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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Camp Kudzu: Buildings of a Better World

Camp Kudzu is back this summer, contemplating this year's Summer Library Program theme, Build a Better World. Mississippi boasts a slew of fine architectural sites, so MLC staff "visited" some of the more fascinating buildings in Jackson on a whirlwind tour.

Oohs and aahs at the Greyhound Bus Station
The Greyhound Bus Station in Jackson was designed by William Strudwick Arrasmith in the Art Moderne style and built around 1938. (1) In 1961, the station was the site of arrests of Freedom Riders, who had ridden buses to Jackson to bring attention to the fact that Supreme Court ruling in Boynton v. Virginia was being ignored and that segregation on interstate transportation was still occurring. (2) The bus station is a site on the Mississippi Freedom Trail. You can read more about the Freedom Riders here and here.

Look up in the sky! What's that above Miss Eudora's house?

We've written about the Eudora Welty House and Garden before. This Tudor Revival style home was designed by Wyatt C. Hedrick and completed in 1925. (3) It is a National Historic Landmark and sits across the street from historic Belhaven University. Pulitzer prize winning author Eudora Welty lived here from the age of 16 until her death at age 92. The home and garden are open to the public; check here for information about planning a visit.

Caution: The Mississippi State Capitol may
cause you to inadvertently give someone bunny ears.

This building, commonly referred to as the "New" Mississippi State Capitol, was designed by Theodore Link and completed in 1903. (4) (The "Old" State Capitol served in that capacity from 1833 to 1903. See? Much older!) It is in the Beaux-Arts style and was designated as a National Historic Landmark just last year.

If we've ignited a desire to learn more about buildings and Mississippi architecture, head to your local public library for books like The Architecture of William Nichols: Building the Antebellum South in North Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi and Lost Mansions of Mississippi. Want to inspire your youngster with amazing buildings? Try Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building and Round Buildings, Square Buildings, and Buildings that Wiggle Like a Fish.

Registration for the summer library program is in full swing in public libraries across Mississippi, so be sure to head to your local library to sign up. Until our next Camp Kudzu installment, happy reading!


Monday, May 22, 2017

Stories from the Road: Pearl River County

I have such great memories of Hwy 49! My family hails from Covington County, so I have memories of that trip for more years than I care to admit. Some of the best, though, were of trips to the Gulf Coast for family vacations. That road and I go way back.

When Library Consultant Mac Buntin asked me to travel with him to visit Pearl River County Library System, I just couldn't resist a trip down memory lane. Stopping at Shady Acres is worth the trip, not to mention getting a king cake at Paul's Pastry Shop.

The library in Picayune was filled with patrons and bustling with activity. Their Friends Chapter was planning a "Murder Mystery Theater" fundraiser for the following night, so there were many preparations going on for the event.

After a great visit at headquarters in Picayune, we headed to the Poplarville Library (not before a stop at Paul's!) to hear all about their upcoming Summer Library Program. Let's just say that anytime a magician is involved, I'm in! Those kids have a fun summer ahead.

This library is incredibly inviting, and thanks to Branch Manager Denise Davis, it smelled divine because of her love for essential oils. It's a lovely space and you can tell that those who work there love the library.

If you find yourself heading south, stop by one of these great libraries for a visit. They are wonderful folks and will welcome you with open arms.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Mississippi Museum Musts

It's International Museum Day! This day celebrates the fact that "museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples." What better day to mark off the Visit a Museum square on your Bicentennial Bingo card?

