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Monday, March 28, 2016

Meet MLC Monday: Demetra Hayes

Meet Demetra Hayes, Interlibrary Loan Specialist for the Mississippi Library Commission. Ms. Hayes celebrated her tenth anniversary at MLC this month. In addition to her regular duties at the circulation desk, like checking books in and out, Demetra is also responsible for making sure books are returned in a timely manner and for relief at the front desk. She assists with many special projects in the Library Services Department, as well. For example, one that she found fascinating involved compiling a list of all the Mississippi state agency newsletters. "Who knew Mississippi had all those agencies?!"

Ms. Hayes says that she loves telling people about MLC's services, like the fact that anyone with a Mississippi public library card in good standing with their local public library is eligible for an MLC card. Her favorite part of her job is helping the public one-on-one. She says, "I love to interact with patrons and to learn their likes and dislikes, especially the elderly."
Demetra loves to read all sorts of books on all kinds of subjects. She especially likes fiction about relationships, family, drama, and romance, as well as nonfiction spiritual and self-help books. When she's not working, you can find her in her garden, where she loves to grow beautiful flowers. Along with many other lucky Mississippians, she has some gorgeous azaleas blooming right now! She also loves to cook.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Gas Mask Librarians

Our awesome PR Director, Susan Liles, directed my attention to a file of pictures yesterday and I'm so glad she did. I've found my new all-time favorite picture of librarians and the crazy backstory behind the photo.
Meet Mary Francis and Linda Roy Gates, librarians at Fisk Public Library in Natchez, Mississippi, in October of 1962. Here's the scoop on those gas masks, which you know have me thinking of this creepy kid in Dr. Who:
Dr. Who Reboot Season 1, Episode 9, The Empty Child
Back in March of 1961, a barge sank in the Mississippi River near Natchez. It was carrying 1,100 tons of liquid chlorine, and you'd better believe that stuff is not healthy at all. (Ahem, poison.) The river was incredibly high, just like this year, and so all those containers filled with poison stayed at the bottom of the river for 18 months. That's right. A whole year and a half! The river finally went down and they eventually located the sunken barge (because no one was sure exactly where it was.) Then, the government issued over 12,000 gas masks to people in Natchez, MS and Vidalia, LA, in case poisonous gas was accidentally released during the removal of the containers. (You really need to read this article from the Natchez Democrat, which goes in depth about the whole bizarre affair.) It was quite a scare for the area and residents took the threat of disaster seriously, thus my gas-mask-wearing librarians. The event was dubbed Operation Chlorine. By the way, three years later, in 1965, Fisk Public Library was moved to a brand-new location and renamed Judge George W. Armstrong Library. (A History of Mississippi Libraries, 56)

Until next time, happy reading!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Meet MLC Monday: David Collins

Meet David Collins, Grants Program Director at the Mississippi Library Commission. David administers the federal and state grant programs to Mississippi public libraries. David calls himself the "middleman" between the government and libraries; he oversees the grant process from beginning to end. He enjoys traveling to the various libraries across the state to check on the status of their grants and grant projects. Mr. Collins says that he really didn't know a lot about libraries when he started his job at MLC in June of 2005. Now, nearly eleven years later, he has grown to love them and all they do. "I love to see libraries doing so much good with the grant money I help them obtain. I see how much they need the money, especially those without much local support, and watching them be able to buy books, computers, and other things they need--it's really nice and fulfilling."

David is a big Stephen King fan and especially likes the books he wrote that are set in Maine. He even went on a Stephen King tour in Bangor a few months ago; his tour guide professed that he was pretty tight with "Steve". Mr. Collins owns two beautiful Maine Coon cats and is also a huge Batman buff. He told me about a new comic called Twist that has to do with a Victorian female Batman that I'm dying to check out. Who do you suppose Mr. Collins is backing in the upcoming Batman vs. Superman movie? My bet's on the Dark Knight!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Never Looked Better

By Susan Cassagne
Executive Director
Mississippi Library Commission 

Capitol Street in downtown Jackson, MS - 1920s
The year was 1926, 90 years ago, when the Mississippi Library Commission was born in our legislature. I recently thought about what things must have been like back then; what was daily life like during that year in Mississippi? With a little research, I discovered that Calvin Coolidge was serving his second term as President of the United States. One in six Americans owned a car and the Model T Ford was considered the first affordable automobile in America. Negro History Week was celebrated for the first time; it would later become Black History Month.

Model T Ford - 1920s

One of the most recognizable characters in children's literature, Winnie the Pooh, written by A.A. Milne, began spreading joy and teaching about love and acceptance. Additionally, Ernest Hemingway penned his classic, The Sun Also Rises, and our own William Faulkner released his first novel, Soldiers' Pay. It was a banner year for literature.

Flappers were all the rage and Al Jolson, Louis Armstrong, and Duke Ellington were singing the popular songs of the day. Rudolph Valentino died of appendicitis and devoted fans were devastated by the loss. Over 100,000 people lined the streets of New York to say farewell to the beloved actor.  Babe Ruth hit three home runs in Game Four of the World Series and Scottish inventor John Baird introduced the first television.

