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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Letters About Literature 2017-2018

It’s Letters About Literature time again!

Mississippi's 2016-2017 Letters About Literature winners
Letters About Literature is a state and national writing contest for students in grades 4-12. Each student is encouraged to write a letter to the author of their favorite book explaining how the book changed their life, changed their outlook, or helped them through a hard time. It’s a personal letter, not an essay, so students can feel free to express how they feel!

There are three age categories:
  • Level 1: grades 4-6
  • Level 2: grades 7-8
  • Level 3: grades 9-12
Letters are due by December 9.

Statewide prizes are as follows:
  • First place (for each of the three age levels): $100
  • Second place (for each of the three age levels): $75
  • Third place (for each of the three age levels): $50
First place winners move on to national judging. National prizes are $1,000 for first place in each of the three age levels and $200 for Honor Winners in each of the three age levels.

Mississippi's 2015-2016 Letters About Literature winners
The 25th annual writing contest for young readers is made possible by a generous grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, with additional support from gifts to the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, which promotes the contest through its affiliate Centers for the Book, state libraries, and other organizations. Statewide, this contest is made possible by the Mississippi Library Commission, the Mississippi Center for the Book, and the Friends of Mississippi Libraries.

Teachers, librarians, and parents, please share this information widely! Additional information and entry coupons can be found here. We can’t wait to read your students’ letters!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Storytelling Through a Lens



I'm a movie buff... always have been. I remember seeing Gone with the Wind with my folks when I was a child; when Clark Gable first came on screen all the women in the audience gasped. For a film created in the 1930s it was beautifully done, despite its somewhat distasteful story line. That experience stuck with me; not the story, but how the imagery and music made me feel. Films do that to us. They invoke our inner-most feelings, whether good or bad.

Today, filmmaking has become something that anyone can do thanks to the technologies most of us are afforded. Just pick up your iPhone and you too can tell a story. Most folks do it all the time and don't even realize it. They film their dog or their grandchildren doing the cute things they do and post it on Instagram or Facebook. They are telling a story through film.

Now imagine an important topic or passion that you want to share. Put a little more planning into the message and it can become a story told through film. Who could be a part of the film to properly convey your story? What location would make the most sense to serve as your backdrop? Now take that iPhone and get these images and interviews on camera. There is even simple software on your iPhone that will allow you to edit and add music. Now you have something that can truly achieve benefits for your passion projects.

My class partner, David Rae Morris, and me shooting our film
Drawing on a Dream featuring deceased Delta artist, Duff Durrough
In 2011, I had the pleasure of attending a month-long workshop in Clarksdale to learn about documentary filmmaking by the talented folks of Barefoot Workshops. It was a transformative experience for me. I learned the power of storytelling through the lens. I also learned to tell a compelling story in the time it takes for someone to sit down, turn on their computer, and drink a cup of coffee. In this day and age, instant and quick messages are the most effective.

I encourage librarians to use these tools to share the stories of their outstanding work. I have traveled across the state and have seen first-hand the dynamic, life-changing programs going on. Let's get these on film and share them with lawmakers and stakeholders. We need decision-makers to know how valuable libraries are to Mississippi communities.

I'm grateful that my chosen profession has allowed me the opportunity to see some interesting places, to meet some great folks, and to be able to tell their story through my lens. Too bad Clark Gable is no longer with us... it would have been really fun to make women gasp!

Visit MLC's YouTube channel to check out the stories we've told through film. Look for more to come very soon.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Sign up for a Library Card with the Teen Titans

This year the American Library Association teamed up with the Teen Titans to promote library card sign-up month for 2017. The Teen Titans are a group of young crime fighting superheroes featured in the DC comics. 

Here are some books that we think the members of Teen Titan would check out at the library. 


Raven:
http://teentitans.wikia.com/wiki/Raven
Raven loves to read and is a fan of all things creepy. Her powers and abilities include empathy and telekinesis.

Library books:  
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Adventure Time: Marceline and the Scream Queens by Meredith Gran
Carrie by Stephen King













Kid Flash: 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wally_West_II
Kid Flash is known for his wit and love for racing. He has enhanced strength and endurance.

Library books:
Faster than Lightning: My Autobiography by Usain Bolt
Zero World by Jason M. Hough
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire













Beast Boy:
http://teentitans.wikia.com/wiki/Beast_Boy
Beast Boy like playing video games and joking around. He has the ability to shapeshift into any animal and is a quick thinker.

Library books:
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
Destroyer by Victor LaValle and Dietrich Smith
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline













Starfire:
http://teentitans.wikia.com/wiki/Starfire
Starfire likes drinking mustard and lifting weights. Her powers are ultraviolet energy projection and superhuman strength.

