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Monday, December 11, 2017

Join the MLC Team

There's a new position open at the Mississippi Library Commission. We can't wait for you to join our team!

Librarian IV
Open until 12/18/17

The Mississippi Library Commission’s Library Development department is seeking a creative and analytical person to join the team as a library consultant. Duties include offering support and advice to public libraries, working collaboratively to deliver content for continuing education workshops, and developing programs suitable for all types of public libraries. Those with an interest in STEM/STEAM, Friends of the Library, sensory programming, and/or universal design are encouraged to apply.

Applications for this position must go through the Mississippi State Personnel Board. To apply, simply visit the Job Opening page for this position on their website.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Share Your Mississippi Stories: S. Neyland

2017 is Mississippi's bicentennial! To celebrate, the Mississippi Library Commission has created the Bicentennial Bingo project. Throughout the year, fill in the squares in our bingo card to get the full Mississippi experience and learn more about our state. Even though the bicentennial year is almost over, the Bicentennial Bingo project will remain available on the Mississippi Reads site for the foreseeable future. It's never too late to participate. One of our favorite squares is "Share Your Mississippi Stories," the responses from which we'll be sharing here and on our Facebook and Twitter feeds. We're so pleased to share our first Mississippi Story submission below.

My Big “O” Grand-Mama; My Lit “O” Grand-Mama

I was born and raised in a family of 12 children in a small Mississippi town in Wilkinson County. Myself being number 6. I was the middle child, making me the more balanced child. We had a mother and father and two living grandmothers. My father's father passed away before I was born. Likewise, my father also died before my son and daughter were born. I plan to break that cycle with my children. My mother’s father is a different story for another day.

As stated in the previous paragraph, my siblings and I had two living grandmothers when I was a child. Once, we were getting ready to load into the family Chevy station wagon to go visit our grandmothers. My older sister asked the younger children, “Do we want to go see our big ole grand-mama first or our little ole grand-mama?” My mother’s mama was stout and my father’s mama was thin. When I went to see my mother’s mama I call her BIG “O” and like all grandparents, who like everything their grands do, she liked the nickname and it stuck from that time forward. Likewise, when we visited my father’s mama, we called her LIT “O” and the nickname stuck as well. We visited BIG “O” first, because she lived closer.

However as time went on LIT “O” got older, so her sons built her a house across the road from our house. She eventually passed way, full of years. However, she did outlive my father. She died while I was still single so my children never got to meet my LIT “O” grandmother. They did get to meet my BIG “O” grand-mama, or Grand-Mama BIG-O, as they would call her. Grand-Mama BIG-O, also eventually passed, full of years. I am looking forward to the time, I can be the Grand “O” granddad, or what every nickname by grands come up with. I will love it.

By S. Neyland

Until next time, happy bingo-ing!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Come on get APPy!

I was so excited to learn that the Madison County Library System recently unveiled a new look for their system.  New branding always carries some challenges, but these guys did an outstanding job of creating a fresh, new look for their libraries.

Along with a new logo, they have the very first public library app in Mississippi!  The app includes directions to their locations, updated news, and a texting feature for the important messages you don’t want to miss from the library.  The new app features a QR code reader to use with their digital wallpaper posters. The posters are equipped with easy to scan QR codes of their most popular adult fiction, teen, and children’s books. You can go to any of the supporting local businesses in Madison County and easily download eBooks and audiobooks to your mobile device while on the go. 

Their goal is to increase access, expand programming to meet patron needs, and increase the visibility of the libraries in their systems, which include Ridgeland, Flora, Canton, Camden and Madison.  In addition to the new app, they also have an updated website which was partially funded by a LSTA grant administered by the Mississippi Library Commission for the Institute of Museum and Library Science.  Take a look at the new website by visiting

Kudos to our friends with the Madison County Library System!


