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Monday, July 11, 2016

Meet MLC Monday: Mac Buntin

Meet Mac Buntin, Senior Library Consultant at the Mississippi Library Commission. Mr. Buntin is one of four library consultants at the agency and one of the biggest parts of his job is providing consulting services and giving advice to library directors, library staff, and administrative trustees. He also leads numerous specialized training sessions for these groups. For instance, many people are surprised by how many statutes in the Mississippi Code directly apply to the running of Mississippi public libraries; Mac is essential in specialized areas like this. Buntin is also integral to teen services in the state; he assists with programming and helps identify gaps in library services to teenagers. Mac administers the Summer Library Program for the state and is a past president of the Collaborative Summer Library Program.

He holds a Master of Arts in French and a Master of Library Science from the University of Alabama. In 2011, Mac received the Peggy May Award, which "recognizes individuals who exemplify Peggy May's outstanding achievement in library development and/or recruitment of personnel to the library field." Mac began work at the Mississippi Library Commission in January, 1999.

Library visits are some of Mac's favorite aspects of his job. "It's just so much fun!" He loves reconnecting with library staff across the state and letting them show off their libraries and their fellow staff members. He especially revels in the creativity and dedication of the librarians across the state. "They make things appear out of nothing," he says, referring to the low funding and budgets that Mississippi libraries have and the tremendous amount of programming and community support they still manage to provide.

Buntin is a huge library fan, supporter, and advocate. "Libraries are the foundation of our education system. You absolutely cannot do without them. Academic libraries, school libraries, and public libraries are capable of forming great partnerships to better serve their communities." He goes on to say, "Libraries are great equalizers. In this day and age, we tend to think, 'Oh, just download some dirt cheap books and you're set. Who needs libraries?' We tend to overlook that many, many people still don't have access to do these sorts of things, or can't afford to do these sorts of things, online. Libraries fill the gap."

Mac enjoys reading a great variety of books, he likes everything from Umberto Eco, Ian Caldwell, and James Michener, to Anne McCaffrey, Rita Mae Brown, and Katherine Kurtz. Seeking a bit of whimsy, he collects elephant figurines and reading garden gnomes. He is also an avid sports fan and is really looking forward to the Olympics this summer. "Countries that can't stand each other will shake hands and be nice for two weeks, all in the interest of sports. It can be done!" Gymnastics and swimming are two of his favorite events. Mac is also a University of Alabama fan. Roll Tide!

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