Library books:
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Avatar: The Last Airbender by Gene Luen Yan
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie








Robin:
http://teentitans.wikia.com/wiki/Robin
Robin likes actions movies and martial arts. His abilities include detective work and acrobats.

Library books:
Onepunch-Man by ONE and Yusuke Murata
Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu
A Study of Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle










What kinds of books do you think the members of Teen Titan would check out with their library card? Head to your local public library to get a library card and join the Teen Titans with an armful of good books.

Friday, August 18, 2017

See MLC at the Mississippi Book Festival

The third annual Mississippi Book Festival is upon us, can you believe it?! Saturday, August 19, you have several chances to rub shoulders with Mississippi Library Commission staff while you're rushing from panel to panel. Here's how:


  • 9:00 AM
    The new Mississippi Literary Map will be unveiled by Dr. Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress. The map was commissioned by MLC and the Mississippi Center for the Book using funds from a Bicentennial Grant awarded by the Mississippi Humanities Council.
  • 9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
    Every half hour for seven straight hours you can head to Room 204 to hear your favorite Mississippi authors read from their favorite Mississippi authors in the Book Festival's first Mississippi Marathon Reads.
  • 9:30 AM
    At 9:30, spend some time listening to a conversation between Representative Gregg Harper, Chairman of the Joint Committee of the Library, and Dr. Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress.
  • 4:00 PM
    Mississippi Center for the Book Director Tracy Carr (who is also Library Services Director at MLC) will moderate the Voices of Home panel. Joining her conversation on Mississippi writing will be Johnnie Bernhard, Julie Cantrell, Susan Cushman, and John Floyd.
  • All day
    Find our MLC exhibit in the Capitol Rotunda. Staff will be available to discuss the Mississippi Center for the Book and Talking Book Services.
We can't wait to see you at the third annual Mississippi Book Festival, the best literary lawn party in the world!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Learning and Preparing for the Total Solar Eclipse

On August 21, 2017, between 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM, an amazing thing will happen: the skies will darken, temperatures will drop, and America will fall under the path of a total solar eclipse! A total solar eclipse is when the moon appears to completely cover the sun in the sky. Likewise, a partial solar eclipse is when the moon appears to cover some portion of the sun. Most of Mississippi will view a partial solar eclipse, but one at around .9 magnitude—which is still a very good thing! This means that most of the sun will be covered by the moon, but not all of it. The nearest location to view a total solar eclipse is Nashville, TN, and surrounding areas.


Though the period when the moon completely blocks out the sun will only be a few minutes long, the eclipse itself will take multiple hours, as the moon slowly moves towards and away from the sun. A lot of libraries are taking advantage of this to have a fun party! Some other libraries are hosting other eclipse-themed events, like learning how to make a pinhole camera or a special space-themed story time.

Here are some libraries that are having eclipse-themed events: Bay St. Louis-Hancock County Library, Brandon Public Library, Carthage-Leake County Library, Coffeeville Public Library, East Central Public Library, Gulfport Public Library, Ina Thompson Moss Point Library, Lucedale/George County Public Library, McHenry Public Library, Ocean Springs Municipal Library, Olive Branch Public Library, Orange Grove Public Library, Pascagoula Public Library, Pass Christian Public Library, Purvis Public Library, Southaven Public Library, St. Martin Public Library, Vancleave Public Library. Don’t forget to call your library ahead of time as well—some of these events do require you RSVP. Be sure to check with your individual library as to when their viewing parties start and finish!

BE SAFE WHILE VIEWING THE ECLIPSE! Looking directly at the sun, even if it’s partially covered by the moon, can permanently damage your eyesight, leading to vision problems or blindness. Anybody who plans to look at the solar eclipse should find a safe method of viewing, such as a pinhole camera or solar eclipse glasses. Some events will be providing glasses and some local libraries already have viewing glasses to give away—make sure to call your local library to see if that’s the case! Eclipse glasses can also be bought online from vendors certified by the American Astronomical Society. The solar viewing glasses should block all light except for the sun. Do not use your viewing glasses if they are damaged, scratched, or torn!