Friday, November 10, 2017

Honoring Our Veterans: Children's Book Edition

The concept of Veterans Day began back in World War I when a cease fire, or armistice, went into effect November 11, 1918 at 11:00 AM. In 1938, an act was signed making Armistice Day an official annual holiday in the United States. After World War II and the Korean Conflict, the name was changed to Veterans Day reflect the service of all Americans who served during wartime. Mississippi is home to nearly 200,000 veterans. These men and women served in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

The following children's books all feature children and teens whose parents, friends, and neighbors serve in the United States military. In some of the young adult titles, a teen soldier not much older than the intended audience is featured. For younger children, these types of books can help them grasp the difficult concept of war, as well as bring them to a better understanding of why people they know serve their country. For older children and teens, the books tackle more complicated issues like disabling injuries, PTSD, and death.

  • While You Are Away
    Eileen Spinelli and Renee Graef
    Preschool-Grade 2
  • How My Parents Learned to Eat
    Ina Friedman and Allen Say
    Preschool-Grade 3
  • My Red Balloon
    Eve Bunting and Kay Life
    Preschool-Grade 4
  • Fish in a Tree
    Lynda Mullaly Hunt
    Grades 4-6
  • The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story
    Gloria Houston and Barbara Cooney
    Kindergarten-Grade 3
    World War I
  • The Poppy Lady: Moina Bell Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans
    Barbara Walsh and Layne Johnson
    Grades 2-5
    World War I
  • The Harlem Hellfighters: When Pride Met Courage
    Walter Dean Myers and Bill Miles
    Grades 5-8
    World War I
  • Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers: Volume I
    Arigon Starr (editor)
    Grades 7-Adult
    World War I, World War II, Korea
  • All Those Secrets of the World
    Jane Yolen and Leslie Baker
    Preschool-Grade 3
    World War II
  • Across the Blue Pacific: A World War II Story
    Louise Borden and Robert Parker
    Grades 2-5
    World War II
  • Lily's Crossing
    Patricia Reilly Giff
    Grades 3-7
    World War II 
  • Eyes of the Emperor
    Graham Salisbury
    Grades 7-12
    World War II
  • Heroes
    Ken Mochizuki and Dom Lee
    Kindergarten-Grade 3
    World War II, Korea, Vietnam
  • Devotion
    Adam Makos
    Grades 10-Adult
  • The Wall
    Eve Bunting and Ronald Himler
    Preschool-Grade 3
  • Almost Forever
    Maria Testa
    Gr. 4-7
  • Fallen Angels
    Walter Dean Myers
    Grades 7-12
  • Operation YesSara Holmes
    Grades 4-7
  • The Saturday Boy
    David Fleming
    Grades 5-7
  • I'll Meet You There
    Heather Demetrios
    Grades 9-12
  • Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine, and a Miracle
    Brian Dennis, Mary Nethery, and Kirby Larson
    Grades 2-5
  • Peace, Locomotion
    Jacqueline Woodson
    Gr. 4-6
  • Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am
    Harry Mazer
    Peter Lerangis
    Grades 7-12
  • The Impossible Knife of Memory
    Laurie Halse Anderson
    Grades 9-12
Though these are difficult topics to approach with anyone, using books to tackle these issues can smooth the way to asking tough questions and help children realize that they are not alone in their situation. Books like these remind us of our history and keep us grounded in our past.

Thank you to all who served and still serve our country. We hope you find your story reflected on these pages and share them with the children in your life. Until next time, happy reading!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Suzanne Byrd Poynor Named MLC Board of Commissioners Chair

We are pleased to announce that  Suzanne Byrd Poynor has been named MLC Board of Commissioners Chair. Poynor was the president of the Mississippi Federation of Women's Clubs from 2012-2014 and has served on MLC's Board since 2014.

Poynor is a Mississippi lady through and through. Born in Forest, she grew up in Tupelo and moved on to Clinton for her higher education. After obtaining her bachelor's degree and master's degree in elementary education at Mississippi College, she taught for over thirty years in Rankin County, mainly in Florence. She and her husband Larry have been married forty years.

