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Friday, March 31, 2017

10 Books by Mississippi Women You Need to Read

Mississippi is the land of storytellers. It's the birthplace of literary greats Richard Wright, Willie Morris, and William Faulkner, to name just a few. Women, though have been steadily adding to the state's writing wealth as well. In honor of Women's History Month, we've picked our favorite books by some of the best authoresses Mississippi has to offer.

The Sweet Potato Queens' Book of Love
Jill Conner Browne
Tupelo and Jackson, Mississippi

Laugh until you cry with this ode to being true to yourself and being the woman you want to be. This hilarious memoir covers everything from what to do when you find a possum under your bed in the middle of the night to tips on writing your own obituary.

Victory Over Japan
Ellen Gilchrist
Vicksburg, Jackson, and Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Ellen Gilchrist is a short story master and this collection is chock full of women in all their earthy, gritty, unabashed glory.

From the Mississippi Delta: A Memoir
Endesha Ida Mae Holland
Greenwood, Mississippi

Holland's memoir is a life-changing read. As a child, she suffered unimaginable horrors; as a young woman, a chance encounter with the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi gave her life a new direction and meaning.

Coming of Age in Mississippi
Anne Moody
Centerville, Jackson, Canton, and Gloster, Mississippi

Completely forthright and never sentimental, Anne Moody's autobiography is an eye opening experience. Moody, who was the same age as Emmett Till, was deeply affected by his kidnapping and murder. A fiery determination to fight for justice and equality was born and makes for a fascinating and inspirational read.

I'm Just a Person
Tig Notaro
Jackson and Pass Christian, Mississippi

Comedian Notaro had a very bad year. With humorous insight, this memoir describes how she managed to stare down the dark side of life and come out with soul intact on the other side. 

Everybody's Got Something 
Robin Roberts
Pass Christian, Hattiesburg, and Biloxi, Mississippi

In this powerful memoir, Roberts paints an inspirational portrait of her life. She has lived her motto to a T: that though everybody has problems, everybody also has something to give.

Bellocq's Ophelia
Natasha Trethewey
Gulfport, Mississippi

Inspired by photographer E.J. Bellocq's photo series of prostitutes in New Orleans' red light district, this poetry collection tells Ophelia's story. Moving from an objectified woman to a self-aware person with dignity, this lyrical book of poems is a gorgeous read.

Margaret Walker
Jackson, Mississippi

Jubilee follows its protagonist Vyry, born a slave, through the Civil War and its aftermath. Vyry's story, driven by hope, integrity, and justice, is a fictional account of the author's own family.

Salvage the Bones
Jesmyn Ward
DeLisle and Oxford, Mississippi

Set during the days before and after Hurricane Katrina, Esch, a young pregnant teen, struggles to keep her family safe and secure. With themes of love, family, and community, you'll be reaching for a box of tissues well before the moving conclusion.

One Writer's Beginnings
Eudora Welty
Jackson, Mississippi
Jackson and Columbus, Mississippi

One Writer's Beginnings is a quiet reflection of growing up in Mississippi, of a love of books, and the discovery that one can be small and still make your voice be heard.

Until next time, happy reading!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Lights, Camera, Action

While in a previous position, I was fortunate to take a wonderful filmmaking class through Barefoot Workshops. I guess you could say I learned that I had a pretty good story to tell behind a lens. Since that time, I have partnered on an award-winning film in 2011, made several films on some great artists, and recently was the recipient of a grant that caused my newest film to show at the Oxford Film Festival. My position here at MLC has led me down that red carpet as a filmmaker. I was honored to create Big House Books: Protecting the Right to Read.

Creating this film was a gift for me. I met some of the nicest, most dedicated folks who have become an inspiration in my life. These young women are so compassionate and are intent on making a change in the lives of Mississippi's incarcerated population... one book at a time. Big House Books, a non-profit organization, strives to fight illiteracy among inmates by sending them books by request.

People come into our lives as teachers, and one thing I've learned from my new friends is that reading and learning are as vital to our health as eating and sleeping. No matter how old or how young, how poor or how rich, or how educated or not, we should all keep learning... keep striving to be better.

I have been fortunate throughout my career to have done some really cool stuff. I planned and implemented a major concert with over 10,000 people in attendance, I helped to ensure that an Indonesian tiger has a swimming pool... and he actual smiled at me the first time he stepped in the cool water, and I had the opportunity to travel to some pretty great places across the country. This film project, though, has definitely been one of the best parts of my career.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Meet MLC Monday: Jennifer Peacock

Meet Jennifer Peacock, Administrative Services Director at MLC. Jennifer works hard to keep the financial and technical aspects of the agency running smoothly. She also oversees the management of the agency’s beautiful facility in Jackson.

