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Friday, March 23, 2018

Among the Pages

A certain imbalance reached into March with volatile weather, like a lion, of course, which led me to two very different books for grounding. Having been a fan of his work for decades, I checked out William Eggleston’s impressive book of portraits. Then, coincidentally, a co-worker highly recommended a book she was returning. The book’s cover illustration and title were intriguing enough.

My Father the Pornographer: A Memoir by Chris Offutt
William Eggleston Portraits by Phillip Prodger & an appreciation by Sophia Coppola
While studying Eggleston’s composition and use of color and reading Offutt’s snappy chapters alternately, a common thread emerged—an exploration of how we know and don’t know people, no matter their proximity. Appearance is just that; it rarely yields a reliable knowing, but it offers a strong character of suggestion and nuance. A good-read pairing, I say. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Reading Widely: March 2018

Here are three youth titles to help you read widely in March - a picture book, a middle grade book, and a young adult book.

Islandborn by Junot Díaz, illustrated by Leo Espinosa.  When Lola's teacher asks her class to draw pictures of where they immigrated from, Lola is sad because she can't remember The Island--she left when she was just a baby. But with the help of family and friends, she learns her family's story and gets closer to knowing who she really is.

Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender. Caroline Murphy is a hurricane child--she was born during a hurricane. This is unlucky, and the other kids in her school on St. Thomas bully her. She already has enough to deal with: a spirit only she can see is following her and her mother left one day and never came back. But when new student Kalinda arrives, Caroline may finally have a friend and a crush. Will she have the bravery to face her feelings, the spirit, and the reasons her mother abandoned her?

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. This #1 New York Times bestselling book is the start of a new series! Set in a world where magic has disappeared, seventeen year old Zélie has a chance to bring magic back to Orïsha. She sets off on a journey with her brother and a fugitive princess on a journey to get her people's magic back, but they must outwit a prince who is determined to get rid of magic once and for all!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Finding Your Voice

Speaking up about what is important to us has become a significant part of the times. Social networking has made it possible for campaigns to sweep across large regions and countries in little to no time. For example, the #MeToo movement has changed the way people feel about harassment, and the momentum has empowered women to speak up for what they think is right.

Believing in things is part of the human experience. It gives us hope... something to fight for and protect. I'm a huge believer in libraries. They empower and educated people. The list of reasons why libraries are important grows with each passing day.

Picture the small town in rural Mississippi... the one with little else going on but the activities at the library. I have had the pleasure of experiencing what they do for a small community. They help children learn and thrive, they help people find jobs, and they serve as a gathering place. In today's turbulent times, libraries are facing an unknown future. Government funding has fallen terribly short, and it seems as though library supporters aren't speaking up, as least not loud enough. If something doesn't change, these small town libraries may have to cut hours or even close their doors.

If you believe in the power of libraries, speak up. Libraries are a valuable resource to all of Mississippi's communities. It is time to make your voices heard in support of libraries. Not sure what to say? In the coming days, MLC will be sharing some Library Advocacy Talking Points on social media. We hope they will help you find your voice and that you will speak up in support of libraries.

Join MLC and library supporters from across the state for Library Day at the Capitol on March 13 from 11:00am to 2:00pm.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Among the Pages

How one greets a new year can be a toss-up. For some it’s a time to rejuvenate, make new resolutions, get back on the happy horse and move forward; for others it’s a time to look backward and let the introvert take the lead. For me, it’s the latter—a time to take internal inventory.

In keeping with this, I’ve chosen two books out of the MLC collection to read with a studious eye: Parchman by R. Kim Rushing and An American Insurrection: The Battle of Oxford, Mississippi, 1962 by William Doyle. I highly recommend both books and what they call for—equitable change for all.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Is It Summer Yet?

Summer Library Programs don't kick off until June, but the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC) is already preparing children's librarians across the state for this summer's fun. Last week, librarians from twelve Mississippi library systems gathered for the first of three workshops about "Libraries Rock!," this summer's theme from the Collaborative Summer Library Program. (The twelve systems with attendees were Bolivar County Library System, Central Mississippi Regional Library System, East Mississippi Regional Library, Jackson Hinds Library System, Judge George W. Armstrong Library, Madison County Library System, Noxubee County Public Library, Pearl River County Library System, Pike-Amite-Walthall Library System, Sharkey-Issaquena County Library System, Sunflower County Library, and Warren County Vicksburg Public Library.)

Librarians experiment with the way sound waves work at this STEM station. They'll adapt these
experiments and recreate them this summer for Mississippi Summer Library Program participants.


The librarians split into groups to explore possible Mississippi Music programs. Teamwork and brainstorming ideas are the beginnings to fun summer events.

These children's librarians also explored animal sounds bingo and created their own banjos, both activities that can be adapted in their home libraries.

These new music kits are a new addition to MLC's Special Collections. They'll be available on a first-come, first-serve basis for use in programs related to this summer's theme.

We can't wait to see all of the music themed programs this summer. Don't forget: Libraries rock! Until next time, happy reading!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Stories From The Road: Nettleton

The community of Nettleton sits on the boundary between Lee County on the north and Monroe County on the south. With a little over 2,000 residents, this friendly town's roots were forged in the late 1800s through the railroad. George Henry Nettleton, then president of the KCM&B Railroad was instrumental in founding the city. Today, members of this community work together to ensure the continued growth and success of their lovely city.

