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Monday, June 10, 2019

Meet MLC Monday: J.D. Burns

Meet J.D. Burns, Circulation Librarian for Talking Book Services at the Mississippi Library Commission! J.D. circulates and maintains Talking Books cartridges, machines, and other materials, and assists with anything else needed in Talking Books Services. He began working for MLC less than a month ago, on May 20, and says that so far MLC has been an incredibly welcoming environment. "The staff is fantastic and the grounds and building are beautiful. I love the sense that, in some small way, I’m a part of helping get books into the hands of people who need them."

When asked his opinion of libraries, J.D. had this to say, "I love the overall concept of the library. In my opinion, access to the written word is one of the most important things in life, and the library gives that to people. Having access to so much knowledge, free of charge, is an incredible thing." J.D. loves to read. He geeks out on everything from historical non-fiction to sci-fi comic books. Recently, he has been reading through classic Dr. Strange issues from Marvel Comics and he constantly thumbs through his well-worn copy of Last Night of the Earth Poems by Charles Bukowski. When he's not reading or taking care of his five cats, you can probably find him with a guitar in his hands. "Music is a passion, and I’ve been playing guitar for close to 18 years. I play original music with a band and overall just love all types of music." J.D. also loves to cook and is always interested in trying new recipes and techniques.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Building Readers at Emily J. Pointer Library

Margaret Murray served the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC) and libraries in Mississippi for twenty years before retiring in 2014. At the annual Mississippi Library Association conference in 2015, the Friends of Mississippi Libraries announced a grant honoring her work in the library community. The competitive grant advances library programming and literacy for Mississippi public libraries through activities sponsored by the local Friends of Mississippi Libraries chapters. Three $1,000 grant recipients are named each year.
Two smiling women stand in a library filled with shelves of books. One hands the other a check as they pose for the picture.
Como Branch Manager Amy Henderson receives the grant check
from Del Ann Billingsly, Treasurer of the Como Library Friends.
The Friends group of the Emily J. Pointer Library, a branch of the First Regional Library System, is one of this year's recipients. This library, located in Como, Mississippi, wanted to advance early literacy through collection development. Nearly 50% of children in this area perform below passing levels in language arts. Their goals were to attract and expose preschool age children to the alphabet and numbers in a fun way while keeping with current trends of collection development, especially with the inclusion of books featuring diverse characters. In their grant application, the group said, "By offering an appealing, up-dated collection of books to our young patrons, we hope to aid in the improvement of literacy levels in school age children."

Two women each hold several picture books. Many more are piled on a table in front of them.
Como Library Youth Specialist Veneda Ruby and Pat Hendren
show off some of the books ordered with grant funds.
Many congratulations to Emily J. Pointer Library and the children of Como, who will benefit from this grant for many years to come. Check back with us soon for more posts featuring this year's Margaret Murray Grant recipients!

Monday, June 3, 2019

Meet MLC Monday: Bobbie Green

Meet Bobbie Green, Purchasing Chief at the Mississippi Library Commission! Bobbie issues purchase orders and tracks property and assets for the agency. She started working for MLC just a few months ago, in March of 2019.

Bobbie thinks libraries are important because they help people achieve their full potential by providing them with near limitless knowledge. (We agree, Bobbie!) She likes to read YA series, as well as science fiction. Her absolute favorite series is Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush. When she's not reading, Bobbie loves to help out with Vacation Bible School and Bible drills at her church. She's a country girl at heart, one who loves to fish and ride four wheelers. She's also an avid racing fan. The thing closest to Bobbie's heart is spending time with her three boys, which she jokes entails much cooking.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Jump Back on the LearningExpress!

You already know that your library is an excellent place to explore and learn new things. We are thrilled to announce that we're bringing even more learning to your local Mississippi public library as we welcome back LearningExpress! LearningExpress is a collection of practice tests, tutorials, eBooks, articles, and flashcards, all geared toward helping people learn. The main areas are:
  • Career Preparation
    Allied Health, ASVAB, CDL, EMT, Nursing, Real Estate, and more!
  • High School Equivalency
    GED, GED en Español, and HiSET
  • College Admissions Test Preparation
    ACT, SAT, PSAT, and more!
  • School Center
    Math, English, Social Studies, Science, and more for school-age children!
  • College Students
    Skills reviews, CLEP, GMAT, GRE, LSAT, and more for college students!
  • Adult Core Skills
    Math, Reading, Writing, Citizenship Exam, Examen de Ciudadanía, and more!
  • Recursos Para Hispanohablantes
    Lectura, Vocabulario, Ortografía, y Matematicas!
Ask your library how to register so that you can access this great resource from the library or home today!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

A Visit to Sharkey-Issaquena County Library

Library Consultant

Several months ago, I visited the Sharkey-Issaquena County Library, the only public library serving these two Delta counties. Director Elissa Tucker has done a great job at cultivating devoted donors and community partners who bring art, landscaping, and other donations to the patrons of Sharkey-Issaquena Library. For example, Elissa designed the blue "Rolling in the Delta" t-shirts and the Friends group ran a fundraiser for an Entergy grant cash match that brought modern, efficient, and bright LED lighting to the library.

