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Friday, October 17, 2014

Book Club in a Box presents The Good Lord Bird

We've added so many new titles to our Book Club in a Box program this year! I'm going to try and feature most of them here on the blog at some point so all of you can see them and learn more.

We recently added The Good Lord Bird by James McBride to our collection. Published in 2013, The Good Lord Bird is a National Book Award for Fiction winner. Below is a summary of the book from The National Book Foundation's website.

"Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, when the region is a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forces. When John Brown, the legendary abolitionist, arrives in the area, an argument between Brown and Henry’s master quickly turns violent. Henry is forced to leave town—with Brown, who believes he’s a girl.

Over the ensuing months, Henry—whom Brown nicknames Little Onion—conceals his true identity as he struggles to stay alive. Eventually Little Onion finds himself with Brown at the historic raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859—one of the great catalysts for the Civil War.

An absorbing mixture of history and imagination, and told with McBride’s meticulous eye for detail and character, The Good Lord Bird is both a rousing adventure and a moving exploration of identity and survival."

Get more information about the book and see James McBride's acceptance speech for the National Book Award here.

Feel free to contact me for more information about this book and any others we have available through our program! You can reach me by phone at 601-432-4117 or email at .

Our Book Club in a Box kits contain 10 copies of the title as well as discussion materials.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Free Currency Readers

Beginning in September 2014, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), partnered with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, began a four-month pilot program to distribute free currency readers to NLS patrons. These small devices, also known as iBill Talking Bank Note Identifiers, use either speech, a tone, or a vibration to alert visually impaired or blind persons to the amount of their paper currency. To receive a free money reader NLS patrons can call or email the Mississippi Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped:


Not an NLS patron? Give the number above a call and our staff can get you started on the application process.
Once you request your free money reader, it may be a few months before you receive it. You will be placed on a list that will be sent to NLS. We are hoping that the money readers will be sent to patrons in the late Fall. There is a limit of 1 money reader per patron. Beginning in January 2015, the money readers will have their national rollout and become available for U.S. citizens who have visual impairments or are blind.

For more information, call the number above or head to this website:

Friday, October 3, 2014

Sugar, sugar

The holidays are right around the corner and they usually involve copious amounts of food and drink. One main ingredient used in both is sugar. The Food Encyclopedia explains that "until the 16th century, when cane sugar from the West Indies became readily available and expensive, the world depended mainly on honey as its sweetener" (Rolland, 622). Sugar, or sucrose, is actually quite complex! We wanted to share some nuggets about sugar with you!
  • Jaggery - This type of sugar, similar to brown sugar, comes from the sap of certain palm trees! It's an "unrefined, dark, flavorful palm sugar...used across the Indian subcontinent and in parts of Southeast Asia" (Rolland, 346). It's usually molded and sold in blocks or loaves.
  • Baker's Sugar (or superfine or ultrafine sugar) - It's not a powder, but "consists of tinier crystals than those in ordinary granulated sugar" (Wolke, 12). This makes it dissolve quickly in cold water. It's often used by bartenders and bakers. Now we know why ordinary table (or "granulated") sugar doesn't quite dissolve well in cold drinks!
  • Powdered sugar is made up of about 3% cornstarch.
  • Beet sugar - "If it doesn't say 'Pure Cane Sugar' on the package, it's probably beet" (Wolke, 16). In
    Sugar Beet
    the 18th century, French chemist, Andreas Sigismund Marggraf, found that the sugar extracted from a special white variety of beet was similar to sucrose from sugarcane. It's tougher to produce because "the beets contain many bad-tasting and foul-smelling impurities that must be removed" (Wolke, 16). The sugar beet grows in temperate climates whereas sugarcane grows in tropical climates.
  • Blackstrap, or stroop (Dutch) - Molasses is the leftover syrup from the crystallization of sucrose from the juice of sugarcane. Sugar goes through three phases of crystallization, and blackstrap is the product from the final phase of the process. This type of molasses is more concentrated, and often described as bitter. It's an acquired taste.
According to the American Heart Association, "Americans eat about 20 teaspoons of sugar a day", and teens and men consume the most added sugar. Check out their website for more facts about sugar and diet.

As for the upcoming holidays, come on by and check out our cookbook collection so you can plan your holiday meals!

Rolland, Jacques, et al. The Food Encyclopedia: Over 8,000 ingredients, tools, techniques and people. Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose Inc., 2006. Print
Wolke, Robert. What Einstein Told His Cook. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2002. Print

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Letters About Literature 2015

It’s time again for Letters About Literature, the national reading and writing contest for students in grades 4-12! In the contest, students write a personal letter to the author—living or dead—of their favorite books, explaining what the books meant to them, how the books changed their lives, how they related to the characters…or anything at all, as long as it is a personal letter! Books can be nonfiction, fiction, or even a short story, poem, or speech.

There are three Levels of Competition:
Level I: Grades 4-6
Level II: Grades 7-8
Level III: Grades 9-12

Letters About Literature awards prizes on both the state and national levels. Each participating state center has its own panel of judges who select the top essayists in the state. State Winners will receive a cash award--$100 for first place, $75 for second place, and $50 for third place in the competition levels—and first place letters will advance to the national level judging. A panel of national judges for the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress will select one National Winner per competition level to receive a $1,000 cash award. The judges will also select one National Honor per competition level to receive a $200 cash award.

