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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Let's Get Political(ly Engaged)!

triangular united states flags hang from the top of this graphic. A ballot box with an empty ballot sticking out of the top has the word Vote printed on the front. Below this handwritten words read National Voter Registration Day. The MLC logo is below this.

Kayla Martin-Gant
Training Coordinator

September 22 is National Voter Registration Day.

Yes, you read that right.

As impossible as it may be to believe given that March felt like it lasted roughly a thousand years by itself, we’re entering the last quarter of 2020--which means that in less than two months, we’ll be holding a presidential election.

Some of you may already be prepared, comfortable in the knowledge that you know everything you need to know about civics and US elections. If that’s the case, then we tip our respective hats to you.

For those of you who have started to feel claustrophobic just hearing the word “election” in anticipation of the information overload--trust us, we understand. Especially in the year 2020, combing through the news often feels like the mental equivalent of getting tossed under a dump truck even if you already have a good baseline knowledge of the US government.

But what if you don’t?

Don't worry! Whether it’s you who needs to brush up on the ins and outs of civics and politics or a whole (virtual) classroom full of students who need to understand how it all works, we got you.

For Educators & Parents:

  • iCivics is an excellent resource for K-12 from which features games, lesson plans, WebQuests, infographics, and more.
  • PBS Learning: Election Collection is an ideal tool to help teach and learn the history and process of elections with videos, activities, and lesson plans.
  • Scholastic Elections has activities, information, lesson plans, and book recommendations for Pre-K to Grade 10 for topics including campaigning, mock elections, and news literacy.
  • Young Voter's Guide to Social Media & the News from Common Sense Media is also a great, no-nonsense collection of resources for helping children and teens understand voting as well as what they can do to make their voices heard even if they aren’t eligible to vote yet.
  • Vote by Design was developed by educators at Stanford and is an immersive, non-partisan, digital learning experience designed to promote civic engagement, agency and action among all voters, and particularly next gen voters.

For All Learners:

  • Y'all Vote is Mississippi’s online voter information center as approved by the Secretary of State, Michael Watson.
  • Crash Course: US Government & Politics is a playlist created and curated by PBS’s CrashCourse channel and includes 50 short, entertaining videos on US politics.
  • How to Vote: 7 Simple Steps for Ballot Beginners from Public Service Degrees is a handy how-to for new voters.
  • Rock the Vote is a one-stop shop for the basics of election information and what you need to know to get started on your journey to becoming civically engaged.
  • Resources for Voters with Disabilities from the US Election Assistance Commission is a roundup of accessibility aids from the independent bipartisan commission charged with developing guidance to meet Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA).
  • Voting, Accessibility, and the Law from the National Federation of the Blind contains The Blind Voter's Guide to Voting in English for Word, BRF, and audio and in Spanish for Word and BRF. It also offers voting guides for young people who are Blind and videos on the Blind Voter Experience.

Want more information? Don’t forget to check out the books, videos, and digital tools available here at the Mississippi Library Commission and at your local library!

Monday, September 21, 2020

Meet MLC Monday: Jennifer Todd

 Elisabeth Scott
Reference Librarian/Social Media Coordinator

Meet Jennifer Todd, Director of Technology Services at the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC). Jennifer oversees MLC's Technology Services Team and the day to day operations of the department, as well as planning, developing, and coordinating technology projects and initiatives for the agency. She holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Mississippi and associate degrees in Cyber Security Technology and Computer Networking Technology from Hinds Community College.

Jennifer returns to MLC after four years at the Hinds Community College Learning Resource Center in Raymond. She says she enjoys the variety in day to day activities and the wonderful staff here at the Commission. She started working in libraries as a shelver during high school and hasn't looked back since. "I enjoy the atmosphere and the people I meet--both staff and patrons."

When asked her opinion on libraries, Jennifer says, "Libraries play a vital role in society: they provide education, entertainment, and opportunities."