A smiling woman holds up a blue t-shirt that says Rolling in the Delta. It has an old truck and cotton bolls. She is standing in a library and there are many shelves of books.
Library Director Elissa Tucker shows off the library's fundraising t-shirt.

As other libraries have done, the Friends group periodically sponsors a Memorial Bricks Fundraiser to raise funds. These courtyard bricks are engraved in honor/memory of someone. It has proven to be an easy way to raise funds for the library and provides a lasting tribute to those honored. The local garden club maintains the courtyards and other locals use their personal equipment to power wash the memorial bricks when needed.

Red bricks are flat in a courtyard. Some have inscriptions, like "In Memory of Linda Goodwin, 1940-2013"
Memorial courtyard bricks
The library's patrons are generous in other ways, too. If someone see something that needs to be done, they offer to do it. Once, a regular patron popped in to say that her husband was outside spraying WD-40 on the door of the library's drop box. The couple had noticed it sticking before the library staff, so they went ahead and took care of the problem.

a large bear statue carved from a log. Bear is reading a book and an owl perches on its shoulder
Reading bear statue outside library
The Sharkey-Issaquena Library staff work exceptionally hard to make the library a welcoming resource and their patrons love the library, going the extra mile to make it a place they want to visit. This library is a vital part of the community!

Friday, May 24, 2019

CMRLS—So Many Amazing Branches!

Shellie Zeigler
Library Consultant

Over a period of several days, I recently visited all of Central Regional Mississippi Library System’s (CMRLS) branches in Rankin and Scott counties. (I missed the Puckett branch due to a timing issue, but I’ll catch them next month). Director of CMRLS, Mara Polk, accompanied me to each branch: Pearl, Flowood, Brandon, Lake, Sebastopol, Forest, Morton, Florence, Richland, Sandhill, Pisgah, Pelahatchie, and Northwest Point Reservoir. Amazingly, that's not even all of CMRLS's branches. Mara oversees a twenty library system!

Our first stop was the Pearl Library, one of the “Big Three” at CMRLS (Pearl, Brandon and Flowood). Branch Manager Morgan Lee was there to show us around and introduce me to their two new full-time staff. Pearl Library has a large children’s area and an inviting teen area. They also have a garden that is maintained by community members and often decorated with children’s crafts. They have many inviting and informative displays and showcase an area with staff book recommendations. This branch recently hosted their own Comic Con event with nearly 1,600 people coming through their doors in one day. This library is bustling!

Our next stop was Flowood Library, the CMRLS 2019 Large Library of the Year and another Big Three branch. I was disappointed to find I had just missed a children’s program when I arrived. Their children’s programs are always very well attended. The circulation staff were dealing with a large patron donation. This branch receives a lot of donations and they have an ongoing book sale of items they don’t use for their collection. Flowood Library is beautifully designed with unique features, like flooring that resembles the flow of a river. The library sits next to a gorgeous park and tennis courts. 

There are a bird feeder and a bird directly outside a large window. Trees and an open lawn spread in the distance. A raised area and seat are directly in front of the window.
Brandon Library bird watching stand

We traveled to the last Big Three branch, Brandon Library, at the end of this first day. Brandon Library is also located next to a park and tennis courts. It boasts a large genealogy room and offers a vast amount of programming for adults, teens, tweens, and children. As is true in all CMRLS branches, everyone is getting ready for upcoming Summer Reading events. The theme “A Universe of Stories” is evident in the space themed decorations seen everywhere. There is also a cute bird watching stand in the children’s area that is very well-loved. Brandon Library is a busy branch that is well-used by its community.

Three women, one wearing glasses, take a selfie in front of shelves of library books.
Lake Library Branch Manager Selena Swink, MLC Library
Consultant Shellie Zeigler, and CMRLS Director Mara Polk

A woman wearing sunglasses smiles at the camera. She is posed in front of a building bearing the sign Lake Public Library.
MLC Library Consultant at Lake Public Library

On our second day, Mara and I traveled to the Lake branch. Selena Swink, the branch manager, had coffee ready for us. This is charming branch that is the perfect size for the Lake community. They host programs down the hall in a community meeting room. The library is right down the road from the school and is well maintained by the branch manager.

