Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Year's Traditions from Around the World

If we were celebrating New Years in England, it would be very important to be sure a good first footer entered your home before anyone else in the New Year. The most desirable first footer would be a young, good looking, healthy male, carrying a small piece of coal, money, bread, and salt, symbolizing wealth. The least desirable first footer would be a woman, and those people with blonde or red hair - I guess those would be considered trouble makers! I can't help but wonder if this is the source of the expression "put your best foot forward." The ancient first footer tradition is practiced to this day in England.

In Ireland, the direction of the wind at New Year is traditionally an indication of the trend in politics for the coming year. If it blew from the west, it would be a good year for Ireland; if from the east, England would gain the upper hand. I thought this interpretation of signs to be very typically Irish. Of course, after the year we've had politically, there's no telling which way the wind will blow after New Year's.

Many countries have traditions that involve large, even massive, amounts of food being served, invoking coming prosperity and surplus. The French feast customarily includes special dishes like foie gras, seafood such as oysters, and drinks like champagne. It can be a simple intimate dinner with friends and family, or a much fancier ball. I'm leaning towards the French approach!

I'm not so sure I'd want to celebrate in Denmark, where friends and family show their good wishes by throwing dishes at your front door. If you have heaps of broken dishes at your door, you can consider yourself blessed with many friends. Really?

Well, Happy New Year to everyone! I guess I'll be sticking with the Southern tradition of good old black eye peas and cabbage to ensure good fortune. Does cole slaw count?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas from Your Library!

We have had a busy Christmas this year. It started on Saturday, December 4, when the Library Drill Team made its debut in the Christmas Parade. Let me be kind and say we're not quite ready for prime time yet. But we had a really fun time, and we plan to do it again next year - but we're going to practice first. (Click on the link to see pictures and video.)

On Sunday, December 5, the Friends of the Library held their annual Christmas Tour of Homes, which was a huge success. We had the most attendees ever, and the Friends made a record profit. This is very timely, since your Library is suffering financially due to budget cuts. (Click on the link to see pictures.)

On Monday, December 6, we were closed for staff development, and we held our annual Christmas luncheon for the Board of Trustees and the Friends Board to thank them for all they do to help us. We also used that day to decorate for the holiday. Come by and see!

I was looking on the web for what other Libraries were doing for Christmas. Some had a Christmas tree made of books. One library in Memphis had a flash mob singing carols. Do you know what a flash mob is? I think they're so cool! It's a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform a brief act, and then disperse. The first one I heard of, and maybe the first in Mississippi, occured in the Student Union of Ole Miss right before spring break.

Remember that your library can help you celebrate Christmas. We have some new Christmas movies on DVD that you might want to borrow and share with your family: Babes in Toyland, The Christmas Blessing, Miracle on 34th Street, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and Disney's A Christmas Carol. We also have lots of Christmas books on decorating, cooking, crafting, gardening - or just great stories.

Close on Friday, December 24 & reopen on Tuesday, December 28
Close on Friday, December 31 & reopen on Tuesday, January 4

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Library Staff in Christmas Parade

Book Cart Drill Team from a
public library in Indiana
This year the Armstrong Library makes its debut in the annual Christmas Parade on Saturday, December 4 at 6 pm. However, we were not sure what we could do, so we decided to follow the example of  other libraries across the country and pimp our book carts and do a book cart drill.


Pimp My Bookcart is a parody of MTV's Pimp My Ride and is an annual contest run by Unshelved, a hilarious webcomic by Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes that is about a public library and is read by public library staff across the country. The purpose of the contest is to see who can best pimp, trick out, or otherwise improve a standard library book cart. The entries range from outrageous to clever. Check them out here.

But it gets worse. There is also a Book Cart Drill Team competition sponsored by Demco, a library supply company, that is held at the annual American Library Association conference. Your Library staff is going to try (and I do mean try!) to do a book cart drill.

The theme of this year's Christmas Parade is Broadway. So how many librarians are characters in Broadway plays? What a challenge! Then our Director remembered - Marian the Librarian from The Music Man. And what better music to drill to than 76 Trombones!

We may (will) make total fools of ourselves, but we will have fun. You don't want to miss this!

Pimping book carts and doing book cart drills are only the tip of the iceburg when it comes to putting a new face on libraries and their staff. Libraries are no longer as quiet as they used to be, and I can't remember the last time I wore my hair in a bun! We invite you to come downtown and get into the spirit of the season and see your local librarians in a whole new way!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

November's New Books

There is a section in the Library called New Books, where we put new books when they arrive. They usually stay there for a few months before being shelved in their appropriate place. This section is a favorite place for many of our patrons. But in case you haven't been here in a while, here are some of the new arrivals in November.