Jennifer has enjoyed serving libraries in her six and a half years of employment. Seeing small libraries benefit from the services offered by MLC has been the most rewarding thing of all. She also appreciates the fact that libraries serve every member of a community. She has advocated extremely hard for libraries at the state capitol for the last couple of years, and worked diligently to try to get faster internet connections for all of the state’s libraries.

Jennifer has a degree in Paramedicine, a Bachelor of Science in Management and is currently working on her Master’s Degree in Public Administration. With all of this studying, her time for leisurely reading has been put on the back burner. “I have spent so long reading textbooks, I won’t know how to act when I can go back to reading for pleasure,” she said.

She enjoys regular beach trips with her friends, cruises and spending time with her husband, children and grandchildren.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Best of the Best: Reading Your Way Through Women's History Month

Continuing with Women's History Month here is a list of books by or about women for older readers.


Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly
The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy
Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon, Shana Knizhnik
All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister

Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do about It by Kate Harding
Sex Object by Jessica Valenti
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West
The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace

The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley
Florynce "Flo" Kennedy: The Life of a Black Feminist Radical by Sherie M. Randolph
Mrs. Sherlock Holmes: The True Story of New York City's Greatest Female Detective and the 1917 Missing Girl Case That Captivated a Nation by Brad Ricca

Living a Feminist Life by Sara Ahmed
You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson, Jessica Williams
Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock's Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout by Laura Jane Grace

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan


Difficult Women by Roxane Gay
All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg
Always Happy Hour: Stories by Mary Miller

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad
The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J. Church
The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley

Lady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy Stewart
The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin

The Power by Naomi Alderman
A House for Happy Mothers by Amulya Malladi
The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood

Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement
Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi
Almost Famous Women: Stories by Megan Mayhew Bergman

Graphic Novels:

Bitch Planet, Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Valentine De Landro, Robert Wilson IV
ODY-C, Vol. 1: Off to Far Ithicaa by Matt Fraction, Christian Ward
The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

DC Comics: Bombshells, Vol. 1: Enlisted by Marguerite Bennett, Marguerite Sauvage
Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel

French Milk by Lucy Knisley
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi, Mattias Ripa

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua
The Story of My Tits by Jennifer Hayden
Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Octavia E. Butler, John Jennings, Damian Duffy

Happy reading.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Meet MLC Monday: Kelly Kitzman

Meet Kelly Kitzman, Reference Librarian and State Data Coordinator at the Mississippi Library Commission. Kitzman responds to reference questions posed by patrons either in person, on the phone, in a letter, or via an email. She also recently started her role as State Data Coordinator and compiles the data of all Mississippi libraries for submission to the federal and state government on an annual basis. Kelly began at MLC in December 2016. She holds a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Kitzman says that one of her favorite aspects of her job is meeting patrons. "I love helping them with their questions." She goes on to say, "I spent a lot of time reading and in the library as a child. I love that libraries have something for everyone, even if it isn't a physical book. They offer classes, meeting spaces, and a variety of social options in addition to reading materials." An bibliophile to this day, Kelly still loves to read. She is currently reading The Ship of Brides, a historical fiction book from Jojo Moyes about Australian WWII brides sent to meet their husbands in England after the war on an aircraft carrier.She also enjoys traveling and was lucky to visit many foreign countries before her son was born. Now, she says, she and her family take a lot of day trips.

Friday, March 17, 2017

We Need Diverse Books Pilot Project for Mississippi Public Libraries

The State Friends of Mississippi Libraries Inc. is pleased to announce the pilot project Diverse Books in Mississippi Public Libraries. As public libraries across Mississippi continue to suffer from the effects of budget cuts, they have to make tough choices about exactly which books they can afford to add to their collections. Do you buy the standard authors who have been bestsellers for years? Or do you expand your collection into the exciting pool of diverse books that have hit the market in the last 10-15 years? The first option means that books will be checked out on name recognition alone, but patrons aren't necessarily expanding their horizons. They might even be in a book rut! Worse, some patrons never find books that speak to them personally, those great books that click and fan the hunger for more great books. The second option means that the bestsellers everyone expects to see in the library wouldn't be there. With budgets stretched so thin, it's a balancing act to add books by authors and on subjects people are accustomed to and to include books that speak to Mississippi's diverse population. This project intends to bridge the gap.

In partnership with the Center for the Book at the Mississippi Library Commission, the State Friends will provide a collection of 10 books that highlight diversity to four Mississippi public libraries with supporting Friends of the Library groups. Supporting Friends of the Library groups must commit to hosting at least one program or initiative geared towards promoting diversity for their local library. Awarded applicants will be able to select ten titles from curated lists provided by the We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) organization and Mississippi Library Commission staff. (To see the list from WNDB, click here. To see the list from MLC staff, click here.)

