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Monday, February 29, 2016

Meet MLC Monday: Jerry Roberts

Meet Jerry Roberts, Circulation Services Coordinator for Talking Book Services at the Mississippi Library Commission! Mr. Roberts is a Renaissance man when it comes to his job: he supervises circulation services and machine lending for TBS, prepares digital books for patrons, determines which books MLC no longer needs and sends them back to the National Library Service, and makes copies of locally-recorded books and magazines. He even knows how to repair those digital machines! We've been very lucky to have him at MLC for 25 years.

Jerry says that when he began his job all those years ago in 1991, he liked it because it was low stress, even with all the work he had to do. Now, he just plain loves it. "I've really grown to see the importance of my job. I love my job; I love providing entertainment and information to people. For many of our patrons, we are their only access to any sort of activity."

Mr. Roberts likes to run and play basketball. He also recently took up piano lessons. He's a big reader and will read almost anything, but his favorite books are about music and musicians. Jerry is a big Peyton Manning fan, but he likes Cam Newton, too. We expect he had a load of fun during the Super Bowl earlier this month!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Color Your Cares Away

MLC Holiday Party 2015
Recently it seems like everyone has joined in on the adult coloring craze. Mississippi Library Commission staff even colored at our Holiday Party this past December. (It was fun and somehow very soothing.) We've noticed public libraries jumping on the bandwagon with coloring programs and groups, too. The latest edition to this fun fad is the Color Our Collection event that happened at the beginning of February. We thought we'd share some of our favorites so that you can join in the fun!

Hancock County Library System coloring
We know that several libraries and library systems in Mississippi have begun coloring groups and programs. These are just a few:
Until next time, happy reading and coloring!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Meet MLC Monday: Mark Kyzar

Meet Mark Kyzar, Facilities Maintenance for the Mississippi Library Commission. As he puts it, "he takes care of anything that's broken and needs to be fixed." Mr. Kyzar is one of MLC's newest employees. Although he's been working in the maintenance field since 1995, he only came to us from the City of Jackson in October of 2015.

"I love my job. I make sure everything is done so people can be happy in their work environment."

Mr. Kyzar says that some of the best aspects of his job at MLC are that he is always learning something new and always meeting new people. He was pleased to find that all sorts of people visit MLC for meetings in the community room and to consult with staff. He almost met Maggie Wade here a few months ago. (We hope you get another chance soon, Mark!) In his book, libraries and librarians definitely don't fit the boring or shushing stereotypes that have been passed around for ages.

When he's not at MLC, Mr. Kyzar likes to spend time working and playing outdoors. He and his wife enjoy traveling together, especially to places with a lot of local history to offer. They've visited quite a few Southern states recently and had fun hitting several of the places featured on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Mark is also a NASCAR fan--go, Dale Earnhardt!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Beyoncé Gets In Formation for Information

Beyoncé is getting all the ladies in formation for information! In that vein, we'd like to recommend the following 20 recently published books by and about African-Americans. (We know we're leaving out classics like The Souls of Black Folk and The Mis-Education of the Negro, or even Black Boy and Coming of Age in Mississippi. We decided to stick with books published in the last ten years in order to keep the list at manageable length.)
What would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments. Until next time, informative and happy reading!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Happy Retirement, Murphy Mann!

Yesterday, the Mississippi Library Commission honored Murphy Mann, Senior Systems Administrator with a retirement party. Having enjoyed eleven years of exemplary service from Mr. Mann, we'll definitely miss having him here. Your shoes will be very hard to fill, Murphy!

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 Niño 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.)
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