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Friday, March 29, 2019

2019 National Library Week - Libraries = Strong Communities

As librarians and library advocates, we know that involvement with a local library builds a better, more vibrant community.  National Library Week, held April 7-13, is the perfect time to share the value of public libraries with others.

Think of ways to raise awareness in your area about what your library does to help the members of your community to grow and thrive.  Do you offer a computer training class for adults?  Do you help with online job applications?  Have you attended an outstanding program at your local library?  Sometimes the things we do become so second nature to us that we forget to tell our own story.

Library programs encourage community members to meet to discuss civic issues, work together using new technologies and to learn alongside one another in classes and programs.  Library staff actively engage with the people they serve, always striving to make sure their community's core needs are being met.

Governor Phil Bryant understands the value of Mississippi's public libraries.  He recently presented a proclamation officially declaring this week in April as National Library Week across the state.  Be sure to share this information with your patrons and others in your area. 

Take a moment to visit the American Library Association's website to find all sorts of information to help you plan your activities for National Library Week.  Here's a link to their NLW toolkit -  Happy planning!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Joy of Reading to Kids

The summers of my childhood were filled with trips to my aunt's house in Mt. Olive.  She had four daughters...all older than me.  The youngest was like a sister to me, even though she was four years my senior.  We spent those summer days running, climbing and enjoying being kids.  When we finally wore ourselves out, we would come inside the wonderful old house where my mother and aunt had grown up and we would climb into bed to rest a bit.  The house had tall ceilings and large windows and I can still feel that warm afternoon air blowing through the windows.  My cousin loved to read to me and I would listen intently to every word.  There is something about having someone read aloud that is so special.

On a not-so-warm day recently I read to a group of third graders at Spann Elementary School.  The librarian, Jennifer Baker, is my neighbor and she asked me if I would read a Dr. Seuss book in celebration of his birthday. Of course I said yes!  My favorite Dr. Seuss book is Oh the Places You'll Go, so she said she would put my name on it!   This day is also known as Read Across America Day when lots of Mississippi public libraries and school libraries celebrate reading.  

Jennifer Baker, my neighbor and librarian at Spann Elementary

Jennifer was waiting when I arrived and had someone take me to my classroom.  The kids were so great and very attentive.  At the end of the story we sang Happy Birthday to Dr. Seuss.  It was a fantastic experience that I will never forget.

If the opportunity presents itself, I encourage everyone to take time to read to children.  It is such a special experience!

Monday, March 25, 2019

Meet MLC Monday: Alex Brower

Meet Alex Brower, Reference Librarian at the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC)! People ask her and a small team of researchers every kind of question under the sun, which they answer by phone, email, social media, and all sorts of other ways. (Last fiscal year the team answered an average of nearly 2,000 questions each month, from people right here in Mississippi to people as far away as India.) As another part of her new job, Alex has begun traveling the state to train librarians on how to use MAGNOLIA, a statewide database consortium funded by the Mississippi legislature. She also contributes to collection development, suggesting books and other materials to add and remove from MLC's inventory

Alex started working at MLC just a few weeks ago and says she's very excited to be here. She enjoys helping people and finding answers to their questions. "I can learn a lot about a variety of different topics by helping people find the information they need. I enjoy helping people from all over the state find the information that they need. I think I’m going to enjoy working at MLC for many reasons, and I’ve been very impressed with how welcoming and helpful everyone I have met has been!" She earned a bachelor’s degree and her Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from the University of Southern Mississippi (USM). She received the Kathanne W. Greene Award and the Peggy May and H.W. Wilson scholarships while at USM.

When asked about her feelings regarding libraries, Alex responded, "I've always loved libraries because I love to read, but being a librarian has given me new and wonderful reasons to love them! Libraries are open to everyone, and they are some of the few institutions built that are built by and for their communities. Libraries provide so many needed services, from connecting patrons to a new favorite book to helping people apply for jobs, and they are wonderful third spaces that make their communities better simply by existing."

Alex says she loves to read. She doesn't have a favorite book--that changes all the time, but she is particularly fond of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. The last book she read was Enter Pirates by Laurie Notaro. When she's not thinking about libraries and books, Alex is teaching herself to sew and her grandmother is teaching her to crochet. She has also dabbled in watercolors and gardening, but with little success.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Save Libraries, Save Museums, Save IMLS!

Maybe you've seen the proposed national budget for FY20 and maybe you haven't, but it eliminates federal funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). That means essential programs provided by libraries and museums across Mississippi will no longer have the money to continue. This covers everything from your local public library, your child's school library, and university libraries to the Delta Blues Museum, the Mississippi Museum of Art, and the Mississippi Children's Museum. It also means that LSTA grant funds, which launch innovative programs across the state and are distributed by IMLS, will no longer be available. Both Loida Garcia-Febo, president of the American Library Association, and Kathryn K. Matthew, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, have issued responses regarding the proposed budget, and people across the country are rallying to our museums' and libraries' defense.

We want you to join the fight to fund museums and libraries. Take a look below at a small sample of Mississippi public library programs funded by IMLS in the past few years. Then click the Dear Appropriator letter at the bottom of the page to send an email to your congresspeople urging full funding of IMLS.

