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Friday, December 28, 2018

Meet Our Library Board: Jolee Hussey

Jolee Hussey was recently named the Chair of the Mississippi Library Commission's Board of Commissioners. She says that she loves being on MLC's board because it lets her see firsthand the dedication of library directors and staff in libraries and communities across the state. "I appreciate all they do. I love libraries. I'm passionate about them being used and being funded. All libraries are important. They truly open doors for people."

Jolee is originally from Eupora, but she moved to Oxford in 1968 and has been there ever since, except for four brief years when her husband taught at the Air Force Academy in Colorado. She said they loved living in Colorado; she also taught while they were there. 

She was a librarian at Oxford High School from 1998-2010 and was recognized as a Teacher of the Year, as well as the District Teacher of the Year, in 2009 for her years of exemplary service. Jolee says she loved working with the students and helping them with whatever they needed. She said the work was incredibly rewarding. One of her fondest memories is the time she ran into a former student in a parking lot: "I hadn't seen him for years, but he came right up and told me all about how I changed his life during high school in the library!" She's still involved with schools: Jolee supervises Social Studies and English student teachers from the University of Mississippi as they learn to work with 7-12 graders.

She spent four terms and two decades on the board of the First Regional Library System, starting back in 1993 as the trustee from Lafayette County.

Jolee says, "Libraries still change lives! They're the only free place where people can access information and they are the hubs of our communities, the hubs of our schools." Jolee says she loves to be involved in her community and with her family, especially her grandchildren. She is also very committed to her church life. She cried when she left school, but she retired so that she could spend more time with her grandchildren. She also loves to travel and she loves Oxford sports.

We look forward to Jolee's leadership in Mississippi libraries.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

On the Road with MLC: Lincoln, Lawrence, and Franklin Counties

Shellie Zeigler
Mississippi Library Commission
Library Consultant

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Lincoln-Lawrence-Franklin Regional Library System with Susan Liles, MLC's Public Relations Director. Our first stop was the headquarters library in Brookhaven. I was immediately struck by the gorgeous mid-century modern architecture and furnishings. The library is bright, open, and very welcoming. They even offer free coffee to their patrons, and for those who know me, this won my heart! The Friends of the Library were busy decorating holiday trees during my visit. Assistant Director Katrina Castelaw gave us a tour of this wonderful library. There was a new art exhibit area in the front lobby that included pieces loaned from the collection of local artist J. Kim Sessums, as well as a piece by Stephen Scott Young the library was able to purchase with funds acquired through the Mississippi Arts Commission's Dille Fund for Visual Art Acquisition. The adult reading area was appointed with four large overstuffed leather chairs. It would be difficult to drag yourself away once you started your favorite book or magazine.

We were able to visit the three other libraries in this system as well. Our next stop was Meadville, a very well organized branch with great signage. A beautiful quilt graced the wall of this delightful library, each square depicting a special landmark or area in the county.

The Monticello branch is a busy and much-loved library. Every single one of the public access computers was being used and people were busy checking out books and looking at magazines. One patron even stopped us to let us know she was a huge library supporter; she uses it not only for herself, but she brings her granddaughter on a weekly basis so she can check out books and take advantage of library programs too.

Our last stop was the library in New Hebron. It was the smallest of the system branches, but it was still bright and cheery with many patrons taking advantage of the computers and library materials.

One thing we noticed about the libraries in this system was that they all contained the work of local artists. It's a great way to expand the artistic literacy of the people living in these communities, as well as giving exposure to talented locals. If you'd like to know more about art in libraries, read this short piece from the American Library Association. 

What a great day this was! I am so grateful to Katrina and all of the staff members we met during our visit. Thanks for your hospitality!

Monday, December 17, 2018

Meet MLC Monday: Kristina Kelly

Kristina Kelly started at the Mississippi Library Commission in May 2018. She serves as Administrative Assistant to Jennifer Peacock, MLC's Administrative Services Director, and the rest of the Administrative Services Bureau. Kristina holds a bachelor's degree in Communication with an emphasis in Public Relations.

