Thursday, October 29, 2009

It's Time for the Christmas Tour of Homes

On the first Sunday of every December, the Friends of the Library sponsor the Christmas Tour of Homes - an extremely popular event. Why is it so popular? You get to tour four homes that are not included in other tours. These homes are not necessarily the typical antebellum homes seen on other tours. Instead they are homes that are unusual or beautiful for any reason. These are homes owned and lived in by local Natchezians. And the best part is that they are gorgeously decorated for Christmas.

This year's Christmas Tour of Homes will be on December 6, 2 - 5 pm. Tickets are $15 for one ticket and $25 for two and can be purchased at the Armstrong Library or at any home on the day of the event. Four houses will be on the tour this year.

Riverview, 47 New Street
Home of John Miller
(Refreshment Center)

Hess House, 314 Linton Avenue
Home of Richard Hess

Coyle House, 207 Wall Street
Home of Marcia & Lem Adams

Benoist-Stier House, 410 South Union Street
Home of Ginny & Paul Benoist

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Read to Your Child Everyday

One of the best gifts you can give to your children is the gift of reading. Reading to preschoolers helps lead to success in kindergarten and throughout life. The most important thing that influences reading is having someone read to children on a regular basis.

Set an example for your children by reading everyday. Children who see their parents reading tend to be better readers themselves. Being a good parent requires consistency, support, and the ability to set forth a good example for your children to follow. The best way to encourage your children to read is to show them that reading is important to you. Take a trip to the Library and pick out your favorite books together. The Children’s Librarian would be happy to show you the board books, beginner readers, picture books, and much more. If your children observe you enjoying reading, they will likely begin to imitate the act themselves. You may catch your children reading to their toys or friends. They may even pick up a book and make up a great story to read to you out loud. Encourage this type of activity. Your children are learning to read this way, even if they do not recognize the words.

Find ways to show your children that you value reading. Set aside a family reading time. Every member of the family should find something to read. After reading, share what you read. This encourages family discussion and togetherness. It also helps children increase their comprehension and summarizing skills. Also have story time with your children everyday or at night before going to bed. This will certainly help your children become successful readers.

Don’t forget preschoolers and kindergarteners may join us at the Armstrong Library every Wednesday, 10:00-10:30 am for story time in the Children’s Department.

Monday, October 12, 2009

You're Going to Love Our New Catalog!

The Natchez Adams Wilkinson Library Service will introduce a new library automation system (Polaris Library Systems), which is designed to help us improve services for library patrons.

The new system will make it easier for library patrons to search for items more easily. They will still be able to create an account, log on to the system, and do searches from their home computer (or anywhere else they have access to the Internet)! Two new features include the ability for a patron to create a ‘reading history’ of the books they’ve checked out, and to have an ‘alert’ set up so they can grab their favorite author’s newest work when it comes in. Patrons with visual impairments can enlarge the screen text with just a click of the mouse!

Patrons with email will be notified automatically when requests are available and when items are overdue and fines are owed (if they choose this option for notifications). Also, reminder emails will be sent when an item is close to being due.

Those patrons choosing "snail" mail will continue to have requests, overdue and fine notices mailed to them. As the cost of postage continues to increase, email is certainly an expense-saving option. There is also the benefit of instant notification!

The Polaris system is very easy to use. With their library card, a patron has access to their individual account, where they may make requests, renew borrowed items (however, some items may not be renewable!), update their record, and send the Library a message.

Because Polaris is web-based, library patrons will find the format is familiar and user-friendly, since it works like their computer at work or at home.

Come by and let us show you how easy it is to use the online catalog. Our new web page will also have useful links! It's coming soon.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Banned Books

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week. Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections.

The titles in bold represent just a few of the hundreds of banned or challenged books.
1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses by James Joyce
7. Beloved by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
9. 1984 by George Orwell
10. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (taken off the banned/challanged list)

For more information on why these books were challenged, visit

What's the difference between a challenge and a banning?
A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. Due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection.

Why are books challenged?
Often challenges are motivated by a desire to protect children from “inappropriate” sexual content or “offensive” language. The following were the top three reasons cited for challenging materials as reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom:

1. the material was considered to be "sexually explicit"
2. the material contained "offensive language"
3. the materials was "unsuited to any age group"

While these are certainly issues to consider, it is also important to remember an interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights (ALA's basic policy concerning access to information) states that, “Librarians and governing bodies should maintain that parents—and only parents—have the right and the responsibility to restrict the access of their children—and only their children—to library resources.”

The above quote is really what it's all about from this librarian's perspective. I did my best as a mother to be involved in what my children were reading but I can't recall ever censoring what they read. I do remember reading "To Kill a Mockingbird" together as a family and having some lively conversations at the dinner table about race and individual rights. As the Teen Librarian, I try to provide a balanced collection of books, including classics and contemporary fiction, both secular and christian, and it's my hope parents take the time to get involved in their childen's reading habits.