A huge book lover, Suzanne was raised in a reading family. Her grandparents and parents all loved to read, and she raised her son to be a reader too. Suzanne says that she's one of "those" people. "I always have a book with me. Reading is my favorite hobby."

Suzanne is also a big fan of her local public library in Florence. "I believe that every child deserves to have a book in their hands. Access to libraries makes this possible for so many people that otherwise wouldn't have this advantage." Poynor also admires libraries for their role in making technology available to people who don't have access to WiFi, computers, and the internet.  She points out that, "In many towns, the library is the center of the community."

Suzanne follows MLC on Facebook and was tickled to find herself in this #ThrowbackThursday picture. She's the little girl on the right wearing black pants.

The Mississippi Library Commission's Board of Commissioners comprises five members. Four members are appointed by the governor and one is the President of the Mississippi Federation of Women's Clubs (or her appointee.) Of the four gubernatorial appointed members, two are appointed at large by the governor and two are chosen from a list presented to the governor by the Mississippi Library Association. Of the two chosen from MLA's list, one must be an active librarian and one must be an active board of trustees member of a Mississippi public library.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Sharman Smith Named Interim Executive Director of MLC

The Board of Commissioners of the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC) is pleased to announce that Sharman Bridges Smith will be returning to the agency as Interim Executive Director beginning November 1, 2017. She is stepping into the role after the recent retirement of Susan Cassagne, who served in the position since October, 2013.

Smith comes to the agency with a wealth of knowledge after having served in the position at MLC from 2001 to 2013. She also served as the State Librarian of Iowa from 1992 to 2001. In addition to managing the day to day operations at MLC, she will assist the Board of Commissioners with their search for a new executive director, as well as represent the agency’s interests at the state capitol during the upcoming legislative session.

"It is an honor and a pleasure to be asked back to the Mississippi Library Commission,” stated Smith. “I look forward to again working with the library community in support of libraries' critical role in the success of Mississippi’s communities and its citizens."

Friday, October 27, 2017

How to Build a Franken-Bear

Sometimes, the simplest ideas are the best. One day, Purvis Public Library's Youth Librarian Chancey Windham and Brandon Public Library's Reference Supervisor Kayla Martin-Gant were talking about Toy Story. (Who doesn't love discussing Pixar's first feature film?) When one of them mentioned destructive Sid Phillips and his toy mutilation predilection, inspiration struck.

Mutant toys from Toy Story
Why not host a program where kids could create their own crazy creations? That's when the Franken-Bear Workshop was born.

Event header from Purvis Public Library

Chancy talked local thrift stores and patrons into donating unwanted dolls and stuffed animals. He amassed quite the collection of stuffed dogs, bears, and babies. Patrons also donated assorted nails and screws. Buttons and fake plastic bones from previous programs were added to the pile. Chancy said, "Our cost for this program was practically nothing. After donations, all we had to buy was hot glue and some thread."

Donations from local thrift stores and patrons
Kids of all ages had a blast ripping apart the old toys.

Then they sewed and glued and stitched their new creations together, adding buttons and other gee-gaws as they saw fit. 

The finishing touch came when Chancy helped add a plastic bone to "bring the Franken-Bear to life," much like the heart ceremony at Build-a-Bear Workshops.

The program was a huge hit, bringing in many, many more participants than initially anticipated. Chancy said, "We had nearly 50 participants. When I think of something easy like this, I think no one will show up to the program. It's such a simple idea, but they came and it really blew up. We had such a great time and the kids loved their creations." Check them out--what do you think of these creative kids' Franken-Bears?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Outstanding Achievement Award for Vivian Sanderford