Kristina says that she was initially drawn to working at MLC because of the connection to books and public libraries. She's found that she really enjoys working with the friendly staff and is a big fan of her job! Of libraries and books, she says that, "Books are the gateway to knowledge, other places, and even other worlds. Reading expands a person's horizons and libraries are a valuable resource for people to use to educate themselves and to grow."

Kristina and her family love to read. Other book fanatics might relate--she says they have stack of books on the floor because they have run out of bookshelf space. She claims she can't pick just one favorite book (can anyone?), but has a few favorite books by favorite authors: Robert Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, and Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files are just a few. She just finished reading The Annapolis Book of Seamanship by John Rousemaniere and is working her way through The Shack by William P. Young and The Bluejacket's Manual, published by the United States Naval Institute. Kristina says that what she reads really depends on her mood or where she is, so she always tries to keep a few books close at hand.

Kristina says she loves being a wife and a mom and is very proud of her family and their accomplishments. She is active in her local Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) group; she and her husband have been members for 25 years. SCA recreates pre-1600 society and cultures. Kristina specializes in creating historical costumes and non-European dance. Her current research project involves researching how European explorers and settlers viewed indigenous peoples and cultures with an emphasis on their dance.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Art in the Library: Preview Party Two

The Mississippi Library Commission (MLC) and the Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) partnered this year to showcase artists adjudicated through MAC's annual Visual Artist Fellowship Grant program. The exhibits, on display at MLC (3881 Eastwood Drive in Jackson), have featured some of Mississippi's finest artists.

The current exhibit, which runs through January 11, 2019, features seven pf the 2019 MAC Visual Arts Fellowship recipients. A special artist reception takes place Thursday, December 13, from 5-7 pm. MAC's Visual Artist Fellowship grant program honors Mississippi artists who demonstrate the ability to create outstanding work in their chosen field, including painting, sculpture, photography, and many other mediums. These grants are highly competitive - only a small number of applicants receive an award. Meet some of these folks below!

Rory Doyle is a working photographer based in Cleveland, Mississippi-the heart of the Mississippi Delta. Doyle is a recipient of a 2018 Visual Artist Fellowship from the Mississippi Arts Commission for his ongoing project on African American cowboys and cowgirls in the Delta. The project was featured in the Half King Photo Series in New York City in June 2018, along with a concurrent show in Harlem.

He was also recognized for the project by winning the photojournalism category at the 2018 EyeEm Awards in Berlin, Germany. Doyle's publication list includes The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Photo District News, The Atlantic, ESPN's The Undefeated, Getty Images, Financial Times, Yahoo News, and more. Born and raised in Maine, Doyle has lived in Mississippi since 2009.

Eric Huckabee was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1985 and grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where he currently lives and works. He earned his MFA at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 2011, and his BA from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2009.

His work has been exhibited across the eastern United States, including shows at Gross McCleaf Gallery in Philadelphia, Prince Street Gallery in New York, and at The Satellite Show Miami. In 2018 he was awarded an individual artist grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission. His work is included in the collection of Woodmere Art Museum. Huckabee has been featured in New American Paintings and is currently teaching drawing at Southeastern Louisiana University.

Betty Press never expected to be living in Mississippi. She grew up on a farm in rural Nebraska. After graduating from university, she traveled around the world for two years with her husband. In the 90's, she worked as a photojournalist for eight years in Africa. Because of this, she brings a singular perspective to her current photo project which documents the black and white culture in Mississippi. Recording "real life" in small communities throughout Mississippi with black-and-white film and toy and vintage cameras - the resulting imperfections, soft focus, and vignetting serve as metaphors for how landscape, race, and religion have played a part in the complicated history of Mississippi and still affect lives today.

She is well known for her photographs taken in Africa where she lived and worked in Kenya from 1987 to 1995 and in Sierra Leone in 2008-2009 while her husband was on a Fulbright scholarship. Now living in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and retired from teaching at the University of Southern Mississippi, she continues to photograph in the South as well as in Africa, which she still considers her second home.