Recently, the Dorothy J. Lowe Memorial Library, a branch of the Tombigbee Regional Library System, opened its doors in a new location in Nettleton... a former funeral home that was owned by Plantersville resident Representative Steve Holland. The library's previous location was about 576 square feet and opened in 1987. The new library has over 5,000 square feet, allowing ample space for more public access computers and an area for children's programming.

Maridelle Dickerson, the longtime branch librarian, is thrilled with the new space. The day of our visit she couldn't have been prouder to show us around the new library.

Branch librarian, Maridelle Dickerson (right), talks with MLC's Lacy Ellinwood about the new facility.

The branch has a very active Friends of the Library group whose members have all worked tirelessly to make sure this new library location has everything it needs to make it a tremendous new addition to the community. We had the pleasure of meeting a few of these hard-working volunteers along with Mem Riley, Mayor of Nettleton, and former mayor, Brandon Presley, who now serves as Northern District Public Service Commissioner.

Pictured from left:  Maridelle Dickerson, branch librarian, Annette Whitlock,
Friends of the Library, Lacy Ellinwood, MLC Library Development Director,
Maria Bynum, Friends of the Library, Brandon Presley, Northern District Public
Service Commissioner, Tanna Taylor, Tombigbee Regional Library Director,
Mem Riley, Mayor of Nettleton, and Sharman Bridges Smith, MLC Interim Executive Director
The new library location is on Main Street in the heart of the community. This warm and inviting space offers lots of comfortable seating, a bright and fun children's area, and a public meeting room with audio-visual capabilities.

The library has received a great deal of support from the Nettleton residents. The Friends group  sold t-shirts, held fundraisers, and applied for grants to fund the move. It has truly been a labor of love for a large group of supporters... and it shows!

Libraries are truly one of the most important services a community can provide to its residents.  The city of Nettleton understands that and with the support of the Director of the Tombigbee Regional Library System, Tanna Taylor, this library will continue to be a tremendous asset to the residents.  Congratulations, Nettleton!

Friday, December 22, 2017

MLC Staff Favorite Reads in 2017: Juvenile Edition

There are some very enthusiastic readers on the staff of the Mississippi Library Commission. Not only do we read a lot of books geared toward adults, but we read a lot of children's books too. We read children's books to and with our children for both their benefit and ours. We read children's books because we serve on children's book award committees that help select awesome books that will instill a love of reading and learning. Most importantly, we read children's books because of our deep appreciation for books that spark imaginations, enrich minds, and inspire generations to come. Check out our diverse list of favorite juvenile reads from 2017 below, and remember: you don't have to be a child to appreciate the beauty of a children's book!

(Books available at MLC are linked. Check the statewide catalog to see if your local public library owns a staff pick that you'd like to read.)

Comics, Graphic Novels, and Manga

Star Wars: Jedi Academy, Volume 1
Jeffrey Brown
(middle grade)
Recommended by Bonita H.

Svetlana Chmakova
(middle grade)
Recommended by Elisabeth S.

All's Faire in Middle School
Victoria Jamieson
(middle grade)
Recommended by Elisabeth S.

America, Volume 1: The Life and Times of America Chavez
Gabby Rivera and Joe Quinones
(young adult)
Recommended by Ally W.

Young Adult
Ship Breaker
Paolo Bacigalupi
Recommended by Annie W. 

#Notyourprincess: Voices of Native American Women
Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale
Recommended by Ally W. 

We Are Okay
Nina LaCour
Recommended by Elisabeth S.and Ally W.

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
Mackenzi Lee
Recommended by Elisabeth S.

The Astrologer's Daughter
Rebecca Lim
Recommended by Ally W.

Jennifer Mathieu
Recommended by Elisabeth S.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones
Seanan McGuire
Recommended by Ally W. 

Radio Silence
Alice Oseman
Recommended by Amanda R.


The Hate U Give
Angie Thomas
Recommended by Natalie D.

Pivot Point
Kasie West
Recommended by Mary Rodgers B.

Middle Grade
The War I Finally Won
Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Recommended by Elisabeth S.

Midnight Without a Moon
Linda Williams Jackson
Recommended by Elisabeth S.

Supriya Kelkar
Recommended by Elisabeth S.

Auma's Long Run
Eucabeth A. Odhiambo
Recommended by Elisabeth S.

The First Rule of Punk
Celia C. Perez
Recommended by Ally W.

Ratpunzel (Hamster Princess, Volume 3)
Ursula Vernon
Recommended by Ally W. 

Picture Books
Big Cat, Little Cat
Elisha Cooper
Recommended by Elisabeth S.

Jabari Jumps
Gaia Cornwall
Recommended by Curtis Sene C. 

The Unexpected Love Story of Alfred Fiddleduckling
Timothy Basil Ering
Recommended by Elisabeth S.

Little Blue and Little Yellow
Leo Lionni
Recommended by Curtis Sene C.

Lori Nichols
Recommended by Bonita H.

Potatoes at Turtle Rock
Susan Schnur
Recommended by Curtis Sene C.

Not Quite Narwhal
Jessie Sima
Recommended by Elisabeth S.

Until next time, happy reading!
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