Babe Ruth
Here at home, Henry Lewis Whitfield was governor of the state. Whitfield was born in Rankin County and began a teaching career at the age of sixteen after he obtained his degree from Mississippi College. He was elected governor in 1923, which was the first election in which women could vote for governor in Mississippi. During his administration, he recommended a progressive legislative program that included better mental health care, better vocational training, the reorganization of the entire public school system, and better economic opportunities for the state's black citizens.

Governor Henry Lewis Whitfield
Today, the Mississippi Library Commission celebrates its 90th year. This birthday brings with it a history of significant moments, that include consistent leadership, advocacy, and service to libraries across the state. We are proud to introduce our new brand - a new look that underscores our commitment to those we serve. Happy birthday, MLC; you've never looked better. May you continue to serve for 90 plus more!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

MS Library Spotlight: Kiln, Pearlington, and Waveland Public Libraries

Remember a few weeks ago when we shared our staffs' visit to the Bay St. Louis library? We've been saving our branch library pictures from Hancock County Library System, but we couldn't wait any longer to share them with you!
The Kiln Public Library was decked out head-to-toe in Mardi Gras decorations. Laissez les bons temps rouler! Pictured are: HCLS Public Affairs/Development Officer Mary Perkins, HCLS Public & Information Services Officer Adrienne Bradley, MLC Library Consultant Ally Watkins, HCLS IT Officer Jason Bans, HCLS Administrative Librarian Heather Dungey, HCLS Business Manager Lynne Chasez, MLC's Executive Support Director Ethel Dunn, and MLC's PR Director Susan Liles.

Kiln Public Library has a lot of neat programs and features, including a growing comic book and
graphic novel area. Fun fact: fishing poles will soon be available to check out from Kiln Public Library. Fishing and reading out on the bayou sounds like an afternoon made in heaven.


We were quite taken with the library's computer station for the visually impaired. It has an amplifier and other goodies to make it accessible for those who have sight problems.

Pearlington Public Library is also housed in a lovely building. Here's another fun fact: there is a story time every day at a library somewhere in Hancock County.

There are AWE early learning stations at each of the Hancock County Library branches. The kids are huge fans. Pictured is Pearlington branch.

The Waveland Public Library has an amazing children's section. Wouldn't you love to stride aboard this pirate ship and read about swashbuckling tales of derring-do?!

We bid you adieu from the stately front porch of Waveland Public Library. Our Mississippi Library Commission staff enjoyed consulting and visiting with the staff of the Hancock County Library System. We'll see you soon!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Library Advocacy with a Side of BBQ

By Lacy Ellinwood
Senior Library Consultant
Mississippi Library Commission

March 8th, 2016 marked a successful partnership between two Mississippi library advocacy organizations, the Friends of Mississippi Libraries and the Mississippi Library Association. Mississippi Library Day was split between two awareness events. The morning was spent at the State Capitol Building in the first floor rotunda. Librarians and library supporters from around the state convened to talk to legislators about issues that are affecting Mississippi public libraries, such as the Mississippi Library Commission Statewide Broadband initiative, as well as issues that impact local library systems. There was ample opportunity to share support on social media, using the event hashtag #MSLibraryDay.
Check out Pete the Cat and the Cat in the Hat showing support for local libraries.
That evening, “The Legislative Lawn Party: Bluegrass, Brews, and Barbeque” was hosted at the Mississippi Library Commission. This event provided the opportunity for local legislators and librarians to enjoy library advocacy in a more informal environment. Nearly 40 senators and representatives attended this event, which allowed for library directors and supporters to spend a little extra one on one time with their legislators. Thirty-three local Friends of the library organizations supported this event, representing libraries from Pascagoula to Pelahatchie. The event would not have been possible without support from local business, Lucky Town Brewing Company, as well as the musical stylings of The Angel Bandits.
The Angel Bandits

Legislators, librarians, and librarians mingle on the grounds of the
Mississippi Library Commission.
The Mississippi Library Association and Friends of the Library organizations look forward to partnering for next year’s library advocacy event. Now go to your local library and ask them how their work changes lives!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

MLC's 90th Birthday!

This year marks the 90th anniversary of the Mississippi Library Commission. The Library Commission was established March 18, 1926 by an Act of the Mississippi Legislature. According to this act, the library was to provide advice to those seeking to establish libraries, to operate traveling libraries, to collect data from the state's libraries, and to make an annual report to the legislature. Today, the Mississippi Library Commission offers a wide variety of direct and indirect services to Mississippi libraries, Mississippi government agencies, and Mississippi citizens. To celebrate this important anniversary, each month we will publish a post on special events that took place during the library's history. Look for March's post soon!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Library Advocacy Tips

Over the last several weeks, we've been gearing up for Library Day at the Capitol, Mississippians' big chance to let our lawmakers know how important libraries are to us. You can join us and other Mississippi library advocates, including the Mississippi Library Association and the Friends of the Mississippi Libraries, at the Mississippi State Capitol March 8, 2016, from 11 am to 2 pm. If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter, you may have noticed that we've been sharing some great library advocacy tips to help Mississippi libraries promote and champion themselves. The tips are all gathered in one handy place below. (You can also view these tips in the current issue of our newsletter, On the Same Page.)

See you March 8!
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