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Monday, October 29, 2018

Meet MLC Monday: Will Barber

Will Barber is the Patron Services Librarian in the Mississippi Library Commission's Talking Book Services Department. He provides customer service for patrons by assisting them with readers' advisory, sending them digital books, and assisting with outreach efforts. Will holds a master's degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Southern Mississippi, as well as a Graduate Certificate in Archives and Special Collections

Although Will has worked at MLC for less than a month, he says he likes "making sure that every patron I come into contact with is left with a wonderful and fulfilling experience. Having the ability to provide specific services to people that are not available elsewhere is an amazing work experience." He says working at MLC is great because of the friendly environment.

Will is also a longtime library lover. "I like libraries because they are the centers of information for communities. They enable anyone to find information about anything and everything. Libraries are important because they not only enable people to learn, they also bring communities together."

Will says that he absolutely loves to read. His favorite book of all time is The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. He recently finished My Girls: A Lifetime of Carrie and Debbie by Todd Fisher. When he's not reading, Will enjoys catching up on television and movies. An animal lover and a history buff, he also likes to fit regular exercise into his routine, rotating between cardio, weight lifting, and yoga. Will is also a regular at his church.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Training on the Road: MLC Style

I recently traveled to the Paul E. Griffin Library in Camden, Mississippi, early on a Thursday morning to meet up with my colleagues from the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC) for an all-day staff training for the Madison County Library System (MCLS). Canton Flea Market days are the perfect opportunity to do trainings because the main branch is located just steps away from the goings-on in the Canton Square. Getting to the library that day is almost impossible for staff and patrons. The Camden Library, in a quieter part of the county, is located next door to the community center... the perfect spot for a gathering of librarians.


The day of training started with MCLS Director Tonya Johnson giving an update on things going on system-wide. There are some great things in the works for the patrons of this library system thanks to this director and her hard-working group of librarians. 

MLC staff members Lacy Ellinwood, Ally Mellon, and Shellie Zeigler had their toolboxes loaded with all sorts of information to help these folks better serve the residents of the Madison County communities. Shellie started everyone off with tips on how to better serve older adults, a new offering by MLC.  

MLC Library Consultant Shellie Zeigler shares ideas about how to serve senior adults.

Ally provided everyone with an outstanding and detailed training on how to use MAGNOLIA and its databases, explaining what a value it is not only to patrons, but to librarians too. This ole girl even learned a few tips!

MLC Information Services Director Ally Mellon talks about MAGNOLIA.

Lacy talked about customer service and how to effectively help patrons, including those who can be challenging. She included an activity that let everyone talk about the most commonly asked questions in the library. She also went over different personality types and how to deal with them, even if they don't match your own!

MLC Library Development Director Lacy Ellinwood discusses customer service.

It was a great day with these folks and I am once again amazed by the knowledge and generosity of my colleagues at MLC. Helping librarians be the best they can be is their number one goal. I'm honored to be their traveling buddy and official photographer. I even learn a thing or two!

Special thanks to Tonya and all of the staff of the Madison County Library System. It was a fantastic day!

Monday, October 22, 2018

Meet MLC Monday: Lisa Boyd

Lisa Boyd began work at the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC) about one month ago, filling the position of Purchasing Specialist. This position involves processing purchasing requests and acting as property officer for MLC's equipment and assets. She says she enjoys working for the agency because everyone is so knowledgeable and friendly. "I feel honored to be working here!" Lisa adds with a big smile.

When asked what it is she likes about libraries, Lisa says, "Libraries hold a special place in my heart. Throughout my years, I have found that books are more interesting than movies. With a book, your imagination can run wild. One page of a book might have you sailing the oceans in search of sea monsters; another page might see you riding horses on the wilds of a ranch while hunting down outlaws. There are helpful books available, too: books to help you fix your car, books to help you cook your meals, and even books to help you host guests from foreign countries. There is so much more in a book than just pages! In a library, a person can find anything, no matter their interest."

Lisa loves to read and says her favorite book is the Golden Spur award-winner Ride the Wind by Lucia St. Clair Robson. She says it's based on the true story of Cynthia Ann Parker, a young white girl kidnapped by the Comanche people in 1836. Lisa also enjoys cooking for her family. She likes trying out new dishes, some of which she says are hits and some aren't as popular.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Meet MLC Monday: Neil Machowski

Neil Machowski is a Computers System Analyst here at the Mississippi Library Commission. He provides support at MLC's Help Desk, troubleshooting computer problems for MLC and Mississippi public library staff. Many people have already gotten to know him, if only via phone, in the 1 ½ months he's worked with us. Neil also assists with audio/visual support at the agency. Prior to working with us, he served for twenty years with the United States Navy; we're lucky to have his dedication and strong work ethic here at MLC. Neil says that he likes performing his job well so that other people can do theirs. He adds that all the people he has helped have been friendly and appreciative, making his job even easier and more enjoyable.

Neil is a lifelong library user who knows firsthand the importance of libraries. "Growing up of modest means, the library was a source of both knowledge and entertainment that otherwise wouldn't have been available. This is still true for many people today." Neil likes to read, but confesses that he hasn't read much for pleasure lately. "I'm just as likely to be reading a maintenance manual nowadays, but I've always been a fan of great fantasy series. Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series is one of my favorites." In his free time, Neil likes to mess around with computers and online gaming. He also loves motorsport.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A Teachable Moment

The Mississippi Library Commission recently held Librarianship 101, an extremely comprehensive workshop for library paraprofessionals. This is the fifteenth year that the program has provided in-depth training in library law and ethics, library programming for all ages, collection development, readers advisory, and much more for those who want to better serve their home libraries. Librarianship 101 participants go through a nomination process; class size is limited to fifteen individuals. Nominees are service-oriented librarians who want to enhance and improve their community through their work at the public library. This is one of many continuing education options offered by MLC.