Congratulations to Vivian Sanderford, Senior Network Specialist and E-Rate Specialist here at MLC! Vivian was honored at last week's annual Mississippi Library Association Conference with an Outstanding Achievement Award for her years of service to Mississippi libraries. The nomination, quoted in part below, came from Jennifer Wann, Director of the Bolivar County Library System.
"The success of public libraries in the twenty-first century is directly dependent on our ability to connect users to the Internet and all of the myriad information resources and tools necessary for modern life. Yet, for many of our state’s small and rural communities providing high speed Internet access at the public library is not just difficult; it’s almost impossible. This perhaps sounds hyperbolic in the era of free Wi-Fi at every McDonald’s and seemingly universal smartphone ownership. Yet obstacles such as lack of funding, lack of technical expertise, and the Byzantine federal e-rate program inhibit public libraries’ abilities to provide adequate access to our patrons. Vivian has dedicated her career to helping public libraries overcome these obstacles"
Jennifer went on to praise Vivian's patience in assisting Mississippi's librarians and her tenacity, skill, and savvy in dealing with statewide network and vendor issues. She has saved Mississippi libraries hundreds of thousands of dollars with filtering and firewall protection and even more by assuring that annual e-rate applications are filed correctly and on time. Jennifer went on to say, "In 2015 (the last year that information is currently publicly available) 2,500,843 sessions were logged on public access computers in Mississippi’s public libraries. Every single one of those 2.5 million sessions was in some small way supported by the work that Vivian Sanderford performs in her role... at the Mississippi Library Commission."

Thank you, Jennifer Wann, for nominating Vivian Sanderford, and to the MLA Awards Committee for honoring her with this award. The biggest thanks, however, go to Vivian herself, for her many years of service to MLC and to Mississippi libraries. Congratulations!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Letters About Literature 2017-2018

It’s Letters About Literature time again!

Mississippi's 2016-2017 Letters About Literature winners
Letters About Literature is a state and national writing contest for students in grades 4-12. Each student is encouraged to write a letter to the author of their favorite book explaining how the book changed their life, changed their outlook, or helped them through a hard time. It’s a personal letter, not an essay, so students can feel free to express how they feel!

There are three age categories:
  • Level 1: grades 4-6
  • Level 2: grades 7-8
  • Level 3: grades 9-12
Letters are due by December 9.

Statewide prizes are as follows:
  • First place (for each of the three age levels): $100
  • Second place (for each of the three age levels): $75
  • Third place (for each of the three age levels): $50
First place winners move on to national judging. National prizes are $1,000 for first place in each of the three age levels and $200 for Honor Winners in each of the three age levels.

Mississippi's 2015-2016 Letters About Literature winners
The 25th annual writing contest for young readers is made possible by a generous grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, with additional support from gifts to the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, which promotes the contest through its affiliate Centers for the Book, state libraries, and other organizations. Statewide, this contest is made possible by the Mississippi Library Commission, the Mississippi Center for the Book, and the Friends of Mississippi Libraries.

Teachers, librarians, and parents, please share this information widely! Additional information and entry coupons can be found here. We can’t wait to read your students’ letters!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Storytelling Through a Lens

I'm a movie buff... always have been. I remember seeing Gone with the Wind with my folks when I was a child; when Clark Gable first came on screen all the women in the audience gasped. For a film created in the 1930s it was beautifully done, despite its somewhat distasteful story line. That experience stuck with me; not the story, but how the imagery and music made me feel. Films do that to us. They invoke our inner-most feelings, whether good or bad.

Today, filmmaking has become something that anyone can do thanks to the technologies most of us are afforded. Just pick up your iPhone and you too can tell a story. Most folks do it all the time and don't even realize it. They film their dog or their grandchildren doing the cute things they do and post it on Instagram or Facebook. They are telling a story through film.

Now imagine an important topic or passion that you want to share. Put a little more planning into the message and it can become a story told through film. Who could be a part of the film to properly convey your story? What location would make the most sense to serve as your backdrop? Now take that iPhone and get these images and interviews on camera. There is even simple software on your iPhone that will allow you to edit and add music. Now you have something that can truly achieve benefits for your passion projects.

