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Monday, November 28, 2016

Meet MLC Monday: Lucinda Ogden

Meet Lucinda Ogden, CE Coordinator at the Mississippi Library Commission! She arranges all MLC-hosted CE and non-CE training, both on and off site, and is point man during such events. Lucinda is also the coordinator for MLC's meeting rooms. She is available to answer questions about CEs and other MLC training and handles all the recordkeeping for these. In addition, she coordinates and facilitates webinars for the agency. She began at MLC back in February of this year, leaving a job at UMMC's Ryan White Program.

Ogden holds a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities from the University of Chicago with a focus on history, philosophy, and literature. She's worked in technical processing and acquisitions for libraries all over, including Cook Library at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, the Center for Research Library at The University of Chicago in Illinois, the Jackson/Hinds Library System in Mississippi, and the Government Documents Repository at the University of Georgia Libraries in Athens, Georgia. "I love being around librarians, books, and bibliophiles. I feel at home around them. These are my kind of people." About MLC itself, Ogden said, "MLC is such a wonderful library. It's a library devoted to libraries. Not only that, the building itself is beautiful. What more could you ask for?"

When asked why she thinks libraries are important, Lucinda replied, "You can self-educate at the library, any library. You can follow your own impulses to knowledge and go wherever it is that leads you. You can browse and make discoveries on your own. There's no set curriculum or testing or anything like that. It's pure information revelation."

As you might think, Lucinda is passionate about reading. She describes her tastes as ever evolving. Recently she was entranced by the latest discoveries in genetic archaeology, which led to an interest in paleolithic Europe. Even she doesn't know what she'll read next! She cites Doris Lessing, Morgan Llywelyn, and Thomas Hardy as a few of her favorite authors. Lucinda stays busy when she's not at the library. She likes to sew and makes Barbie and American Girl clothes for her nieces' dolls. Every year she keeps a garden; mustard greens, lettuce, and ginger are growing in hers right now. If she sees a need for something, she'll create it. Recently she decided an empty spot in her home was lacking a table. Instead of buying one, she built one herself. Ogden lives in Jackson with her husband.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Reading Widely: Memoirs

As the holiday season approaches, many people like to dig into a good solid work of nonfiction. Here are some excellent memoirs from a wide variety of authors for your holiday reading pleasure!

Men We Reaped by Mississippi Native Jesmyn Ward is a reflection on how, in five years, she lost five black men in her life to death. This is her exploration of why this happened. A reflection on community, race, and economic struggle, Men We Reaped was nominated for multiple awards for nonfiction writing. Anyone that's already a fan of Ward's fiction will like this one.

Michaela DePrince was born in war-torn West Africa, and is now one of ballet's rising stars. A memoir written with a young adult audience in mind, this story tells the story of her journey from war orphan to star of the ballet world. This one, though aimed at young adults, will be enjoyed by anyone that's a fan of DePrince herself or ballet in general.

Originally published in French, Abirached's memoir is a work of graphic nonfiction recounting her time as a child during the Lebanese Civil War. She recalls ordinary events and regular days living in a war zone. The stark colors and lines of the comic underscore the serious subject matter but also insert a little levity. Comic fans will like this one, and so will people interested in the Middle East or war stories.

Azadeh Moaveni had always felt a pull between her two cultures--daughter of Iranian exiles and typical California girl. Her two cultures had always clashed, and after college, she moved to Iran as a journalist. Her exploration of the two sides of herself also coincides with the reformist movement in Iran, and she also takes the reader into modern underground Tehran, in a time desperate for change. Anyone interested in the Middle East or identity narratives will enjoy this one.

Gus Lee's first work of nonfiction takes the reader through his family history in China, taking the reader through four generations, through family affairs and major historical events. It's  a story of a unification of two Chinese families, of a Chinese family coming to America, and also of the journey to America itself. If you have any interest in Asian history, this family history will absolutely fascinate you.

Written by multiple award winning author Walter Dean Myers, this memoir (aimed at younger audiences) tells the story of his coming of age in 1940s and 1950s Harlem, New York. Myers was hugely prolific in his career and kids and adults alike that enjoyed his work will enjoy the story of his early years.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Meet MLC Monday: Charles Murray

Meet Charles Murray, Circulation Services Librarian for Talking Book Services at the Mississippi Library Commission. Charles, who passed his 17th year working for MLC last September, fills a number of vital roles for the agency. Murray is primarily charged with sending library materials to visually and physically impaired patrons across the state. This includes everything from digital books and magazines to DVDs with descriptive audio tracks to braille books and magazines. He is quick to point out that if we don't have a title that a patron wants, we can get it through interlibrary loan. Charles also shelves and processes returning material and mail.

