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Monday, November 5, 2018

Meet MLC Monday: Annie Watkins

Annie Watkins joined the team at the Mississippi Library Commission a year ago as our Collection Management Librarian. She adds new books, comics, DVDs, and special items to MLC's collection, as well as new documents to the state document depository. She also removes holdings that have been weeded from the collection. Annie holds a master's degree in Library and Information Science. She confesses that one of her favorite parts of working at MLC is that she has her own office; at her last job, she had a desk in a shared office. "It's nice to have my own space!"

"I like libraries because they provide a needed service to the public. They don't provide just entertainment, but also a place to learn and relax," says Annie. "I love libraries because they allow me to keep up with literary trends and to find new and interesting authors." Annie says that she loves to read, but doesn't have a favorite book and rarely rereads them. The last book she read was Fighting to Survive by Rhiannon Frater, but says that it was "complete garbage" and doesn't recommend it. When Annie isn't working or reading, she loves playing video games. "I’m big into Overwatch right now. I usually main healers or Junkrat when I get sick of people spamming 'I need healing' even though they’re halfway across the map or in the middle of enemies, but I’ve recently discovered the pure joy of playing a tank and decimating my opponents."

Monday, October 29, 2018

Meet MLC Monday: Will Barber

Will Barber is the Patron Services Librarian in the Mississippi Library Commission's Talking Book Services Department. He provides customer service for patrons by assisting them with readers' advisory, sending them digital books, and assisting with outreach efforts. Will holds a master's degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Southern Mississippi, as well as a Graduate Certificate in Archives and Special Collections

Although Will has worked at MLC for less than a month, he says he likes "making sure that every patron I come into contact with is left with a wonderful and fulfilling experience. Having the ability to provide specific services to people that are not available elsewhere is an amazing work experience." He says working at MLC is great because of the friendly environment.

Will is also a longtime library lover. "I like libraries because they are the centers of information for communities. They enable anyone to find information about anything and everything. Libraries are important because they not only enable people to learn, they also bring communities together."

Will says that he absolutely loves to read. His favorite book of all time is The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. He recently finished My Girls: A Lifetime of Carrie and Debbie by Todd Fisher. When he's not reading, Will enjoys catching up on television and movies. An animal lover and a history buff, he also likes to fit regular exercise into his routine, rotating between cardio, weight lifting, and yoga. Will is also a regular at his church.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Training on the Road: MLC Style

I recently traveled to the Paul E. Griffin Library in Camden, Mississippi, early on a Thursday morning to meet up with my colleagues from the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC) for an all-day staff training for the Madison County Library System (MCLS). Canton Flea Market days are the perfect opportunity to do trainings because the main branch is located just steps away from the goings-on in the Canton Square. Getting to the library that day is almost impossible for staff and patrons. The Camden Library, in a quieter part of the county, is located next door to the community center... the perfect spot for a gathering of librarians.


The day of training started with MCLS Director Tonya Johnson giving an update on things going on system-wide. There are some great things in the works for the patrons of this library system thanks to this director and her hard-working group of librarians. 

MLC staff members Lacy Ellinwood, Ally Mellon, and Shellie Zeigler had their toolboxes loaded with all sorts of information to help these folks better serve the residents of the Madison County communities. Shellie started everyone off with tips on how to better serve older adults, a new offering by MLC.  

MLC Library Consultant Shellie Zeigler shares ideas about how to serve senior adults.

Ally provided everyone with an outstanding and detailed training on how to use MAGNOLIA and its databases, explaining what a value it is not only to patrons, but to librarians too. This ole girl even learned a few tips!

MLC Information Services Director Ally Mellon talks about MAGNOLIA.

Lacy talked about customer service and how to effectively help patrons, including those who can be challenging. She included an activity that let everyone talk about the most commonly asked questions in the library. She also went over different personality types and how to deal with them, even if they don't match your own!

MLC Library Development Director Lacy Ellinwood discusses customer service.

It was a great day with these folks and I am once again amazed by the knowledge and generosity of my colleagues at MLC. Helping librarians be the best they can be is their number one goal. I'm honored to be their traveling buddy and official photographer. I even learn a thing or two!

Special thanks to Tonya and all of the staff of the Madison County Library System. It was a fantastic day!