MLC staff members model an AAS certified pair of solar eclipse glasses


If you want to know more about the solar eclipse, check out these links below. No matter where you view it, stay safe and have a fun time viewing the eclipse!
Space.com: "Total Solar Eclipse 2017: When, Where and How to See It (Safely)"
Space.com: "How to Tell if Your Eclipse Glasses Are Unsafe (and What To Do About It)"
The New York Times: "During an Eclipse, Darkness Falls and Wonder Rises"
National Geographic: "Surprising Ways Animals React to Solar Eclipses"

Monday, August 14, 2017

Librarian of Congress Story Time

Dr. Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress
Later this week, Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden will join us and several classes from the Mississippi School for the Deaf for a special story time at the Mississippi Library Commission. Dr. Hayden, who is in town for the Mississippi Book Festival, will unveil the Mississippi's new literary map Saturday, August 19. Friday, she will read a childhood classic, The Rainbow Fish, while Bevin Glass, Certified Interpreter for the Deaf, assists with a translation from the words on the page to American Sign Language (ASL). We're pretty excited, both about this opportunity and the book itself.

To understand the process a book undergoes when translated into ASL, it's easiest to think of English and ASL as completely separate languages. Deaf and hard of hearing children who are read books with ASL translation but still have access to a print copy have a much easier time learning to read in English. Many times, these translations are much more elaborate than the actual printed story, which gives the child a more comprehensive understanding of the story itself. During further readings, the translation naturally moves to a closer rendering of the printed text, again helping with English literacy. You can read more about reading to deaf and hard of hearing children in this article by Reading Rockets, a national literacy initiative.

The Rainbow Fish
The Rainbow Fish, which is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary, is a vibrant picture book that conveys messages about the downside to pride and the virtue of sharing. The illustrations are unique, as author/illustrator Marcus Pfister used a holographic stamped foil for the rainbow fish's special scales. This was so costly that Pfister remarked, "We decided that I’d get only 50% of my usual royalties for the book, and only that way was it possible to make it work."

When once asked what he hoped children would learn from his book, Pfister said, "Just to learn to get along with any other people during their daily lives, at home, at school, anywhere. Our world becomes more and more complex every day, more and more completely different people from different countries and cultures live together. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth the effort."

We can't wait to introduce this universally loved picture book to the kids who go to school right down the street from us. Until next time, happy reading to them, and happy reading to you!

http://www.readingrockets.org/article/15-principles-reading-deaf-children
https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/authors/interviews/article/56255-q-a-with-marcus-pfister.html
http://www.slj.com/2017/07/industry-news/fish-or-foil-what-came-first-q-a-with-marcus-pfister/#_

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Literary Gregg Harper

As the third annual Mississippi Book Festival draws near (only one week to go!), we're gearing up for a great time. One event we're especially looking forward to actually occurs pre-Festival. Representative Gregg Harper, who is currently serving his fifth term in the U.S. House, will visit the Mississippi Library Commission the day before the Festival along with the Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden. While we always welcome the chance to rub shoulders with our lawmakers from Mississippi (everyone loves Library Day at the Capitol!), this visit from our Congressman promises to be especially rewarding.

Rep. Harper is the Chairman of the Joint Committee of the Library, which has oversight of Library of Congress operations. Fun fact: the committee is the oldest continuing joint committee of the US Congress! While he's here, the congressman will present a donation of books from the Library of Congress Surplus Book Program. These books will enhance both MLC's collection and those of public libraries across Mississippi. After the presentation, Mississippi librarians will have a special Q&A session with Dr. Hayden.

On the day of the actual Festival, there are even more Harper appearances to look forward to. Repeating his role in kicking off the initial Mississippi Book Festival in 2015, the congressman will join Dr. Carla Hayden at 9 AM in kicking off the Festival by unveiling the new Mississippi Literary Map. The map was commissioned by the Mississippi Library Commission and the Mississippi Center for the Book. (If you can't make it, you can watch it here on C-SPAN.) Directly after the unveiling, Harper and Hayden will collaborate in a unique discussion. (If you can't make it, you can watch it here on C-SPAN.)

During the inaugural Festival in 2015, Rep. Harper brought along several programs from the Library of Congress, like the American Folklife Center, the Educational Outreach Division, and the Veterans History Project. On behalf of the latter project, he conducted a fascinating live interview with WWII soldier, POW, and veteran Earl Derrington.



Congressman Harper said of the first Mississippi Book Festival, "This will be an outstanding event, and something that folks of all ages and interests will not want to miss." We just know that the same thing will hold true for the third annual Festival on August 19!

https://cha.house.gov/jointcommittees/joint-committee-library
https://harper.house.gov/about-gregg/biography
https://harper.house.gov/sites/harper.house.gov/files/115thRevisedOfficialPhoto8x10_0.pdf
https://harper.house.gov/press-release/library-congress-showcase-programs-mississippi-recordings-first-annual-mississippi
http://msbookfestival.com/schedule/panelist
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