Saturday, September 28, 2013

Goodbye & Thank You, Susan

As most of you know by now, our Director, Susan Cassagne, is leaving the Armstrong Library. She has been selected to be the State Librarian of Mississippi and will serve as the Executive Director of the Mississippi Library Commission. This is a big honor for her, but she will be missed big time. The good news is that she is maintaining her residence in Natchez. Also, the Armstrong Library will definitely have good connections on the State level. (See the article in the Natchez Democrat.)

The Friends of the Library had a reception in the Library Thursday to say goodbye and thank you to Susan.

Mayor Butch Brown came and gave her a proclamation from the City in recognition of the work she has done.

Susan had a few words to say to those in attendance. There were tears in the eyes of many there, especially her staff.

Maria Bowser, President of the Friends, announced that the Friends were going to renovate the Meeting Room and rename it the Susan Cassagne Community Room. Be sure to go to the Library and see what that room looks like now, so you will be able to appreciate the new look.

Anne White, Assistant Director of the Armstrong Library, presented a present to Susan from the staff - a picture of her with all her staff members in a beautiful frame.

Duncan McFarlane, Chair of the Library Board of Trustees, introduced Pamela Plummer, the new Director of the Armstrong Library.

Pam Plummer also spoke to the audience, although she said she was not prepared to speak. A Natchez native who has been commuting from Natchez for 30 plus years, she said she was thrilled to finally be working in her home town.

Be sure to check out the article in the Natchez Democrat. They have much better pictures!

Friday, May 24, 2013

50 Ways to Leave Your Lover

If you're old enough, you may remember Paul Simon's 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover from 1975. If not, maybe you're familiar with Train's 50 Ways to Say Goodbye from last year. They both have humorous lyrics for people having trouble with "goodbye". I can relate! These lyrics have been going through my mind a lot.

Effective June 30, I am retiring from the Library. I didn't think I would ever retire - I thought I would only leave when forcibly transferred to a nursing home. Somehow I came up with one of those ways of leaving. Although I am looking forward to having more free time - and especially being able to sleep late - I am still going to miss the Library. It is a wonderful place to work.

I was the first person hired by Susan Cassagne when she moved to Natchez to take the position of Director. The Library has come a long way since then. There were NO public computers, and our automation system (card catalog) was DOS based. The books themselves were way out of date, and the audiovisual collection was pitiful. The building itself was on life support, with employees not knowing how to dress, since we had no idea if our heating or airconditioning would be functioning. It has been exciting and rewarding to be a part of the Library's progress. In fact, it's almost boring now - I can't find anything to complain about.

People who work in libraries are special. They're obviously not in it for the money but for the love of people and knowledge. Chris Shirey, our Cataloger, is the only employee who's been here longer than I have, and her knowledge of libraries is amazing - not to mention she's our resident artist. I remember when we hired Marianne Raley to be our Reference Librarian, and she agreed to develop a teen section. What started as a few books on a shelf with a sign that was bigger than the collection has turned into a separate room, The Teen Zone, that is nirvana for teens. Soon after, because she wanted to move to Natchez, we were fortunate enough to get Anne White as our Assistant Director. She introduced the concept of adult programing, which has been a big success. Our technology grew at such a rapid rate that it was too much for Susan to handle on her own. So Patrick Landers, who had been our IT consultant, became a much needed member of our staff. Next we added Patricia Beverly as our new Circulation Clerk. She is probably the person most of our patrons know best, as she is the smiling face they always see behind the desk. Raye Sandridge was added as circulation help. She was a former nurse and a member of the Navy, so she keeps us all in line. We have had several Children's Librarians while I've been here. Eboni Perryman came to us one summer as part of the Summer Youth Employment program, and she was so good with kids that we just kept her. Last December, she delivered "The Library's Baby", which was very exciting. Our latest staff member is Melissa Doss who was hired as a Circulation Clerk. She was quickly recruited by me to help with counting money. Now she has been selected to take my place and is the new Administrative Assistant.

The Library is such a terrific place, partly due to the Board of Trustees. Two of my favorites passed away while I've been here - Ellen Menetre and Dr Clifford Tillman. A special thanks to our current Chair Duncan McFarlane, who has been supportive in so many ways. But all of our Trustees have been invaluable.

One reason I was able to say goodbye to the Library is that I am going to be working for the Friends of the Library (site coming soon). So I'll still be around. This blog will no longer be maintained by the Library, but it is being transferred to the Friends and will continue to be a source of news about the Library.

Goodbye! (There, I did it.)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Director Does DC!

