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Monday, May 14, 2018

Camp Kudzu: Libraries Rock!

Welcome back campers! It’s year three at Camp Kudzu and we’re promoting the Collaborative Summer Library Program theme Libraries Rock! MLC staffers Lacy, Ally, Mac, Lorietha, Margaret, Elisabeth, Katie, and our favorite volunteer Melvin celebrated our Mississippi musical heritage this year. We hope that your local Summer Library Program is just as much fun.
We had so many fun activities as the pics prove. Our band practiced diligently, and we even had an outdoor concert. Lacy provided some great guitar solos and Lorietha was outstanding as lead vocalist. Margaret and Melvin performed a special duet that everyone raved about.
We had such fun wearing our camp shirts and having fun with music. We never seemed to stop. Everyone was excited and couldn’t wait for the next camp activity. We had karaoke and it’s true – Mac can’t carry a tune in a bucket. A favorite this year was “Strike an Elvis Pose.” We can’t decide who had the better sneer, Katie or Elisabeth?
 Traditional camp activities were crafts (we made our own instruments) and a campfire sing-along.
 Ally taught us a new song but we all ended up doing different animal poses somehow! Oops!
Our merry band is already talking about going back to Camp Kudzu next year!

Mac Buntin
Senior Library Consultant

Thursday, May 10, 2018

MLC at the IMLS Grants to States Conference

The Institute of Museum and Library Science (IMLS) recently held its annual Grants to States conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Representatives from each state were invited to attend to learn and discuss what is happening with Library Service Technology Act (LSTA) funds. Grant Programs Director David Collins and I attended this year for Mississippi. The theme this year was the Olympics and we were excited to win two medals, a gold and silver, for excellent reporting. This is a big win when you serve in an administrative role.
The focus this year was on a look back over the past five years and the various trends as each state moves toward the start of their new Five Year Plan. (View Mississippi's Grants to States profile here.) Focusing on better ways to nationally report what projects are being accomplished with LSTA money was a priority. By recognizing where the federal money comes from, our legislators can be more informed of how these funds help both statewide and locally in your communities. Without these federal funds, our state would be at a huge disadvantage.

One of the big takeaways this year was to remember to acknowledge IMLS whenever LSTA funds are used for projects. IMLS is active on social media in many platforms and can be recognized.
I appreciate these annual meetings and the opportunity to network with other LSTA Coordinators to share ideas and discuss issues.

Jennifer Peacock
Administrative Services Director

Monday, May 7, 2018

Margaret Murray - In Memoriam

Margaret Anne Murray
July 12, 1948 – April 24, 2018

Before coming to Mississippi, Margaret had been a Collection Development Librarian in Texas, and a Consultant in both Alabama and Missouri. She was the first Development Services Director employed by MLC. She retired from the Mississippi Library Commission on January 3, 2014 with twenty years of service.

Margaret received her MLS from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee in May 1972. Although she lived most of her adult life in the South she remained faithful to her school. Go Badgers!

Here are a few highlights from her career in Mississippi Libraries:

As part of her work with the Friends of Mississippi Libraries, she began an all-time favorite program at MLA called “Afternoon Tea with Authors.” Margaret was so good at using her carefully cultivated contacts to promote recently published Mississippi authors at this annual event.

Margaret was instrumental in pushing for Literary Landmark recognition of Mississippi authors while she was involved with the executive board of FOLUSA (now United for Libraries). Nine different recognitions can be traced to her involvement in the national and state level of the “Friends.” Among those honored were Stephen E. Ambrose, Tennessee Williams, William Johnson, Willie Morris, Eudora Welty, Stark Young, and Larry Brown.

In the aftermath of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, Margaret formed a coalition between the Mississippi Library Commission, the Mississippi Library Association, and the Friends of Mississippi Libraries. This effort came to be known as Rebuild Mississippi Libraries. Thanks to Margaret’s leadership, the Mississippi Library Commission was honored with a Special Recognition Award by the Mississippi Humanities Council in February 2006 for Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts. This effort was also recognized by the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service in the Art and Humanities in 2007 with a GIVE Award presented by Governor Haley Barbour and First Lady Marsha Barbour.

One of Margaret’s first accomplishments upon her arrival in Mississippi was the implementation of a statewide Summer Library Program supported by the Mississippi Library Commission. Thanks to Margaret every public library in the state had access to a manual and publicity materials. Who can forget that she even had the Mississippi Catfish Council as official sponsors of the program with “Reada the Catfish” as the Mascot.

But most of all she was a friend. Ginny Holtcamp, the director of Starkville-Oktibbeha County Public Library System had this to say about Margaret.
She was our consultant for many years, but more than that, she was a dear friend. Whenever we came to Jackson, Margaret always had something special planned for us to do – whether it was dining somewhere special and fun or going somewhere interesting. I always treasure the time that Mary Helen (then director of Tombigbee) and Margaret and I went to the Every Day Gourmet Cooking School and the featured presenter was “Nick” from Nick’s wonderful restaurant in Jackson. We had a super fun time and I still have and use those recipes!! Margaret was a genius too with grants by suggesting some excellent wording for the particular grant – she was absolutely on top of how to present a grant so that it was really exceptional. Margaret saw our library system through our largest building addition. I have missed her as a friend and as a truly excellent resource for helping us write grants so that we got the grant award. Thank you again for letting me know.

