
Inspired by Gmorning, Gnight! and Deaf Republic

May 2020
Read a book about the immigrant experience
Inspired by Dreamers, The Best We Could Do, and Exit, West

June 2020
Read a book based on historical events
Inspired by The Guardians, The Great Believers, and The Ghost Map

July 2020
Listen to an audiobook
Inspired by Daisy Jones and the Six and Lincoln in the Bardo

August 2020
Read a book by a past or present Mississippi Book Festival panelist
Inspired by The Hate U Give, Furious Hours, and Souls of America

September 2020
Read a biography, memoir, or autobiography about a person of color
Inspired by Becoming, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, and Malcolm X

October 2020
Read a book about one of your favorite hobbies
Inspired by The Book Lover's Anthology, Ariadne's Threads, and Clothing of the Ancient Latvians

November 2020
Read a book that was published at least 50 years ago (1970 and before)
Inspired by Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and The Black Cauldron

December 2020
Read a manga or graphic novel
Inspired by My Brother's Husband, New Kid, Sanity & Tallulah, Hey, Kiddo, and On a Sunbeam

We'll be talking about possible books for each category in the Great Read Mississippi group on Facebook, as well as here on the blog and our social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Your local public library and our Bookmatch service are also great ways to find possible reads. We can't wait to read new books with you in 2020. Until next time, happy reading!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Books We Loved Reading in 2019

Welcome to our annual roundup of our staff's favorite books! Every year we take a little time to reflect on the books that brightened our year and made us laugh, the ones that made us think, question, and even cry. Early next week we'll present a few ideas to get your 2020 reading started, but today, sit back and enjoy our list of books that we enjoyed.

collage of book covers of the 52 books listed below

Adult Fiction

Fleishman is in Trouble
Taffy Brodesser-Akner (2019)
Recommended by T. Carr

This Is How You Lose the Time War
Amal el-Mohtar and Max Gladstone (2019)
Recommended by K. Gill
Two time-travelling operatives on different sides of a war spanning all of time and space write letters to each other, get to know each other better, and fall in love. This is a quick, short read that leans into the inherent chaos and goofiness of time travel but comes out with something intensely poetic & romantic.

Leopard's Run
Christine Feehan (2018)
Recommended by L. Myers

Vengeance Road
Christin Feehan (2019)
Recommended by L. Myers

The Guardians
John Grisham (2019)
Recommended by H. Bivens
If you live in Mississippi, the reader must maintain knowledge of the writing of John Grisham and my choice reading from his pen this year was The Guardians which tells the story of an injustice done to one person that was ignored by many. Like many of Grisham’s books, this story is loosely based on a real event.

The Dressmaker
Rosalie Ham (2015)
Recommended by A. Ruffin

Exit, West
Mohsin Hamid (2017)
Recommended by N. Dunaway

The Kiss Quotient
Helen Hoang (2018)
Recommended by L. Myers

My Dog: The Paradox: A Lovable Discourse about Man's Best Friend
Matthew Inman (2013)
Recommended by C. Simpkins

The Broken Earth trilogy: The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, The Stone Sky
N.K. Jemisin (2015, 2016, 2017)
Recommended by E. Scott
I've been meaning to try N.K. Jemisin for a while and I'm so glad I finally did. Her Broken Earth trilogy was rough and beautiful and otherworldly. Somehow I found myself identifying strongly with almost all of the characters, even those with whom I seemingly have nothing in common. 

The Lost Girls of Paris
Pam Jenoff (2019)
Recommended by H. Bivens
A period story is told about three women operating as part of a spy ring during World War II. Their heroics play out as the central theme of this work.

Devil's Daughter: The Ravenels meet The Wallflowers
Lisa Kleypas (2019)
Recommended by L. Myers

The Great Believers
Rebecca Makkai (2018)
Recommended by T. Carr

Elizabeth McCracken (2019)
Recommended by T. Carr

Ann Patchett (2016)
Recommended by M.R. Beal

Splintered: A New Orleans Tale
Brandi Perry (2018)
Recommended by S. Frazier

Daisy Jones and the Six
Taylor Jenkins Reid (2019)
Recommended by M.R. Beal, K. Gill, and L. Whitfield-Smith
I highly recommend listening to this one as an audiobook. I honestly felt as though I was listening to an interview of an actual band. (MRB)
This oral history of a fake 1970s rock band details the creation of the best album you’ve never heard. The book does an amazing job capturing the time period and creating fleshed-out characters as delightfully messed up as real people. (KG)

The Highlander's Promise
Lynsay Sands (2018)
Recommended by L. Myer

Lincoln in the Bardo
George Saunders (2017)
Recommended by N. Dunaway

One Day in December
Josie Silver (2018)
Recommended by M.R. Beal

My Brother's Husband, volumes 1 and 2
Gengoroh Tagame and Anne Ishii
Recommended by E. Scott
I know next to nothing about Japanese culture, but Tagame's characters, narration, and scenery gave me a joyful and thought-provoking introduction. 