My class partner, David Rae Morris, and me shooting our film
Drawing on a Dream featuring deceased Delta artist, Duff Durrough
In 2011, I had the pleasure of attending a month-long workshop in Clarksdale to learn about documentary filmmaking by the talented folks of Barefoot Workshops. It was a transformative experience for me. I learned the power of storytelling through the lens. I also learned to tell a compelling story in the time it takes for someone to sit down, turn on their computer, and drink a cup of coffee. In this day and age, instant and quick messages are the most effective.

I encourage librarians to use these tools to share the stories of their outstanding work. I have traveled across the state and have seen first-hand the dynamic, life-changing programs going on. Let's get these on film and share them with lawmakers and stakeholders. We need decision-makers to know how valuable libraries are to Mississippi communities.

I'm grateful that my chosen profession has allowed me the opportunity to see some interesting places, to meet some great folks, and to be able to tell their story through my lens. Too bad Clark Gable is no longer with us... it would have been really fun to make women gasp!

Visit MLC's YouTube channel to check out the stories we've told through film. Look for more to come very soon.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Sign up for a Library Card with the Teen Titans

This year the American Library Association teamed up with the Teen Titans to promote library card sign-up month for 2017. The Teen Titans are a group of young crime fighting superheroes featured in the DC comics. 

Here are some books that we think the members of Teen Titan would check out at the library. 

Raven loves to read and is a fan of all things creepy. Her powers and abilities include empathy and telekinesis.

Library books:  
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Adventure Time: Marceline and the Scream Queens by Meredith Gran
Carrie by Stephen King

Kid Flash:
Kid Flash is known for his wit and love for racing. He has enhanced strength and endurance.

Library books:
Faster than Lightning: My Autobiography by Usain Bolt
Zero World by Jason M. Hough
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Beast Boy:
Beast Boy like playing video games and joking around. He has the ability to shapeshift into any animal and is a quick thinker.

Library books:
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
Destroyer by Victor LaValle and Dietrich Smith
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Starfire likes drinking mustard and lifting weights. Her powers are ultraviolet energy projection and superhuman strength.

Library books:
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Avatar: The Last Airbender by Gene Luen Yan
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Robin likes actions movies and martial arts. His abilities include detective work and acrobats.

Library books:
Onepunch-Man by ONE and Yusuke Murata
Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu
A Study of Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

What kinds of books do you think the members of Teen Titan would check out with their library card? Head to your local public library to get a library card and join the Teen Titans with an armful of good books.

Friday, August 18, 2017

See MLC at the Mississippi Book Festival

The third annual Mississippi Book Festival is upon us, can you believe it?! Saturday, August 19, you have several chances to rub shoulders with Mississippi Library Commission staff while you're rushing from panel to panel. Here's how:

  • 9:00 AM
    The new Mississippi Literary Map will be unveiled by Dr. Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress. The map was commissioned by MLC and the Mississippi Center for the Book using funds from a Bicentennial Grant awarded by the Mississippi Humanities Council.
  • 9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
    Every half hour for seven straight hours you can head to Room 204 to hear your favorite Mississippi authors read from their favorite Mississippi authors in the Book Festival's first Mississippi Marathon Reads.
  • 9:30 AM
    At 9:30, spend some time listening to a conversation between Representative Gregg Harper, Chairman of the Joint Committee of the Library, and Dr. Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress.
  • 4:00 PM
    Mississippi Center for the Book Director Tracy Carr (who is also Library Services Director at MLC) will moderate the Voices of Home panel. Joining her conversation on Mississippi writing will be Johnnie Bernhard, Julie Cantrell, Susan Cushman, and John Floyd.
  • All day
    Find our MLC exhibit in the Capitol Rotunda. Staff will be available to discuss the Mississippi Center for the Book and Talking Book Services.
We can't wait to see you at the third annual Mississippi Book Festival, the best literary lawn party in the world!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Learning and Preparing for the Total Solar Eclipse

On August 21, 2017, between 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM, an amazing thing will happen: the skies will darken, temperatures will drop, and America will fall under the path of a total solar eclipse! A total solar eclipse is when the moon appears to completely cover the sun in the sky. Likewise, a partial solar eclipse is when the moon appears to cover some portion of the sun. Most of Mississippi will view a partial solar eclipse, but one at around .9 magnitude—which is still a very good thing! This means that most of the sun will be covered by the moon, but not all of it. The nearest location to view a total solar eclipse is Nashville, TN, and surrounding areas.