An empty chair is pushed up to a table. The table holds a plate of salt, a folded flag on a plate, an open Bible, a flag in a vase, and Missing Man table guidelines.
Missing Man table at Sebastopol Library

Three smiling women, one of them wearing glasses, take a selfie in front of shelves of library books.
Sebastopol Library Branch Manager Megan Sanders, MLC Library
Consultant Shellie Zeigler, and CMRLS Director Mara Polk

When we arrived at Sebastopol Library, the branch manager was working on a huge, cardboard rocket ship for the Summer Reading program. I have to say, I was pretty impressed! There was also a Missing Man Table to honor fallen, missing, and imprisoned members of our military. While a small branch, it is a very clean, inviting library with a well-maintained collection, just part of the reason it won the CMRLS 2019 Small Library of the Year.

The outside of Forest Library, with large columns, metal handrails, and large glass doors
Forest Library

I managed to catch a children’s program at the Forest branch and was completely charmed. The Forest Library’s building almost 10 years old and in pristine shape; it is a gorgeous library. In February, they held a book drive for recent non-fiction books. They had a goal of 100 new non-fiction books and were able to meet and exceed that goal. I think this is such an innovative idea to boost a collection!

Our last stop on this day was the Morton Library. Like all the CMRLS branches, the collections were well maintained with enough room on their shelves for growth. They have an novel way of persuading patrons to pay fines; the names of any patrons who pay their fines in full (no matter the amount) are added to a drawing to win a goodie basket. And what nice baskets they are!!

Parking space is painted purple with a sign at the end.
Combat Wounded parking space at Richland Library

Sign says Reserved Combat Wounded Wounded Warriors Family Support. There is a picture of George Washington surrounded by a purple heart, and then by gold.
Combat Wounded parking sign at Richland Library

Our last day of traveling to branches started with Richland Library. It boasts a perk that I have never seen at a library before, a Combat Wounded parking sign. The space itself is painted purple and recognizes and honors our veterans who were wounded during service to our country.

A smiling woman wearing sunglasses poses next to an outdoor sign that says Pelahatchie The Place To Prosper Public Library 718 Second Street CMRLS
MLC Library Consultant Shellie Zeigler

A gravel walk is surrounded by grass and a few trees. In the near distance is a zip line.
Zipline behind Pelahatchie Library

The Pelahatchie Library has a large ongoing book sale, as well as a permanent zipline behind the library. Pretty cool!! The Sandhill Pisgah Library was charming and already in Summer Reading mode with a Star Wars display. Our last stop, Reservoir Library, is situated right next to a walking trail. It is nestled next to Mill Creek, where one can spy alligators from time to time.

All the CMRLS branches I visited over these three days were not only well-maintained, clean, and inviting, but they were also all distinct to the community where they resided. I admire the administration for encouraging the branch managers and staff to make each branch “their own.” No cookie cutter libraries here! I am very much looking forward to seeing what the other CMRLS branches are like and what treasures I will find. Look for my post next month about their Smith and Simpson county branches!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month

I've been living for 25 years and I've never heard of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, but I have never been so excited to learn a new historical fact. On October 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter put in place a law announcing Asian Pacific American Heritage Week. On October 23, 1992, community pioneers from around the nation saw more progress in Asian Pacific American history when President George Bush signed legislation designating May of each year as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

A smiling man wearing glasses is holding three books about Chinese Americans in Mississippi.

I didn't know that Asian Americans had such a pivotal hand in developing southern American society. There is a hidden history on the effect that Asian Americans had on the development of communities in Mississippi, and the Mississippi Delta specifically. Chinese immigrants moved to the southern United States soon after the Civil War to work on cotton plantations and farms. Later, during the Segregation Era (1900-1939), Chinese American families in the Mississippi Delta ran segregated grocery stores for both black and white customers, sometimes from shops located across the street from each other. The Chinese Americans themselves were ostracized and denied their civil rights while providing this essential service to their non-integrated local communities. They lived in quarters adjacent to their grocery stores because they were denied property ownership. For decades these Americans learned, worshiped, and socialized separately from the Delta’s mainstream population. After the Civil Rights Movement, education and career opportunities opened for following generations. For further history on the impact of Asian-Americans in Mississippi, three books you can check out from the Mississippi Library Commission are: Water Tossing Boulders: How a Family of Chinese Immigrants Led the First Fight to Desegregate Schools in the Jim Crow South by Adrienne Berard, The Mississippi Chinese: Between Black and White by James W. Loewen, and Lotus Among the Magnolias: the Mississippi Chinese by Robert Seto Quan. You can also visit the Mississippi Delta Chinese Heritage Museum at Delta State University in Cleveland.