  • THE CONFESSION by John Grisham. A man who committed a despicable crime but allowed another to be sent to death row in his place now wants to admit his guilt, but he must convince the authorities he’s telling the truth.
  • TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson. Book 13 of the Wheel of Time fantasy series.
  • INDULGENCE IN DEATH by J D Robb (Nora Roberts, writing pseudonymously). Lt Eve Dallas tangles with what she fears is a thrill killer.
  • AMERICAN ASSASSIN by Vince Flynn. In the wake of the Lockerbie bombing, Mitch Rapp takes on his first antiterrorist assignment.
  • WORTH DYING FOR by Lee Child. Jack Reacher can’t let go of a decades-old case of a missing child.
  • FALL OF GIANTS by Ken Follett. Five interrelated families from five countries are caught in the upheavals of World War I and the Russian Revolution.
  • IN THE COMPANY OF OTHERS by Jan Karon. In Ireland, the Episcopal priest Tim Kavanagh finds an old journal that could solve a crime.
  • SQUIRREL SEEKS CHIPMUNK by David Sedaris. The humorist looks at human nature through stories with animals as characters.
  • SAFE HAVEN by Nicholas Sparks. The arrival of a mysterious young woman in a small North Carolina town raises questions about her past.
  • SIDE JOBS by Jim Butcher. A collection of stories about the Chicago wizard Harry Dresden.
  • EDGE by Jeffery Deaver. When a Washington DC police detective and his family become the target of a professional torturer, a federal agent is sent to protect them.
  • FREEDOM by Jonathan Franzen. Examines every major theme of American life - politics, class, work, culture and sex - through the lens of one stubborn, fascinating, wholly believable family.
  • EARTH (THE BOOK) by Jon Stewart & others. A visitor’s guide to the human race presented by "The Daily Show."
  • THE LAST BOY by Jane Leavy. A biography of the Yankees star Mickey Mantle, who grappled with a wrenching childhood and physical injuries.
  • PINHEADS AND PATRIOTS by Bill O'Reilly. The Fox News commentator scrutinizes the meaning of change in the era of Obama.
  • AT HOME by Bill Bryson. The evolution of private life as exemplified by the houses we live in.
Come check out our other new books.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Christmas Tour of Homes 2010

Christmas in Natchez is becoming a very special time, with so many activities, so many events competing for our time. The Friends of the Library Annual Christmas Home Tour on Sunday, December 5, 2-5 pm is special among these community events. Not only is it an opportunity to celebrate the great homes of Natchez, but it is a chance to show your support for your Library. It is particularly meaningful this year since so many people have inquired as to how they can support the Library during our budget crunch. Well, this is one great way - participating in the Friends' largest fundraising event of the year. The homes selected are not on other tours and present a special opportunity to see real Natchez homes all decorated for the holidays. The four homes featured this year are each outstanding in their own way:

(The Stockton House)
307 North Wall Street
Home of Margaret Perkins and Rene Adams

This Greek Revival home on the corner of Wall and Jefferson Streets was once the home of  the widow Ann Stockton and may have been built by Nathaniel Carpenter, the patriarch of the Carpenter family.

(formerly King's Daughter's Home)
32 Cemetery Road
Home of Renee and Kenny Cavin

This spacious home provides a magnificent view of the river from the bluffs at 32 Cemetery Road. Built in 1911, it was originally used as a home for unwed mothers. The extensive renovation was completed in 2008.

205 North Commerce Street
Home of Cappy and Judy Stahlman

This antebellum building on Franklin Street suffered extensive damage in the storm of 1998 but has been rehabilitated into apartments, commercial space, and a luxurious condominium with an entrance on Commerce.

411 North Commerce Street
Home of Dr Linda Wilbourn

This 1880's home exhibits typical Italianate features. It has been totally renovated, including restoration of the full width gallery, and expanded. It is also this year's refreshment center.

TICKETS for this year's Friends of the Library Christmas Tour of Homes are currently on sale at the Library and Natchez Pilgrimage Tours, and may also be purchased at any of the homes on the day of the event.. Tour all four homes for only $15, or purchase two tickets for $25.

For over ten years, the Friends of the Armstrong Library have worked tirelessly to provide a unique experience for those touring these fascinating homes. We appreciate those opening their homes, the Friends members and Board, and all who purchase tickets and participate.

Hope to see you on Sunday, December 5, 2 - 5 pm!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Funding a Library

The Natchez Adams Wilkinson Library Service manages three libraries: one in Natchez, one in Centreville, and one in Woodville. We receive regular state money that helps to pay salaries and health insurance, provided we obey their rules. We also receive federal money for telephone and internet service that also comes with strings attached. Other than that, our funding comes from two sources.
  • 35%: Funds we collect from fines, donations, and charges for certain services like printing, copying faxes. Public libraries are not allowed to make a profit, so we have to limit what we can charge.
  • 65%: Funding from local governments: City of Natchez for the Natchez library and Wilkinson County for the Centreville and Woodville libraries.
We are an independent agency and not part of the City government, and yet it provides 65% of our funding. This leads to some strange happenings. As a little stepchild of the City government, we were required to go every year to beg for money - along with all the other nonprofits. This is no way to run a library! So one of our Library Director's top priorities was to get us on dedicated millage, as most other libraries in the state are.