We Need Diverse Books is a grassroots organization created to address the lack of diverse, non-majority narratives in children’s literature. WNDB is committed to the ideal that embracing diversity will lead to acceptance, empathy, and ultimately, equality. They recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities. Their mission is to put more books featuring diverse characters into the hands of all children.

If you have any questions, please contact Lacy Ellinwood.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Young Adult Books for Women's History Month

To celebrate Women’s History Month we have put together this list of young adult books by and/or about strong women. We hope that you can find a few new favorites from this list!

  • We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl®, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement by Andi Zeisler
  • Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World by Kelly Jensen (Editor), Kody Keplinger, Courtney Summers Erika T. Wurth Brenna Clarke Gray, Mikki Kendall, Angie Manfredi, Lily Myers , Becca Sexton, Allison Peyton Steger, Anne Thériault, Shveta Thakrar, Kayla Whaley, Sarah McCarry, Malinda Lo, Ashley Hope Pérez, Nova Ren Suma, Daniel José Older, Wendy Davis, Matt Nathanson, Mia DePrince, Alida Nugent, Constance Zaber, Brandy Colbert, Siobhan Vivian, Rafe Posey, Jessica Luther, Michaela DePrince, Amandla Stenberg, Suzannah Weiss, Zariya Allen, Risa Rodil
  • The V-Word: True Stories About First-Time Sex by Amber J. Keyser, Molly Bloom, Sidney Joaquin-Vetromile, Alex Meeks, Carrie Mesrobian, Sarah Mirk, Sara Ryan, Erica Lorraine Scheidt, Jamia Wilson, Kiersi Burkhart, Chelsey Clammer, Christa Desir, Kate Gray, Justina Ireland, Laurel Isaac, Karen Jensen, Kelly Jensen
  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
  • Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX: The Law That Changed the Future of Girls in America by Karen Blumenthal
  • Women's Rights (Great Speeches in History) by Jennifer A. Hurley
  • A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
  • Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future by Jennifer Baumgardner, Amy Richards
  • Feminism by Nancy Dziedzic              
  • Feminism : Reinventing the F Word by Nadia Abushanab Higgins.
  • Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History by Sam Maggs, Sophia Foster-Dimino


  • Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
  • Rani Patel in Full Effect by Sonia Patel
  • Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz
  • Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan
  • Asking For It by Louise O'Neill
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • The Valiant by Lesley Livingston
  • Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson
  • After the Fall by Kate Hart
  • Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston
  • Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero
  • Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina
  • If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
  • Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

Graphic Novels:

  • Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, Brooke A. Allen
  • Princeless, Vol. 1: Save Yourself  by Jeremy Whitley, Mia Goodwin, Jung-Ha Kim, Dave Dwonch
  • Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal  by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona
  • Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe, Roc Upchurch
  • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Volume 1: Squirrel Power by Ryan North, Erica Henderson
  • Kim & Kim Vol. 1 by Magdalene Visaggio, Eva Cabrera, Imogen Binnie
  • Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O'Neill
  • Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
  • Blue Is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh

  • The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks
  • Adventure Time: Marceline and the Scream Queens by Meredith Gran
  • Dare to Disappoint: Growing Up in Turkey by Ozge Samanci
 Happy reading.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Meet MLC Monday: Tracy Sias-Sampson

Meet Tracy Sias-Sampson, Special Projects Officer III  for Technology Services at the Mississippi Library Commission! Tracy works directly with senior staff to support the installation, testing, and support of Office 365 at libraries statewide. She is responsible for supporting technology systems, PC operations, support, and maintenance. Tracy is also responsible for the Technical Services Policy and Procedures/Disaster Recovery plan. She reviews and updates MLC forms used by MLC staff and libraries in Adobe LiveCycle Designer and provides timely and accurate updates to work order tickets. We've been lucky enough to have Tracy working with us since October of 2016. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Jackson State University and an Associate of Applied Science in Computer Networking from Holmes Community College.

Tracy says that solving problems is her favorite part of her job here at MLC. "Solving problems is my favorite part of life. Problems hold up progress and I’m about making progress." She also loves the environment and people. "The Library Commission staff feels like family. We are a collective of very different people. Yet, everyone seems to easily work, play and care for each other for all the reasons that really matter. I have great managers and peers."

When asked why she likes libraries, Tracy responds, "I like libraries because that’s where the books are, of course! I’ve always been a book lover, so the library always felt like home. The world tends to be loud and the library is quiet. With tears in my eyes, I’ll never forget reading and re-reading the last page of Anne Frank’s diary, in the library at Provine High School. Part of me hoped that if I read it again, it would change that crushing ending." She continues, noting that, "Libraries are important because the most important thing in this world is people, and words are how people relate to each other. Books are a way for a single individual to communicate a message or a story to people. Libraries bring together that community of ideas, whether we agree with them all or not. They make us think. They even sometimes make us act. It’s vital that all stories are told and everyone has access to them all."

