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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

A Letter from Your Friendly MLC Archivist

Miranda Vaughn
Reference/Archives Librarian

Dear Reader,

Today’s letter is all about stereotypes and cliches. No, not those stereotypes and cliches. Well, sort of. Let me explain.

A stereotype (also called a cliché) is a plate of metal used for making copies of prints. First developed in the 1700s in Europe, these plates were traditionally used for printing newspapers. Stereotypes were created from a “mat,” which is essentially a papier-mache mold containing the print that is to be turned into a stereotype. The dried mat was then used to cast the stereotype from hot metal. These metal plates were made primarily of lead and tin and were used on linotype machines or “slug-casting” machines to make the newspaper copies. Stereotypes made it possible to send casts to multiple printers, thus making more copies in less time. 

Purser Hewitt was a notable Mississippi journalist who worked for the Clarion Ledger for
47 years and retired as executive editor in 1973. He was appointed Chairman of the Mississippi
Library Week Committee in 1958 as part of the first annual National Library Week. Pictured here
is the mat containing his image, his image as a stereotype, and the final image in the
Mississippi Library News article featuring the announcement of his role as Chairman.

What does this printing technique have to do with the MLC archives? During the mid-20th century, the Library Commission printed Mississippi Library News, a quarterly journal produced by MLC and the Mississippi Library Association. Since stereotypes were commonly used in printing during this time, MLC used this printing technique to make copies of Mississippi Library News in house. Our archive has a number of stereotypes and mats of photographs used in these newsletters. We also have bound copies of Mississippi Library News to which you can compare these stereotypes. Mississippi Library News is no longer in print and has been replaced by the Mississippi Library Association’s Mississippi Libraries journal.

During the 1970s, more modern printing techniques began replacing stereotypes. Today, we are seeing a shift toward digital printing techniques as well. Despite the rapid changes technology brings, I’m sure there are printing and photography connoisseurs out there who can appreciate our little collection of stereotypes. 

I think it’s only appropriate to end a letter about clichés with an actual cliché: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Don’t you agree?

All the best,
Your friendly MLC archivist

Monday, March 8, 2021

Meet MLC Monday: Jason Walker

A photo of a man is in a circular frame. He is wearing a plaid shirt and glasses and smiling into the camera. He is standing in front of a display case holding books, including Me by Elton John. A quote is beside him, the text is Libraries are priceless, in part because they do so many important things. They educate, they let you escape to new places when reading, and they store information for future generations. Jason Walker systems administrator, MLC logo is below. it says Mississippi Library Commission Leadership Advocacy Service
Meet Jason Walker, Systems Administrator at the Mississippi Library Commission! Jason is one of the helpful voices you hear when you call our Technology Services Help Desk. He also assists with the agency's website. Jason holds a Google Professional IT Support Specialist certificate and has a background in software development. He began working at MLC at the beginning of January.

Jason says he likes his new job because of the new people he has the opportunity to meet and help. "I enjoy working at MLC because I get to educate Mississippians on the technology side of their library systems. I basically get to show them all the things technology has to offer us in order to help our communities grow and prosper."

Jason thinks the fact that libraries provide many, many resources one location is key to their success. "Libraries are priceless, in part because they do so many important things. They educate, they let you escape to new places when reading, and they store information for future generations."

Jason loves to read, and he reads pretty much anything and everything. His favorite book is the New King James Version of the Holy Bible. The last book he read was Introduction to C# for Beginners. In his spare time, Jason spends most of his time with his family and church community. He also likes coding, and is a professionally sponsored RC (remote control) race car driver.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Star Library Status Awarded to 12 Mississippi Public Library Systems

The Mississippi Library Commission recently named 12 public library systems as Star Libraries based on their statistics for fiscal year 2019 (October 1, 2018-September 30, 2019). The library systems are separated into four categories by expenditures that they report on the annual Public Library Survey, required by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. MLC then compares libraries’ per capita rates in these four areas:
  • Mississippi Measures – this is a combination of interlibrary loan use, statewide database use, number of registered users, and items withdrawn.
  • Circulation per capita
  • Total program attendance per capita
  • Public Internet terminal uses per capita

Star Library status is decided by recognizing the three highest scoring libraries in each of the four expenditure categories. Star Library status is awarded to the following libraries for their FY19 statistics:

Under $300,000

$300,000 - $599,999

$600,000 - $999,999

$1,000,000 and above

The winning libraries received a certificate and a digital Star Library badge to feature on their website. Congratulations to the winning libraries!