Monday, May 6, 2019

Let's Talk about Game of Thrones

Did you watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones last night? Yes? Great! DON'T YOU DARE TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED. As I've gotten older, and the number of ways I can access television shows has increased, I've become worse and worse about tuning in when I'm "supposed" to do so. Most of the time, it doesn't matter, but Game of Thrones has turned into one of the most watched/most talked about shows in recent history. I started watching during the first season and have been glued to the show ever since. (This is one of those times where I've watched before I've read. That will come after the end of this season.) Although I'll be avoiding the tangled web of spoilers that is the Internet all day long, let me share with you my tongue-in-cheek look at what some of my favorite characters would be reading if they stopped by MLC to check out a few books. You can view the entire list here.

One of the things I've enjoyed most about the series is the extremely large cast of well-developed characters. Watching people grow and change (and yes, sometimes die) over the past seven seasons has been a non-stop roller coaster. (I figure those breaks between seasons are akin to pausing at the top of a particularly tall drop.) If you have any GoT book suggestions, especially for characters I didn't mention, please feel free to leave them in the comments. Until next time, happy reading! (And watching!)

    Wednesday, May 1, 2019

    So That All May Read

    Take a moment to think about what it would be like not to being able to read. You could never lose yourself in a novel or read an autobiography on your favorite hero or heroine. Through the Mississippi Library Commission's Talking Book Services, reading for those with visual impairments or other disabilities can become a reality. MLC partners with the Library of Congress to provide Talking Book Services to Mississippians. With a wide range of popular fiction and nonfiction titles for adults, teens, and children, this free service is open for all eligible residents who are unable to read standard print due to a visual, physical, or organic reading disability.

    I recently traveled with Mary Rodgers Beal, Talking Book Services Director, to the Bolden Moore Library on Wiggins Road in Jackson. The library hosts the Westside Community Senior Organization in their meeting room Monday through Friday. The group gardens, makes quilts, and accesses computers and the internet at this library. They welcomed Mary Rodgers and me with open arms and were eager to hear about the service.

    Plants tended by participants of the Westside Community Senior Organization.

    Quilts created by participants of the Westside Community Senior Organization.

    A standing woman is talking to several people who are seated at long tables.
    Mary Rodgers explains Talking Book Services.

    It was a great morning; I enjoyed meeting these wonderful folks and being reminded of all the wonderful things Talking Book Services does. If there is someone in your life who has difficulty reading and you want to get them started with Talking Book Services, check out the information and applications on the eligibility page on our website or call us at 1-800-446-0892.

    A standing woman is talking to a seated woman with her back to the camera.
    Mary Rodgers explains Talking Book Services.

    Monday, April 15, 2019

    Meet MLC Monday: Derrion Arrington

    Meet Derrion Arrington, Reference Librarian at the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC)! Derrion began working for MLC back in January of 2018. He holds a dual bachelor's degree in History and Sociology from Tougaloo College. Derrion and a small team of researchers answer simple questions (Can you get me the number to Waffle House?) to tough ones (How much radiation would someone soak up from an undetonated nuclear bomb?) all day long. Patrons can come to the building in Jackson for assistance, but they also by send questions by mail, Facebook, phone, etc. The team answers thousands of queries each month, mainly from Mississippians, but also from people in different states, and even different countries. Derrion says answering people's questions is his favorite part of his job because he seems to learn something new every single day. He also assists with  collection development and shelving.

    Smiling man posed in front of books with the quote Meet Derrion Arrington Libraries provide free educational resources for everyone. They are also safe refuges for the homeless and underserved populations.

    Derrion says he likes libraries for several very good reasons. "Libraries provide free educational resources for everyone. They are also safe refuges for the homeless and underserved populations." He also appreciates all the books they offer because he loves to read. He says, "With my background in history, I still read a lot about it. My favorite book currently is Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond." Derrion also plays the saxophone and writes. Writing is his favorite hobby; he focuses on historical events here in Mississippi, especially those dealing with the Civil Rights Movement and the Civil War.

    Friday, April 5, 2019

    On the Road with MLC - Hancock County Library System

    By MLC Library Consultant Shellie Zeigler

    I recently traveled to the Hancock County Library for a tour of all five of the libraries.  My first stop was the Bay St. Louis Library where I sat in on a Department Head Meeting that included all of the branch managers and various other staff members.  It was very informative and gave me a great feel for the outstanding programming and plans going on in this library system.

    Bay St Louis Branch

    A particularly interesting passive program encourages staff and patrons to dress up as their favorite literary character which has been a favorite program in the past.  I also learned the system has a new website and they are working on a new logo.

    The library system recently handed out library card application folders to 1st-3rd graders in the area schools.  The folders contained library card applications and library program information for parents.  There was a letter to teachers explaining the process and that the library cards would be delivered back to the class.  The class with the most applications would get a free pizza party.

    The Bay St. Louis branch has been focusing on doing roving reference and the children's area is now staffed at all times.  The branch manager Amber Stephenson mentioned that they are working to redesign the branch to have a more open concept.