Margaret Murray passed from this life after a brief illness and hospitalization. She will be missed by her many friends.

Mac Buntin
Senior Library Consultant

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Mellon Selected for First Library Freedom Institute

The Library Freedom Institute (LFI) is a syndicate of librarians, technologists, attorneys, and private advocates dedicated to eliminating mass surveillance from communities across the country. The organization recently announced the first cohort of librarians from across the nation who will participate in a collaborative program with New York University. Ally Mellon, Information Services Director at the Mississippi Library Commission, was chosen to participate in this innovative program that aims to turn librarians into Privacy Advocates. With over 70 applicants, Mellon was one of only 14 who were selected.

By teaching librarians about surveillance threats, as well as privacy rights and responsibilities, the Library Freedom Project hopes to create a privacy-centric paradigm shift in libraries and the communities they serve. Over a six-month course, Mellon will learn from LFI staff and guest trainers how to lead privacy-focused computer classes including how to install privacy software, and how to approach members of the community about privacy concerns.

Lectures, class discussion, and assignments will require about five hours of commitment per week. There will be an intensive two-day training in New York City in August. “I'm incredibly honored to be chosen to be a part of this first cohort,” stated Ms. Mellon. “I'm excited to learn more about best practices in privacy and digital security and I can't wait to share what I learn with libraries throughout the state of Mississippi!” The program is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and will begin in June.

The Mississippi Library Commission supports innovative programs and initiatives to strengthen and enhance library services for all Mississippians. The agency is funded by the Mississippi Legislature, with additional funding provided through the Institute of Museum and Library Services under provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), offering leadership in library services, advocacy, and training for library professionals.

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Power of a Post

Lately, everyone has been focused on the Facebook data scandal, but Facebook--and other social media platforms--still have the potential to jump-start change. Late last summer, the world was fascinated by a total solar eclipse. Libraries in particular used the event to draw crowds, pairing the wonders of natural science with informative speakers and hands-on activities. Martha Diehl, the branch manager of Jane Blaine Brewer Memorial Library in tiny Mount Olive, MS (2010 population estimate: 9821,) got the entire town involved with a "Sun Party" blowout that included food stands, a mini "train" ride, and of course, plenty of solar eclipse viewing glasses.

Pictures from the library's Sun Party

Diehl shared a picture advertising the event on her library system's Facebook page. The picture was seen by Julia Brewer Daily, the daughter of the woman for whom the library was named. Daily wanted to make a donation to replace the makeshift triple office desk with a real circulation desk. Her family has gotten on board and made additional donations to buy more books and standard office equipment and supplies. Grants are being explored as well, and could help with expansion into the vacated fire department next door. The local newspaper, The News-Commercial in Collins, MS, even ran a front page story on the sudden windfall.

The new desk has been installed and the staff say that it, along with the other donations are, a dream come true. It's amazing that one small post on Facebook led to a wealth of opportunity for this small Mississippi library.

If you'd like to make a donation to your local library for improvements, books, or other supplies, check with the library's branch manager first to see what they need. Donations can be made to libraries' friends organizations or go directly to the library if they're earmarked for a specific purpose.

1American FactFinder

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

A Year-Long Proposition

The dust is settling. The new budget maintains the funding level of 2018 for the Personnel Incentive Grants, MAGNOLIA, and MLC operations, as well as funding to cover the health insurance premium increase for public librarians. The reality that libraries can face the coming year with a huge sigh of relief on a state funding level is just being recognized. This hasn't been our reality for the last couple of tumultuous years. This relief is thanks, in part, to a tremendous amount of hard work by so many people. Library supporters, library directors, legislators, local funding authorities, and so many more who heeded the call and spoke up for the needs of libraries across Mississippi...Thinking this is a time to step back and revel in a hard-fought effort is correct, but only for a moment. Now is the time to be thankful. Reach out to those who supported this effort. Make sure everyone who had a part in this victory knows what it means and how it will affect things moving forward. Speak up about how invaluable the efforts were and how library service will be affected for all Mississippi communities.

It will soon be time to get busy again. Do not think advocacy efforts will wait until January. This job is a year-long proposition. Here are just a few ideas to get started:
  • Take photos of an activity in your library; email them to your legislators with a note letting them know that level funding helped make the event a reality.
  • Send invitations to local and state lawmakers to all of your events.
  • Send stories to your newspapers about an exciting program so news about your library will be in print for lawmakers to read.
  • Invite a local radio station out to your summer library program and ask them to broadcast live from the event. Give a shout-out on the air to your legislators and thank them for their support.
There are so many ways to keep advocacy efforts going all year long. The ultimate goal will be that when legislators head to the capitol in January, they will have a clear picture of the value of public libraries across Mississippi.

Thank you all for all your diligent efforts. Your hard work paid off, and we all can move forward with a little less fearful anticipation. Now jot down March 12, 2019 on your calendar; that's the date of next year's Library Day at the Capitol. Decide now what you can do each month between now and then to advocate for libraries and take action. Let's be even more prepared for 2019!

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. 

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