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Friday, March 30, 2018

The Power of a Post

Lately, everyone has been focused on the Facebook data scandal, but Facebook--and other social media platforms--still have the potential to jump-start change. Late last summer, the world was fascinated by a total solar eclipse. Libraries in particular used the event to draw crowds, pairing the wonders of natural science with informative speakers and hands-on activities. Martha Diehl, the branch manager of Jane Blaine Brewer Memorial Library in tiny Mount Olive, MS (2010 population estimate: 9821,) got the entire town involved with a "Sun Party" blowout that included food stands, a mini "train" ride, and of course, plenty of solar eclipse viewing glasses.

Pictures from the library's Sun Party

Diehl shared a picture advertising the event on her library system's Facebook page. The picture was seen by Julia Brewer Daily, the daughter of the woman for whom the library was named. Daily wanted to make a donation to replace the makeshift triple office desk with a real circulation desk. Her family has gotten on board and made additional donations to buy more books and standard office equipment and supplies. Grants are being explored as well, and could help with expansion into the vacated fire department next door. The local newspaper, The News-Commercial in Collins, MS, even ran a front page story on the sudden windfall.

The new desk has been installed and the staff say that it, along with the other donations are, a dream come true. It's amazing that one small post on Facebook led to a wealth of opportunity for this small Mississippi library.

If you'd like to make a donation to your local library for improvements, books, or other supplies, check with the library's branch manager first to see what they need. Donations can be made to libraries' friends organizations or go directly to the library if they're earmarked for a specific purpose.

1American FactFinder

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

A Year-Long Proposition

The dust is settling. The new budget maintains the funding level of 2018 for the Personnel Incentive Grants, MAGNOLIA, and MLC operations, as well as funding to cover the health insurance premium increase for public librarians. The reality that libraries can face the coming year with a huge sigh of relief on a state funding level is just being recognized. This hasn't been our reality for the last couple of tumultuous years. This relief is thanks, in part, to a tremendous amount of hard work by so many people. Library supporters, library directors, legislators, local funding authorities, and so many more who heeded the call and spoke up for the needs of libraries across Mississippi...Thinking this is a time to step back and revel in a hard-fought effort is correct, but only for a moment. Now is the time to be thankful. Reach out to those who supported this effort. Make sure everyone who had a part in this victory knows what it means and how it will affect things moving forward. Speak up about how invaluable the efforts were and how library service will be affected for all Mississippi communities.

It will soon be time to get busy again. Do not think advocacy efforts will wait until January. This job is a year-long proposition. Here are just a few ideas to get started:
  • Take photos of an activity in your library; email them to your legislators with a note letting them know that level funding helped make the event a reality.
  • Send invitations to local and state lawmakers to all of your events.
  • Send stories to your newspapers about an exciting program so news about your library will be in print for lawmakers to read.
  • Invite a local radio station out to your summer library program and ask them to broadcast live from the event. Give a shout-out on the air to your legislators and thank them for their support.
There are so many ways to keep advocacy efforts going all year long. The ultimate goal will be that when legislators head to the capitol in January, they will have a clear picture of the value of public libraries across Mississippi.

Thank you all for all your diligent efforts. Your hard work paid off, and we all can move forward with a little less fearful anticipation. Now jot down March 12, 2019 on your calendar; that's the date of next year's Library Day at the Capitol. Decide now what you can do each month between now and then to advocate for libraries and take action. Let's be even more prepared for 2019!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Among the Pages

A certain imbalance reached into March with volatile weather, like a lion, of course, which led me to two very different books for grounding. Having been a fan of his work for decades, I checked out William Eggleston’s impressive book of portraits. Then, coincidentally, a co-worker highly recommended a book she was returning. The book’s cover illustration and title were intriguing enough.

My Father the Pornographer: A Memoir by Chris Offutt
William Eggleston Portraits by Phillip Prodger & an appreciation by Sophia Coppola
While studying Eggleston’s composition and use of color and reading Offutt’s snappy chapters alternately, a common thread emerged—an exploration of how we know and don’t know people, no matter their proximity. Appearance is just that; it rarely yields a reliable knowing, but it offers a strong character of suggestion and nuance. A good-read pairing, I say. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Reading Widely: March 2018

Here are three youth titles to help you read widely in March - a picture book, a middle grade book, and a young adult book.

Islandborn by Junot Díaz, illustrated by Leo Espinosa.  When Lola's teacher asks her class to draw pictures of where they immigrated from, Lola is sad because she can't remember The Island--she left when she was just a baby. But with the help of family and friends, she learns her family's story and gets closer to knowing who she really is.

Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender. Caroline Murphy is a hurricane child--she was born during a hurricane. This is unlucky, and the other kids in her school on St. Thomas bully her. She already has enough to deal with: a spirit only she can see is following her and her mother left one day and never came back. But when new student Kalinda arrives, Caroline may finally have a friend and a crush. Will she have the bravery to face her feelings, the spirit, and the reasons her mother abandoned her?

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. This #1 New York Times bestselling book is the start of a new series! Set in a world where magic has disappeared, seventeen year old Zélie has a chance to bring magic back to Orïsha. She sets off on a journey with her brother and a fugitive princess on a journey to get her people's magic back, but they must outwit a prince who is determined to get rid of magic once and for all!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Finding Your Voice

Speaking up about what is important to us has become a significant part of the times. Social networking has made it possible for campaigns to sweep across large regions and countries in little to no time. For example, the #MeToo movement has changed the way people feel about harassment, and the momentum has empowered women to speak up for what they think is right.

Believing in things is part of the human experience. It gives us hope... something to fight for and protect. I'm a huge believer in libraries. They empower and educated people. The list of reasons why libraries are important grows with each passing day.

Picture the small town in rural Mississippi... the one with little else going on but the activities at the library. I have had the pleasure of experiencing what they do for a small community. They help children learn and thrive, they help people find jobs, and they serve as a gathering place. In today's turbulent times, libraries are facing an unknown future. Government funding has fallen terribly short, and it seems as though library supporters aren't speaking up, as least not loud enough. If something doesn't change, these small town libraries may have to cut hours or even close their doors.

If you believe in the power of libraries, speak up. Libraries are a valuable resource to all of Mississippi's communities. It is time to make your voices heard in support of libraries. Not sure what to say? In the coming days, MLC will be sharing some Library Advocacy Talking Points on social media. We hope they will help you find your voice and that you will speak up in support of libraries.

Join MLC and library supporters from across the state for Library Day at the Capitol on March 13 from 11:00am to 2:00pm.

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