Last week, I, along with other members of the Mississippi Library Association and the Mississippi Library Commission went to Washington, DC to participate in National Library Legislative Day.

Visits with each of our Congressional delegates and aides were arranged. In our visits, we stressed the need for continued funding for LSTA (Library Services Technology Act). These federal funds are passed down through the Library Commission to libraries across the state. Learn-A-Test is funded with LSTA funds; MAGNOLIA is supplemented with LSTA funds. Other grants are awarded to libraries with LSTA funds. Mississippi receives almost $2 million through this act.

Also important is the continuation of the ERate program. Look on your phone bill and you'll see a charge for Universal Services. Those are the funds that finance ERate. The telecommunications discounts provided through this program, which is monitored through the FCC, allow public libraries (and schools) to discount the costs of their telecommunications lines - including the costs of high-speed internet lines! Without these discounts, this public library would not be able to offer public access to the internet with the number of computers we have available! We reminded our elected officials there would be no E-Government available if public libraries could not offer public internet access!

We also stressed the need to adequately fund school libraries - and to have an actual librarian (not a teacher's assistant) - in each school library. Studies have shown that school libraries that are managed by real librarians have a positive impact on student's test scores. Keep in mind that ALL students have access to their school libraries, while they may not have the transportation to visit a public library. School libraries are their first (and sometimes ONLY) resource.

A very special treat was arranged by Representative Gregg Harper, (recently named) Chairman of the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress, the oldest joint committee in Congress . His office arranged a VIP Tour of the Library of Congress for our group! WOW! What a beautiful building! Can't you just imagine librarians touring there? We were steeped in history as we visited the Senate and House Reading Rooms - as well as the Jefferson Library!

Another treat was attending the Mississippi Coffee with Senator Wicker. While there, we met two wonderful young adults who were in DC to receive Mississippi Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. The project of one young award winner, Joshua Prochaska, was raising funds for - and actually helping with - retiling the large Meeting Room in his local public library! We each gave him a big hug! The Mississippi Coffee gave us the opportunity to visit with Senator Wicker and members of his staff in a less formal setting. He hosts the coffee each Tuesday morning that Congress is in session. If you're going to DC, please let your congressman's offices know - there are tours and events you can participate in.

We took a side trip to visit the Holocaust Museum - what a haunting, sobering, exhibit. We attended services at the National Cathedral. The Cathedral is still under renovations from the severe damage it received during the earthquake that hit DC in 2011. What a beautiful structure, even with the scaffolding!

We came back exhausted, but felt our trip was an important one (and, we hope, successful!).

All in all, it was a wonderful few days. I have served as MLA's Legislative Chairman for several years (after serving as President for two years!) and am thankful that Mississippi libraries have an active association, willing and ready to speak up for their needs! Pictures from our visit may be found on our website .

Attendees included Sharman Smith, Executive Director of the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC); Jennifer Walker, Director of Development Services, MLC; MLC Commissioners: Pamela Pridgen, Director of The Library of Hattiesburg, Petal, and Forest County; Dr Glenda Segars, Director of the Itawamba Community College Library; Jolee Hussey, (retired) school librarian; and Celia Fisher, Mississippi Federation of Women's Clubs. Also attending were Lynn Shurden, (retired) Director of the Bolivar County Library System and Mississippi Library Association (MLA) President; Amanda Clay Powers, Librarian with Mississippi State University libraries and MLAVice-president; and myself, Chairman of the MLA Legislative Committee.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Slaying the Email Monster - One Delete at a Time!

If you have total control over your email and it doesn't stress you out then you can just stop reading right now! This is NOT the blog post for you. But, for the rest of my overwhelmed-by-email readers, this may sound very familiar.

I am in constant struggle with my personal email. More so as the fact that at times I may get so many that need response or are important that my brain gets filled to the rim and everything kind of just spills over. Sound about right??

There is way too much of it. I feel overwhelmed by it most of the time, and just barely in control of it on the best of days. I often feel that I spend too much of my day reading and answering email and while I know it's something I have to do--for work and for life--it's not something that makes me feel good or productive enough.

Over the past couple of years I've tried to develop habits with my personal email that help me slay the Email Monster, and I'll share a few. (By the way, these tips may not be appropriate for email at work.)