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Mississippi Talking Books Gets an Update

Mary Rodger Beal, Talking Book Services Director
Sebastian Murdoch, Readers Advisor
a smiling woman poses next to her desktop computer. the computer screen is open to the Mississippi Talking Book services catalog search page.
Talking Book Services Director Mary
Rodgers Beal shows off the updated webpage.
If you're one of our Mississippi Talking Book Services patrons, you may have noticed a few changes in our Talking Book Services online catalog. These changes have been made with your convenience in mind, and we hope you’ll enjoy how much easier it is to navigate our website. 
One new feature? Check which books are waiting to be shipped to you and which books are currently checked out to you!
  1. Log in to your account.

  2. Click on the Account tab.

  3. Click on the Reading History tab.

  4. Browse by Requests, Items Waiting to Ship, or Currently Checked Out Items.

You can also browse recent and popular titles from the main page and order books yourself.

  1. Log in to your account.

  2. Select a book you’d like to order.
  3. At the bottom of the page, click on the Add Book to Your Book Basket button
  4. Click the Proceed to Checkout button.

If you have any questions about how to navigate the site, or if you have questions about becoming a Mississippi Talking Book Services patron, please call our Readers Advisors at 601-432-4151 or toll free at 1-800-446-0892. They'd love to help you!

Call us at 601-432-4151 or toll free at 1-800-446-0892. Two photos accompany this text. One shows a man with a mustache posing next to his desktop computer, the other shows a woman wearing glasses posing next to hers. Both computers are open to the MLC Talking Book Services catalog.
Two of MLC's Talking Book Services Readers Advisors, JD Burns and Sebastian Murdoch

Monday, January 25, 2021

Meet MLC Monday: Margaret Smitherman

We're grateful we can help you get to know our MLC staff better, doubly so when it's our veteran staff. Welcome back to another edition of Meet MLC Monday "Senior Edition"! Margaret Smitherman has been a Readers Advisor with the Mississippi Library Commission's Talking Book Services for the Blind and Print Disabled for nearly 15 years; she started with the agency back in April of 2006. Margaret works directly with Talking Book Services members: assisting with their applications, helping with book requests and suggestions, pointing them in the right direction for other library issues, and, of course, “other duties as assigned”. Some people may not realize this, but our readers advisors are in a unique relationship with their patrons. They talk to many of these library users weekly about books they need and issues they're having. It can become a true labor of love--connecting people with books and the outside world.
Over the years, as Margaret helped people across the state with their book needs, she also helped them adapt to technology and service changes. She says, "When I first came to work here, we had a program called Lobe Library, which was a kind of trial of what our digital book program has become. I was put in charge of this program, where I sent downloaded books from an Audible platform out to a list of participating patrons on a little device that would only hold one book. We did this until the digital book service was well established in 2010."

We asked Margaret a few more tough questions, but she graciously gave us frank answers. We learned that she is a cat-loving early bird who thrives in the warm summer months. She also said that, if she had to hook up two characters from different books, that she would set up David Copperfield with Sara Crewe. "I don’t think there is any danger of them getting married, but I would love to read their letters to each other." Margaret, who is a big fantasy and sci-fi fan, told us about the most famous person she met. She and her husband took a Star Trek cruise with most of the original cast back in 1987. She says, "They were all interesting people to meet, but the one who made the biggest impression on me was Mark Leonard, who played Spock’s father. We got to know him very well, and were even part of an organization that hosted a Star Trek Convention in Jackson with him as the guest in the 1990s."