Though the period when the moon completely blocks out the sun will only be a few minutes long, the eclipse itself will take multiple hours, as the moon slowly moves towards and away from the sun. A lot of libraries are taking advantage of this to have a fun party! Some other libraries are hosting other eclipse-themed events, like learning how to make a pinhole camera or a special space-themed story time.

Here are some libraries that are having eclipse-themed events: Bay St. Louis-Hancock County Library, Brandon Public Library, Carthage-Leake County Library, Coffeeville Public Library, East Central Public Library, Gulfport Public Library, Ina Thompson Moss Point Library, Lucedale/George County Public Library, McHenry Public Library, Ocean Springs Municipal Library, Olive Branch Public Library, Orange Grove Public Library, Pascagoula Public Library, Pass Christian Public Library, Purvis Public Library, Southaven Public Library, St. Martin Public Library, Vancleave Public Library. Don’t forget to call your library ahead of time as well—some of these events do require you RSVP. Be sure to check with your individual library as to when their viewing parties start and finish!

BE SAFE WHILE VIEWING THE ECLIPSE! Looking directly at the sun, even if it’s partially covered by the moon, can permanently damage your eyesight, leading to vision problems or blindness. Anybody who plans to look at the solar eclipse should find a safe method of viewing, such as a pinhole camera or solar eclipse glasses. Some events will be providing glasses and some local libraries already have viewing glasses to give away—make sure to call your local library to see if that’s the case! Eclipse glasses can also be bought online from vendors certified by the American Astronomical Society. The solar viewing glasses should block all light except for the sun. Do not use your viewing glasses if they are damaged, scratched, or torn!

MLC staff members model an AAS certified pair of solar eclipse glasses

If you want to know more about the solar eclipse, check out these links below. No matter where you view it, stay safe and have a fun time viewing the eclipse! "Total Solar Eclipse 2017: When, Where and How to See It (Safely)" "How to Tell if Your Eclipse Glasses Are Unsafe (and What To Do About It)"
The New York Times: "During an Eclipse, Darkness Falls and Wonder Rises"
National Geographic: "Surprising Ways Animals React to Solar Eclipses"

Monday, August 14, 2017

Librarian of Congress Story Time

Dr. Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress
Later this week, Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden will join us and several classes from the Mississippi School for the Deaf for a special story time at the Mississippi Library Commission. Dr. Hayden, who is in town for the Mississippi Book Festival, will unveil the Mississippi's new literary map Saturday, August 19. Friday, she will read a childhood classic, The Rainbow Fish, while Bevin Glass, Certified Interpreter for the Deaf, assists with a translation from the words on the page to American Sign Language (ASL). We're pretty excited, both about this opportunity and the book itself.

To understand the process a book undergoes when translated into ASL, it's easiest to think of English and ASL as completely separate languages. Deaf and hard of hearing children who are read books with ASL translation but still have access to a print copy have a much easier time learning to read in English. Many times, these translations are much more elaborate than the actual printed story, which gives the child a more comprehensive understanding of the story itself. During further readings, the translation naturally moves to a closer rendering of the printed text, again helping with English literacy. You can read more about reading to deaf and hard of hearing children in this article by Reading Rockets, a national literacy initiative.

The Rainbow Fish
The Rainbow Fish, which is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary, is a vibrant picture book that conveys messages about the downside to pride and the virtue of sharing. The illustrations are unique, as author/illustrator Marcus Pfister used a holographic stamped foil for the rainbow fish's special scales. This was so costly that Pfister remarked, "We decided that I’d get only 50% of my usual royalties for the book, and only that way was it possible to make it work."