In order to accommodate high volumes of letters, there are two different deadlines:

Letters for Level III (grades 9-12) are due by December 15, 2014
Letters for Levels I and II (grades 4-8) are due by January 15, 2015

Entries must be accompanied by an entry coupon; a copy of the official rules and an entry coupon (located in the official rules) are available at the Letters About Literature website.

For more information, contact Mississippi Center for the Book Coordinator Tracy Carr at

Please pass this information on to other teachers, librarians, or parents who might be interested.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Coffee-holics Rejoice

As caffeine lovers, we were delighted to discover that today is International Coffee Day. It seems that despite the early hour when we usually imbibe the world's most flavorful drink, we've managed to come up with quite a few names for it. According to the Oxford English Dictionary and The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang, here are just a few other names for coffee:

For Mississippi coffee lovers, we've found a fun trivia nugget for you! The town of Hot Coffee, Mississippi was apparently named after--you guessed it--everyone's favorite morning beverage. There are two slightly different stories as to who gave the town its name:

According to Hometown, Mississippi, the town:
was supposedly formed in 1870 when E. L. Craft built a lunch counter to serve the people who traveled the road to market. The people did their marketing either in Mobile or Ellisville, so Craft built his lunch counter on the road which served both places. The Craft Lunch Counter specialized in the making of good coffee and became famous for miles around (as) the place to get real good hot coffee. The settlement finally took the name Hot Coffee and a big coffee pot was erected as a sign to let travelers know they had reached the place. 124
Mississippi: The WPA Guide to the Magnolia State has a different account:
According to James Street, immediately after the War between the States, J. J. Davis of Shiloh swapped a sabre for a sick horse, swapped the horse for a wagon, swapped the wagon for another horse, and after a week of such swapping found himself with enough cash to start a store. He gathered his possessions and came here, building a store by the old Taylorsville-Williamsburg Road. He hung a coffee pot over his door, and served hot coffee that was both hot and good, made of pure spring water and New Orleans beans. He used molasses drippings for sugar and the customer could have either long or short sweetening; he refused to serve cream, saying it ruined the taste. Politicians from Taylorsville and Williamsburg patronized the store, serving coffee to their constituents and anyone else who happened to be around. Travelers coming by on their way from Mobile to Jackson drank Mr. Davis's coffee while eating the food they brought with them. Old Mr. Davis died in 1880... 499
No cream? No matter. We invite you to drop by the Mississippi Library Commission, with coffee, if you so choose. Pick up a book and a coffee-scented bookmark and have a caffeinated day!

Brieger, James. Hometown, Mississippi. 1980. Print.
Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration. Mississippi: The WPA Guide to the Magnolia State. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2009. Print.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Banned Books Week 2014: Graphic Novels

Banned Books Week’s theme for this year focuses on comic books and graphic novels.  Comic books and graphic novels have become very popular in the last few years, and we see more of them popping up in library collections.  The Mississippi Library Commission has even added a new graphic novels collection.

According to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, comic books are challenged for the same reasons as other books, but are more vulnerable because of their visual content.  Comic books are commonly challenged for “adult content,” “inappropriate language,” “violence/horror,” “sex/nudity,” or not being “age appropriate.”  Some have the misconception that comic books are a low value of speech and only for juvenile audiences.

Banned/challenged comic books and graphic novels from MLC's graphic novel collection:

by Craig Thompson
  •     Sexually explicit/nudity

Fun Home
by Alison Bechdel
  •          Sexually explicit/nudity
  •          Homosexuality

by Art Spiegelman

  •         Anti-ethnic
  •      Unsuited for age group

by Marjane Satrapi

  •           Offensive language
  •            Violence
  •            Unsuitable for age group

Stuck in the Middle
edited by Ariel Schrag

  •           Offensive language
  •           Sexually explicit/nudity
    •           Drug reference

      by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

      •           Violence
      •           Sexually explicit/nudity
      •           Offensive language
      •           Unsuited for age group

      For more information about comic books and graphic novels that have been challenged visit
      Don't forget to stop by MLC or your local library to check out more banned books.

      Monday, September 22, 2014

      Celebrate the Freedom to Read - Banned Books Week 2014

      Banned Books Week 2014 runs from Sunday, September 21-Saturday, September 27. Each year, libraries, booksellers, readers, and other people whose business is books gather in their support of the "freedom to read". During the week, many places hold special events and present special displays with the intent of highlighting banned and censored books. This year, the Mississippi Library Commission is joining in the festivities for this important commemorative event. Drop by the Reference Department between 8 and 5 this Monday and Friday and have your picture taken with a censored or banned book. We bet there are some on our censorship cart that will surprise you. By the way, the theme this year is graphic novels and comic books. How exciting for us that we get to show off our new graphic novel section in such a rewarding manner!

      We designed these nifty bookmarks to go inside some of our books that have a history of being suppressed.

      If you'd like to make your own, you can borrow our templates here: