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Thursday, February 11, 2016

MS Library Spotlight: Bay St. Louis Public Library

Last week, one of our library consultants and our PR manager visited Mississippi's Gulf Coast. While acting as consultants, they visited the Hancock County Library System and were able to tour the library and all it has to offer. From their large adult and children's sections and computer sections for children and the sighted and the visually impaired, to small details like their scanning station and adult coloring program, the Bay St. Louis Public Library has a lot to offer. Fun fact: The Bay St. Louis Library is a National Literary Landmark because Stephen Ambrose spent so much time writing and researching there.

Public and Information Services Officer Adrienne Bradley and Hancock County Library System Executive Director Courtney Thomas are shown near the library's Foundation Tree, which was "designed as a symbol of the importance of library advocacy." Leaves and stepping stones are inscribed with the names of those people donors to the library system wish to memorialize and/or honor.

Ashton Burge is the Information Services Supervisor. We caught him helping a patron at the Bay St. Louis Reference Desk. Have a question? Give them a call at 228-467-5282 ext. 13.

MLC's Library Consultant, Ally Watkins, checks out the collection at Bay St. Louis. Librarians gotta read, y'all.
Bay St. Louis has incorporated these eye-catching shelf talkers into their collection. They highlight the system's eBook collection and allow patrons to access this alternative way to check out books in a quick and easy way.

We couldn't resist including this picture of Bay St. Louis's very own library cat. Her name is Weezie and you can learn more about her here.
Mississippi artist Elizabeth Veglia created this mosaic for the library back in 1995. She trained volunteers in the art of mosaic and they then helped her create this masterpiece celebrating life on the coast. Isn't it gorgeous?

Our Mississippi Library Commission staff enjoyed consulting and visiting with the staff of the Hancock County Library System. We'll see you soon!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Power in Numbers

By Susan Cassagne
Executive Director
Mississippi Library Commission

“The health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture, and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries.”
-Carl Sagan, renowned astrophysicist/astrobiologist

There is power in numbers. How often have we heard those words throughout our lives, only to picture something that didn’t seem to apply to us as we moved through our normal day? Have you ever had the opportunity to gather with a group of like-minded folks to stand up for something you believe to be important to those you value? It is a powerful feeling.

Throughout time, having something to fight for has been a part of the human condition. It is part of what makes us the complicated, larger-than-life species that runs the planet. Our greatest sense of accomplishment can come from working for a cause and seeing those efforts create positive change for all involved.

Public libraries across Mississippi change lives and build communities. It happens on a daily basis with little fanfare. They open their doors each day to offer inspiration, education, assistance, and a window to the world outside the Magnolia State. In many of our communities, the public library may be the only place to connect with all of life’s possibilities. This certainly sounds like a worthy cause… one we can all believe in and support.

Eighty-one percent of the funds appropriated to the Mississippi Library Commission from the legislature are in turn allocated to the state’s 52 public library systems. This invaluable funding also comes with support through leadership, advocacy and training. We ask that you keep in mind that your vote elected our lawmakers so they can use their influence to support what benefits your community. It’s easy to assume that government supports public libraries, and most do—we just need to make our presence known as a reminder of our value to the 2.9 million residents of Mississippi. It is time. Time to gather together to build a strong group of advocates… to feel the power… the power in numbers.

Join us on the First Floor Rotunda of the Mississippi State Capitol on Tuesday, March 8th from 11:00am to 2:00pm as we advocate for libraries across the state.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Meet MLC Monday: Bonita Harris

Meet Bonita Harris, Administrative Assistant for the Mississippi Library Commission's Administrative Services Bureau. Her job includes assisting with paperwork and filing in her area, and includes tasks like setting up new hire packets and processing time sheet records. She also processes incoming and outgoing mail for the entire agency, assists with agency events, and fills in at the Reception Desk. July 2016 will mark ten years at MLC for Bonita.

She says, "I love my job. I love helping other people." If you've been lucky enough to meet Ms. Harris as you've entered our building or while attending a meeting, you know this to be true. Her smile and positive outlook brighten our environment every day here at the state library.

Bonita and her husband have three boys aged 1, 3, and 8. She bought her oldest son a Kindle which she liked for its quick and easy access to books. Then she found out that he wasn't actually reading the books she downloaded! She turned to local libraries and independent bookstores for hard copies of books for her children so that they could read together. She says she has really enjoyed introducing her boys to new books and that she's become somewhat of a picture book connoisseur herself. Her three year old's new favorite book is Meet Me at the Moon, which he received from Imagination Library. Her eight year old is a Diary of a Wimpy Kid fan. Ms. Harris's new favorite in picture-book-land, however, is Yuyi Morales. She says all three of her kids loved NiƱo Wrestles the World and that she can't wait for her next book, Thunder Boy, Jr., to come out this spring.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Meet MLC Monday: Cindy Nugent

Meet Cindy Nugent, Outreach Coordinator for the Mississippi Library Commission's Talking Book Services. Her outreach activities for the agency include things like setting up and manning displays at conferences and speaking to various groups and organizations such as schools and nursing homes. Ms. Nugent also assists with reader's advisory and planning special events, like Pratt-Smoot Day and volunteer recognition. She's been working at MLC for 18 years.

