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Monday, June 10, 2019

Meet MLC Monday: J.D. Burns

Meet J.D. Burns, Circulation Librarian for Talking Book Services at the Mississippi Library Commission! J.D. circulates and maintains Talking Books cartridges, machines, and other materials, and assists with anything else needed in Talking Books Services. He began working for MLC less than a month ago, on May 20, and says that so far MLC has been an incredibly welcoming environment. "The staff is fantastic and the grounds and building are beautiful. I love the sense that, in some small way, I’m a part of helping get books into the hands of people who need them."

When asked his opinion of libraries, J.D. had this to say, "I love the overall concept of the library. In my opinion, access to the written word is one of the most important things in life, and the library gives that to people. Having access to so much knowledge, free of charge, is an incredible thing." J.D. loves to read. He geeks out on everything from historical non-fiction to sci-fi comic books. Recently, he has been reading through classic Dr. Strange issues from Marvel Comics and he constantly thumbs through his well-worn copy of Last Night of the Earth Poems by Charles Bukowski. When he's not reading or taking care of his five cats, you can probably find him with a guitar in his hands. "Music is a passion, and I’ve been playing guitar for close to 18 years. I play original music with a band and overall just love all types of music." J.D. also loves to cook and is always interested in trying new recipes and techniques.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Building Readers at Emily J. Pointer Library

Margaret Murray served the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC) and libraries in Mississippi for twenty years before retiring in 2014. At the annual Mississippi Library Association conference in 2015, the Friends of Mississippi Libraries announced a grant honoring her work in the library community. The competitive grant advances library programming and literacy for Mississippi public libraries through activities sponsored by the local Friends of Mississippi Libraries chapters. Three $1,000 grant recipients are named each year.
Two smiling women stand in a library filled with shelves of books. One hands the other a check as they pose for the picture.
Como Branch Manager Amy Henderson receives the grant check
from Del Ann Billingsly, Treasurer of the Como Library Friends.
The Friends group of the Emily J. Pointer Library, a branch of the First Regional Library System, is one of this year's recipients. This library, located in Como, Mississippi, wanted to advance early literacy through collection development. Nearly 50% of children in this area perform below passing levels in language arts. Their goals were to attract and expose preschool age children to the alphabet and numbers in a fun way while keeping with current trends of collection development, especially with the inclusion of books featuring diverse characters. In their grant application, the group said, "By offering an appealing, up-dated collection of books to our young patrons, we hope to aid in the improvement of literacy levels in school age children."

Two women each hold several picture books. Many more are piled on a table in front of them.
Como Library Youth Specialist Veneda Ruby and Pat Hendren
show off some of the books ordered with grant funds.
Many congratulations to Emily J. Pointer Library and the children of Como, who will benefit from this grant for many years to come. Check back with us soon for more posts featuring this year's Margaret Murray Grant recipients!

Monday, June 3, 2019

Meet MLC Monday: Bobbie Green

Meet Bobbie Green, Purchasing Chief at the Mississippi Library Commission! Bobbie issues purchase orders and tracks property and assets for the agency. She started working for MLC just a few months ago, in March of 2019.

Bobbie thinks libraries are important because they help people achieve their full potential by providing them with near limitless knowledge. (We agree, Bobbie!) She likes to read YA series, as well as science fiction. Her absolute favorite series is Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush. When she's not reading, Bobbie loves to help out with Vacation Bible School and Bible drills at her church. She's a country girl at heart, one who loves to fish and ride four wheelers. She's also an avid racing fan. The thing closest to Bobbie's heart is spending time with her three boys, which she jokes entails much cooking.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Jump Back on the LearningExpress!

You already know that your library is an excellent place to explore and learn new things. We are thrilled to announce that we're bringing even more learning to your local Mississippi public library as we welcome back LearningExpress! LearningExpress is a collection of practice tests, tutorials, eBooks, articles, and flashcards, all geared toward helping people learn. The main areas are:
  • Career Preparation
    Allied Health, ASVAB, CDL, EMT, Nursing, Real Estate, and more!
  • High School Equivalency
    GED, GED en Español, and HiSET
  • College Admissions Test Preparation
    ACT, SAT, PSAT, and more!
  • School Center
    Math, English, Social Studies, Science, and more for school-age children!
  • College Students
    Skills reviews, CLEP, GMAT, GRE, LSAT, and more for college students!
  • Adult Core Skills
    Math, Reading, Writing, Citizenship Exam, Examen de Ciudadanía, and more!
  • Recursos Para Hispanohablantes
    Lectura, Vocabulario, Ortografía, y Matematicas!
Ask your library how to register so that you can access this great resource from the library or home today!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

A Visit to Sharkey-Issaquena County Library

Library Consultant

Several months ago, I visited the Sharkey-Issaquena County Library, the only public library serving these two Delta counties. Director Elissa Tucker has done a great job at cultivating devoted donors and community partners who bring art, landscaping, and other donations to the patrons of Sharkey-Issaquena Library. For example, Elissa designed the blue "Rolling in the Delta" t-shirts and the Friends group ran a fundraiser for an Entergy grant cash match that brought modern, efficient, and bright LED lighting to the library.

