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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

On the Road with MLC: Mid-Mississippi Regional Library System

Small towns in Mississippi are like brilliant gems. They are filled with bits of times-gone-by, but also the promise of great things to come. It is an honor for me to have the opportunity to visit such places and feel the commitments of the residents to their little community.

Recently I hit the road with Library Consultant Louisa Whitfield-Smith. Even though it was our first trip together, I knew we our library visits would be fun because we share mutual thoughts and ideas. We were headed to Mid-Mississippi Regional Library System (MMRLS) to meet with their director Josh Haidet. I visited the Kosciusko Library a year ago, but never had the opportunity to see the other twelve branches.

We started at the Attala County Library, the headquarters of the system, and Josh gave us a great tour of the library. The building is filled with light and has all the components of a great library, like a teen area, a children's area, and an outstanding genealogy department.

After a wonderful visit with several staff members, we headed to the Winston County Library in Louisville. The county seat of Winston County, Louisville has over 6,000 residents. Hard hit by a tornado in 2014 when ten residents were killed, the community has bounced back and is going strong. The library has a lovely space, an accomplished branch manager, Beth Edwards, and highly qualified staff.

Beth showed us around the library and told us about some of the neat things they do. She is a big believer in public relations (a lady after my heart) and showed us Thank You cards the children's librarian has drawn. Kids who visit the library or participate in library activities sign them. Then the library sends them to local businesses that fund programs and projects... how clever!

Our next stop was the Carthage Library in Leake County. This community boasts a population of over 5,000. The library has a wonderful children's area with new Playaway Launchpads purchased with funds from an Institute of Museums and Library Services (IMLS) LSTA grant. These easy-to-use tablets have preloaded content for kids that help them learn while they're having fun.

The final stop that day was the Walnut Grove, also located in Leake County. With a population of almost 2,000 residents, this community has a relatively new library that is incredibly cozy.

Located next to a walking track that features workout stations, this awesome library is brimming over with great books and programs for the residents of Walnut Grove. Of course, we had to take advantage of the location before heading back to Kosciusko!

I got some really great ideas from visiting Mid-Mississippi that day. They create an annual "scrapbook" at each branch that includes visitors, programs, events, and all the rest of the fun stuff going on in each library. What a great tool to share with potential funders so they can see how monies are spent! Also, each branch hosts "Souper Tuesdays"; homemade soup is made available to all patrons and the recipes are shared right along with the hot food. What a great idea for a cold, wintry day!

We have several more libraries to visit at MMRLS and we're excited for our return trip. Thanks to Josh Haidet and all the folks who made us feel so welcome!

Friday, January 25, 2019

On the Road with MLC: Jackson George Regional Library System

Creative communities have a different feel, like something exciting is about to happen at any moment. I've always gotten that feeling when I visit Ocean Springs. It is so picturesque and quaint, with its streets lined with galleries and eateries, that I get swept up in the atmosphere of the place. Recently I had the chance to travel to this lovely community with two of my colleagues, MLC Consultants Shellie Zeigler and Louisa Whitfield-Smith. We met up with Lori Barnes, Jackson-George Regional Library System Director, and several of her qualified staff at one of the charming eateries along the oak-lined main street.

After a lively discussion and a hearty lunch, we headed out to the St. Martin branch to see the new teen area funded by an Institute of Museums and Library Services (IMLS) LSTA grant. St. Martin is a fast-growing community in Jackson County with a population of almost 8,000. With a highly rated school system, it is the perfect community for families.

When we arrived at the St. Martin Library, we were greeted by Branch Manager Meg Henderson; she was ready to show us around her wonderful library. As we headed inside, Meg was proud to show off a community garden space filled with edible greens. What a great way to promote healthy eating habits to members of the community! The project has also allowed the library branch the opportunity to partner with the MSU Extension Service and the Pine Belt Master Gardeners.

The branch was filled with activity when we moved inside. The new teen area was easy to spot and we immediately gravitated that way. It turned out to be a fun, lively space to engage teens in reading and studying. There were computers designated for teen use, along with a table for studying that users are encouraged to use as notepads. This library tries hard to instill a love of libraries in their youth and it's definitely working!

