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Monday, October 15, 2018

Meet MLC Monday: Neil Machowski

Neil Machowski is a Computers System Analyst here at the Mississippi Library Commission. He provides support at MLC's Help Desk, troubleshooting computer problems for MLC and Mississippi public library staff. Many people have already gotten to know him, if only via phone, in the 1 ½ months he's worked with us. Neil also assists with audio/visual support at the agency. Prior to working with us, he served for twenty years with the United States Navy; we're lucky to have his dedication and strong work ethic here at MLC. Neil says that he likes performing his job well so that other people can do theirs. He adds that all the people he has helped have been friendly and appreciative, making his job even easier and more enjoyable.

Neil is a lifelong library user who knows firsthand the importance of libraries. "Growing up of modest means, the library was a source of both knowledge and entertainment that otherwise wouldn't have been available. This is still true for many people today." Neil likes to read, but confesses that he hasn't read much for pleasure lately. "I'm just as likely to be reading a maintenance manual nowadays, but I've always been a fan of great fantasy series. Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series is one of my favorites." In his free time, Neil likes to mess around with computers and online gaming. He also loves motorsport.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A Teachable Moment

The Mississippi Library Commission recently held Librarianship 101, an extremely comprehensive workshop for library paraprofessionals. This is the fifteenth year that the program has provided in-depth training in library law and ethics, library programming for all ages, collection development, readers advisory, and much more for those who want to better serve their home libraries. Librarianship 101 participants go through a nomination process; class size is limited to fifteen individuals. Nominees are service-oriented librarians who want to enhance and improve their community through their work at the public library. This is one of many continuing education options offered by MLC.

MLC Library Services Director Tracy Carr leads a session at Librarianship 101.
I've always admired people who can command the attention of a room. Keynote speakers at large conferences have always amazed me with their confident body language and their ability to stroll from one side of the stage to the other. I have never possessed that gift. I avoided speech class in college at all costs... no sir, no way, was this girl getting up in front of a room full of folks to talk about anything.

Over the years I have had to take the mic on a few occasions with a great deal of anxiety and stress.  That old statement about picturing the crowd in their underwear never worked for me. When I started at MLC, I was so impressed by the level of ease my colleagues displayed when presenting to groups of librarians. They are always funny, informative, and provide great handouts. I have learned so much from watching these guys.

Welcome by Hulen Bivins, MLC Executive Director

A participant introduces herself to the rest of the Librarianship 101 group.

The first day of 101 began with a welcome from MLC Executive Director Hulen Bivins, followed by introductions of participants. I could tell these folks were excited to learn and were going to be extremely entertaining.

Ice-breaker fun!
The group participated in a fun ice-breaker that involved getting creative! The rest of the day was information-packed with topics covering library structure and social media. They departed on day one with their minds and notebooks full!

On day two, MLC Library Development Director Lacy Ellinwood covered the topic of library programming and I followed up with public relations. The participants were in five groups; each group created a program and had to write a press release appropriate to send to the media. I felt like a proud mama: they all did an outstanding job writing their first press release. We also talked about creating a library newsletter and social media. It was a great day for someone who is terrified of presenting!

I talked about creating a library newsletter.

On the final day, they learned about weeding, statistics, and MLC's Talking Book Services. They went home with a certificate and, hopefully, a better understanding of the overall workings of a library. Congratulations Librarianship 101 graduates of 2018! Get out there and serve your communities!

2018 Librarianship 101 graduates

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Stories from the Road: Home of the King

Recently, I took a trip to Tupelo with MLC Library Consultant Shellie Zeigler. We rushed in, right in time for her Readers' Advisory training to begin. Once we were settled and she began sharing information with the group, I slipped out and checked out the Lee County Library. There it was... encircled in glass like the crown jewels... Elvis's library card application with this wonderful photo of him as a child. I was just mesmerized by this precious gem.

When I was growing up, holidays were spent at my grandmother's house. My dad, the oldest of ten, enjoyed spending Christmas Eve at her small house that would soon fill to the brim with our large family and many friends. The food would be overflowing because my grandmother loved to cook. She would be in the kitchen for hours planning for the onslaught of children, grandchildren, and other folks who would converge on her house to celebrate the season.

One of the things I remember most about those times was Elvis. My dad's six sisters loved Elvis and they spent Christmas Eve playing his holiday records on the big "something-like-wood" encased record player. They would all gather in the tiny living room (after a little too much holiday cheer) and dance like no one was watching. They would talk about their boyfriends, school activities, and other such things. Having had no sisters of my own, my aunts set the bar for my life ahead... and of course, Elvis.

After having my Elvis moment and paying homage to the King's library card application, I began checking out the rest of Tupelo's wonderful library. It boasts a really large, open space with colorful flags and art everywhere. There are lots of public access computers ready for use and the sounds of a children's program soon captured my attention.