  • Don’t check email first thing in the morning. This is my favorite one. When I manage to stick to it, I am more productive, my day goes better, and I am much more focused.
  • Check email at set times throughout the day. My worst email days are those when I leave my inbox open throughout the day. Then I can’t avoid the temptation of checking new (unimportant) mail when I see I have some and it just completely kills my productivity. (This is particularly bad to do at work!)
  • Have a process for going through your inbox. The first thing I do is clear out spam or the too-numerous emails from the various places where I’ve shopped online. My second step is to skim through content emails - those that I would just read, like newsletters from sites I’m interested in - to see if I want to read any of them. I delete all others and leave the few to read later. (I leave them in my inbox while I’ve also seen advice to put them in a separate folder). Third, I go through and reply to emails that require a quick response. I leave emails that require more work for later and try to have one dedicated time a day when I respond to them.
  • Keep control of your inbox. Since I leave things in my inbox to do later, and since I don't always do them later, my inbox can get out of hand quickly. So about once a month, I go through it and ruthlessly delete.
  • Take an email hiatus. I’ve never actually done this one but a friend of mine has taken a hiatus like this before but went a step further. His auto-reply to anyone who sent him email during it was to let them know that he would be deleting all email for a week of his hiatus. If it was important, he asked people to resend it. He said it worked surprisingly well.
Sometimes one needs to have just a little bit of control over their lives - even if it's something as small as uncluttered email!

Do you struggle with email? What are some effective ways that you have learned to conquer the Email Monster?

Friday, May 3, 2013

I've Got What?

Have you ever gotten a diagnoses from your doctor that was filled with words you're lucky to spell let alone pronounce? What about that funny looking growth on your hand? Wonder what it might be? I don't know about you but at my last doctor visit I spent more time in the waiting room then I did in the treatment room. I know doctors are over booked and the personal time spent with patients can sometimes be too short. Often times I walk out of the doctor's office with more questions then before I went in. Why is it you can't think of a single question when the doctor or nurse is standing right in front of you?

Perhaps you're a high school student needing to draw and label all the parts of the brain or the digestive system and it's due tomorrow! Maybe you're a psychology student and you need definitions for terms before class. If you can relate to any of these scenarios then I may have just the answer for you.

Armstrong Library has a wonderful resource both in print and online called the Magill's Medical Guide published by Salem Health. The 1,178 entries in this 6 volume encyclopedia set describe major diseases and disorders of the human body, the basics of human anatomy and physiology, and common surgical and nonsurgical procedures. The articles are written by nearly 400 authors from the fields of life science and medicine.  There are over 400 illustrations and photographs providing visual context for entries about diseases, research, surgery, and human anatomy. For each disease and disorder one can find an information box listing causes, symptoms, duration, and treatments, acting as a quick reference tool for the reader.

Virtually all of the content in the Magill's guide is available online through your Library website.  The electronic resource includes extremely flexible search and browsing capabilities. Students and patrons can save articles and searches to personalized logon areas for later retrieval. It even provides citation information for every article written.

Now, if you're like me and tend to think you have every symptom in the book, I suggest you use this resource after your visit to the doctor. I have found it to be a great tool for gaining more insight and understanding of my medical problem, and it also helps me come up with good questions to ask my doctor at my next visit about treatment or prevention.

BUT, and I say it in caps because this is an Important Notice. The materials presented  in the Magill's Guide is intended for broad informational and educational purposes only! These resources are not meant for self diagnosis, if you have a medical problem get to your doctor.

Magill's Guide reminds its readers that they are not to be considered definitive on the covered topics, and readers need to be reminded that the health care field is characterized by a diversity of medical opinions and constant expansion in knowledge and understanding. In other words, talk to your medical professional first, then use Magill's as a tool for better understanding or to get that homework assignment finished.

To access Magill's Medical Guide, go to our website. On the orange bar to the left, click on Resources, and then select Online Research. Scroll down to the orange button that says Magill's Medical Guide. That will take you to Salem Health, where you can select Magill's Medical Guide.

Friday, April 26, 2013

New Books for April:


Daddy's Gone A Hunting by Mary Higgins Clark. Two sisters are threatened by a dark secret from their family's past.

Don't Go by Lisa Scottoline.  An army doctor returns from Afghanistan when his wife dies in what at first appears to be an accident and finds that his life is falling apart.

Unintended Consequences by Stuart Woods. The New York lawyer Stone Barrington discovers a shadowy network beneath the world of European wealth.

The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout. Two brothers, both lawyers, come together in a small Maine town to defend their good for nothing nephew.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. A woman disappears on her fifth anniversary; is her husband a killer?

Six Years by Harlan Coben. Jake Fisher discovers that neither the woman he loved nor their life together were what they seemed.