Monday, October 22, 2018

Meet MLC Monday: Lisa Boyd

Lisa Boyd began work at the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC) about one month ago, filling the position of Purchasing Specialist. This position involves processing purchasing requests and acting as property officer for MLC's equipment and assets. She says she enjoys working for the agency because everyone is so knowledgeable and friendly. "I feel honored to be working here!" Lisa adds with a big smile.

When asked what it is she likes about libraries, Lisa says, "Libraries hold a special place in my heart. Throughout my years, I have found that books are more interesting than movies. With a book, your imagination can run wild. One page of a book might have you sailing the oceans in search of sea monsters; another page might see you riding horses on the wilds of a ranch while hunting down outlaws. There are helpful books available, too: books to help you fix your car, books to help you cook your meals, and even books to help you host guests from foreign countries. There is so much more in a book than just pages! In a library, a person can find anything, no matter their interest."

Lisa loves to read and says her favorite book is the Golden Spur award-winner Ride the Wind by Lucia St. Clair Robson. She says it's based on the true story of Cynthia Ann Parker, a young white girl kidnapped by the Comanche people in 1836. Lisa also enjoys cooking for her family. She likes trying out new dishes, some of which she says are hits and some aren't as popular.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Meet MLC Monday: Neil Machowski

Neil Machowski is a Computers System Analyst here at the Mississippi Library Commission. He provides support at MLC's Help Desk, troubleshooting computer problems for MLC and Mississippi public library staff. Many people have already gotten to know him, if only via phone, in the 1 ½ months he's worked with us. Neil also assists with audio/visual support at the agency. Prior to working with us, he served for twenty years with the United States Navy; we're lucky to have his dedication and strong work ethic here at MLC. Neil says that he likes performing his job well so that other people can do theirs. He adds that all the people he has helped have been friendly and appreciative, making his job even easier and more enjoyable.

Neil is a lifelong library user who knows firsthand the importance of libraries. "Growing up of modest means, the library was a source of both knowledge and entertainment that otherwise wouldn't have been available. This is still true for many people today." Neil likes to read, but confesses that he hasn't read much for pleasure lately. "I'm just as likely to be reading a maintenance manual nowadays, but I've always been a fan of great fantasy series. Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series is one of my favorites." In his free time, Neil likes to mess around with computers and online gaming. He also loves motorsport.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A Teachable Moment

The Mississippi Library Commission recently held Librarianship 101, an extremely comprehensive workshop for library paraprofessionals. This is the fifteenth year that the program has provided in-depth training in library law and ethics, library programming for all ages, collection development, readers advisory, and much more for those who want to better serve their home libraries. Librarianship 101 participants go through a nomination process; class size is limited to fifteen individuals. Nominees are service-oriented librarians who want to enhance and improve their community through their work at the public library. This is one of many continuing education options offered by MLC.

MLC Library Services Director Tracy Carr leads a session at Librarianship 101.
I've always admired people who can command the attention of a room. Keynote speakers at large conferences have always amazed me with their confident body language and their ability to stroll from one side of the stage to the other. I have never possessed that gift. I avoided speech class in college at all costs... no sir, no way, was this girl getting up in front of a room full of folks to talk about anything.

Over the years I have had to take the mic on a few occasions with a great deal of anxiety and stress.  That old statement about picturing the crowd in their underwear never worked for me. When I started at MLC, I was so impressed by the level of ease my colleagues displayed when presenting to groups of librarians. They are always funny, informative, and provide great handouts. I have learned so much from watching these guys.

Welcome by Hulen Bivins, MLC Executive Director

A participant introduces herself to the rest of the Librarianship 101 group.

The first day of 101 began with a welcome from MLC Executive Director Hulen Bivins, followed by introductions of participants. I could tell these folks were excited to learn and were going to be extremely entertaining.

Ice-breaker fun!
The group participated in a fun ice-breaker that involved getting creative! The rest of the day was information-packed with topics covering library structure and social media. They departed on day one with their minds and notebooks full!

On day two, MLC Library Development Director Lacy Ellinwood covered the topic of library programming and I followed up with public relations. The participants were in five groups; each group created a program and had to write a press release appropriate to send to the media. I felt like a proud mama: they all did an outstanding job writing their first press release. We also talked about creating a library newsletter and social media. It was a great day for someone who is terrified of presenting!