MLC Library Services Director Tracy Carr leads a session at Librarianship 101.
I've always admired people who can command the attention of a room. Keynote speakers at large conferences have always amazed me with their confident body language and their ability to stroll from one side of the stage to the other. I have never possessed that gift. I avoided speech class in college at all costs... no sir, no way, was this girl getting up in front of a room full of folks to talk about anything.

Over the years I have had to take the mic on a few occasions with a great deal of anxiety and stress.  That old statement about picturing the crowd in their underwear never worked for me. When I started at MLC, I was so impressed by the level of ease my colleagues displayed when presenting to groups of librarians. They are always funny, informative, and provide great handouts. I have learned so much from watching these guys.

Welcome by Hulen Bivins, MLC Executive Director

A participant introduces herself to the rest of the Librarianship 101 group.

The first day of 101 began with a welcome from MLC Executive Director Hulen Bivins, followed by introductions of participants. I could tell these folks were excited to learn and were going to be extremely entertaining.

Ice-breaker fun!
The group participated in a fun ice-breaker that involved getting creative! The rest of the day was information-packed with topics covering library structure and social media. They departed on day one with their minds and notebooks full!

On day two, MLC Library Development Director Lacy Ellinwood covered the topic of library programming and I followed up with public relations. The participants were in five groups; each group created a program and had to write a press release appropriate to send to the media. I felt like a proud mama: they all did an outstanding job writing their first press release. We also talked about creating a library newsletter and social media. It was a great day for someone who is terrified of presenting!

I talked about creating a library newsletter.

On the final day, they learned about weeding, statistics, and MLC's Talking Book Services. They went home with a certificate and, hopefully, a better understanding of the overall workings of a library. Congratulations Librarianship 101 graduates of 2018! Get out there and serve your communities!

2018 Librarianship 101 graduates

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Stories from the Road: Home of the King

Recently, I took a trip to Tupelo with MLC Library Consultant Shellie Zeigler. We rushed in, right in time for her Readers' Advisory training to begin. Once we were settled and she began sharing information with the group, I slipped out and checked out the Lee County Library. There it was... encircled in glass like the crown jewels... Elvis's library card application with this wonderful photo of him as a child. I was just mesmerized by this precious gem.

When I was growing up, holidays were spent at my grandmother's house. My dad, the oldest of ten, enjoyed spending Christmas Eve at her small house that would soon fill to the brim with our large family and many friends. The food would be overflowing because my grandmother loved to cook. She would be in the kitchen for hours planning for the onslaught of children, grandchildren, and other folks who would converge on her house to celebrate the season.

One of the things I remember most about those times was Elvis. My dad's six sisters loved Elvis and they spent Christmas Eve playing his holiday records on the big "something-like-wood" encased record player. They would all gather in the tiny living room (after a little too much holiday cheer) and dance like no one was watching. They would talk about their boyfriends, school activities, and other such things. Having had no sisters of my own, my aunts set the bar for my life ahead... and of course, Elvis.

After having my Elvis moment and paying homage to the King's library card application, I began checking out the rest of Tupelo's wonderful library. It boasts a really large, open space with colorful flags and art everywhere. There are lots of public access computers ready for use and the sounds of a children's program soon captured my attention.

I discovered a bunch of families involved in some fun activities over in the children's section. The families were enjoying themselves and I couldn't help but wish that those who wonder about the value of public libraries these days could be present to see why they are still so important. Providing a chance for grandmothers to connect with their grandchildren and stay-at-home moms the opportunity to enjoy some planned activities with other moms is an invaluable service for members of the community.

This trip also reminded me of the wonderful services the Mississippi Library Commission provides to public libraries across Mississippi. Library Consultants are constantly on the road to provide training, advice, a helping hand, and anything else that they can possibly do to provide assistance. MLC wants public libraries to be successful and to have resources that may not be readily available and our staff are ready and willing to help.

Special thanks to Jeff Tomlinson, the Director of the Lee-Itawamba Library System for being such a great host and for welcoming us to the home of Elvis and the Lee County Library. Until next time...

The King is everywhere!  This is outside Kermit's Outlaw Kitchen in Tupelo... they make a mean burger.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Meet MLC Monday: Chris Bratcher

Chris is responsible for state and federal regulatory compliance and E-rate funding to all Mississippi libraries that participate in the program through the Mississippi Library Commission. He is also responsible for supporting the Technology Services Division by assisting with help desk tickets, building and editing websites, and other technology-based duties. He holds a bachelor's degree in Business Administration with concentrations in business and organizational management. "The best part of my job at MLC is the ability to help others. While this position is the most challenging of any in my professional career, it's also the most rewarding," stated Chris. "I have the privilege of serving as a translator and intermediary to libraries who count on my knowledge to help them successfully obtain discounted funding of their technology services. By doing this, libraries can offer these services, and who knows the difference that is making in the lives of patrons!"

Chris is an avid reader and says he enjoys too many books to narrow it down to just one favorite title. He said that Crucial Conversations radically changed both his personal life and his professional management life.

In his free time, Chris enjoys serving as Technical Programs Manager for his church and handles the audio/video needs for services that air each week. He helps his community by working with the homeless and singing and playing piano at nursing homes. He loves volunteering his time to help others!

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