When once asked what he hoped children would learn from his book, Pfister said, "Just to learn to get along with any other people during their daily lives, at home, at school, anywhere. Our world becomes more and more complex every day, more and more completely different people from different countries and cultures live together. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth the effort."

We can't wait to introduce this universally loved picture book to the kids who go to school right down the street from us. Until next time, happy reading to them, and happy reading to you!

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Literary Gregg Harper

As the third annual Mississippi Book Festival draws near (only one week to go!), we're gearing up for a great time. One event we're especially looking forward to actually occurs pre-Festival. Representative Gregg Harper, who is currently serving his fifth term in the U.S. House, will visit the Mississippi Library Commission the day before the Festival along with the Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden. While we always welcome the chance to rub shoulders with our lawmakers from Mississippi (everyone loves Library Day at the Capitol!), this visit from our Congressman promises to be especially rewarding.

Rep. Harper is the Chairman of the Joint Committee of the Library, which has oversight of Library of Congress operations. Fun fact: the committee is the oldest continuing joint committee of the US Congress! While he's here, the congressman will present a donation of books from the Library of Congress Surplus Book Program. These books will enhance both MLC's collection and those of public libraries across Mississippi. After the presentation, Mississippi librarians will have a special Q&A session with Dr. Hayden.

On the day of the actual Festival, there are even more Harper appearances to look forward to. Repeating his role in kicking off the initial Mississippi Book Festival in 2015, the congressman will join Dr. Carla Hayden at 9 AM in kicking off the Festival by unveiling the new Mississippi Literary Map. The map was commissioned by the Mississippi Library Commission and the Mississippi Center for the Book. (If you can't make it, you can watch it here on C-SPAN.) Directly after the unveiling, Harper and Hayden will collaborate in a unique discussion. (If you can't make it, you can watch it here on C-SPAN.)

During the inaugural Festival in 2015, Rep. Harper brought along several programs from the Library of Congress, like the American Folklife Center, the Educational Outreach Division, and the Veterans History Project. On behalf of the latter project, he conducted a fascinating live interview with WWII soldier, POW, and veteran Earl Derrington.

Congressman Harper said of the first Mississippi Book Festival, "This will be an outstanding event, and something that folks of all ages and interests will not want to miss." We just know that the same thing will hold true for the third annual Festival on August 19!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Sixty Odd Years of Mapping the Literary

As we announced back in May, the Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden is traveling to Mississippi in a few short weeks to participate in Mississippi Literary Lawn Party activities and we couldn't be more thrilled. (Seriously, if you haven't marked the Mississippi Book Festival on your calendar for August 19, you need to do it now!) One of her many planned events while in Jackson is the unveiling of Mississippi's brand new literary map. This map, commissioned by the Mississippi Library Commission and the Mississippi Center for the Book, honors our state's rich literary culture and history.

The 2017 Mississippi Literary Map, which features 21 Mississippi authors illustrated by Jacksonian Ginger Williams Cook, is the latest in a series of maps put out by various literary-minded agencies in our state. One has appeared approximately every twenty years, each featuring a new representation of the lit set in Mississippi. In 1951, a blue-green hued map was created by two professors at Mississippi Southern College (now the University of Southern Mississippi). It was endorsed by the Mississippi Education Association.
Section of 1951 Mississippi Literary Map
A new map in 1970 had a more minimalist design. This map was put out by the Mississippi Library Association, which created a special Literary Map Committee for the occasion.
Section of 1970 Mississippi Literary Map
By the way, if you caught our teaser on Facebook yesterday, this angel represented Mississippi author Elizabeth Spencer's book No Place for an Angel.