Stay tuned as we check back in with other long-time MLC staff from time to time here on Meet MLC Monday. Until next time, happy reading!

Thursday, January 21, 2021

A Letter from Your Friendly MLC Archivist

Miranda Vaughn
Reference/Archives Librarian

Dear Reader,

Today’s letter is all about an archaic little contraption from a simpler time when gas prices were only a few cents and speed limits were a new concept. They started as “traveling libraries,” but you may recognize them by their more common name: bookmobiles.

Before their work with the state government to establish the Library Commission, the Mississippi Federation of Women’s Clubs (MFWC) established traveling libraries across the state. These traveling libraries were meant to reach those who did not have access to public libraries, as much of Mississippi was rural and did not have public libraries when MFWC was first founded in the late 1800s. Once the Library Commission was formed in the 1930s, it was tasked with not only setting up public libraries in every single county, but it also took over the traveling library services. Over time, these traveling libraries came to be affectionately known as “bookmobiles.”

It took several decades to establish public libraries in all 82 counties, so MLC sent out bookmobiles to give a library experience to Mississippians who did not have access to public libraries. Based on memos from the 1950s, it seems that these bookmobiles reached several thousand people in the counties where they were used. Unfortunately, these bookmobiles were in use during times of segregation and often did not offer services to the Black population. However, in some counties they were sent to “Negro schools.” Coahoma County, for example, serviced nearly 3,000 Black students per year at segregated schools in the early 1950s.

Mississippi author, W. Ralph Eubanks, recalls his experience with bookmobiles in rural Mississippi at the end of the civil rights movement in this article. In 1955, an MLC bookmobile began servicing the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. According to a national newsletter from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the bookmobile serviced six Choctaw schools in its first visit. The number of books checked out doubled on the second visit. The bureau was ecstatic!

Bookmobiles became less popular as more public libraries were built in rural areas. As rising maintenance cost clashed with available funding, Mississippi libraries began to slowly retire their wheels. By the late 1990s, most of the bookmobiles in the state were out of service. Lee-Itawamba and First Regional library systems kept their bookmobile services going. The Madison County Library System revived their bookmobile service in 2019.

The Mississippi Library Commission has offered a myriad of services over the years, but the bookmobile service is one that has sentimental value to generations of library users. It awakens the same nostalgia that comes from an ice cream truck or county fair – a sense of youthfulness and wonder. It is a book lover’s dream to have a library wherever they go. Maybe these archaic contraptions aren’t so archaic after all. 

All the best,

Your friendly MLC archivist

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Books We Loved in 2020

A lot of us had lofty reading goals when 2020 began, but the truth is that sometimes we didn't feel much like reading. (And that's okay!) Binge-watching mindless television or baking away our troubles took precedence at times. Eventually though, we found our way back to the balm of books: books to take our minds off things, books to soothe the soul, books that showed us worlds 10,000 times better (or worse!) that our current situation. We offer the following selection of MLC staff's favorite books read in the last year. Many were published in 2020, but you'll find classics here as well. Scroll through to find well-loved books in a variety of genres for all ages. Once you're done, let us know what you loved reading in 2020 in the comments.

Comics/Graphic Novels

  • The Daughters of Ys
    M.T. Anderson and Jo Rioux (2020)
  • When Stars Are Scattered
    Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed (2020)
    "Even though this graphic novel memoir is aimed at middle grade readers, people of all ages will be drawn to its themes of hope, resilience, and familial love."
  • Harleen
    Stjepan Šejić (2020)

  • They Called Us Enemy
    George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, and Harmony Becker (2019)
  • Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me
    Rosemary Valero-O'Connell and Mariko Tamaki (2019)
    "Learning how to respect yourself and not lose yourself when you're in a romantic relationship with someone else--this book nails it."
  • Are You Listening?
    Tillie Walden (2019)
    "Genuine human connections and a mysterious cat. I was completely entranced."
  • The Prince and the Dressmaker
    Jen Wang (2018)