With its unique melting pot of peoples, cultures, and heritage, Mississippi has a number of fascinating and fun museum experiences to offer. Here are just a few tantalizing museum visits waiting for you:
  • Winterville Mounds is a prehistoric ceremonial center of over twenty mounds located near Greenville. This site and museum is a must-see for those interested in the indigenous peoples of Mississippi.
  • The Eudora Welty House in Jackson is where the famed author lived the majority of her life. The garden, created by Welty's mother Chestina and tended to by both women, is also available for viewing.
  • The Walter Anderson Museum in Ocean Springs holds not only Walter Inglis Anderson's art, but also work by his two brothers Peter Anderson and James McConnell Anderson. There's even a portion of Anderson's cottage on the Mississippi coast, where he went to get away when he couldn't make the trip to Horn Island.
  • The Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center is located in Jackson's first school for African American children. Renowned author Richard Wright's first short story was published while he was a student here in the 1920s. Visit the museum for exhibits on the African American experience, especially as relates to Mississippi.
  • The African American Military History Museum in Hattiesburg is housed in the only remaining USO building built for African American soldiers. African Americans have fought in every war since our country's beginning and the AAMHM honors them all.
  • The Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson is Mississippi's largest museum. In 2010, it received the IMLS National Medal for Museum and Library Services, the nation’s highest honor for museum and library service to the community. Housing pieces from a multitude of artists, the museum also hosts traveling exhibits across Mississippi for the benefit of those who cannot travel to Jackson. An Art Across Mississippi exhibit is currently showing at the McComb Public Library.
  • The Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale is Mississippi's oldest music museum and a 2013 recipient of the IMLS National Medal for Museum and Library Services. On your visit, check out items like Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker's guitars, among many, many more blues memorabilia items.
  • The Mississippi Children's Museum in Jackson is an innovative discovery and exploration museum for kids. Exhibits focus on literacy, health and nutrition, culture and history, and STEM topics. It is a finalist for 2017's IMLS National Medal for Museum and Library Services.
  • The Lynn Meadows Discovery Center in Gulfport received the IMLS National Medal for Museum and Library Services in 2016. Visit the center for interactive, hands-on fun with your children.
  • In December, the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum will open to the public in Jackson. We can't wait to see all the fine artifacts, memorabilia, and exhibits these museums will offer.
There are many, many more museums located across our beautiful state. Visit one today for an life-changing experience and don't forget to check off your Bicentennial Bingo card. Until next time, happy reading!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Camp Kudzu Returns

Welcome back to Camp Kudzu! Last year, we introduced you to our mock summer reading camp and we have even more zany, campy fun in store for you this summer. Summer reading programs are popping up in public libraries across Mississippi, all with the Collaborative Summer Library Program's 2017 slogan, Build a Better World. There are countless ways we can build a better world... What better place to start than at your local library?

Charles and Mac aren't scared by the spooky stories they're reading!
Here at MLC, we couldn't wait to try our hand at building... our very own indoor fort! Pillow forts are easy and fun to create. Each one is completely unique and there are so many different ways to feed your imagination. If you need a little inspiration, we found these great indoor fort ideas just for you.

Great books, great company

There's nothing like reading a great book around the campfire. We chose one of Mississippi Center for the Book's book club in a box kits and read Lewis Nordan's harrowing Wolf Whistle. A full list of kits available for public libraries to check out can be found here.

Be sure to follow the rest of our escapades at the beautiful Camp Kudzu this summer, as we bring you more ways to build a better world. Don't forget to sign up for the Summer Reading program at your local library. We'd love to hear your experiences, so feel free to share how much fun you're having this summer, Until next time, happy reading!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Sunflower County Library System Makes Learning Fun

The Sunflower County Library System works with local schools, day care facilities, and Head Start centers to provide the resources necessary to meet the community's informational needs. The county libraries strive to foster an environment in which young citizens can develop strong literacy skills. The library's Program for Enhancing Educational Literacy (PEEL) project, funded by LSTA grant funds, focuses on providing learning opportunities for preschool and school-aged children. The PEEL project provides programs involving parents and their children, such as Family STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Night which encourages parents to take an active role in their children's educational development and encourages them to become lifelong learners.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

15 Books to Read During Jewish American Heritage Month

In 2006, President George W. Bush proclaimed May as Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM). We use this month to acknowledge the contributions Jewish Americans have made to our country. For more information regarding JAHM, visit the Library of Congress's websites here and here.

The Mississippi Library Commission is celebrating JAHM with this list of books that highlight Jewish American literature.

Oskar and the Eight Blessings
by Tanya Simon and Richard Simon
preK-2nd grade

On Christmas Eve and the seventh day of Hanukkah, a young boy arrives in New York City. Although escaping the horrors of Kristallnacht, he still finds kindness and goodness among those he meets.

My Name Is Aviva
by Lesléa Newman
illustrated by Ag Jatkowska
preK-2nd grade

Little Aviva dislikes her name so much that she decides to change it to Emily... that is, until she learns about her Jewish great-grandmother for whom she is named.