At the back of the library, a large public computer area was filled with patrons. This is a well-used library with very knowledgeable staff who are filled with creative ideas.

With one last quick word, we made our way to the door for the ride home. Filled with a great lunch and lively conversation about all-things-library, we hit the road north for Jackson. Special thanks to Lori Barnes and all the great folks with Jackson-George Regional Library System for a perfect day. They dropped some tantalizing tidbits about programs and such going on at their other branches. We can't wait for them to invite us back for another consulting visit!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Meet MLC Monday: Natalie Dunaway

Meet Natalie Dunaway, Continuing Education Coordinator at the Mississippi Library Commission! Natalie works with our team of Library Consultants and the Library Development administration to build and produce workshops and educational resources for librarians across the state. She joined MLC's staff in October of 2017. She holds a bachelor's degree in Anthropology with a dual minor in Japanese and English and a master's degree in Asian Studies.

Natalie says one of the many reasons she loves working for MLC is the advocacy work done for libraries. "Libraries are such crucial parts of the community and community development. They are essentially educational gateways."

Natalie likes to read and has made it a goal to read even more books this year. Her favorite book from 2018 was Educated by Tara Westover. She also really likes to watch movies and speak Japanese.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

On the Road with MLC: Waynesboro

You've heard of the term "a force of nature." I've met a few of these dynamic folks in my time, and one of them is Patsy Brewer, the Director of the Waynesboro/Wayne County Library System. Patsy made an impression on me the first time we met. She has dynamic ideas and is constantly coming up with new and innovative ways to promote and celebrate her library and community.

Nestled on the southeastern border of the state, Waynesboro has a population of about 5,000 citizens.  The county seat of Wayne County, Waynesboro is a picturesque little Mississippi community. The library's story began in 1934, and since that time it has lived in several locations throughout the community. In 2003, the library opened its doors in its current location... a former Walmart building weighing in at a whopping 17,000 square feet.

With that much space, the library could potentially feel cold and cavernous, but instead, it is extremely warm and welcoming. The very active Friends of the Library group even manages a small gift shop and bookstore on the premises, boasting an array of really cute items to tempt even the most penny-pinching of shoppers. What an outstanding way to raise funds for the library!

My travel companion, Library Consultant Shellie Zeigler, and I didn't realize we were going to visit on the day of the library's annual holiday fund-raiser, but it turned out to be perfect timing! Most of the community was in attendance and it was easy to see the support they bestow on their hometown library. The Friends served delicious food and local music students performed, putting everyone in the holiday spirit.

After we toured the library, Shellie and I checked out a new program the library has implemented to promote literacy in the community. "Laundry & Literacy" is funded by the Margaret Murray Literacy Grant and the Waynesboro-Wayne County Friends of the Library. Spanish materials were also purchased with funds from First Book. The library's partnership with local laundromats makes reading materials available to the users of all ages of these facilities. What a new and fresh idea to make free reading materials readily available to more residents!

I would like to give special thanks to Patsy Brewer and her staff for inviting us to this wonderful holiday event. They're doing outstanding work for the citizens of this special corner of the state of Mississippi and I'll definitely be going back for another visit soon.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Meet MLC Monday: Louisa Whitfield-Smith

Louisa Whitfield-Smith joined MLC's Library Development staff as a Library Consultant in November 2018. She and our other consultants work as liaisons between public libraries in Mississippi, giving advice and providing information and resources to library directors and staff.

Since she started working at MLC, Louisa says she has found that she loves traveling all over Mississippi on state highways and back roads as she visits libraries and librarians who are working to provide the best possible service to our communities. Louisa is a huge library advocate and says, "We librarians are committed to providing the same high-quality service to everyone who walks in our doors. There’s something powerful that happens in a space where all are welcome and treated the same."

Louisa is a Murrah High School legacy; she even graduated on her mother's birthday! She received a master’s in Library and Information Science from Louisiana State University and won an Urban Libraries Council top innovator award for communities in crisis for her work as a civic engagement librarian. She has served on RUSA’s Notable Books Council and the ALA Center for Civic Life Advisory Board, reviewed for Booklist, and judged for the Foreward INDIES awards. She is also a proud graduate of the Granger Leadership Academy.