Adult Fiction

  • Anxious People
    Fredrik Backman (2020)
    "It’s the world’s worst hostage situation with the world’s most neurotic hostages. Backman does a wonderful job exploring what make people PEOPLE. The book clips along at a wonderful pace and just about every other chapter has a reveal that makes you re-evaluate everything you’ve read so far."
  • Wish You Well
    David Baldacci (2000)
    "I read a lot of David Baldacci this year, but this one had a particular message for me."
  • Battleground 
  • Peace Talks
    Jim Butcher (2020)
    "I have been reading a lot of escapism--no-thought, sci-fi pulp--but the back to back release of the two Dresden File books was high on my list of best moments."
    "I have been reading this series since the early 2000s and Jim Butcher is one of my favorite authors."
  • The Girl in the Mirror
    Rose Carlyle (2020)
    "One of the best twisty mystery/thriller novels I read this year."
  • And Then There Were None
    Agatha Christie (1939)
  • Ring Shout
    P. Djèlí Clark
    "Alternate history considering the idea that hate turns people into actual monsters that are only perceptible to the few who fight them. Unsettling."
  • Piranesi
    Susanna Clarke (2020)
    "Piranesi’s always lived in the House…until one day, somebody else shows up. This is a weird little atmospheric fantasy book about being alone but not being alone, being trapped but not being trapped, and making the most of your surroundings. So you know, the perfect 2020 quarantine read."
  • The Chimes: A Goblin Story of Some Bells that Rang an Old Year Out and a New Year In
    Charles Dickens (1844)
    "My husband and I started 2020 by reading this as an audiobook while sitting in front of our fire pit on New Year's Eve. I count it, because we didn't finish until around 1:30 AM. I had always meant to read it and that just seemed like the perfect time."

  • Leopard's Wrath
    Christine Feehan (2019)
  • The Guest List
    Lisa Foley (2020)
    "A modern-day take on Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None set on an Irish island. I binge-read this."
  • Into the Drowning Deep
    Mira Grant (2017) 
  • Snow Falling on Cedars
    David Guterson (1994)
  • An Anonymous Girl
    Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen (2019)
  • Beach Read
    Emily Henry (2020)
    "When I was stuck in a reading slump, this book pulled me back out by the hair. Its story, at times heartbreakingly sweet and poignant, led me from cover to cover until I was at the end and wishing it would never be over."
  • The Bone Tree
  • Mississippi Blood
  • Natchez Burning
    Greg Iles (2015, 2017, 2014)
    "In my ongoing effort to read and become familiar with the works of Mississippi authors, I enjoyed several books in the Penn Cage series by Greg Iles set in the Natchez area (Port Gibson to the southwest corner of Wilkinson County). Iles's characters in these books are both intricate and audacious, spanning the concepts of both good and evil. These larger than life stories are surely "must reads" for anyone who wants to be familiar with one of the state's "to be treasured" authors. Who would think that an attempt to do the right thing would foster so very many evil actions by demoniac individuals acting singularly and in groups? During this time of isolation due to the pandemic, these three titles helped this reader to temporarily forget the stress of the virus."

  • The City We Became
    N.K. Jemisin (2020)
    "Jemisin really showed in this book that she can not only do high fantasy but is also adept at contemporary fantasy. The modern characters and setting crackle with life and wit, and the story itself pulled me taut with excitement and anticipation the entire time I was reading."

  • The Only Good Indians
    Stephen Graham Jones (2020)
    "This was a good year for horror, exemplified by none other than this book, which expertly tackles both the genre and the societal issues surrounding Native American culture. This tale is gripping, terrifying, and one I wish I could erase from my brain so I could have the pleasure of reading it for the first time again."
    "Great exploration on how our past haunts us."

  • Chasing Cassandra
  • It Happened One Autumn
    Lisa Kleypas (2020, 2005)

  • The Historian
    Elizabeth Kostova (2005)
    "I go back and listen to this audiobook every couple of years. It is such a good story and well put together."

  • Thalmaturge
    Terry Mancour (2019)
  • Pale Fire
    Vladimir Nabokov (1962)
    "Worth the hype."