Kayla and Kugel
by Ann D. Koffsky

Kayla and her puppy Kugel set the table for Shabbat. This book explains Shabbat and its traditions and customs.

by Pam Muñoz Ryan
2nd-4th grades 

A mysterious harmonica winds its way through the lives of four special children, one of whom, Friedrich, finds himself trying to save his family from the Nazis.

Beyond Lucky
by Sarah Aronson
3rd-7th grades

Ari prepares for his Bar Mitzvah as he tries to become a soccer star and keep his team on track.

The Importance of Wings
by Robin Friedman
5th-8th grades

Israeli-American Roxanne becomes less obsessed with all things American when an Israeli girl moves into the cursed house next door. 

I'm Glad I Did 
by Cynthia Weil
7th grade and up

Jewish JJ pursues her dream of a music career while falling in love and solving a mystery.

Kissing in America 
by Margo Rabb
9th grade and up

Eva, who is Jewish loses herself in romance novels to cope with the death of her father. When she finds the guy of her dreams in real life, who then moves across the country, she and her best friend travel cross-country to find him.

by David A. Poulsen
7th-10th grades

Outsider Andy Crockett encounters Holocaust denial at school.

What to Do About the Solomons
by Bethany Ball
Adult fiction

This debut about a multigenerational family is set in Israel, New York, and Los Angeles.

The One Man
by Andrew Gross
Adult fiction

This thriller involves a heart-pounding rescue of a physicist, the one man who can win the war for the Allies, who is trapped in a Nazi concentration camp.

Modern Girls
by Jennifer S. Brown
Adult fiction

This debut, which is set in the Jewish community of New York in the 1930s, sees a mother and daughter face tough choices as Hitler begins his rise to power overseas.
The Jews of Harlem: The Rise, Decline, and Revival of a Jewish Community
by Jeffrey S. Gurock
 Adult nonfiction
This book follows the path of the burgeoning Jewish population of Harlem in the early 1900s, through their desertion of the neighborhood, and their return today.

Eat My Schwartz
by Geoff and Mitch Schwartz,
with Seth Kaufman
 Adult nonfiction

The inspirational story of offensive linemen Geoff and Mitch Schwartz and their ties to their close-knit Jewish family is told in this heartwarming book.

Rhapsody in Schmaltz: Yiddish Food and Why We Can't Stop Eating It
by Michael Wex
Adult nonfiction

Explore the path of Jewish food from the Bible through Europe to present day America.

If you are interested in more books or book clubs with Jewish content, check out the Jewish Book Council.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

LEGO Club Brings Families Together

For the past two years, one Saturday each month is dedicated to families at the McComb Public Library, a branch of the Pike-Amite-Walthall Library System! McComb Director Darlene Morgan learned about this fun activity at a conference she attended, applied for a LSTA grant through MLC, and she was off and running to create a LEGO Club.

Not only do the kids love this day each month, but so do the adults who bring them. This is a great time to connect with each other and do something fun. No electronics or other distractions... just each other and lots of fun.

MLC is putting together a short film to showcase this great activity for families, so be on the lookout for it in our "Mississippi Library Stories" series. In the meantime, get some LEGOs and start building memories with your family! (Don't forget: MLC has a special collection of LEGO and DUPLO blocks available for public libraries to check out.)

Monday, May 1, 2017

Mississippi Center for the Book Announces Creation of New Mississippi Literary Map

The Mississippi Center for the Book, located at the Mississippi Library Commission, is pleased to announce the creation of a new Mississippi Literary Map, funded by a Bicentennial Grant through the Mississippi Humanities Council. Twenty-one Mississippi authors will be represented on the map by a portrait, created by noted Mississippi artist Ginger Williams Cook, known for her illustrative, whimsical portraits. The map will also include many of Mississippi’s most noted writers represented through text. All authors on the map were chosen by a selection committee, and include many prominent as well as often undervalued Mississippi writers. This map is not intended to be a comprehensive list of all Mississippi authors; rather, it is a representative sample of authors from the state who have achieved national attention and awards, such as Pulitzer and Nobel Prizes. The last literary map was created in the mid-90s.

Dr. Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress, will unveil the map at the third annual Mississippi Book Festival on August 19, 2017 at the Mississippi State Capitol. “This being Mississippi’s bicentennial makes it the perfect opportunity to look back and celebrate the state’s literary treasures as well as recognize some overlooked authors,” said Tracy Carr, Director of Mississippi Center for the Book. “It is beyond exciting that Dr. Hayden open the Mississippi Book Festival by unveiling the map,” Carr said. Maps will be available free of charge to the general public at the Mississippi Book Festival.