Jennifer is a member of the Mississippi Library Association, the professional organization for librarians and library workers in Mississippi. She is the co-chair of the Web Committee. In her spare time, she likes to read, try new recipes, and spend time with her family. Her favorite books are young adult historical fiction, like Copper Sun by Sharon Drake.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

MLC at the 2020 Mississippi Science Fest

Charlie Simpkins
Digital Consultant
seated man wearing glasses sits and looks straight into the camera. behind him to the right are bookshelves filled with books and to the left is a small maze created from plastic pieces and a small plastic mouse
Charlie Simpkins and his Code and Go Robot Mouse
for the 2020 MS Science Fest

A subtle change in weather has arrived, and that means one thing. I do not mean football season is here. (Football fact: The magic yellow first down line you see on TV is not actually on the field. It is computer generated for the television viewer. Check out How Does the Magic Yellow First-Down Line Work? and How the First-Down Line Works? to learn how it works.) The change in weather means the Mississippi Science Fest is near! Since 2017, the LeFleur Museum District (LMD) in Jackson, MS has organized a unique, interactive event each year that celebrates STEM and how it relates to Mississippi’s future. The event features a family-friendly environment across LMD with innovative exhibits, special guests, and hands-on activities showcasing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). 2020 brings a new challenge to participate in festivals, so the Mississippi Science Fest is going virtual. Videos from the LMD and this year’s guest presenters will be released on LMD’s Facebook page.

Charlie Simpkins and his littleBits kits
at the 2019 MS Science Fest

This marks the second year that I have presented at the Mississippi Science Fest. In 2019, I brought a littleBits Workshop kit so that participants could explore simple circuits using small magnetic components that included a LED light, a fan, and a buzzer. Families and groups enjoyed coming by and experimenting with closed circuits using buttons and light sensors. Most of the children seemed to enjoy activities that make a lot noise, because I heard the buzzer bit consistently. For 2020, I wanted to cover a different concept, so I decided to try something that could be duplicated at home with common items. I created a video introducing coding concepts using a Code and Go Robot Mouse Activity Kit from MLC’s Special Collections and designed an activity to practice the concepts at home using common supplies but without a computer. The activity involves creating a maze on a grid with obstacles, then creating a list of steps to make it through the maze.

The Mississippi Science Fest 2020 is on September 18th and 19th. Check out the MS Science Fest 2020 online video release schedule here and watch the videos on LeFleur Museum District's Facebook page. I hope you enjoy the activities that will be uploaded and that you learn something new.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Storytime at the Welty House!

During the spring and summer, the Mississippi Library Commission and the Eudora Welty House and Garden teamed up to present Storytime in the Garden. MLC employees, Eudora Welty House employees, and Eudora Welty House docents all took turns reading a children’s book while sitting in the beautiful gardens of the Eudora Welty House. The featured books included a wide range of biographies focused on blues musicians, famous inventors, labor organizers, and Congressmen. These storytimes were broadcast on the Eudora Welty House and the Mississippi Library Commisssion's Facebook page.

While the storytime sessions could only be featured on Facebook for a short time, the Mississippi Library Commission has a copy of each book featured in Storytime in the Garden that can easily be checked out via our curbside checkout. The titles, authors, and a brief description of the books are listed below.

The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch by Chris Barton and Don Tate talks about the childhood and career of John Roy Lynch, one of the first African American U.S. Congressmen and the first African American elected to serve as Speaker of the Mississippi House.

The Boo-Boos that Changed the World by Barry Wittenstein and Chris Hsu is a history of the invention of the Band-Aid and how this medical marvel went from patching up kitchen wounds to being used in battlefields.

Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and Melissa Sweet details the 1909 New York shirtwaist strike through the eyes of labor organizer Clara Lemlich.

A Computer Called Katherine by Suzanne Slade and Veronica Miller Jamison is a biography about NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, from her childhood love of math to her experiences in working on the first manned mission to the moon.

How Emily Saved the Bridge by Frieda Wishinsky and Natalie Nelson focuses on architect and engineer Emily Warren Roebling and how she helped build the Brooklyn Bridge.

Muddy by Michael Mahin and Evan Turk is a lushly illustrated biography of the Mississippi blues musician Muddy Waters.

Preaching to the Chickens by Jabari Asim and E.B. Lewis is a boyhood story of U.S. Congressman John Lewis as he practices his oratory skills at his family’s farm.

Shark Lady by Jess Keating and Marta Alvarez Miguens is a biography of scientist and biologist Eugenie Clark and the start of her lifelong fascination with sharks.

Overall, the program was a massive success. Each story routinely got likes, comments, and shares in the double digits. Each broadcast had over 350 views, with one book in particular topping out at a whopping 1,200 views! That book was Shark Lady, read and broadcast on Shark Awareness Day.

It was wonderful to partner with the Eudora Welty House and Garden for this storytime project and we hope to partner with them again in the future! The Eudora Welty House is currently offering tours, Tuesday-Friday, at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. Reservations are required, so please call or email ahead of time.
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