    Waveland Branch Manager, Angie Christoffer and MLC's Shellie Zeigler

    The next library on my route was Waveland. They were preparing for a "Pirate Day" planned for the following weekend.  It is such a charming branch with a large pirate ship as the focal point in the children's area.  The storytimes are conducted on the ship which must make them a great experience for the children.  The branch manager Angie Christoffer gave me a tour and loved showing off the large front porch that is a favorite of the patrons.

    Pearlington Branch prepares for GED class

    Next on my list was the Pearlington branch where I met with branch manager Andrea Pack.  This branch does a great deal of community-oriented programming.  They offer exercise classes for seniors, GED preparation classes, and they participate in the "Feeding the Gulf Coast" program to help children and adults.  They are excited about their upcoming "Bunny Hop" event that is similar to a trunk-or-treat program they do in the fall.

    Children's area at East Hancock Library

    After a night of rest I visited the East Hancock branch in Diamond Head where I met up with System Director Jennifer Baxter.  After a visit with Jennifer, the branch manager Gerri McCleskey gave me a tour of this lovely facility that has a colorful and fun children's area.

    Children's program at The Kiln branch

    My last stop was the branch in Kiln. Jennifer and I talked with branch manager Nell Ducomb.  There was a storytime going on in the children's area and an Excel by 5 representative was present to provide information for the parents.  This library has a wonderful fireplace that was a popular area on this cool morning.

    Hancock County Library System Director Jennifer Baxter, MLC's Shellie Zeigler and The Kiln Branch Manager, Nell Ducomb

    It was time to head back to Jackson, but I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Hancock County.  I can't wait to go back!  Special thanks to Jennifer and everyone on her staff for making me feel so welcome.

    Thursday, April 4, 2019

    Digitization and Public Libraries

    Patrons and libraries can do so much with digitization! And with the Mobile Archive Project, the Mississippi Library Commission wants to help make that possible. The Mobile Archive Project is one of the services offered by the Mississippi Library Commission. Libraries can check out a portable scanner kit for use in a digitization project. A member of the Mississippi Library Commission will bring the scanner kit to the library and show librarians how to use the scanning program, scan objects, and save digital files for ease of use.

    The scanner in the kit is an overhead scanner. Unlike a typical flatbed scanner, an overhead scanner is perfect for scanning 3D or fragile objects. You simply place the object on the provided mat, press the button on the scanner, and it scans an overhead view of whatever object you’re scanning. This is great for scanning physical objects like medals, art projects, or plaques. It is also good for scanning books: the overhead scanner has a setting that accounts for the bend of a book’s pages, letting you edit it so all the text is straight, readable, and not crooked.

    Knowing how to use the scanner is good, but what should you scan in the first place? There are so many items that could benefit from digitization. Does your library have fragile records? You could digitize those to help save wear and tear on the physical copies. Does your library have a collection of letters by a famous author? You could digitize those so that they could be easily shared with multiple people. Does your library have a photograph collection? You could digitize those so they could be shared on social media.

    Now that you’ve digitized these items, how can you share them with the world? If your library is a partner with the Mississippi Digital Library, they can host the files for you. If you want to keep the files for staff use only, uploading them to a flash drive or a Google Drive account will do the trick. High use items can be hosted on the library’s website or by an image hosting site such as Photobucket—just be cautious about privacy and copyright limitations. If you REALLY want to explore your options and know someone tech-savvy, an open source collections management program like CollectiveAccess could give your collection a museum-like polish.

    There are so many options with digitization! Proper digitization can help reduce wear and tear on some items and let you share other items with the world. If your institution has heavy traffic items, fragile items, or anything awkwardly shaped you want to share with the world, I hope you consider digitization to help continue the spread of information.

    Friday, March 29, 2019

    2019 National Library Week - Libraries = Strong Communities

    As librarians and library advocates, we know that involvement with a local library builds a better, more vibrant community.  National Library Week, held April 7-13, is the perfect time to share the value of public libraries with others.

    Think of ways to raise awareness in your area about what your library does to help the members of your community to grow and thrive.  Do you offer a computer training class for adults?  Do you help with online job applications?  Have you attended an outstanding program at your local library?  Sometimes the things we do become so second nature to us that we forget to tell our own story.

    Library programs encourage community members to meet to discuss civic issues, work together using new technologies and to learn alongside one another in classes and programs.  Library staff actively engage with the people they serve, always striving to make sure their community's core needs are being met.

    Governor Phil Bryant understands the value of Mississippi's public libraries.  He recently presented a proclamation officially declaring this week in April as National Library Week across the state.  Be sure to share this information with your patrons and others in your area. 

    Take a moment to visit the American Library Association's website to find all sorts of information to help you plan your activities for National Library Week.  Here's a link to their NLW toolkit -  Happy planning!