When asked why he's dedicated so many years to MLC, Murray says, "I love helping people. The services we provide brighten our patrons' days and that makes me feel good." He's also become a big library advocate, pointing out all the great things libraries offer their communities. "Computer access, searching for and applying for jobs, a nice place to study, and all the books you could ever read--these are only a few of the advantages your local library offers."

Charles likes to read and says he likes his books like he likes his movies: drama and action packed. He also enjoys musicals like The Blues Brothers and Sister Act II. In his free time, Charles likes basketball, bowling, and traveling. A huge LA Lakers fan, he recently took a road trip to Los Angeles and got to tour the Staples Center and Universal Studios. "If it weren't so far, I'd be back in a minute!"

Monday, November 14, 2016

Meet MLC Monday: Mary Rodgers Beal

Meet Mary Rodgers Beal, Readers Advisor for Talking Book Services at the Mississippi Library Commission! Beal, who began at MLC in August of this year, already fills a number of important roles. She spends the majority of her time on the phone: she assists patrons with choosing books, accepts new BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) patrons and sets them up in the system, and explains how to use TBS's various services. She says that this makes it a perfect job for her because she gets to interact with a lot of different people from across the state, but all from the quiet of her office here in Jackson. "I like how much of an impact I make doing this job. So many of my patrons tell me that our service is their primary source of entertainment. They're extremely grateful." Beal also helps in various other capacities here at MLC, including filling in as back up Circulation Librarian and Front Desk Receptionist.

Mary Rodgers holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Mississippi and a Masters of Library and Information Science from the University of Southern Mississippi. She also has an Archives and Special Collections graduate certificate.She also attended MLC's last session of Librarianship 101 this fall.

Although this position at MLC is her first "official" library job, Beal has worked in and volunteered at libraries since she was a little girl. "I love libraries because they are always there, and yet they are always changing. I love how they adapt themselves to fit the demographics of the various communities they serve to best meet their needs," said Mary Rodgers. She also remarked on how you can see this change in terms of technological advances as well. "For example, in the last several years, TBS has moved from the old cassettes that they used to send out to digital cartridges, audio downloads, and mobile apps, like BARD. Libraries change and adapt to fit to the times."

Beal loves to read a variety of books, including mysteries, romance, and historical fiction. Her favorite author, though, is Jane Austen. The last book she read was Where'd You Go, Bernadette? When she's not reading, she likes to hang out with her dogs Lola and Pickles. She also loves to travel. Her favorite trip was a visit to London and Scotland when she participated in Dr. Welsh's British Studies program at USM.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Big House Books: Protecting the Right to Read in Mississippi

The right to read seems like something that should be available to every American citizen. Sadly, that is not the case for those incarcerated in our prison system. Here in Mississippi there has been a drastic increase in the prison population from 1983 to 2012, a 300% increase to be exact. At the time the Pew charitable trust compiled their data in 2013, there were around 22,400 inmates in the Mississippi prison complex.[1] The mission of the Mississippi Library Commission is to strengthen and enhance libraries and library services for all Mississippians through leadership, advocacy, and service. Should this not extend to our incarcerated Mississippians as well? Well, the Commission has recently partnered with Big House Books to develop a short film to bring awareness to the mission of Big House Books and to the plight of those Mississippians who have lost their right to read.

Big House Books is a non-profit, volunteer organization that sends free books by request to prisoners in Mississippi correctional facilities in order to promote literacy and be a vehicle of change for prison reform. They believe in literacy for all – even for those in our correctional facilities. That’s why Big House Books has set out to provide books to Mississippians in prisons and juvenile detention centers.

Our Public Relations Director Susan Liles, and Senior Library Consultant Lacy Ellinwood have been working with board members from Big House Books on a short film grant called The Magnifying Glass which is provided by Artless Media. The Magnifying Glass works to pair individuals committed to making crucially important progressive short documentaries with humble financial support.[2] The program supports the lenses of those who know injustice firsthand and are able to quickly bring awareness to specific injustices within their communities. In addition to financial support, this grant allows for the short film to be shown at a local film festival. In our state that festival is the Oxford Film Festival. I am happy to report that our short film submission titled “Big House Books: Protecting the Right to Read” was awarded $800 by Artless Media and will be shown at the Oxford Film Festival in February 2017. These funds will be provided to Big House Books for costs associated with making and promoting the film. Social media will play a major role in the outreach plan for this project. The Commission will be calling on its other partner organizations to spread the word regarding prison literacy and protecting the right to read by sharing the film.

It is our hope that Big House Books will be able to use this film to build awareness for their important work and to show that everyone has the right to read, to be literate, to be empowered, and to educate themselves. Be sure to follow the Mississippi Library Commission and Big House Books on all their social media platforms for updates on the film and ways to get involved with Big House Books.

