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Monday, April 15, 2019

Meet MLC Monday: Derrion Arrington

Meet Derrion Arrington, Reference Librarian at the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC)! Derrion began working for MLC back in January of 2018. He holds a dual bachelor's degree in History and Sociology from Tougaloo College. Derrion and a small team of researchers answer simple questions (Can you get me the number to Waffle House?) to tough ones (How much radiation would someone soak up from an undetonated nuclear bomb?) all day long. Patrons can come to the building in Jackson for assistance, but they also by send questions by mail, Facebook, phone, etc. The team answers thousands of queries each month, mainly from Mississippians, but also from people in different states, and even different countries. Derrion says answering people's questions is his favorite part of his job because he seems to learn something new every single day. He also assists with  collection development and shelving.

Smiling man posed in front of books with the quote Meet Derrion Arrington Libraries provide free educational resources for everyone. They are also safe refuges for the homeless and underserved populations.

Derrion says he likes libraries for several very good reasons. "Libraries provide free educational resources for everyone. They are also safe refuges for the homeless and underserved populations." He also appreciates all the books they offer because he loves to read. He says, "With my background in history, I still read a lot about it. My favorite book currently is Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond." Derrion also plays the saxophone and writes. Writing is his favorite hobby; he focuses on historical events here in Mississippi, especially those dealing with the Civil Rights Movement and the Civil War.

Friday, April 5, 2019

On the Road with MLC - Hancock County Library System

By MLC Library Consultant Shellie Zeigler

I recently traveled to the Hancock County Library for a tour of all five of the libraries.  My first stop was the Bay St. Louis Library where I sat in on a Department Head Meeting that included all of the branch managers and various other staff members.  It was very informative and gave me a great feel for the outstanding programming and plans going on in this library system.

Bay St Louis Branch

A particularly interesting passive program encourages staff and patrons to dress up as their favorite literary character which has been a favorite program in the past.  I also learned the system has a new website and they are working on a new logo.

The library system recently handed out library card application folders to 1st-3rd graders in the area schools.  The folders contained library card applications and library program information for parents.  There was a letter to teachers explaining the process and that the library cards would be delivered back to the class.  The class with the most applications would get a free pizza party.

The Bay St. Louis branch has been focusing on doing roving reference and the children's area is now staffed at all times.  The branch manager Amber Stephenson mentioned that they are working to redesign the branch to have a more open concept.

Waveland Branch Manager, Angie Christoffer and MLC's Shellie Zeigler

The next library on my route was Waveland. They were preparing for a "Pirate Day" planned for the following weekend.  It is such a charming branch with a large pirate ship as the focal point in the children's area.  The storytimes are conducted on the ship which must make them a great experience for the children.  The branch manager Angie Christoffer gave me a tour and loved showing off the large front porch that is a favorite of the patrons.

Pearlington Branch prepares for GED class

Next on my list was the Pearlington branch where I met with branch manager Andrea Pack.  This branch does a great deal of community-oriented programming.  They offer exercise classes for seniors, GED preparation classes, and they participate in the "Feeding the Gulf Coast" program to help children and adults.  They are excited about their upcoming "Bunny Hop" event that is similar to a trunk-or-treat program they do in the fall.

Children's area at East Hancock Library

After a night of rest I visited the East Hancock branch in Diamond Head where I met up with System Director Jennifer Baxter.  After a visit with Jennifer, the branch manager Gerri McCleskey gave me a tour of this lovely facility that has a colorful and fun children's area.

Children's program at The Kiln branch

My last stop was the branch in Kiln. Jennifer and I talked with branch manager Nell Ducomb.  There was a storytime going on in the children's area and an Excel by 5 representative was present to provide information for the parents.  This library has a wonderful fireplace that was a popular area on this cool morning.

Hancock County Library System Director Jennifer Baxter, MLC's Shellie Zeigler and The Kiln Branch Manager, Nell Ducomb

It was time to head back to Jackson, but I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Hancock County.  I can't wait to go back!  Special thanks to Jennifer and everyone on her staff for making me feel so welcome.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Digitization and Public Libraries

Patrons and libraries can do so much with digitization! And with the Mobile Archive Project, the Mississippi Library Commission wants to help make that possible. The Mobile Archive Project is one of the services offered by the Mississippi Library Commission. Libraries can check out a portable scanner kit for use in a digitization project. A member of the Mississippi Library Commission will bring the scanner kit to the library and show librarians how to use the scanning program, scan objects, and save digital files for ease of use.

The scanner in the kit is an overhead scanner. Unlike a typical flatbed scanner, an overhead scanner is perfect for scanning 3D or fragile objects. You simply place the object on the provided mat, press the button on the scanner, and it scans an overhead view of whatever object you’re scanning. This is great for scanning physical objects like medals, art projects, or plaques. It is also good for scanning books: the overhead scanner has a setting that accounts for the bend of a book’s pages, letting you edit it so all the text is straight, readable, and not crooked.

Knowing how to use the scanner is good, but what should you scan in the first place? There are so many items that could benefit from digitization. Does your library have fragile records? You could digitize those to help save wear and tear on the physical copies. Does your library have a collection of letters by a famous author? You could digitize those so that they could be easily shared with multiple people. Does your library have a photograph collection? You could digitize those so they could be shared on social media.

Now that you’ve digitized these items, how can you share them with the world? If your library is a partner with the Mississippi Digital Library, they can host the files for you. If you want to keep the files for staff use only, uploading them to a flash drive or a Google Drive account will do the trick. High use items can be hosted on the library’s website or by an image hosting site such as Photobucket—just be cautious about privacy and copyright limitations. If you REALLY want to explore your options and know someone tech-savvy, an open source collections management program like CollectiveAccess could give your collection a museum-like polish.

There are so many options with digitization! Proper digitization can help reduce wear and tear on some items and let you share other items with the world. If your institution has heavy traffic items, fragile items, or anything awkwardly shaped you want to share with the world, I hope you consider digitization to help continue the spread of information.
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