Starting Now by Debbie Macomber.  A Seattle lawyer loses her job and remakes her life; she finds support at the local knitting store.  A Blossom Street novel.

The Interesting by Meg Wolitzer. Six friends meet in the 1970s at a summer arts camp and pursue success, and one another, over succeeding decades.

Tapestry of Fortunes by Elizabeth Berg. A woman and her three housemates in St Paul embark on a road trip to reconnect with people who have left their lives.

Midnight at Marble Arch by Anne Perry. The Victorian sleuths Charlotte and Thomas Pitt investigate a horrific rape and apparent suicide.


Gulp by Mary Roach. A science writer's pilgrimage down the digestive tract.

Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou. The developing reconciliation between the poet and her mother, who sent her to live with her grandmother at age 3.

Carrie and Me by Carol Burnett. The comedian recalls her oldest daughter, who died in 2002.

Clean by David Sheff. A review of research on addiction from psychology, neuroscience, and medicine.


The Lightning Dreamer by Margarita Engle. Tula is a girl who yearns for words, who falls in love with stories, but in Cuba girls are not allowed an education. No, Tula is expected to marry well - even though she's filled with guilt at the thought of the slaves Mama will buy with money gained by marrying Tula to the highest bidder. Then one day, hidden in a dusty corner of a convent library, Tula discovers the banned books of a rebel poet. The poems speak to the deepest part of her soul, giving her a language with which to write of the injustice around her.

Period.8 by Chris Crutcher. An hour a day. You can hang out. You can eat your lunch. You can talk. Or listen. Or neither. Or both. Nothing is off limits. The only rule is that you keep it real; that you tell the truth. Heller High senior Paul Baum - aka Paulie Bomb - tells the truth. Not the "Wow, that's an ugly sweater" variety of truth, but the other kind.

The Dead and Buried by Kim Harrington. Jade loves the house she's just moved into with her family. She doesn't even mind being the new girl at the high school. It's a fresh start, and there's that one guy with the dreamy blue eyes. But then things begin happening. Strange otherworldly things.

Shadows by Ilsa J Black. Even before the EMPs brought down the world, Alex was on the run from the demons of her past and the monster living in her head. After the world was gone, she believed Rule could be a sanctuary for her and those she'd come to love. But she was wrong.


Albert's Bigger than Big Idea by Eleanor May. As the smallest mouse, Albert gets the smallest bag when he collects fruit in the People Kitchen with his sister, Wanda, and Cousin Pete, but he wants to carry more than just a blueberry so he makes a bigger bag. Introduces the concept of comparing sizes.

The Lion Who Had Asthma by Jonathan London. Sean's nebulizer mask and his imagination aid in his recovery following an asthma attack. Includes information on childhood asthma and how to control its symptoms.

In the Garden with Dr Carver by Susan Grigsby. A fictionalized account of how plant scientist George Washington Carver came to an Alabama school and taught the children how to grow plants and reap the rewards of nature's bounty. Includes factual note about George Washington Carver.

Two Shy Pandas by Julia Jarman. Panda and Pandora live next to each other but never speak or play together because they are much too shy.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Exciting New Additions in DVD's

With the phenomenal success of Downton Abbey, interest in other Masterpiece Theatre productions has grown as well. The Library has recently added many popular titles to our DVD collection:

  • The Forsyte Saga (based on the book by John Galworthy) was wildly popular when it first aired in 1967, and is enjoying a resurgence in popularity today.
  • For Dickens lovers, we have Great Expectations, Bleak House, Oliver Twist, and The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
  • Jane Austen: Northanger Abbey, Emma, and Pride and Prejudice.
  • The Brontes: Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights
  • We recently added the complete BBC set of Shakespeare's Plays, which have been popular as well.
  • Other British series include the hilarious and quirky Doc Martin, seasons 1-5. (If you haven't experienced Doc Martin, you're in for a treat!)
  • We have purchased many of the current Oscar-nominated and Oscar-winning movies, including Argo, Les Miserables, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Lincoln, The Hobbit, and Life of Pi.

Thanks to a generous donation from our Friends of the Library group, we have been able to add these and other DVD titles.

Our children's DVD's are very poplar as well. Most of our selection has been donated by generous patrons. We accept donations at any time of DVD's in good condition. DVD's may be checked out on an adult card for two days, with a limit of two.

We also show Movies at the Library, and these programs have highlighted this year's Oscar winners as well as long-time favorites. Check our website or the Tracings column in the Natchez Democrat for future showings.

Come in and check out our great selection of DVD's!