I talked about creating a library newsletter.

On the final day, they learned about weeding, statistics, and MLC's Talking Book Services. They went home with a certificate and, hopefully, a better understanding of the overall workings of a library. Congratulations Librarianship 101 graduates of 2018! Get out there and serve your communities!

2018 Librarianship 101 graduates

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Stories from the Road: Home of the King

Recently, I took a trip to Tupelo with MLC Library Consultant Shellie Zeigler. We rushed in, right in time for her Readers' Advisory training to begin. Once we were settled and she began sharing information with the group, I slipped out and checked out the Lee County Library. There it was... encircled in glass like the crown jewels... Elvis's library card application with this wonderful photo of him as a child. I was just mesmerized by this precious gem.

When I was growing up, holidays were spent at my grandmother's house. My dad, the oldest of ten, enjoyed spending Christmas Eve at her small house that would soon fill to the brim with our large family and many friends. The food would be overflowing because my grandmother loved to cook. She would be in the kitchen for hours planning for the onslaught of children, grandchildren, and other folks who would converge on her house to celebrate the season.

One of the things I remember most about those times was Elvis. My dad's six sisters loved Elvis and they spent Christmas Eve playing his holiday records on the big "something-like-wood" encased record player. They would all gather in the tiny living room (after a little too much holiday cheer) and dance like no one was watching. They would talk about their boyfriends, school activities, and other such things. Having had no sisters of my own, my aunts set the bar for my life ahead... and of course, Elvis.

After having my Elvis moment and paying homage to the King's library card application, I began checking out the rest of Tupelo's wonderful library. It boasts a really large, open space with colorful flags and art everywhere. There are lots of public access computers ready for use and the sounds of a children's program soon captured my attention.

I discovered a bunch of families involved in some fun activities over in the children's section. The families were enjoying themselves and I couldn't help but wish that those who wonder about the value of public libraries these days could be present to see why they are still so important. Providing a chance for grandmothers to connect with their grandchildren and stay-at-home moms the opportunity to enjoy some planned activities with other moms is an invaluable service for members of the community.

This trip also reminded me of the wonderful services the Mississippi Library Commission provides to public libraries across Mississippi. Library Consultants are constantly on the road to provide training, advice, a helping hand, and anything else that they can possibly do to provide assistance. MLC wants public libraries to be successful and to have resources that may not be readily available and our staff are ready and willing to help.

Special thanks to Jeff Tomlinson, the Director of the Lee-Itawamba Library System for being such a great host and for welcoming us to the home of Elvis and the Lee County Library. Until next time...

The King is everywhere!  This is outside Kermit's Outlaw Kitchen in Tupelo... they make a mean burger.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Meet MLC Monday: Chris Bratcher

Chris is responsible for state and federal regulatory compliance and E-rate funding to all Mississippi libraries that participate in the program through the Mississippi Library Commission. He is also responsible for supporting the Technology Services Division by assisting with help desk tickets, building and editing websites, and other technology-based duties. He holds a bachelor's degree in Business Administration with concentrations in business and organizational management. "The best part of my job at MLC is the ability to help others. While this position is the most challenging of any in my professional career, it's also the most rewarding," stated Chris. "I have the privilege of serving as a translator and intermediary to libraries who count on my knowledge to help them successfully obtain discounted funding of their technology services. By doing this, libraries can offer these services, and who knows the difference that is making in the lives of patrons!"

Chris is an avid reader and says he enjoys too many books to narrow it down to just one favorite title. He said that Crucial Conversations radically changed both his personal life and his professional management life.

In his free time, Chris enjoys serving as Technical Programs Manager for his church and handles the audio/video needs for services that air each week. He helps his community by working with the homeless and singing and playing piano at nursing homes. He loves volunteering his time to help others!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Meet MLC Monday: Andrea' Ruffin

On August 27th, what she calls the "best day ever," Andrea' Ruffin became the Library Services Assistant at MLC. She is a member of the Reference staff, but also helps with the front desk and Talking Book Services. 