The Mississippi Center for the Book is the state affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, a national program that promotes books, libraries, literacy, and reading. The Mississippi Center for the Book, housed at the Mississippi Library Commission since 2000, hosts statewide programs such as Letters About Literature, a reading and writing contest for students in grades 4-12; creates programming opportunities for public libraries such as the popular Book Club in a Box program; participates in the Mississippi Book Festival and National Book Festival; and creates special projects, such as Bicentennial Bingo.

The Mississippi Library Commission supports innovative programs and initiatives to strengthen and enhance library services for all Mississippians. The agency is funded by the Mississippi Legislature, with additional funding provided through the Institute of Museum and Library Services under provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), offering leadership in library services, advocacy, and training for library professionals and paraprofessionals.

Friday, April 21, 2017

More Stories from the Road...

It's been too long since I've updated my travels. I've been from one end of the state to the other and almost every spot in between (or so it feels!) Mississippi is such a great place to just get out and wander, so I really enjoy this part of my work here at MLC.

A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Bay St. Louis with MLC's Executive Director Susan Cassagne to attend a Board of Supervisors meeting regarding the privatization of the Hancock County Library System. A company called LS&S had approached the Board of Supervisors claiming they could save the county money by making the library system a private entity. Needless to say, library supporters were not happy about the possibility and showed up in great numbers to the supervisors' meeting. The issue is ongoing, but this particular night proved to the supervisors that the residents of Hancock County do not support this idea. It was great to see the power of advocacy at work for this outstanding library system.

Hancock County Library Supporters

Next stop... Coffeeville! Have you ever met someone who made you feel like you have been friends forever? Patty Bailey, Director of the Yalobusha Library System, and I became fast friends when I visited her library a few weeks ago. Coffeeville is such a charming place, and she has created a space that is inviting and educational for the members of her community.

Patron computers at the Coffeeville Library
I was intrigued by a book in her collection, as it is one of my favorites. When John Grisham released his first novel, A Time to Kill, in 1984 he made a stop at the Coffeeville Library to promote the book.  He left a signed copy for the patrons of the library to enjoy.

Signed copy of John Grisham's first novel, Coffeeville Public Library

Last week, Susan Cassagne and I traveled to Starkville for a wonderful celebration the Starkville-Oktibbeha County Library held recognizing their "Mississippi Star Library" status through MLC. Late in 2016, MLC awarded star status to twelve libraries across the state based on per capita rates in four different areas including visits, circulation, program attendance, and public internet usage.

Mississippi Star Library celebration at Starkville

Parker Wiseman, Mayor of Starkville at the Starkville-Oktibbeha County Library
Board members, local dignitaries, and patrons of the library came out that day to recognize the staff for a job well done and we were honored to be a part of the festivities. Congratulations to all!

I'll be on the road again soon heading to McComb. I'm looking forward to learning about the great things going on with the Pike-Amite-Walthall Library System. Stay tuned for more from the road!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

National Arab American Heritage Month

April is National Arab American Heritage Month (NAAHM). NAAHM celebrates many aspects of Arab American heritage and, as book lovers, we're featuring some great Arab American books and authors who have shaped literature.

The Book of Khalid
by Ameen Rihani

The Woman Upstairs
by Claire Messud

Lebanese Blonde
by Joseph Geha

Throne of the Crescent Moon 
by Saladin Ahmed

The Language of Baklava: A Memoir
by Diana Abu-Jaber

The Moor's Account
by Laila Lalami

Once in a Promised Land
by Laila Halaby

In the Heart of the Heart of Another County
by Etel Adnan

Shatter Me
by Tahereh Mafi

Saving Sky
by Diane Stanley

The Girl Who Fell to Earth
by Sophia Al-Maria

Saints and Misfits
by S.K. Ali

by Craig Thompson

Arab in America
by Toufic El Rassi

The Turtle of Oman
by Naomi Shihab Nye

The Olive Tree
by Elsa Marston and illustrated by Claire Ewart

Big Red Lollipop
by Rukhsana Khan and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

One Green Apple
by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Ted Lewin

Happy reading!
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