  • Witch World
  • Web of the Witch World
  • Three Against the Witch World
    Andre Norton (1963, 1964, 1965)
    "I read a lot of new biographies and memoirs this year, but I got the most enjoyment from rereading an old series of books that I read as a child. Andre Norton's Witch World series first caught my attention when I was in the fifth grade, and I rejoiced every time I found a new book in it."

  • What Are You Going Through
    Sigrid Nunez (2020)
    "The Friend was better, but this was also good."

  • Moon of the Crusted Snow
    Waubgeshig Rice (2018)
    "A small town/tribal community is cut off from society for an unknown reason and must rely on their ancestors' knowledge to survive. Timely."

  • The Black Swan of Paris
    Karen Robards (2020)
    "A historical fiction WWII spy novel that delivered and made me sad when it was over."

  • Normal People
    Sally Rooney (2018)

  • The Wise Man's Fear
    Patrick Rothfuss (2011)

  • The Perfect Guests
    Emma Rous (2021)
    "I loved the flashing back and forth between the present and the past while the book got closer and closer to revealing the truth about a wealthy family."

  • Home Before Dark
    Riley Sager (2020)

  • Elephant Man
    Christine Sparks (1980)

  • The Sun Down Motel
    Simone St. James (2020)
    "A ghost story in an old and creepy roadside motel. Yes, please."

  • No Rest for the Restless
    R.W. Stone (2020)
    "First western I've read. Really enjoyed it and will read more."

  • The Past is Never
    Tiffany Quay Tyson (2018)

  • The Bourbon Kings 
  • Consumed
    J.R. Ward (2015, 2018)

  • Mobius
    Garon Whited (2019)

Adult Nonfiction

  • The Worst Journey in the World
    Apsley Cherry-Garrard (1922)
    "Being in the Antarctic SUCKS and Cherry-Garrard does a wonderful job explaining how. This wonderful exploration of Robert Scott’s ill-fated polar expedition is a combination of the author’s memories and diary entries from other members of the expedition. It’s a little heavy at times, but so worth it."
  • Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed
    Lori Gottlieb (2019)
  • As the Last Lead Falls: A Pagan's Perspective on Death, Dying, and Bereavement
    Kristoffer Hughes (published as The Journey into Spirit in 2014)
    "I listened to a presentation the author did about his work in May and I immediately ordered his book. It was really one of the most beautiful views of death and his pagan rituals surrounding it."
  • My Trip Down the Pink Carpet
    Leslie Jordan (2008)
  • Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family
    Robert Kolker (2020)
    "After listening to a podcast by Shellie and Tracy, I read Tracy's recommendation of Hidden Valley Road. I enjoy nonfiction, and I have to agree with Tracy that it was one of my favorite books for the year."
  • Greenlights
    Matthew McConaughey (2020)
    "The audiobook is amazing since Matthew is doing his own reading for you. You can hear him smile as he reads his life stories out loud. It's simply an awesome memoir with a positive way to look at life and how best to catch those "greenlights in life" and not let the yellow and red lights slow you down. I rate it five "warm and fuzzy" stars."
  • I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer
    Michelle McNamara (2018)
    "When I heard that HBO was making a six-part documentary series based on the book of the same name, I decided to read the book. Knowing that the author died before finishing the book gives the reader an added layer of context. You feel the desperation of the author to come so close to discovering the killer only to have passed away before knowing her work would result in the capture of a decades long predator. Maybe not the best for reading before bed, but a strong read for those that like true crime."
  • Race Against Time: A Reporter Reopens the Unsolved Murder Cases of the Civil Rights Era
    Jerry Mitchell (2020)
  • Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
    Trevor Noah (2016)
  • Erebus: The Story of a Ship
    Michael Palin (2018)
    "This is a fun, easy-to-read history book about HMS Erebus, the British naval vessel who had a tour of the Antarctic and later mysteriously vanished in the Arctic! Palin’s narrative voice is super fun and you get such a wonderful view of this ship’s history and all the places she went."
  • The Order of Time
    Carlo Rovelli (2017)
  • Open Book
    Jessica Simpson (2020)
  • Arcadia
    Tom Stoppard (1993)
  • The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love
    Sonya Renee Taylor (2018)
  • Memorial Drive
    Natasha Trethewey (2020)
    "Devastatingly gorgeous, this just made me want to hug my momma close." 