I discovered a bunch of families involved in some fun activities over in the children's section. The families were enjoying themselves and I couldn't help but wish that those who wonder about the value of public libraries these days could be present to see why they are still so important. Providing a chance for grandmothers to connect with their grandchildren and stay-at-home moms the opportunity to enjoy some planned activities with other moms is an invaluable service for members of the community.

This trip also reminded me of the wonderful services the Mississippi Library Commission provides to public libraries across Mississippi. Library Consultants are constantly on the road to provide training, advice, a helping hand, and anything else that they can possibly do to provide assistance. MLC wants public libraries to be successful and to have resources that may not be readily available and our staff are ready and willing to help.

Special thanks to Jeff Tomlinson, the Director of the Lee-Itawamba Library System for being such a great host and for welcoming us to the home of Elvis and the Lee County Library. Until next time...

The King is everywhere!  This is outside Kermit's Outlaw Kitchen in Tupelo... they make a mean burger.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Meet MLC Monday: Chris Bratcher

Chris is responsible for state and federal regulatory compliance and E-rate funding to all Mississippi libraries that participate in the program through the Mississippi Library Commission. He is also responsible for supporting the Technology Services Division by assisting with help desk tickets, building and editing websites, and other technology-based duties. He holds a bachelor's degree in Business Administration with concentrations in business and organizational management. "The best part of my job at MLC is the ability to help others. While this position is the most challenging of any in my professional career, it's also the most rewarding," stated Chris. "I have the privilege of serving as a translator and intermediary to libraries who count on my knowledge to help them successfully obtain discounted funding of their technology services. By doing this, libraries can offer these services, and who knows the difference that is making in the lives of patrons!"

Chris is an avid reader and says he enjoys too many books to narrow it down to just one favorite title. He said that Crucial Conversations radically changed both his personal life and his professional management life.

In his free time, Chris enjoys serving as Technical Programs Manager for his church and handles the audio/video needs for services that air each week. He helps his community by working with the homeless and singing and playing piano at nursing homes. He loves volunteering his time to help others!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Meet MLC Monday: Andrea' Ruffin

On August 27th, what she calls the "best day ever," Andrea' Ruffin became the Library Services Assistant at MLC. She is a member of the Reference staff, but also helps with the front desk and Talking Book Services. 

She says her favorite part of her job is researching and looking for answers. "I love libraries because they are a place of hope and answers! Literacy is important and libraries facilitate literacy and information; that's why libraries are important!" She loves to read, so she stated that she couldn't begin to pick a favorite book. The last book she read was The Story of Ferdinand. In her off time, she loves to cook, bake, and collect tea cups. She is also a star-gazer, a traveler, and a collector of vinyl records.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Stories from the Road - Summer 2018 Edition

I love my job. It's not just about the work; it's the people I get to meet and the wonderful places across the state I get to visit. Don't get me wrong, I do love my line of work. I've been doing it now for over 20 years and it allows me the opportunity to be creative, forces me to keep up with technology, and allows me to do something that has visible results. What more could anyone ask?

Scholastic Summer Reading Road Trip bus

Recently, I was able to travel to two places I have never visited, the first being the Sardis Public Library, a branch of First Regional Library. MLC Consultant Mac Buntin asked me to tag along when he traveled there for the Scholastic Summer Reading Road Trip bus visit. The library entered a Scholastic sweepstakes to have the bus pay a visit and they were the only location in Mississippi to be selected. Michael Strose with Scholastic told me that Sardis was the perfect spot for a stop and they were thrilled with the turnout. Scholastic had two buses traveling across the country the entire month of July to remind children to keep up their reading skills. Ciardi Love, Youth Specialist with First Regional Library, said having the Scholastic bus stop by the Sardis Public Library was a great way to remind kids in the area that reading is fun!
Michael Strose with Scholastic and Ciardi Love with First Regional Library System channeling their inner Harry Potter.

Did you know? Reading gives you superpowers!
My next trip was with MLC Consultant Shellie Zeigler. We headed out early one morning to visit Union County Library System in the northeastern area of the state. Our first stop was in New Albany, where we caught up with the new library system director, Sissy Bullock. This is one of the cutest places I've been and it's easy to see that the residents are committed to taking care of their wonderful community. The library is a bustling place with lots of patrons taking advantage of the services offered. They are doing some renovations to the restrooms and the meeting rooms to make the space even more inviting. 
Shellie Zeigler, MLC Consultant, and Sissy Bullock, Union County Library Director
New Albany Public Library
After Shellie and I talked with Sissy about how MLC can assist the library, we headed out to the Myrtle Public Library. It truly was a "happy place" and people were coming and going during our visit.
Myrtle Public Library
We had a wonderful visit and a trip back to this beautiful part of the state is certainly in my future.

My travels across Mississippi with my colleagues have been fantastic. Now that I am nearing my three-year anniversary with MLC, what better gift than to see the great work going on in Mississippi's public libraries! Can't wait until my next trip!

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!
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