    Tuesday, March 26, 2019

    The Joy of Reading to Kids

    The summers of my childhood were filled with trips to my aunt's house in Mt. Olive.  She had four daughters...all older than me.  The youngest was like a sister to me, even though she was four years my senior.  We spent those summer days running, climbing and enjoying being kids.  When we finally wore ourselves out, we would come inside the wonderful old house where my mother and aunt had grown up and we would climb into bed to rest a bit.  The house had tall ceilings and large windows and I can still feel that warm afternoon air blowing through the windows.  My cousin loved to read to me and I would listen intently to every word.  There is something about having someone read aloud that is so special.

    On a not-so-warm day recently I read to a group of third graders at Spann Elementary School.  The librarian, Jennifer Baker, is my neighbor and she asked me if I would read a Dr. Seuss book in celebration of his birthday. Of course I said yes!  My favorite Dr. Seuss book is Oh the Places You'll Go, so she said she would put my name on it!   This day is also known as Read Across America Day when lots of Mississippi public libraries and school libraries celebrate reading.  

    Jennifer Baker, my neighbor and librarian at Spann Elementary

    Jennifer was waiting when I arrived and had someone take me to my classroom.  The kids were so great and very attentive.  At the end of the story we sang Happy Birthday to Dr. Seuss.  It was a fantastic experience that I will never forget.

    If the opportunity presents itself, I encourage everyone to take time to read to children.  It is such a special experience!

    Monday, March 25, 2019

    Meet MLC Monday: Alex Brower

    Meet Alex Brower, Reference Librarian at the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC)! People ask her and a small team of researchers every kind of question under the sun, which they answer by phone, email, social media, and all sorts of other ways. (Last fiscal year the team answered an average of nearly 2,000 questions each month, from people right here in Mississippi to people as far away as India.) As another part of her new job, Alex has begun traveling the state to train librarians on how to use MAGNOLIA, a statewide database consortium funded by the Mississippi legislature. She also contributes to collection development, suggesting books and other materials to add and remove from MLC's inventory

    Alex started working at MLC just a few weeks ago and says she's very excited to be here. She enjoys helping people and finding answers to their questions. "I can learn a lot about a variety of different topics by helping people find the information they need. I enjoy helping people from all over the state find the information that they need. I think I’m going to enjoy working at MLC for many reasons, and I’ve been very impressed with how welcoming and helpful everyone I have met has been!" She earned a bachelor’s degree and her Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from the University of Southern Mississippi (USM). She received the Kathanne W. Greene Award and the Peggy May and H.W. Wilson scholarships while at USM.

    When asked about her feelings regarding libraries, Alex responded, "I've always loved libraries because I love to read, but being a librarian has given me new and wonderful reasons to love them! Libraries are open to everyone, and they are some of the few institutions built that are built by and for their communities. Libraries provide so many needed services, from connecting patrons to a new favorite book to helping people apply for jobs, and they are wonderful third spaces that make their communities better simply by existing."

    Alex says she loves to read. She doesn't have a favorite book--that changes all the time, but she is particularly fond of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. The last book she read was Enter Pirates by Laurie Notaro. When she's not thinking about libraries and books, Alex is teaching herself to sew and her grandmother is teaching her to crochet. She has also dabbled in watercolors and gardening, but with little success.

    Wednesday, March 20, 2019

    Save Libraries, Save Museums, Save IMLS!

    Maybe you've seen the proposed national budget for FY20 and maybe you haven't, but it eliminates federal funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). That means essential programs provided by libraries and museums across Mississippi will no longer have the money to continue. This covers everything from your local public library, your child's school library, and university libraries to the Delta Blues Museum, the Mississippi Museum of Art, and the Mississippi Children's Museum. It also means that LSTA grant funds, which launch innovative programs across the state and are distributed by IMLS, will no longer be available. Both Loida Garcia-Febo, president of the American Library Association, and Kathryn K. Matthew, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, have issued responses regarding the proposed budget, and people across the country are rallying to our museums' and libraries' defense.

    We want you to join the fight to fund museums and libraries. Take a look below at a small sample of Mississippi public library programs funded by IMLS in the past few years. Then click the Dear Appropriator letter at the bottom of the page to send an email to your congresspeople urging full funding of IMLS.

    Lee-Itawamba Library System
    The Lunching with Books program, made possible through LSTA grant funds, is a vital resource for information and socialization of learners who can no longer visit the library due to physical disabilities, advanced age, and/or lack of transportation. In order to serve these citizens, the library purchased the necessary equipment to record, archive, and live-stream the programs to offsite patrons. The program can be viewed at any time from the Lee-Itawamba Library System website. The library partnered with a local retirement home to screen the program on-site in a common area. Live-streaming the program off-site allowed patrons no longer able to attend in person the ability to actively participate in educational and entertaining library activities. This library system is in Mississippi's Congressional District 1, which is served by Representative Trent Kelly.