She says her favorite part of her job is researching and looking for answers. "I love libraries because they are a place of hope and answers! Literacy is important and libraries facilitate literacy and information; that's why libraries are important!" She loves to read, so she stated that she couldn't begin to pick a favorite book. The last book she read was The Story of Ferdinand. In her off time, she loves to cook, bake, and collect tea cups. She is also a star-gazer, a traveler, and a collector of vinyl records.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Stories from the Road - Summer 2018 Edition

I love my job. It's not just about the work; it's the people I get to meet and the wonderful places across the state I get to visit. Don't get me wrong, I do love my line of work. I've been doing it now for over 20 years and it allows me the opportunity to be creative, forces me to keep up with technology, and allows me to do something that has visible results. What more could anyone ask?

Scholastic Summer Reading Road Trip bus

Recently, I was able to travel to two places I have never visited, the first being the Sardis Public Library, a branch of First Regional Library. MLC Consultant Mac Buntin asked me to tag along when he traveled there for the Scholastic Summer Reading Road Trip bus visit. The library entered a Scholastic sweepstakes to have the bus pay a visit and they were the only location in Mississippi to be selected. Michael Strose with Scholastic told me that Sardis was the perfect spot for a stop and they were thrilled with the turnout. Scholastic had two buses traveling across the country the entire month of July to remind children to keep up their reading skills. Ciardi Love, Youth Specialist with First Regional Library, said having the Scholastic bus stop by the Sardis Public Library was a great way to remind kids in the area that reading is fun!
Michael Strose with Scholastic and Ciardi Love with First Regional Library System channeling their inner Harry Potter.

Did you know? Reading gives you superpowers!
My next trip was with MLC Consultant Shellie Zeigler. We headed out early one morning to visit Union County Library System in the northeastern area of the state. Our first stop was in New Albany, where we caught up with the new library system director, Sissy Bullock. This is one of the cutest places I've been and it's easy to see that the residents are committed to taking care of their wonderful community. The library is a bustling place with lots of patrons taking advantage of the services offered. They are doing some renovations to the restrooms and the meeting rooms to make the space even more inviting. 
Shellie Zeigler, MLC Consultant, and Sissy Bullock, Union County Library Director
New Albany Public Library
After Shellie and I talked with Sissy about how MLC can assist the library, we headed out to the Myrtle Public Library. It truly was a "happy place" and people were coming and going during our visit.
Myrtle Public Library
We had a wonderful visit and a trip back to this beautiful part of the state is certainly in my future.

My travels across Mississippi with my colleagues have been fantastic. Now that I am nearing my three-year anniversary with MLC, what better gift than to see the great work going on in Mississippi's public libraries! Can't wait until my next trip!

Friday, August 17, 2018

A Quick Shot of Authors at the Mississippi Book Festival

Photos from the 2017 Mississippi Book Festival

There will be over 80 authors and artists signing books, speaking on panels, or manning a table in the author’s alley at the Mississippi Book Festival. While we don’t have enough space to feature everyone, here’s a sampling of some of the authors and speakers present at the Book Festival!

Radley Balko is a criminal justice reporter for the Washington Post. He was named the L.A. Press Club Journalist of the Year in 2011 and his work has been cited by the US Supreme Court. With Tucker Carrington, he co-authored the book The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist: A True Story of Injustice in the American South. He will answer questions in the Lighting Round (11:00 am) and will appear on the panel “True Crime” (4:00 pm, State Capitol Room 201 H). His book signing is at 3:00 pm in the book signing tent

Jack E. Davis is a professor of environmental history at the University of Florida. His most recent book, The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea, won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in History. He will appear on the panels “American History” (10:45 am, C-SPAN Room, Old Supreme Court Room) and “The Gulf with Jack E. Davis” (2:45 pm, State Capitol Room 202). His book signing is at 9:45 am in the book signing tent.

Matthew Guinn is an associate professor of creative writing at Belhaven University. His novels include The Resurrectionist and The Scribe. He will answer questions in the Lightning Round (11:30 am) and will appear on the panel  “Southern Gothic Revisited” (2:45 pm, Galloway Foundery). His book signing is at 4:15 pm in the book signing tent.