In case you missed it, be sure to check out yesterday's post collecting the rest of the artists who are showing their work at the Mississippi Library Commission, Charlie Buckley, Carolyn Busenlener, Rob Cooper, and Earl Dismuke! We look forward to seeing you Thursday, December 13, from 5-7 pm.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Art in the Library: Preview Party One

The Mississippi Library Commission (MLC) and the Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) partnered this year to showcase artists adjudicated through MAC’s annual Visual Artist Fellowship Grant program. The exhibits, on display at MLC (3881 Eastwood Drive in Jackson), have featured some of Mississippi’s finest artists.

The current exhibit, which runs through January 11, 2019, features seven of the 2019 MAC Visual Arts Fellowship Recipients. A special artist reception takes place Thursday, December 13, from 5-7 pm. MAC’s Visual Artist Fellowship grant program honors Mississippi artists who demonstrate the ability to create outstanding work in their chosen field, including painting, sculpture, photography, and many other mediums. These grants are highly competitive – only a small number of applicants receive an award. Meet some of these folks below!

After studying at Ole Miss (BFA 2004) and Miami University (MFA 2009), Charlie Buckley taught drawing and painting at Miami, Mississippi State, and Ole Miss. Since 2011, he has been working exclusively as a painter, and is represented by Fischer Galleries in Jackson, Southside Gallery in Oxford, and The Arts Company in Nashville. Charlie's work was recently on display in the Bicentennial exhibition at the Mississippi Museum of Art, "Mississippi, Land of Plenty, Pain, and Promise". A two-time fellow in Visual Arts from the Mississippi Arts Commission, Charlie has also been awarded the Visual Arts award from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters, and has been chosen to be an Artist in Residence at Acadia National Park for the Spring of 2019. He is the collection of the Walton Family Foundation, Bank Plus, The Graduate, the Community Development Foundation, Metropolitan  Bank, The Arkansas Children's Hospital, the University of Mississippi, Baptist Memorial Hospital, and more.

Charlie lives in Tupelo with his wife Amber and daughter Jane.

Mississippi abstract artist, Carolyn Busenlener, lives in Pearlington, Mississippi, with her studio on a bayou next to a pond. She enjoys the serenity of the country after living most of her life in New Orleans. After receiving a BFA from Tulane University (Newcomb College) the artist taught and continued to paint. She has won numerous awards at juried shows and was chosen to participate in the Mississippi Invitational at the Mississippi Museum of Art. Carolyn has twice been a recipient of the Mississippi Arts Commission Visual Arts Fellowship. The artist also was awarded the Jane Carter Hyatt Fellowship.

Carolyn is represented by four galleries across the country and has a painting the permanent collection of the Mississippi Art Museum in Jackson, Mississippi.

Rob Cooper has spent his artistic life surrounded by glass. The Jackson-based artist has spent most of his years as an active artist working at Pearl River Glass Studio, a commercial studio that creates stained glass windows, architectural art glass, and restores historic stained glass. He currently works as one of the glass artists for the studio, painting imagery on the stained glass windows and other glass artwork they create for churches, private residences, and commercial clients.

Cooper got his start at Pearl River Glass while in high school, doing an internship at the studio through the APAC arts program at Jackson Public Schools. He spent some time studying outside of Mississippi, earning a BFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. Afterwards, he returned to Jackson and continued his work at Pearl River.

Cooper plans to spend at least part of his Fellowship year deepening his knowledge of the history of the art form and trying to find ways to incorporate classic design elements into his own work.

Earl Dismuke works out of his studio in Oxford, Mississippi, where he resides with his wife, two daughters, and two sons. He received his BFA from the University of Mississippi in 2007. He is a cofounder of the Yokna Sculpture Trail in Oxford, MS. He was the recipient of the Oxford Mississippi Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce's "2015 Leadership Award" for his work on the Yokna Sculpture Trail, a 2017 recipient of the Gallucci Creative Fund Grant, and a 2018 recipient of the Mississippi Arts Commission Fellowship Grant.