    Sunflower County Library System
    The Seniors Acquiring Computer Skills and the Senior Adults Moving Forward in Technology programs at Sunflower County Library System were designed to provide computer skills training to senior citizens who want to become computer literate. Using LSTA grant funds, the library provides computer literacy classes for small groups in slowly-paced sessions. Attendees learn essential basic computer skills, like word processing in order to produce letters and forms, spreadsheets to track financial information, and Internet competency, including search skills and database usage. After a sixteen-week training period, participants are able to use everything from email to Word and beyond, critical skills for the 21st century. This library system is in Mississippi's Congressional District 2, which is served by Representative Bennie Thompson.

    Central Mississippi Regional Library System
    New Maker Space Kits, acquired with LSTA funds by the Central Mississippi Regional Library System, travel back and forth between their 20 branches. The Makey Makey Kit, Snap Circuits Kit, Video Maker Kit, Strawbees Kit, and Jewelry Tool Kit emphasize STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) activities for K-12 through adult patrons. Every age group served has been excited and eager to learn and explore with the kits, making this an incredibly successful idea. These items give Mississippi citizens an understanding of how circuitry works and help them understand how to apply this new knowledge in their everyday lives. This library system is in Mississippi's Congressional District 3, which is served by Representative Michael Guest.

    Laurel-Jones County Library System
    An Early Childhood Library Development Center project garnered LSTA grant funds for the Laurel-Jones County Library System. It enables both libraries in the system to provide a fun and safe area where children can learn through imaginative play. The centers have an assortment of building blocks, interlocking and connective toys, matching and sorting games, and puzzles. These activities teach young patrons basic math and language skills, hand-eye coordination, counting, color and letter identification, motor skills, and social interaction skills. This library system is in Mississippi's Congressional District 4, which is served by Representative Steven Palazzo.

    These programs, which cater to a wide range of interests, target people of all ages and walks of life. If you think that the learning, cultural, and social opportunities Mississippi libraries and museums provide are critical to keeping our citizens on the cutting edge of society, then help us out. Contact your congressperson and ask them to sign the Dear Appropriator letter. Then share this post in your email, on Facebook, or however else you reach your friends and family, and ask them to do the same. Thank you!

    Monday, March 18, 2019

    Meet MLC Monday: Taraki Jones

    Meet Taraki Jones, Circulation Services Librarian for Talking Book Services (TBS) at the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC)! Taraki checks in and out digital books, braille books, and braille magazines that our TBS patrons borrow and return. She started working at MLC two weeks ago on March 4 and has already made positive changes in her department.

    One of Taraki's biggest passions is reading and one of her favorite authors is Debbie Macomber. She particularly enjoyed The Way to a Man's Heart and the Blossom Street series. She says, "I like libraries because they are nice, quiet places to take adventures and gain knowledge through print and audio books." When she's not reading, Taraki loves to knit. She jokingly adds, "Knitting is my life!"

    Friday, March 15, 2019

    Do Not Be Silent

    “Do not be silent; there is no limit to the power that may be released through you.” 
    -Howard Thurman, Deep is the Hunger

    Mississippi librarians and library advocates at the Mississippi Capitol on Library Day at the Capitol, March 12, 2019

    The sound of a multitude of voices is powerful and lends itself to change. During the 2019 legislative session, there have been dedicated library advocates at the Capitol each week, from librarians and Mississippi Library Association members, to library friends, trustees, and patrons. They've been sharing the powerful stories of how libraries change the lives of residents of their communities.

    On Tuesday, March 12, advocacy efforts peaked with "Library Day at the Capitol", when the voices of over 200 library supporters were heard by Mississippi's lawmakers. The entire first floor of the historic building was filled with advocates who shared information about the value of Mississippi's public libraries.

    Meredith Wickham, Director of the First Regional Library System, has created a helpful thank you letter that you can send your legislators. Feel free to copy and paste it into your own document or email and modify it to fit your particular needs before sending it on to your senators and congresspeople. Check the Mississippi Legislature's website for your senator addresses and representative addresses. Not sure who your legislators are? You can find them at Open States.

    Go ahead and mark your calendars for next year's Library Day at the Capitol. We're scheduled for March 10, 2020, from 11 am-2 pm, and have reserved the same large area of the first floor of the Rotunda and hallways as this year.

    Make your voice heard... Become an advocate... Do not be silent.