"I love my job. I feel like what I do is really important. It's not just a job--I change lives."

Ms. Nugent says, "I'm dyslexic; I understand the struggle of trying to read something and not be able to. Working with children who struggle with reading is so important. I love watching them become better readers with audiobooks. I love watching them increase their comprehension of what they've read, and I definitely love watching them develop a love for books. A lot of kids come back to me and say, 'Oh, Ms. Cindy! Look at all the great books that I missed because I couldn't read! Now I'm reading them ALL!'"

She feels blessed by her adult patrons, too. She says that many of them feel rewarded by having an activity they can do by themselves without any help, especially those in nursing homes, etc... "The books," she says, "become their lives. The narrators are the actors and their minds are the screen. I can see how much joy I bring to their lives when the excitement they have about the books they're reading bubbles over. They love telling me about their current reads."

Cindy enjoys cooking, baking, genealogy research--hers and other family members--and traveling. She's currently reading The Tilted World by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly. (It's MLC's staff book club selection this month.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Good-bye, Jane Smith

Jane Smith (left) with Sharman Smith (right)
When Jane Smith retired from the Mississippi Library Commission in 2010, our farewell to her read in part, "her passion is libraries and her love is books." She has been an integral part of the library community in Mississippi for a very long time.

From left to right: Ethel Dunn, Glenda Tilson, Jane Smith, and Sharman Smith
Smith started at MLC as a Library Consultant March 1, 1980. She held a variety of positions and titles in the thirty years she worked with us, including Library Consultant Supervisor, Acting Assistant Director for Library Development, Assistant Director for Library Development, Deputy Director, Director of Public Services, and Acting Director of the Mississippi Library Commission. (She held this last position not once, but twice.) Jane was also the 2006 MLA Peggy May Award winner.

Farewell party with Tracy Carr (left) and Jane Smith (right)
In 1992, she was key in securing $10 million in bond funding for public libraries This was ths first time the Mississippi Legislature had approved such funding for public libraries. It led to 100 new and newly renovated public library buildings in the state.

Smith was the person who contacted Senator Gray Ferris about developing a statewide collection of databases for use by public libraries. Ferris thought it was a great idea and academic, public, and school libraries joined forces to get legislative support. The end result was MAGNOLIA, which is still in use today. Other states followed Jane's and Mississippi's lead and began offering statewide access to databases.

Jane passed away yesterday morning, January 26, 2016, in Jackson, Mississippi. There will be no formal funeral service, but a celebration of her life will be held soon. MLC Executive Director Susan Cassagne said, "She was a presence. She was always fair and ready to listen. She was an integral part of the MLC family for many years; she will be missed. Please keep her family in your thoughts and prayers."

The Packet April/June, 2009.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Meet MLC Monday: Lawrence Smith

Meet Lawrence Smith, Patent Librarian at the Mississippi Library Commission! Along with patents, Mr. Smith also handles trademarks, copyrights, and documents. He's been working at MLC for twenty years, starting with the agency when they were at their Ellis Avenue location and moving with them to their new building on Eastwood Drive in 2005.

"I love my job. When you can give a customer what they want, it makes them feel good and then you feel good."

"A lot of people call around to companies first and get quoted big fees. Then they call MLC. They're always surprised that we're free, plus we offer hands-on service. I like when people discover the Mississippi Library Commission. They go through the process of applying for a copyright or a trademark or a patent and they do it all themselves. It makes them feel good about themselves."

Mr. Smith enjoys reading books on business and entrepreneurship. He's also a Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The First American Novel

Picture from The Library of Congress
The Power of Sympathy; or, The Triumph of Nature by William Hill Brown is considered by many to be the first American novel. It was published in Boston, Massachusetts, on January 21, 1789, by Isaiah Thomas. The novel is written in epistolary form and is based on actual events; however, it is classified as a work of fiction. The novel is meant to promote moral rectitude, mainly among women, and reflect the danger of yielding to sexual temptations and the rewards of abstinence.

William Hill Brown was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in November of 1765. At the age of 24, Brown published The Power of Sympathy anonymously. There were several ideas as to the author of this novel, but Brown's niece confirmed that he was definitely the author in 1894. Brown also used the pseudonym "Columbus" for many of his other writings, which were published in the Massachusetts Magazine and the Journal. In 1792, Brown moved south to Murfreesboro, North Carolina, to study law. In August of 1793, malaria struck the area and Brown fell ill. He passed away September 2, 1793, at the age of 27. His literary career was carried on by his aunt (the half-sister of his father's second wife), Catharine Byles.

There has been much debate as to whether or not The Power of Sympathy was actually the first American novel. What do you think?
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