Edward Lee is the chef/owner of 610 Magnolia, MilkWood, and Whiskey Dry in Louisville, Kentucky; and culinary director of Succotash in Penn Quarter, Washington, D.C., and National Harbor, Maryland. He is the author of Buttermilk Graffiti and Smoke & Pickles, and wrote and hosted the feature documentary Fermented. He will appear on the panel “Our Nation’s New Melting Pot Cuisine” (10:45 am, Galloway Fellowship Center). His book signing is at 9:45 am in the book signing tent.

Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the poetry editor of Orion magazine and the author of four books of poetry including Miracle Fruit and Oceanic. Awards include a Pushcart Prize, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Angoff Award, and the Boatwright Prize. She will answer questions in the Lightning Round (2:45 pm) and will appear at the panel “Waxing Poetic with the Pros” (9:30 am, State Capitol Room 201 A). Her book signing is at 11:00 am in the book signing tent.

Salman Rushdie is the author of multiple books, including The Satanic Verses, Midnight’s Children, and Shalimar the Clown. Rushdie has won multiple awards including the Booker Prize for Fiction, the Hans Christian Anderson Literary Award, the Norman Mailer Prize, the PEN Pinter Prize, and the Whitbread Novel Award. In 2007, Rushdie was knighted for services to literature in the Queen's Birthday Honours. He has an Outstanding Lifetime Achievement in Cultural Humanism from Harvard University and has an Honorary Professorship from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He will appear on the panel “Salman Rushdie: The Welty Lecture” (2:45 pm, Galloway Sanctuary).

Katy Simpson Smith is the author of multiple books, including the novel Free Men and the nonfiction work We Have Raised All of You: Motherhood in the South, 1750-1835. Her work has also appeared in The Oxford American, Garden & Gun, and Literary Hub. She will answer questions in the Lightning Round (12:15 pm) and will appear on the panel “Best Bets in Historical Fiction” (2:45 pm, State Capitol Room 113). Her book signing is at 4:15 pm in the book signing tent.

Angie Thomas is the author of the young adult novel The Hate U Give. The Hate U Give has won multiple awards, including the Coretta Scott King Award, the William C. Morris Award, and the Michael L. Printz Award. A film adaptation is currently in development.  She will appear on the panels “Angie Thomas: Kidnote” (9:30 am, Galloway Sanctuary) and “Hope (Nation) and Other Four-Letter Words” (10:45 am, Galloway Sanctuary). Her book signing is at 12:15 pm in the book signing tent.

Jesmyn Ward is the author of the novels Salvage the Bones and Sing, Unburied, Sing. Both Bones and Sing won a National Book Award, making her the first woman to win two National Book Awards for fiction. Other awards include an Alex Award for Salvage the Bones and a MacArthur "genius grant" from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. She is currently an associate professor of creative writing at Tulane University. She will appear on the panel “A Conversation with Jesmyn Ward” (12:00 pm, State Capitol Room 113). Her book signing is at 11:00 am in the book signing tent.

Check out the Mississippi Book Festival’s website for information on panelists we haven’t covered here! Which author are you most excited to see? Chime off in the comments below!

Monday, July 2, 2018

C3 Wellness Center Challenges MLC Staff

You know the routine. You work hard all day and come home tired. Then there's the rigamarole of cleaning, cooking, and the rest of our daily routines. It's hard to find the energy to exercise and keep fit, especially with all the extra challenges life throws at us. For Mississippi state employees at the Education and Research Complex in Jackson, it recently became a little bit easier to stay motivated, keep active, and lose a few pounds. The idea that a healthy workforce makes for a more productive workforce has been extolled by organizations as varied as the CDC , Harvard, and the Wall Street Journal. Last October, the Mississippi Community College Board, located in the Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) building on the complex, received a grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation to open the C3 Wellness Center. This wellness center, located in the Jackson State University (JSU) building on the complex, offers health education and exercise facilities for the 500+ state employees who work at the complex.

MLC's Purchasing Specialist Veronica Dunning

The C3 Wellness Center immediately began offering classes and challenges to help people maintain their drive for physical health. Many people jumped on the fitness bandwagon right away, including MLC's Purchasing Specialist Veronica Dunning. She has been walking the loop at the complex for several years, but was excited to try something new when she heard about the new facility. "I realized a long time ago that my weight wasn’t a healthy weight. The desire to make better choices and become more active was on my mind constantly. I needed an extra push and a challenge. Having the C3 Wellness Center on this campus has given me that and more. It provided a fully equipped fitness center with flexible hours that allowed me to work out at times that were convenient for me."