A smiling woman holds up a blue t-shirt that says Rolling in the Delta. It has an old truck and cotton bolls. She is standing in a library and there are many shelves of books.
Library Director Elissa Tucker shows off the library's fundraising t-shirt.

As other libraries have done, the Friends group periodically sponsors a Memorial Bricks Fundraiser to raise funds. These courtyard bricks are engraved in honor/memory of someone. It has proven to be an easy way to raise funds for the library and provides a lasting tribute to those honored. The local garden club maintains the courtyards and other locals use their personal equipment to power wash the memorial bricks when needed.

Red bricks are flat in a courtyard. Some have inscriptions, like "In Memory of Linda Goodwin, 1940-2013"
Memorial courtyard bricks
The library's patrons are generous in other ways, too. If someone see something that needs to be done, they offer to do it. Once, a regular patron popped in to say that her husband was outside spraying WD-40 on the door of the library's drop box. The couple had noticed it sticking before the library staff, so they went ahead and took care of the problem.

a large bear statue carved from a log. Bear is reading a book and an owl perches on its shoulder
Reading bear statue outside library
The Sharkey-Issaquena Library staff work exceptionally hard to make the library a welcoming resource and their patrons love the library, going the extra mile to make it a place they want to visit. This library is a vital part of the community!

Friday, May 24, 2019

CMRLS—So Many Amazing Branches!

Shellie Zeigler
Library Consultant

Over a period of several days, I recently visited all of Central Regional Mississippi Library System’s (CMRLS) branches in Rankin and Scott counties. (I missed the Puckett branch due to a timing issue, but I’ll catch them next month). Director of CMRLS, Mara Polk, accompanied me to each branch: Pearl, Flowood, Brandon, Lake, Sebastopol, Forest, Morton, Florence, Richland, Sandhill, Pisgah, Pelahatchie, and Northwest Point Reservoir. Amazingly, that's not even all of CMRLS's branches. Mara oversees a twenty library system!

Our first stop was the Pearl Library, one of the “Big Three” at CMRLS (Pearl, Brandon and Flowood). Branch Manager Morgan Lee was there to show us around and introduce me to their two new full-time staff. Pearl Library has a large children’s area and an inviting teen area. They also have a garden that is maintained by community members and often decorated with children’s crafts. They have many inviting and informative displays and showcase an area with staff book recommendations. This branch recently hosted their own Comic Con event with nearly 1,600 people coming through their doors in one day. This library is bustling!

Our next stop was Flowood Library, the CMRLS 2019 Large Library of the Year and another Big Three branch. I was disappointed to find I had just missed a children’s program when I arrived. Their children’s programs are always very well attended. The circulation staff were dealing with a large patron donation. This branch receives a lot of donations and they have an ongoing book sale of items they don’t use for their collection. Flowood Library is beautifully designed with unique features, like flooring that resembles the flow of a river. The library sits next to a gorgeous park and tennis courts. 

There are a bird feeder and a bird directly outside a large window. Trees and an open lawn spread in the distance. A raised area and seat are directly in front of the window.
Brandon Library bird watching stand

We traveled to the last Big Three branch, Brandon Library, at the end of this first day. Brandon Library is also located next to a park and tennis courts. It boasts a large genealogy room and offers a vast amount of programming for adults, teens, tweens, and children. As is true in all CMRLS branches, everyone is getting ready for upcoming Summer Reading events. The theme “A Universe of Stories” is evident in the space themed decorations seen everywhere. There is also a cute bird watching stand in the children’s area that is very well-loved. Brandon Library is a busy branch that is well-used by its community.

Three women, one wearing glasses, take a selfie in front of shelves of library books.
Lake Library Branch Manager Selena Swink, MLC Library
Consultant Shellie Zeigler, and CMRLS Director Mara Polk

A woman wearing sunglasses smiles at the camera. She is posed in front of a building bearing the sign Lake Public Library.
MLC Library Consultant at Lake Public Library

On our second day, Mara and I traveled to the Lake branch. Selena Swink, the branch manager, had coffee ready for us. This is charming branch that is the perfect size for the Lake community. They host programs down the hall in a community meeting room. The library is right down the road from the school and is well maintained by the branch manager.

