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Thursday, August 27, 2020

No Strings Attached

Alex Brower
Reference Manager

While in-person programming is on hold right now, librarians have had to find new and exciting ways to connect with their patrons. Virtual story times are one of the most popular programs that libraries can provide safely, and how better to take your story time to the next level than puppets?!
I get it. You don’t want to use some strange, unfamiliar puppet in your story time. It might throw off your game. So let me introduce you to a few of MLC's favorite puppets. That way, when you check one out, it’ll be like having an old friend there reading along with you. One who doesn’t require a mask!

The first puppet I’d like to introduce is Romeo. A family man (meaning he is part of a family set), he enjoys poetry, green Jell-O, and lazy Sundays. When asked why he dislikes aye-ayes so much, Romeo brought up their weird long fingers. We have to agree; they're pretty weird.
Romeo also loves to travel, so why don’t you invite him and his family over for a program or two? He’s a great listener.  

Our next puppet is a sweet little dragon called Linda. Linda loves flowers. She loves smelling them, growing them, and eating them! She makes a mean arrangement (if you ask her nicely). April is already a great month, but if you ask our favorite anthophile Linda, April 25th is just the perfect date! If only dragons needed a light jacket… As for her dislike of hobbits, apparently Linda’s ancestor had a nasty run-in with one in the past. Something about dwarves and stolen gold? We couldn’t make it all out, since she got pretty heated (ha!).

Our final puppet on show is a possum called Blossom. Blossom is a trash connoisseur and devoted mother to her baby, Delphine. In her free time, she enjoys solving the world’s lupus problem, one tick at a time. Fun fact: possums eat approximately 5,000 ticks each season, according to MDWFP (link below). Don’t ask her about Gary unless you want to be hissed at, which we don’t recommend. We think her dislike of sad songs may be tied in some way to Gary as well, but we were afraid to ask. She did promise not to get into the library’s trash if she was invited to story time, which is a big ask for a possum.

To see a complete list of puppets available for checkout through MLC, visit this link: To check out any of the puppets featured here or any of our other puppets, contact Charlie Simpkins, MLC’s Digital Consultant. His email is and his phone number is 601-432-4498. 

For more information about how possums are helpful, tick-eating friends, visit this link:

Monday, August 17, 2020

Meet MLC Monday: Miranda Vaughn

Elisabeth Scott
Reference Librarian/Social Media Coordinator

Meet Miranda Vaughn, Reference/Archives Librarian at the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC)! Miranda, who began working at MLC at the beginning of August, answers reference questions and conducts archival projects. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the Mississippi University for Women and is currently a student at the University of Southern Mississippi, where she’ll graduate this December with a master's degree in Library and Information Science with a graduate certificate in Archives and Special Collections. 

When asked what she likes about her job, Miranda answers, "I love the research aspect of this job. When a patron sends in a reference request for me to answer, I get to learn right along with them. Every day is a new adventure." She adds, "I love the environment at MLC. It fosters creativity and growth. You never stop learning."

Miranda knows about the importance of libraries firsthand. She says, "I grew up in a rural area, so the local library was sort of my window to a world outside of my little bubble. I think libraries are important especially for people who live in rural, often impoverished areas. Libraries offer free access to all kinds of resources that a lot of people can’t afford."

Our newest employee says she reads mostly non-fiction, but tries to add some fiction into the rotation. She's currently reading Barracoon by Zora Neal Hurston. Miranda is a huge fan of memoirs, especially those from female comedians like Amy Poehler and Mindy Kaling, because they write with such honesty and humor. When she's not busy at work or relaxing reading, she's fulfilling her new duties as a plant mom, a new role since quarantine. She quips, "Only a few of my plant babies have survived though, so I’m literally killing it." Miranda also enjoys exploring old cemeteries and has a cemetery bucket list. She was able to check the Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta off her list, as well as some of the amazing cemeteries in New Orleans.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Smoothest Sharks in the Library

Kayla Martin-Gant
Training Coordinator

Overview of the ocean with a search engine box laid over it and the words SHARK WEEK inside the search box.
Ah, sharks. Whether you’re one of the unlucky millions who was instantly traumatized once the credits of Jaws began to roll or a beleaguered parent on their hundredth unwilling listen to a bop about a baby shark (do do do-do-do-do~), these sea-dwellers have been striking terror and awe into our hearts for generations. 

We know them. We love them. We love to fear them. We can’t get enough of them, which is why we have a whole week of television & media programming spanning multiple channels dedicated to them. 

There’s something that many people still don’t seem to realize, though.

Sharks? Are really, really weird. And cool! But…weird.