Veronica has entered several of the C3 Wellness Center's challenges, including their 180 Day Makeover Challenge, a 21 Day Trim Your Waist Challenge, and the Hot Diggity Dog Walking Challenge. Veronica placed second in the Walking Challenge and received a medal. In the 21 Day Waist Challenge, she won a $100 gift card. In the 180 Day Makeover Challenge, Veronica lost the highest percentage of body fat, earning her over $600 in gift cards and prizes to places like Stinky Feet, Blue Apron, and Bellagio Nails and Salon.
MLC's Purchasing Specialist Veronica Dunning
"Overall, the Wellness Center assisted me with weight loss as well as a decreased BMI. The challenges gave me something to be accountable to by requiring regular check-ins. I started walking and exercising more as well as being more conscious of what and how much I was eating. My overall goal is to be healthier and loss fifty more pounds. Continued participation in challenges provided by the C3 Wellness Center will help me reach my goal. Now, I have hope. With hope, anything is possible."

We wish Veronica and the rest of our state employees the best of luck at being active, keeping fit, and staying productive. Way to go!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

My Mississippi Libraries: Port Gibson

After years of working in home health out of state, I moved back to Mississippi and began working in libraries. For the past fourteen years, twelve of them here at the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC), I've checked out books, answered reference questions, and mastered the intricacies of interlibrary loan. While all this makes me a better library staff member, my job is significantly different from that of someone who works at one of Mississippi's many academic libraries, public libraries, or other special libraries. In my role as Social Media Coordinator, I was recently given the opportunity to connect with Mississippi libraries in a new and rewarding way: by accompanying MLC's library consultants and public relations staff on site visits.

Harriette Person Memorial Library Director Helen McComb shows off new comic books acquired through an LSTA grant.
Harriette Person Memorial Library in Port Gibson was my first destination and I was thrilled to reconnect with Director Helen McComb, a fellow comic book fiend and book lover. When we arrived in the small town of almost 1,600 near the Mississippi River, she gave us the grand tour of the library located in the historic Main Street District. It's packed to the brim with books for kids and adults, as well as a periodical section, several small reading areas, a children's area, and an AWE Early Learning Literacy Station. This station was purchased several years ago with Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant funds. (LSTA funds are administered through the Institute of Museum and Library Services and MLC.) From the moment we arrived there was a continuous flow of people in and out of the building, making it obvious that this library was a well-used community staple.

The Claiborne County Board of Supervisors purchased this historic building on Market Street to serve as the library in 1991.

Every inch of space is used while still keeping a light, airy, and inviting feel in the building.
This AWE Learning Early Literacy Station entertains while teaching key skills kids need for school and life.

The YA/Teen section of the library is filled to the max with new books purchased with LSTA funds prominently displayed.
After the tour, my coworkers and I quickly pitched in to prepare a craft that would follow storytime. Helen collaborated with other Mississippi library staff and dreamt up an ingenious idea for DIY tambourines: this project was quick, easy, low-cost, and kept to the Summer Library Program's 2018 theme Libraries Rock. (Instructions at end.) I was impressed! We watched as the people streaming into the library became shorter when community day camps, like those at Cultural Crossroads and Families First, arrived with groups of children and mothers and fathers brought in their kids. This has to be one of the most familiar sights for librarians across the state; the beautiful thing is that these stalwart partnerships develop hundreds of lifelong library lovers.

MLC Library Consultant Ally Watkins reads Mole Music by David McPhail to a rapt audience for storytime.

Library Director Helen McComb prepares rudimentary tambourines for her Summer Library Program.

MLC Social Media Coordinator Elisabeth Scott assists with some tricky threading.