An empty chair is pushed up to a table. The table holds a plate of salt, a folded flag on a plate, an open Bible, a flag in a vase, and Missing Man table guidelines.
Missing Man table at Sebastopol Library

Three smiling women, one of them wearing glasses, take a selfie in front of shelves of library books.
Sebastopol Library Branch Manager Megan Sanders, MLC Library
Consultant Shellie Zeigler, and CMRLS Director Mara Polk

When we arrived at Sebastopol Library, the branch manager was working on a huge, cardboard rocket ship for the Summer Reading program. I have to say, I was pretty impressed! There was also a Missing Man Table to honor fallen, missing, and imprisoned members of our military. While a small branch, it is a very clean, inviting library with a well-maintained collection, just part of the reason it won the CMRLS 2019 Small Library of the Year.

The outside of Forest Library, with large columns, metal handrails, and large glass doors
Forest Library

I managed to catch a children’s program at the Forest branch and was completely charmed. The Forest Library’s building almost 10 years old and in pristine shape; it is a gorgeous library. In February, they held a book drive for recent non-fiction books. They had a goal of 100 new non-fiction books and were able to meet and exceed that goal. I think this is such an innovative idea to boost a collection!

Our last stop on this day was the Morton Library. Like all the CMRLS branches, the collections were well maintained with enough room on their shelves for growth. They have an novel way of persuading patrons to pay fines; the names of any patrons who pay their fines in full (no matter the amount) are added to a drawing to win a goodie basket. And what nice baskets they are!!

Parking space is painted purple with a sign at the end.
Combat Wounded parking space at Richland Library

Sign says Reserved Combat Wounded Wounded Warriors Family Support. There is a picture of George Washington surrounded by a purple heart, and then by gold.
Combat Wounded parking sign at Richland Library

Our last day of traveling to branches started with Richland Library. It boasts a perk that I have never seen at a library before, a Combat Wounded parking sign. The space itself is painted purple and recognizes and honors our veterans who were wounded during service to our country.

A smiling woman wearing sunglasses poses next to an outdoor sign that says Pelahatchie The Place To Prosper Public Library 718 Second Street CMRLS
MLC Library Consultant Shellie Zeigler

A gravel walk is surrounded by grass and a few trees. In the near distance is a zip line.
Zipline behind Pelahatchie Library

The Pelahatchie Library has a large ongoing book sale, as well as a permanent zipline behind the library. Pretty cool!! The Sandhill Pisgah Library was charming and already in Summer Reading mode with a Star Wars display. Our last stop, Reservoir Library, is situated right next to a walking trail. It is nestled next to Mill Creek, where one can spy alligators from time to time.

All the CMRLS branches I visited over these three days were not only well-maintained, clean, and inviting, but they were also all distinct to the community where they resided. I admire the administration for encouraging the branch managers and staff to make each branch “their own.” No cookie cutter libraries here! I am very much looking forward to seeing what the other CMRLS branches are like and what treasures I will find. Look for my post next month about their Smith and Simpson county branches!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month

I've been living for 25 years and I've never heard of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, but I have never been so excited to learn a new historical fact. On October 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter put in place a law announcing Asian Pacific American Heritage Week. On October 23, 1992, community pioneers from around the nation saw more progress in Asian Pacific American history when President George Bush signed legislation designating May of each year as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

A smiling man wearing glasses is holding three books about Chinese Americans in Mississippi.

I didn't know that Asian Americans had such a pivotal hand in developing southern American society. There is a hidden history on the effect that Asian Americans had on the development of communities in Mississippi, and the Mississippi Delta specifically. Chinese immigrants moved to the southern United States soon after the Civil War to work on cotton plantations and farms. Later, during the Segregation Era (1900-1939), Chinese American families in the Mississippi Delta ran segregated grocery stores for both black and white customers, sometimes from shops located across the street from each other. The Chinese Americans themselves were ostracized and denied their civil rights while providing this essential service to their non-integrated local communities. They lived in quarters adjacent to their grocery stores because they were denied property ownership. For decades these Americans learned, worshiped, and socialized separately from the Delta’s mainstream population. After the Civil Rights Movement, education and career opportunities opened for following generations. For further history on the impact of Asian-Americans in Mississippi, three books you can check out from the Mississippi Library Commission are: Water Tossing Boulders: How a Family of Chinese Immigrants Led the First Fight to Desegregate Schools in the Jim Crow South by Adrienne Berard, The Mississippi Chinese: Between Black and White by James W. Loewen, and Lotus Among the Magnolias: the Mississippi Chinese by Robert Seto Quan. You can also visit the Mississippi Delta Chinese Heritage Museum at Delta State University in Cleveland.


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