Allow me to elaborate with eight very cool and weird shark facts from a variety of sources, including The Best Book of Sharks by Claire Llewllyn, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and NatGeo

  1. They’re boneless! Though they can fossilize, sharks have cartilage in place of bone, which means that structurally, they’re what your grandma would call “gristle.”
  2. Their skin is like sandpaper*. This is due to their skin being made of placoid cells, which are tiny, teeth-like structures that help reduce friction in the water.

    What smooth shark connoisseur Branson Reese's critiques for 
    The Best Book of Sharks would look like, probably.

  3. They’re the trees of the ocean. This admittedly flimsy analogy is true in two ways, the first being that sharks are old. Like, possibly over 450 million years old. Also, scientists can figure out the age of a shark (or a shark fossil) by counting the rings on their vertebrae, much like how we age trees.
  4. Different species of shark often have wildly different dental structures. Some, like great white sharks, have 7 rows of them—that’s about 300 teeth, just so you know. Others, like bull sharks, have 50 rows of teeth (I don’t know how many teeth that is, exactly, other than that it is too many).
  5. Sharks lose teeth during every meal. Not only do they have hundreds, sometimes thousands of teeth, but they lose them constantly—up to 300 per day in some cases.
  6. They don’t actually want to eat you. For real! Sharks would much rather munch on other fish and marine animals, and they don’t often attack humans unprovoked. Moreover, the areas with the highest rates of shark attacks are, of course, areas like Hawaii, Australia, and other highly trafficked coastal areas that are likely to have more sharks to begin with.
  7. Many species are endangered. Jaws was a great movie, but it caused a huge increase in fear among the general populace. This has led to illegal hunting, overfishing, and other human activities that have drastically decreased certain shark populations, like that of the great white shark, which is on the IUCN Red List. “Shark infested waters?” Seriously? They live there!
  8. They’re probably better at meditating than you are. Sharks can go into a trance called tonic mobility when they’re flipped onto their backs, which is why you often see them in this position when they’re being tended to by scientists.

Want some more sweet, sweet shark content? Look on Discovery’s website for special Shark Week posts, including 5 Ways Sharks Make Your Life Better and incredible photos from Shark Lockdown, and be sure to check out the books, movies, or digital resources from your local library! 

*This fact has been vehemently and hilariously disputed by Branson Reese. If you haven’t seen the utterly farcical Smooth Shark Twitter Debate of years past, you’re missing out. 

Friday, August 7, 2020

A Celebrity Book Club Primer

2020 is the year of many things: the pandemic, murder hornets, Tiger King. One of the more fun things that will define this time period is the idea of the celebrity book club. Celebrity book clubs have been around for a while: Oprah’s Book Club started in 1996 and ran for fifteen years on the Oprah Winfrey Show. But nowadays, it seems there are more celebrity book clubs than ever—so many that it’s kind of hard to know where to start! Here’s a quick primer on some book clubs, who they’re associated with, and what sort of books they choose.

Oprah’s Book Club 2.0: Launched in 2012, Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 is a book club founded by talk show host, philanthropist, and Mississippi native Oprah Winfrey and sponsored by the Oprah Winfrey Network and O magazine. Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 does not have a regular schedule of books picked, though the book club tends to pick a new book every few months. Broadly speaking, the books tend towards literary fiction, often written by African American authors. Previous selections include The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates, An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, and The Invention of Wings by Sue Kidd Monk.

Reese’s Book Club: Reese’s Book Club was founded in 2015 by the actress Reese Witherspoon. Each month, Witherspoon features a book with a woman at the center of the story. Witherspoon’s choices tend towards literary fiction, often written by female authors, as well as big, buzzy books: you’ve definitely seen some of her choices on NPR lists or the New York Times best sellers list! Previous selections include The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott, The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes, and Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

Andrew Luck Book Club: Founded by former NFL quarterback Andrew Luck, this book club’s selection is more catch-all: one month will have a sports memoir, the next month will have a nonfiction book about politics, the next month will have a science fiction book. Luck divides his book club into two sections: Rookies (books that are geared towards a younger reader) and Veterans (books geared towards older readers.) Previous Rookies picks include The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson, and The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Previous Veterans picks include The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, and Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.

Noname Book Club: The rapper and poet Noname founded this book club in 2019. Each month, the book club features two books by POC (people of color) authors. These selections include fiction, biographies, and nonfiction books on heavier subjects such as an examination on critical race theory or the prison industrial complex. Previous selections include Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine, Race Music: Black Cultures From Bebop to Hip-Hop by Dr. Guthrie Ramsey, and The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett.

There's more celebrity book clubs out there than just these four! Did we miss your favorite? Which celebrity would you love to see start a book club?
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