Adult Nonfiction

Columbus: The Four Voyages, 1492-1504
Laurence Bergreen (2011)
Recommended by D. Arrington

The Book Lovers' Anthology: A Compendium of Writing about Books, Readers and Libraries, second edition
Bodleian Library, editor (2016)
Recommended by A. Ruffin

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
Dee Brown (1970)
Recommended by D. Arrington

The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir
Thi Bui (2017)
Recommended by E. Scott
Like many Americans, my knowledge of the Vietnam War is woefully lacking. Thi Bui's muted palette underscored the years of conflict and deprivation in Vietnam even before the USA joined the fracas and painted a heartbreaking and hopeful story of the past and future.

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee
Casey Cep (2019)
Recommended by H. Bivens
A surprise quality read is Furious Hours by first-time author Casey Cep who appeared at the 2019 Mississippi Book Festival. This book is something of a non- fiction / fiction story. The non-fiction part concerns the actions of a minister in south Alabama, the multiple family members he is suspected to have killed, the life insurance collected on multiple suspicious deaths, the attorney that represents the minister at trial, the family member who kills the minister as he is in trial, and the change of course for the attorney who then defends the killer of the minister in court. The fiction part of the story begins with the fact that To Kill A Mockingbird author Harper Lee attended the trial of the minister and the trial of the family member who killed the minister. The, author Cep weaves her story around the guess that Harper Lee was going to write another courtroom novel using the facts of the minister’s life. Providing a story of maybes moving toward the belief that Harper Lee was going to write her own In Cold Blood novel, this book is most intriguing.
Southern Lady Code
Hellen Ellis (2019)
Recommended by M.R. Beal

The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic—and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World
Steven Johnson (2006)
Recommended by T. Carr

Ariadne's Threads: The Construction and Significance of Clothes in the Aegean Bronze Age
Bernice R. Jones (2015)
Recommended by K. Kelly

Deaf Republic
Ilya Kaminsky (2019)
Recommended by H. Bivens
A finalist for the T.S. Elliot prize, this work of poetry looks at political unrest, its affects, and the potential atrocities that may result. It is a most unusual read that many readers in today’s USA will probably find interesting. Something of a combination of Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC rolled together, this book gives a different look at the politics of mankind...

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention
Manning Marable (2011)
Recommended by D. Arrington

The Amazons: Lives & Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World
Adrienne Mayor (2014)
Recommended by K. Kelly

Souls of America
Jon Meacham (2018)
Recommended by D. Arrington

Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You
Lin Manuel Miranda and Jonny Sun (2018)
Recommended by M.R. Beal

Michelle Obama (2018)
Recommended by M.R. Beal

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl
Issa Rae (2015)
Recommended by A. Ruffin

The American Story: Conversations with Master Historians
David Rubenstein (2019)
Recommended by D. Arrington

Clothing of the Ancient Latvians
Anna Zariņa (1970)
Recommended by K. Kelly

Juvenile Fiction

The Black Cauldron
Lloyd Alexander (1965)
Recommended by K. Gill
Don’t judge a book by it’s dubious Disney adaptation! This book & it’s accompanying series are well-written, classic, beautifully paced staples of the fantasy genre that can delight both kids and adults.

Sanity & Tallulah
Molly Brooks (2018)
Recommended by L. Whitfield-Smith

New Kid
Jerry Craft
Recommended by C. Simpkins

How to Build a Hug: Temple Grandin and Her Amazing Squeeze Machine
Amy Guglielmo, Jacqueline Tourville, and Giselle Potter (2018)
Recommended by C. Simpkins

Nobody Likes a Goblin
Ben Hatke (2016)
Recommended by E. Scott
Ben Hatke is one of my new favorite author-illustrator discoveries. This particular book rethinks the role of an adventuring party and totally fed my new addiction to all things fantasy and D&D. Who really is the hero of our tale?