Lee-Itawamba Library System
The Lunching with Books program, made possible through LSTA grant funds, is a vital resource for information and socialization of learners who can no longer visit the library due to physical disabilities, advanced age, and/or lack of transportation. In order to serve these citizens, the library purchased the necessary equipment to record, archive, and live-stream the programs to offsite patrons. The program can be viewed at any time from the Lee-Itawamba Library System website. The library partnered with a local retirement home to screen the program on-site in a common area. Live-streaming the program off-site allowed patrons no longer able to attend in person the ability to actively participate in educational and entertaining library activities. This library system is in Mississippi's Congressional District 1, which is served by Representative Trent Kelly.

Sunflower County Library System
The Seniors Acquiring Computer Skills and the Senior Adults Moving Forward in Technology programs at Sunflower County Library System were designed to provide computer skills training to senior citizens who want to become computer literate. Using LSTA grant funds, the library provides computer literacy classes for small groups in slowly-paced sessions. Attendees learn essential basic computer skills, like word processing in order to produce letters and forms, spreadsheets to track financial information, and Internet competency, including search skills and database usage. After a sixteen-week training period, participants are able to use everything from email to Word and beyond, critical skills for the 21st century. This library system is in Mississippi's Congressional District 2, which is served by Representative Bennie Thompson.

Central Mississippi Regional Library System
New Maker Space Kits, acquired with LSTA funds by the Central Mississippi Regional Library System, travel back and forth between their 20 branches. The Makey Makey Kit, Snap Circuits Kit, Video Maker Kit, Strawbees Kit, and Jewelry Tool Kit emphasize STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) activities for K-12 through adult patrons. Every age group served has been excited and eager to learn and explore with the kits, making this an incredibly successful idea. These items give Mississippi citizens an understanding of how circuitry works and help them understand how to apply this new knowledge in their everyday lives. This library system is in Mississippi's Congressional District 3, which is served by Representative Michael Guest.

Laurel-Jones County Library System
An Early Childhood Library Development Center project garnered LSTA grant funds for the Laurel-Jones County Library System. It enables both libraries in the system to provide a fun and safe area where children can learn through imaginative play. The centers have an assortment of building blocks, interlocking and connective toys, matching and sorting games, and puzzles. These activities teach young patrons basic math and language skills, hand-eye coordination, counting, color and letter identification, motor skills, and social interaction skills. This library system is in Mississippi's Congressional District 4, which is served by Representative Steven Palazzo.

These programs, which cater to a wide range of interests, target people of all ages and walks of life. If you think that the learning, cultural, and social opportunities Mississippi libraries and museums provide are critical to keeping our citizens on the cutting edge of society, then help us out. Contact your congressperson and ask them to sign the Dear Appropriator letter. Then share this post in your email, on Facebook, or however else you reach your friends and family, and ask them to do the same. Thank you!

Monday, March 18, 2019

Meet MLC Monday: Taraki Jones

Meet Taraki Jones, Circulation Services Librarian for Talking Book Services (TBS) at the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC)! Taraki checks in and out digital books, braille books, and braille magazines that our TBS patrons borrow and return. She started working at MLC two weeks ago on March 4 and has already made positive changes in her department.

One of Taraki's biggest passions is reading and one of her favorite authors is Debbie Macomber. She particularly enjoyed The Way to a Man's Heart and the Blossom Street series. She says, "I like libraries because they are nice, quiet places to take adventures and gain knowledge through print and audio books." When she's not reading, Taraki loves to knit. She jokingly adds, "Knitting is my life!"

Friday, March 15, 2019

Do Not Be Silent

“Do not be silent; there is no limit to the power that may be released through you.” 
-Howard Thurman, Deep is the Hunger

Mississippi librarians and library advocates at the Mississippi Capitol on Library Day at the Capitol, March 12, 2019

The sound of a multitude of voices is powerful and lends itself to change. During the 2019 legislative session, there have been dedicated library advocates at the Capitol each week, from librarians and Mississippi Library Association members, to library friends, trustees, and patrons. They've been sharing the powerful stories of how libraries change the lives of residents of their communities.

On Tuesday, March 12, advocacy efforts peaked with "Library Day at the Capitol", when the voices of over 200 library supporters were heard by Mississippi's lawmakers. The entire first floor of the historic building was filled with advocates who shared information about the value of Mississippi's public libraries.

Meredith Wickham, Director of the First Regional Library System, has created a helpful thank you letter that you can send your legislators. Feel free to copy and paste it into your own document or email and modify it to fit your particular needs before sending it on to your senators and congresspeople. Check the Mississippi Legislature's website for your senator addresses and representative addresses. Not sure who your legislators are? You can find them at Open States.

Go ahead and mark your calendars for next year's Library Day at the Capitol. We're scheduled for March 10, 2020, from 11 am-2 pm, and have reserved the same large area of the first floor of the Rotunda and hallways as this year.

Make your voice heard... Become an advocate... Do not be silent.

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