Louisa has loved to read her entire life; in fact, her first word was book! She claims her allowance growing up was an account at Lemuria Books, which is a great independent bookstore here in Jackson. She says the last good book she read was Dawn Dugle’s The BRAVO! Way: Building a Southern Restaurant Dynasty. "It’s a lucid, engrossing, fast nonfiction account of how Jeff Good and Dan Blumenthal built BRAVO!, Broad Street Bakery, and Sal & Mookie’s through hard work, a commitment to our community, and excellent customer service."

Louisa loves Mississippi, her family, comics, good long form journalism, hiking, swimming in lakes and rivers, S. R. Ranganathan, baking, tabletop gaming, and trashy movies, preferably those featuring a ragtag team working against all odds on one last job. She also loves to travel, having visited all 50 states and circumnavigated the globe.

Friday, January 4, 2019

The Absolute Best Books MLC Staff Read in 2018

The staff of the Mississippi Library Commission has read their fair share of books the past year. We like picture books and comics, fiction, and nonfiction, and old and new. These were our favorites.

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut
Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James, 2017
Recommended by Andrea' R.

The Crayon Box that Talked
Shane Derolf and Michael Letzig, 1997
Recommended by Lawrence S.

Green Eggs and Ham
Dr. Seuss, 1960
Recommended by Sandra T.
"My grandbabies love it when I read this to them."
Harriet Gets Carried Away
Jessie Sima, 2018
Recommended by Elisabeth S.
"This is hands down the cutest, sweetest, most adorable picture book I read this year."
A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo
Jill Twiss and E.G. Keller, 2018
Recommended by Amanda R.

Sneezy the Snowman
Maureen Wright and Stephen Gilpin, 2010
Recommended by Bonita S.

A Sky Full of Stars
Linda Williams Jackson, 2018
Recommended by Elisabeth S.
"Life in rural Mississippi during the 1950s is explored through the eyes of a spunky and loving African-American girl named Rose."
The Time quintet
A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters
Madeleine L'Engle, 1962-1986
Recommended by Margaret S.

The Witch Boy
Molly Ostertag, 2017
Recommended by Elisabeth S.
"This is all about witches, shapeshifters, and who ought to be able to be which; I loved it so much!"
The Harry Potter series
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
J.K. Rowling, 1997-2007
Recommended by Mary Rodgers B.

Wizard for Hire
Obert Skye, 2018
Recommended by Amanda R.

The Good Demon
Jimmy Cajoleas, 2018
Recommended by Louisa W.

The All the Boys series
To All the Boys I've Loved Before, P.S. I Still Love You, and Always and Forever, Lara Jean
Jenny Han, 2014-2017
Recommended by Mary Rodgers B.

Beneath the Sugar Sky
Seanan McGuire, 2018
Recommended by Elisabeth S.
"What happens when your mother is murdered years before you're supposed to be born? I think this is my favorite so far in the macabre Wayward Children series."
Julie Murphy, 2015
Recommended by Mary Rodgers B.

An Enchantment of Ravens
Margaret Rogerson, 2017
Recommended by Katie G.

The Princess and the Dressmaker
Jen Wang, 2018
Recommended by Katie G.

Elana K. Arnold, 2018
Recommended by Amanda R.

The Immortalists
Chloe Benjamin, 2018
Recommended by Shellie Z.

Brief Cases: More Stories from the Dresden Files
Jim Butcher, 2018
Recommended by Margaret S.

The President is Missing
Bill Clinton, James Patterson, and David Ellis, 2018
Recommended by Hulen B. and Margaret S.

All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr, 2014
Recommended by Natalie D.

Bingo Love
Dee Franklin and Jenn St. Onge, 2017
Recommended by Annie W. and Louisa W.

Cold Mountain
Charles Frazier, 1997
Recommended by Tracy C.
"There is not one word that is not perfect… and I am not exaggerating."
I Hear the Sunspot
Yuki Fumino, 2017 (translation edition)
Recommended by Amanda R.