[1] @pewtrusts. "Mississippi's 2014 Corrections and Criminal Justice Reform." Mississippi's 2014 Corrections and Criminal Justice Reform. N.p., May 2014. Web. 08 Nov. 2016. [2] "The Magnifying Glass - Artless Media." Artless Media. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Nov. 2016.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Pie? Or Cake? (Or Pie?) (Or Cake?)

Halloween, with its oodles and oodles of chocolate and other tasty candy, has passed. The holiday season, with its burgeoning tables of turkey and sides, is nearly upon us. Thanksgiving is merely two weeks away, on the 24th of November. Advent, the quiet season before Christmas, begins November 27 and always seems to be filled with endless parties with food and more food. Hanukkah begins December 24 and Christmas itself starts the day after that. It's nearly impossible to make it through the holidays without gaining a pound or two, but we've found that with a little pacing and self-denial, you can make it to the other side of the food tunnel. The important question you must ask yourself is: pie or cake?

We've found that many of the staff here at the Mississippi Library Commission are superfans of their favorite dessert. They espouse the wonderment of pie (or cake) with great passion and well-thought out arguments. To help settle the issue, we even created a book display so that people could enjoy their sweet treats without any of the guilt. It seems, though, that this can't be truly settled without a vote. In the spirit of American democracy, and with the grave importance given to our question, please participate in our very brief survey. Which is better: pie or cake?
Create your own user feedback survey

Friday, November 4, 2016

Mississippi Arts and Library Commissions Partner to Bring Art to Unserved Communities

Da Terrance Roberts, storyteller
The Mississippi Library Commission is thrilled to partner with the Mississippi Arts Commission to bring artists from their roster to unserved counties in Mississippi. Libraries in counties that have never experienced arts programming were invited to apply for a mini-grant that would cover the cost of bringing a roster artist to their area. MAC generously waived the cash match requirement, virtually guaranteeing that these exciting programs would happen. These grants are a portion of the $1.5 million in grants MAC will award in 2016-2017. The grants are made possible by continued funding from the Mississippi State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

“Organizations that support the arts play a pivotal role in growing Mississippi’s creative economy,” said Malcolm White, Executive Director of MAC. “The Mississippi Arts Commission is pleased to support their work, which reinforces the value of the arts for communities and for the economic development of our state.”

The following libraries and communities were awarded Library Outreach Mini-Grants:
  • Smith County Library Outreach
    Floyd J Robinson Memorial Library, Raleigh, MS
    Dianne Butler, storyteller, and Jason Mathena, percussionist
    November 7, 2016, 4:00pm
  • Chickasaw County Library Outreach
    Okolona Carnegie Library, Okolona, MS
    June Caldwell, storyteller, and Damein Wash, musician
    November 15, 2016, 5:00pm
  • Humphreys County Library Outreach
    Humphreys County Library System, Belzoni, MS
    Chuck Galey, visual artist, and Doris Jones, storyteller
    November 15, 2016, 5:00pm
  • Tunica County Library Outreach
    Robinsonville Public Library, Robinsonville, MS
    Patricia Carreras, storyteller, and Ricky Burkhead, percussionist
    November 16, 2016, 4:30pm
  • Perry County Library Outreach
    Richton Public Library, Richton, MS
    Da Terrence Roberts, storyteller, and Julie White, dance
    November 17, 2016, 3:30pm
  • Issaquena County Outreach
    Mayersville Multi-Purpose Building (Mayor Linda Short), Mayersville, MS
    Amelia Brame, dancer, and Jerry Jenkins, African drumming
    November 19, 2016, 1:00
  • Jasper County Library Outreach
    Bay Springs Municipal Library, Bay Springs, MS
    Annie McKee, storyteller, and Baba Asante Nalls, African drumming
    December 8, 2016, 10:30am
  • George County Library Outreach
    Lucedale-George County Library, Lucedale, MS
    Richelle Putnam, writer/songwriter, and Kim Whitt, visual artist
    December 12, 2016, 6:00pm
"This is a great opportunity for these unserved counties. Libraries are much more than just books. They are the heart of our communities," said Susan Cassagne, Executive Director of MLC. "Bringing artists to communities in Mississippi that have not had the opportunity to experience this type of programming is exciting and fulfilling for us. We appreciate the Mississippi Arts Commission partnering with public libraries to enrich the offerings for Mississippians."

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

The Mississippi Arts Commission, a state agency, serves the residents of the state by providing grants that support programs to enhance communities; assist artists and arts organizations; promote the arts in education and celebrate Mississippi’s cultural heritage. Established in 1968, the Mississippi Arts Commission is funded by the Mississippi Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mississippi Endowment for the Arts at the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson and other private sources. The agency serves as an active supporter and promoter of arts in community life and in arts education.

If you have the opportunity to visit these communities to attend their upcoming programs, you're in for a treat. We're so excited to see this focus on the arts in Mississippi libraries. Follow MAC and MLC in social media for follow-up posts on these programs.
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