After an engaging storytime that was filled with music and moles, questions and answers, and laughter and applause, seats around the tables were quickly filled with kids ready to be creative and make some noise. Helen and her staff deftly moved between helping children make tambourines and assisting regular patrons meet their needs. As tambourines were completed and the group began to thin, we slipped away with a box of collection boost books. (Collection boost is a program that allows public libraries to borrow popular materials from MLC and circulate them to their communities for up to a year.) Library staff sent us to a nearby eatery popular with locals; Rosie's catfish is light and tasty, y'all. Helen told us she would write up her event and other library happenings and deliver them to the Port Gibson Reveille, the community's now weekly newspaper that has reported the news since the 1800s. Her relationship with the paper allows her to share the library's past and future events with the community at large and keep them informed about important news.

Shake your tambourine!
Public Relations Director Susan Liles shows off a finished tambourine.
When I think of libraries, places like Harriette Person Memorial Library spring to mind before such noble buildings as the New York Public Library or the Library of Congress. While those libraries perform exceptional services, small town libraries like this one are the backbone of library service in Mississippi. They know their patrons, the people who walk through their front door every single day. They know their community, including local businesses and nonprofits, and work with them to make their library a community hub. And their librarians know their libraries, eking out entertaining programs on limited budgets and pinching pennies to get the next great book in a child's hands. These are my libraries and I'm proud of them.

"Shake It Like Helen" Tambourine

Supplies needed:
2 small paper plates
5 bells
36 inch length of yarn
markers, crayons, or colored pencils 
hole punch
  • Decorate backs of both plates
  • Line up plates and staple together using 1 or 2 staples
  • Punch 6-8 holes around the rims of the plates
  • Wrap a piece of tape around the end of the yarn, making it easier for small fingers to thread
  • Thread yarn through the holes using a whipstitch
  • Add bells as desired
  • Shake your tambourine
  • Remember that libraries rock!
Until next time, visit your local library and enjoy happy reading!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Books and Bourbon

In honor of National Bourbon Day, June 14, we're exploring the history of bourbon and some writers who enjoyed drinking it.
Our Faulkner bust with a couple of books from our collection.

The history of alcohol, and more specifically bourbon, is an interesting one. While not America’s first distilled beverage--that would be rum--it is perhaps the most distinguished. It is often called bourbon whiskey, but please note that not all whiskey is bourbon but all bourbon is whiskey.

The rise of bourbon began in Bourbon County, Kentucky, during the Revolutionary War. Several accounts suggest that farmers distilled the liquor when they could not transport or sell all of their corn crops. This distilled liquor, stored in casks, could easily be transported and just got better with age. According to sources, 95% of all bourbon is still made in Kentucky.

The criteria for a liquor to be called bourbon are as follows:
  • Made in America
  • Must be 51 percent corn        
  • Stored in new, not aged casks
  • Distilled no more than 160 proof/barreled at 125 proof
In 1964, a Congressional resolution was passed that made bourbon a “distinctive product” of the United States that can only be made in America. Since then it has been called the “Native Spirit of America”.

This got me thinking about writers who were known to imbibe. Visit your local library to check them out and enjoy!

"I've been drinking beer most of the day, but don't worry, kid - I'm not gonna stick my fist through the window or bust up any furniture. I'm a pretty benign beer drinker...most of the time. It's the whiskey that gets me in trouble. When I'm drinking it around people, I tend to get silly or pugnacious or wild, which can cause problems. So when I drink it these days, I try to drink it alone. That's the sign of a good whiskey drinker anyway - drinking it by yourself shows a proper reverence for it. The stuff even makes the lampshades look different." Charles Bukowski

“You see, I usually write at night. I always keep my whiskey within reach; so many ideas that I can’t remember in the morning pop into my head.” William Faulkner, to his French translator Maurice Edgar Coindreau, Conversations with William Faulkner

“The only way that I could figure they could improve upon Coca-Cola, one of life's most delightful elixirs, which studies prove will heal the sick and occasionally raise the dead, is to put bourbon in it.” Lewis Grizzard 

“Enjoyed it? One more drink and I’d have been under the host.” Dorothy Parker in Try and Stop Me by Bennett Cerf

"All you have to do is drink a little whiskey, smoke a joint, eat some acid, and you too can write like this."  Hunter S. Thompson, Conversations with Hunter S. Thompson

“I'm an occasional drinker, the kind of guy who goes out for a beer and wakes up in Singapore with a full beard.” Raymond Chandler, "The King in Yellow" Collected Stories

Kristina Kelly
Administrative Services Administrative Assistant
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