The Reckoning
John Grisham, 2018
Recommended by Hulen B.
"Told in three parts, this Grisham novel is the story of a man and his wife who are united in death. It is a unity of permanence that they did not achieve in life. Side stories include the children of the coupe and how they lose ownership of their parents' estate and the tale of a local preacher who got in the way of the couple's relationship."
The Nightingale
Kristin Hannah, 2015
Recommended by Susan L.

How to Find Love in a Bookshop
Veronica Henry, 2017
Recommended by Mary Rodgers B.

The Boats of the Glen Carrig
William Hope Hodgson, 1907
Recommended by Daniel W.

The Drawing of Three
Stephen King, 1987
Recommended by Josh S.

Gone with the Wind
Margaret Mitchell, 1936
Recommended by Will B.

The Binti trilogy
Binti, Home, and The Night Masquerade
Nnedi Okorafor, 2015-2018
Recommended by Elisabeth S.
 "Utterly beautiful. Science fiction at its finest."
The English Patient
Michael Ondaatje, 1992
Recommended by Tracy C.

The Lonely Hearts Hotel
Heather O'Neill, 2017
Recommended by Shellie Z.

Rise and Shine, Benedict Stone
Phaedra Patrick, 2017
Recommended by Louisa W.

Kiss the Girls
James Patterson, 1995
Recommended by Lacy E.
"Kiss the Girls was one of my favorite reads of 2018. It is the second book in the James Patterson Alex Cross series and was originally published in 1995. Those who are fans of murder and serial killer podcasts should re-visit this easily devoured novel. I read it over the span of a conference weekend with two long layovers. It’s the best $.25 I spent at a library book sale. Make sure you check out the 1997 film starring Morgan Freeman!"
C.L. Polk, 2018
Recommended by Amanda R.

The Bedlam Stacks
Natasha Pulley, 2017
Recommended by Ally M. 

The Alice Network
Kate Quinn, 2017
Recommended by Shellie Z.

A History of God: The 4,000 Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
Karen Armstrong, 1975
Recommended by Derrion A.

The Bible
King James version
Recommended by Sandra T.
"I read this over and over. It's my favorite thing to read."
Stay the Course: The Story of Vanguard and the Index Revolution
Jack Bogle, 2018
Recommended by Hulen B.
"The author, who was one of the original creators of the concept of index funds, discusses the pracitcality of such funds (ETF style or financial house created) in today's economy, along with notation as to probable 2019 predictors. The author suggests that these insights are important, as index funds hold such a large percentage of the US stock/equity market."
Origin Story: A Big History of Everything
David Christian, 2018
Recommended by Derrion A.

Guns, Germs, and Steel
Jared Diamond, 1997
Recommended by Derrion A.

Angela Duckworth, 2016
Recommended by Hulen B.
"Written by a psychologist who believes that the "grit" of a person is a better predictor of an individual's success than one's IQ or one's talent. (Grit, in this writing, is expressed as an individual's passion combined with perseverance.)"

This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War
Drew Gilpin Faust, 2008
Recommended by Derrion A.

My Girls: A Lifetime with Carrie and Debbie
Todd Fisher, 2018
Recommended by Will B.

The Prophet
Kahlil Gibran, 1923
Recommended by Andrea' R.

Negro Thought in America, 1880-1915: Racial Ideologies in the Age of Booker T. Washington
August Meier, 1963
Recommended by Derrion A.

The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone
Brian Merchant, 2017
Recommended by Margaret S.

Michelle Obama, 2018
Recommended by Margaret S.

Dear Fahrenheit 451
Annie Spence, 2017
Recommended by Mary Rodgers B.

Rowdy: The Roddy Piper Story
Ariel Teal Toombs, Colt Baird Toombs, and Craig Pyette, 2016
Recommended by Will B.

Tara Westover, 2018
Recommended by Natalie D. and Andrea' R.

The Desegregation of Public Libraries in the Jim Crow South
Wayne A. Wiegand and Shirley A. Wiegand, 2018
Recommended by Tracy C.
"Completely enlightening, especially in the fact that what we consider a core tenet of the modern public library, the library as community, was created by black librarians/libraries because there WAS no place for the black community to gather."
So? Which were your favorites?
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