In 1992, a literary map consisting of a collection of watercolor portraits by Wyatt Waters took the spotlight. It was compiled by the Mississippi Council of Teachers of English and sponsored by Delta State University. Funding was partially provided by an LSTA grant administered by the Mississippi Library Commission.
Section of 1992 Mississippi Literary Map

Stay tuned to our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds as we share more from these fascinating old maps. We're counting down the days until Carla Hayden reveals the new map at the Mississippi Book Festival and can't wait to see who's on it!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Mississippi Marathon Read

The Mississippi Library Commission is proud to partner with the Mississippi Humanities Council in the first ever Mississippi Marathon Read at the Mississippi Book Festival August 19! Come celebrate the publication of the new Mississippi Literary Map, funded by a Bicentennial Grant from MHC and Visit Mississippi. From 9:30 to 5, 15 Festival panelists will read from the works of 15 of your favorite Mississippi authors in 30-minute increments. All the fun happens in room 204 in the Capitol, so come on by to hear your new favorites read your old favorites!


9:30 Katy Simpson Smith reads Eudora Welty
10:00 Taylor Kitchings reads Barry Hannah
10:30 John Gregory Brown reads Lewis Nordan
11:00 Norma Watkins reads Anne Moody
11:30 Jami Attenberg reads Donna Tartt
12:00 Ebony Lumumba reads Margaret Walker Alexander
12:30 Steve Yates reads Walker Percy
1:00 Mary Miller reads Ellen Gilchrist
1:30 Gilbert Ford reads Tennessee Williams
2:00 Tom Franklin reads Larry Brown
2:30 Odie Lindsey reads Brad Watson
3:00 Michael Farris Smith reads Jesmyn Ward
3:30 Ralph Eubanks reads Richard Wright
4:00 Beth Ann Fennelly reads Natasha Trethewey
4:30 John T. Edge reads William Faulkner

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Summer Fun at the Library

As a parent, I understand the challenge of keeping kids busy during the summer. Finding fun activities was a challenge at best. The dreaded "I'm bored" made my head spin and made me count the days until school started again.

It doesn't have to be that way...thanks to your public library. The Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) is a consortium of states working together to provide high-quality summer reading program materials for children, teens, and adults at the lowest cost possible for their public libraries. By combining resources and working with an exclusive contracted vendor to produce materials designed for CSLP members, public libraries in participating states or systems can purchase posters, reading logs, bookmarks, certificates, and a variety of reading incentives at significant savings. It really proves the power of collaborative partnerships and library patrons are the ones who benefit.

Most libraries have something for all ages during the summer months. I've recently been traveling the state to check out some of these great Summer Library Program offerings. 

Baby Yoga at the Madison Public Library

These little ones had a wonderful time that day listening to stories about yoga and the importance of staying fit and healthy. They were able to spend time with their moms, aunts, grandmothers, or caregivers in a fun, relaxed environment. What a great idea!


I had heard of folks doing creative things with duct tape, and it was great to see the kids who participated having so much fun with this! They were able to make a bookmark or beads to create a necklace. The library had lots of volunteers to help and everyone had a great time.

Summer Library Program Kickoff with Superheros at the 

Talk about an amazing Summer Library Program kickoff event! Having three superheros jump from a plane and land in front of the library was quite a sight to see. The children were so excited to meet all of the heroes up-close-and-personal. It made for a great beginning for Laurel's Summer Library Program.

Puppet Show at the Florence Public Library

What child doesn't love a fun puppet show?  This library knows just how to make them fun and exciting for the kids. I was even dancing and singing along to the upbeat tunes. The stories were so cute and it was a great way to spend an afternoon at the library.

 "Unbuild It" at the Batesville Library

This program was so cool! The children were able to actually "unbuild" computers, computer screens, and tape decks. They even had activities for the smaller kids, who were able to build with Legos and Duplos. What a fun day at the Batesville Library!

Colorcopia - Art Classes for Adults at the Southaven Public Library

Adults from the Southaven area recently had the opportunity to channel their inner Picasso! John Martin Barger, a teaching artist with the Dixon Gallery & Gardens in Memphis, taught the group how to do collage cubism. Those in attendance had a wonderful time and came away with some true masterpieces!

All of these stories will be combined into a short documentary film about the value of Summer Library Programs in Mississippi. Be sure to watch for it to be released in early 2018! Thank you to all of the libraries who invited us to come and be a part of your fun programs. Great job!
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