Hey, Kiddo
Jarrett J. Krosoczka (2018)
Recommended by L. Whitfield-Smith

What Do They Do With All That Poo?
Jane Kurtz and Allison Black (2018)
Recommended by C. Simpkins

Julián Is a Mermaid
Jessica Love (2018)
Recommended by E. Scott
The love the grandma feels for her grandson and the way she expresses it made my heart squeeze. The illustrations are gorgeous and the little boy is simply amazing. I adore everything about this picture book.

Yuyi Morales (2018)
Recommended by E. Scott
Based on the author's own experiences, this picture book about moving to the US, starting a new life, and discovering a new community at the local public library is a beautiful tribute of immigrants who add to the vibrancy and richness of our country.

Lupita Nyong'o and Vashti Harrison (2018)
Recommended by A. Ruffin

Patron Saints of Nothing
Randy Ribay (2019)
Recommended by L. Whitfield-Smith

The Hate U Give
Angie Thomas (2017)
Recommended by C. Simpkins

On a Sunbeam
Tillie Walden (2018)
Recommended by E. Scott
This YA graphic novel hit all the right spots: there's a little romance, a little mystery, and a lot of space. I liked it so much I asked for it for Christmas!

The Day You Begin
Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López (2018)
Recommended by A. Ruffin

We hope you've enjoyed our list of books we liked and found a few interesting reads you'd like to try. Join us early next week for our 2020 Reading Challenge, but until then, happy reading!

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

What's In Your Wheelhouse?

Sometimes, it can feel a little hard trying to decide what to read next. Between hard copies, e-readers, and audiobooks, it can feel like you’ve got the entire literary world at your fingertips. The choices can be overwhelming. And if you’re anything like me, you’ve got limited reading time in the first place! Of course you’ll want to focus on a book you think you’d like: but how do you find that to begin with? Focusing on traits that you might enjoy is a good way to help level the playing field. And a good way to find those specific traits is to find your reading wheelhouse.

I first came upon this term via the book podcast Reading Glasses. Hosts Brea Grant and Mallory O’Meara define a reading wheelhouse as genres, settings, character traits, plots, etc. in books that you enjoy reading about. A reading wheelhouse can be used to narrow down the wide world of books and help you pinpoint specific traits and tropes that you’re more likely to enjoy.

But how do you find your reading wheelhouse? Certain parts might be easy to find: genre is an easy one. But what about if you read books from different genres? Or you just can’t think of any commonalities between your favorite books off the top of your head? A good way to help find those connections is to write it down. Write down the title of some books you like (at least four, though the more you write, the easier it will be to find those connections). List out some traits about the book itself (genre, format, length) and some specific aspects about the book you really liked (worldbuilding, characters, plot).

Here’s an example of some books I liked and some traits about them:

Already, a few similarities spring up. I like period pieces, fantasy, wizards that are jerks, and bickering to love style romances. Look over your wheelhouse again and see if you wrote one trait in different ways: ‘strong female protagonist’ and ‘well-developed female lead’ are kind of the same thing. Finally, look at some of your stand-alone traits and see if they fit together in a larger designation. I like the use of letters in This is How You Lose the Time War, footnotes in Jonathan Strange and the oral history style of Daisy Jones. Maybe the three of those can be combined into a larger category like ‘unique writing styles.’

Don’t worry if some of your favorite books have opposite traits--that just means you can go either way on that trait. For instance, length isn’t a factor in my wheelhouse. I like short books just as much as I like long ones. Likewise, don’t worry if one of your favorite books doesn’t seem to link up to the rest. There’s only one or two traits that The Scarlet Pimpernel shares with the other four books, but by listing out what I like, I see that I might enjoy a book with a focus on secret identities.
So, now you have your wheelhouse. Mine is period pieces, fantasy, abrasive wizards, bickering to love style romances, well-developed female protagonists, and unique writing styles. Keep that information in mind when browsing Overdrive, reading book reviews, or scanning book descriptions on Amazon to try and see what you should read next!

Or, take what you’ve learned by finding out your wheelhouse and ask a librarian for help! Services like MLC’s BookMatch help librarians recommend books for patrons and find that perfect fit. The more you know about what you like, the easier it is to find a match.

As for me, I’m going to give The Ten Thousand Doors of January a try. It’s a period piece in the fantasy genre with a strong female protagonist and a unique writing style--a perfect fit for my wheelhouse!
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