    Tuesday, February 26, 2019

    Read Woke

    A teacher came in the Mississippi Library Commission last week looking for books to read to her class in honor of Black History Month. As I was helping her, she started telling me about her daughter, Cicely Lewis, who happens to be a librarian in Georgia. That caught my attention even more. You know, because I am a librarian. Nevertheless, her daughter has an organization that recently went viral and it's beautiful about how it all came to be. The movement is called Read Woke and it promotes books about disenfranchised groups of people, giving them a voice. This was interesting because, as book lovers, we always want to promote books that are good for our subconscious and put us in a better place. Her movement became something more than promotion and something of extreme substance; it gives the kids something to look forward to when they flip the pages of everyday learning. Giving students a sense of pride and integrity makes the moments much better. We all know that life can make kids a little rough around the edges, but all it takes is a good book to give them that inspiration they need to become a better version of themselves. Cicely's story is so inspiring and sharing this could impact more than just America, but also the world. Here are a few videos you can watch for more information about Read Woke. Also, MLC has a couple of new books that'll really wake you up. They are If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin and On the Come Up by Jackson native Angie Thomas. Check in with us or your local library for books like these. You won't be disappointed!

    Monday, February 25, 2019

    Looking for a Job? Your Library Can Help!

    If you're unemployed or looking for a new job opportunity, libraries are the best place to start your search. After all, they offer a wide variety of services and materials for those looking for employment: Wi-Fi, computers, and books on skills improvement, job searching, and resumes. We checked in with the Northeast Regional Library System, headquartered in Corinth, for some recent Mississippi library success stories.

    Attendees fill out job applications during the Prentiss County Development
    Association's Job Fair at the George E. Allen Public Library in Booneville.

    Last August, the George E. Allen Library in Booneville (population 8,693) partnered with the Prentiss County Development Association (PCDA) and provided space for their job fair. The PCDA was impressed that well over 200 attendees showed up for the event. PCDA President Leon Hayes thought the library was the perfect place to hold the job fair because of their meeting space and their Internet-connected public computers. The organization plans to make it an annual event.

    Attendees lining up in anticipation of the doors opening at the start of the PCDA job fair.
    Meanwhile, staff at the Rienzi Public Library, located in the tight-knit community of Rienzi (population 309), helped patrons who lost their jobs when a local restaurant closed its doors.
    It is exciting to know that two of my patrons, who were formerly long term Ryan’s employees, were forced to apply for different jobs because of the shutdown. They came and registered for the computers and I’m happy to report that they both got the jobs that they were wanting. They have since come back with smiles on their faces to inform me. I helped them with their resumes and it was a true joy to hear that. Rienzi patrons tell me regularly that they are truly grateful for the library being here so that they “don’t have to go all the way to town”. Sometimes they can’t because of their financial circumstances or even just convenience.
    The staff at the Walnut Public Library knew firsthand how excited their patrons were when the library got new computers in 2016. The citizens of Walnut (population 754) loved the new machines' speed and capacity, which were far superior to the relics they had been using. Many of the patrons used the library's computers to search for jobs, submit resumes, and fill out applications, so the library staff were surprised when computer usage started to drop and regular users stopped coming in as often. Soon, though, the old patrons visited at new times to share their good news; they had found jobs using the library's computers and were now busy working during the day.

    Over 365,000 Mississippians headed to public libraries in 2017 to search for jobs and these success stories from the northeast corner of our state are typical for Mississippi's public libraries. The next time you think about searching for a new job, head to your local library!

    Monday, February 18, 2019

    Jackson-George Regional Library System Recognizes Volunteers

    Mississippi Library Commission Executive Director Hulen Bivins was the guest speaker at the Jackson-George Regional Library System's 32nd Annual Volunteer Awards Reception at the Pascagoula Public Library on Tuesday, February 13. Along with a luncheon, the volunteers attending from the nine branch libraries received a certificate recognizing their service and a chance for door prizes.

    The Rita Krebs Genealogy Volunteer of the Year was given to Mississippi Digital Library for their assistance in helping digitize collections for the genealogy library. The Mary Ann Louviere Youth Services Volunteer of the Year was presented to Aric Wirtz from the Ocean Springs Library with 181 hours of service. The Flora S. Scholtes Volunteer of the Year was presented to Estelle Nettles from the Moss Point Library with 290 hours of service. The Friends of the Pascagoula Public Library won the Friends of the Library 2019 award which was presented by Library Director Lori Barnes. This award is given for outstanding support for Friends projects, program sponsorships, fundraising efforts, and membership drives for the library.

    “Volunteers donated nearly 8,000 hours of service to the library system for 2018 and is the equivalent of more than four full-time employees,” said library director Lori Barnes. “We couldn’t do all we do without them,” she said.

    You can see more photos of the event on the library's Facebook page. Visit the library's website for more information about their Friends groups and locations. For more information on setting up a Friends group at your Mississippi library, MLC is here to help. Volunteering at your library is a great way to give back to your community. We appreciate these hardworking individuals and their contributions to the Mississippi library world.
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