Picture Books

  • Stick and Stone
    Beth Ferry and Tom Lictenheld (2015)
    "Simple, yet detailed artwork tells a story of friendship."
  • Looking Out for Sarah
    Glenna Lang (2001)
    "Beautifully illustrated story about a seeing-guide dog and his day-to-day tasks. Based on a real pup and person. Plus there is a dog. :)"
  • We Are Water Protectors
    Carole Lindstrom and Michaela Goada (2020)
    "The art is stunning . The story is equally good and pairs well with the illustrations."
  • Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story
    Juana Martinez-Neal and Kevin Noble Maillard (2019)
    "I love fry bread. This book is a celebration of that delectable treat and of the indigenous people across North America who make it."
  • Unicorn Day
    Diana Murray and Luke Flowers (2019)
    "Chaotic artwork, but in a good way. A delightful tale of acceptance."
  • In Our Mothers' House
    Patricia Polacco (2009)
    "I love Patricia Polacco and this book, showcasing a lesbian couple and their adopted children, gave me all the warm and fuzzy feels."
  • My Papi Has a Motorcycle
    Isabel Quintero and Zeke Peña (2019)
    "A celebration of father-daughter love and of the importance of community."
  • The Most Magnificent Thing
    Ashley Spires (2014)
    "A great picture book about emotions and creating things. Plus, there is a dog. :)"
  • Coming on Home Soon
    Jacqueline Woodson and James E. Ransome (2001) 
  • Visiting Day
    Jacqueline Woodson and E.B. Lewis (2004)
    "Both of these super sweet books focus on children who live with their grandmothers while their parent is away. I ached for them when they missed their parent--one in prison, the other far away working--but I basked in the glow of that grandmotherly love."
  • William's Doll
    Charlotte Zolotow and William Pène du Bois (1972)
    "William knows what he wants and what he wants is a doll. Smashing gender stereotypes back in the 70s!"

Middle Grade


  • The Girl and the Ghost
    Hanna Alkaf (2020)
    "I adored this Malaysian ghost tale: a girl inherits a ghost from her grandmother, setting her off on a fascinating quest."
  • Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe
    Jo Watson Hackl (2018)
    "A girl in a Mississippi ghost town named Cricket searches for a secret room her mother told her about. Well-researched."
  • Indian No More
    Charlene Willing McManis and Traci Sorell (2019)
    "Set in the mid-1950s, Indian No More tells the true story of a young girl from the Umpqua tribe. When the US government terminates her tribe, her immediate family moves to California and starts a new, very different, life."
  • The Bad Beginning
    Lemony Snicket (1999)
    "I used to love these books and it turns out I still do. I reread all of them this year, but I'm just going to list the first one."


  • The Night Country
    Melissa Albert (2020)

  • The Darkest Part of the Forest
    Holly Black (2015)
  • Clown in a Cornfield
    Adam Cesare (2020)
    "Like reading an 80s slasher film."
  • These Shallow Graves
    Jennifer Donnelly (2015)
  • Copper Sun
    Sharon Draper (2006)
  • Pet
    Akwaeke Emezi (2019)
    "Just because you pretend something is gone doesn't mean it's so."
  • Come Tumbling Down
    Seanan McGuire (2020)
    "Every year, I eagerly await the next book in the Wayward Children series. This year's installment was one of the best yet. I just want to hug these books, I love them so much."
  • Prophecy 
  • Warrior
  • King
    Ellen Oh (2013, 2013, 2015)
  • Witch Child
    Celia Rees (2000)
  • Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All
    Laura Ruby (2019)
    "I love a good, non-scary ghost story and this historical mystery was amazing."

We hope you discovered a few books to read in 2021, whether they're old favorites are brand new. Until next time, happy reading!

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