His work has been shown internationally in Basel, Switzerland at Scope Basel, and in Lima, Peru, and across the southeastern United States. He has a piece in the permanent collection of the Dallas Museum of Biblical Art. His goal with his work is to tell a story, but to leave enough ambiguity in the work that the audience can make interpretations themselves. When the artist invites the viewer to interpret what the work means or what the artist was thinking, the viewer is forced to bring something of themselves into the work. He believes this binds the artist and the viewer.

Don't miss tomorrow's post collecting the rest of the artists who are showing their work at the Mississippi Library Commission, Rory Doyle, Eric Huckabee, and Betty Press! We look forward to seeing you Thursday night at 5 pm at MLC.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Meet MLC Monday: Scott Higdon

On November 1, 2018, the Mississippi Library Commission welcomed a new Director of Technology Services to our staff. Scott Higdon now oversees the daily operations of the department. He holds a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Mississippi College and a master's degree in Leadership from Belhaven University.

Since starting at MLC, Scott has observed the unique camaraderie between the Tech Services employees and says he likes that uniqueness. "I enjoy the teamwork that a Technology Services staff must have to be successful. I have played, and loved, sports all my life, and sports are all about learning to work with a team. Everyone has different specialties and responsibilities, but what you do or don’t do with the skills you have can have a positive or negative effect on the whole team.  Not everyone is a pitcher, a slap hitter, or can mash home runs, but they are all vital to the success of the whole." Scott notes that the entire staff has been very welcoming since he started work here, making his transition from his former place of employment much easier than expected. (He had worked there for 22 years!)

When asked about the importance of libraries, Scott had this to say, "Growing up with a mother who was a teacher and a principal and a grandmother who was a college professor, my family always recognized the importance of education. Education is all about knowledge and the pursuit of knowledge. Where better to pursue knowledge than in a library? There is no age restriction on that pursuit either. Libraries allow people of all ages to come in, explore, and learn."

Scott enjoys reading, but with a busy family has difficulty finding time. His favorite book is The Big Miss by Hank Hane; he recently finished The Escape by David Baldacci. He says he's obsessed with golf, travel, sports, and live music. Scott has only missed two Mississippi State home football games in the last 33 seasons and has even attended (at the minimum) one MSU game in each of the SEC stadiums. He's also a New Orleans Saints and a St. Louis Cardinals fan. He and his wife of nearly twenty years have two daughters, aged 8 and 11. He is a deacon, a Sunday School teacher, and a member of the choir at First Baptist Church Richland.

Friday, December 7, 2018

MLC is Proud to Support Mississippi's Public Libraries

Hulen Bivins
Mississippi Library Commission
Executive Director

With the conclusion of Fiscal Year 2018, a final accounting by the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC) shows that over 7 million dollars of support was provided to the state’s 53 public library systems. These funds were provided as direct grants, competitive grants, and via statewide services. Of the total amount provided, the State of Mississippi was the source of $6,737,643, with the balance of the funding provided by the federal government under the Grants to States program administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

Using state funding, direct grants provided employee benefits throughout the state to library staff members; these funds also enabled each of the 53 public library systems to maintain a highly qualified, masters-degreed professional as the library director, thereby enhancing the services of each public library. Further, with competitive grants, public libraries were able to create and expand new services while maintaining traditional services. The MAGNOLIA information database collection is an example of a statewide service that is provided by public libraries through state funding and made available to every citizen.

The federal dollars received from IMLS supported a variety of services, such as the procurement of new public computers, community reading programs supported with new book titles in a variety of formats, continuing education activities, development of STEM programing, and cooperative activities with K-12 schools, community colleges, and universities.

Following the tabulation of monies as reported for the fiscal year, MLC Executive Director Hulen Bivins noted that, “In all of the activities enumerated, the Mississippi Library Commission has worked with the state’s public libraries to both strengthen and enhance library services for the benefit of the state’s citizenry. This work has provided homework aid, business development assistance, and a furtherance of knowledge regarding issues in the fields of finance, law, and medicine. The achievements accomplished are a direct result of the cooperation and tremendous work of the 53 public library systems in using the funding made available by MLC in an efficient, cost-conscious manner.”

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