When talking about how she feels about reading and books, Tracy turns to a classic TV show for reference. "There’s an episode of The Twilight Zone where this little shy, nervous guy just wants to be left alone to read. In the end, he finds himself all alone on earth with no one to bother him and his books. In his excitement of acknowledging his miraculous and ideal circumstances, he drops and breaks his reading glasses. This episode gave me nightmares for a week. I still think about it sometimes. So yes, without a doubt. I like to read."

"I love so many books. As a child, I was completely taken with Aesop’s Fables and genuinely thought that they might be true. V.C. Andrews and Flowers in the Attic was my introduction to true book series addiction. I love all kinds of fiction and nonfiction, sometimes leaning towards biographies. Mike Tyson’s biography Undisputed Truth will surprise and enlighten you. If I have to pick one book, it would be the classic, The Wind in the Willows. I am drawn in by the pastoral descriptions, the endearing anthropomorphism, and of course, their adventures where we superimpose ourselves and ask, 'What would I do?'" Currently, I’m on a Mary Monroe kick. The last book I read was Red Light Wives. Before that I read God Don’t Like Ugly and God Still Don’t Like Ugly. My next read is book three in the series, God Don’t Play.

When she's not reading, Tracy indulges her love for all kinds of music. She enjoys classical music, string quartets, and chamber music, in particular. She plays the cello, a difficult instrument to master. Her favorite pieces are Pachelbel’s Canon in C, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, and Scherzo by C. Webster.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Ten Powerful Picture Book Girls

Women's History Month is a great time to study the accomplishments of women throughout history. Women have invented, dreamed, built, and explored, just like men, since the beginning of time, though their accomplishments may be less known. (After all, for every 1.03 men born, 1 woman is brought into this world. By the time we pass the age of 65, there are only .805 men for every woman on this earth. Women do have a longer life expectancy!¹) Covering up women and their achievements doesn't only occur in history books, but in other books as well. Until quite recently, boys nearly always took center stage when it came to literary entertainment. Now, more and more girls have begun to take their rightful place on the shelves of libraries, bookstores, and homes. We've dug through picture books from the past several years and picked our favorites that feature girls as main characters. These girls are powerful and strong, inventive and inquisitive, proud and compassionate, but above all, they refuse to take "No" for an answer just because they're girls.

Tía Isa Wants a Car
Meg Medina and Claudio Muñoz (illustrations)
Based on a true story from Meg Medina's childhood, a young girl helps her aunt save for a car so that they can visit the beach and still save enough to help their family come to America.

Interstellar Cinderella
Deborah Underwood and Meg Hunt (illustrations)
Cinderella doesn't need saving in this charming adaptation. This girl mechanic rescues the prince. (And no, they don't get married.)

Ada Twist, Scientist
Andrea Beaty and David Roberts (illustrations)
Little Ada is inquisitive and she wants to know everything. What will this budding scientist discover next?!

Suki's Kimono
Chieri Uegaki and Stéphane Jorisch (illustrations)
No matter what anyone says or thinks, Suki wants everyone to see her favorite thing in the world: the kimono her grandmother gave her. When she brings it to school for show and tell, she wins over her whole class and spreads the joy and fun of her Japanese heritage.

Mango, Abuela, and Me
Meg Medina and Angela Dominguez (illustrations)
When Mia's grandmother moves in with her family, a language difference proves to be a big barrier to communication. Mia saves the day by coming up with creative ways to interact with her grandma.

Nasreen's Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan
Jeanette Winter 
Nasreen's grandmother enrolls her in a secret school for girls when her parents are taken by the ruling Taliban party in Afghanistan. Surrounded by other girls learning math, history, and reading, Nasreen blossoms in this beautiful story about the power of friendship and women.

Mama's Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation
Edwidge Danticat and Leslie Staub (illustrations)
When Saya's mother is sent to an immigration detention facility, she and her daughter share messages and stories via cassette. Saya's father tries to free her mother, but it is Saya herself who saves the day.

New Shoes
Susan Lynn Meyer and Eric Velasquez (illustrations)
Two enterprising young girls won't be stopped by Jim Crow laws. They find a creative way to fix their problem and help fill a need in their community.

This is Sadie
Sara O'Leary and Julie Morstad (illustrations)
Sadie has been a mermaid, a sailor, and a fairy tale hero. She fashions her own playscapes, using couch cushions, blankets, and even hammer, nails, and wood. This is a hearty salute to the power of a girl's imagination.

Zephyr Takes Flight
Steve Light
Zephyr loves planes; she's going to be a real pilot some day! For now, she flies around the world, taking off from her very own room.

Look for more book lists about women in the next few weeks as we celebrate Women's History Month. Until next time, happy reading!

¹CIA World Factbook
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