A dedicated tax is when a certain tax (or a set percentage of a tax) is allocated to a specific purpose. For example, the tax you pay on gasoline is dedicated to the transportation system. Some states dedicate the proceeds of their lotteries to education. In Mississippi, it is common for counties to allocate a certain amount of millage for libraries. That was what our Director had been trying to do since she arrived.

In 2005, she was finally successful! The Library was given a dedicated millage of 2.575, which was equal to the amount that had been allocated the year before. With dedicated millage, the Library receives a certain percentage of the tax revenues. It will go up and down each year, depending on the amount of taxes collected, and the Library budgets accordingly. In lean years, we tighten our belts, but in good years, we can purchase extra equipment or books. Giving the Library a dedicated millage was a tax increase because it is above and beyond what is collected for the City, so a public hearing was held and there was no objection.

According to the City's Annual Audit, these were the amounts received in the years since the dedicated millage was passed.
  • 2006: $251,236.00, $3,764.00 decrease
  • 2007: $238,079.00, $16,921.00 decrease
  • 2008: $263,018.00, $8,018.00 increase
  • 2009: $271,936.00, $16,936.00 increase
In 2010, we were scheduled to receive another increase, because properties were reassessed and a mill was worth more. The County lowered their millage to keep taxes about the same, but the City chose not to do that, thus increasing everyones taxes. Not only that, but the City decided to decrease the Library's millage. Changes in millage and the City budget are supposed to have public hearings. There was a public hearing on the budget and millage, but the public was never told that the tax increase they supported for the Library was going to be taken away. It was not discussed at the hearing, it was not in any of the information distributed, nor was it in the newspaper. Several aldermen were not even aware that's what was done. In fact, the City never even told the Library!  Is this legal? Probably not. But there's not much the Library can do. We can't very well sue our major funding source.

We've learned something from this experience. Our Director now attends all meetings of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen, just to be sure they don't do anything to the Library and neglect to tell us - certainly not the best use of her time. Plus,when budget time comes up next time, we will be ready!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Library Brings Big Bucks to Natchez

It's true that the City taxpayors partially fund our Library. However, the Library also brings money into the City. How? Here's the story.

Our beautiful Convention Center opened very shortly after I became the Director here in 2002, When another library director called me to congratulate me on the job and offer assistance, if I should need it, I immediately mentioned the new Convention Center to her, as she was the person responsible for planning the next year’s Mississippi Library Association (MLA) conference. The 2003 conference was already planned, but the following year’s was not!

Representatives from our Convention Center attended the 2003 Conference and sold Natchez to MLA - and plans were begun for the 2004 MLA Conference to be held in Natchez.

MLA membership numbers over 500, and generally 300 or so people (members, exhibitors, speakers, etc.) attend their conferences. The conferences generally run Wednesday through Friday. In 2004, we planned an event for Tuesday evening. This meant people were in town an extra day – eating in our restaurants and sleeping in our hotels. What an economic impact!

That year we hosted an excellent, well-attended, successful conference. People love coming to Natchez!

We were able to bring MLA to Natchez again in 2008. Again, we provided an event on Tuesday evening, and conference goers had a wonderful time.

This year’s conference was held two weeks ago in Vicksburg. Next year we are committed to holding the conference in Jackson. But – guess what? MLA will be back in Natchez in 2012! We'll be here the week following Balloon Races.

Nancy McLemore, director of the Library at CoLin, and I have worked together the past two conferences to make the events the wonderful successes they have been – and plan to do so again. As we get closer to the planning stages, we may call on local businesses to provide assistance. We are looking for a new, entertaining event to hold on Tuesday evening again.

If the economic impact of one conference is about $350,000, think of the money the Armstrong Library brought to the City of Natchez in 2004 and 2008! And looking to bring again in 2012! The Library is responsible for bringing over a million dollars to Natchez!

We always enjoy showing off our City, and the work involved in bringing a conference to Natchez is rewarding -  especially when people appreciate the efforts made and everyone benefits. We hope we are able to continue bringing MLA conferences to Natchez.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Why and How to Read Aloud to Your Baby and Young Child

Studies show that one of the most important things adults can do to prepare children for success in school and life is to READ ALOUD with them. Doctors even think that children need reading aloud to be fully healthy. And start from the day they come home from the hospital.

Why? Some of the benefits are:
  • builds self esteem
  • increases communication skills
  • introduces new concepts like colors, shapes, numbers, letters
  • builds listening skills, memory, vocabulary, language skills
  • develops imagination and creativity
  • increases information about the world
  • develops individual interests
  • builds positive behaviors and attitudes
How in the world do you read to a baby?

It's easy and fun. Sit them in your lap or by your side so that they will feel close to you and comfortable. This makes reading even more enjoyable. Pick books that have simple pictures and bright or high contrast colors. Books with photographs of real things are great to start with. Make sure that the books are sturdy and can even handle being eaten! Start with short books for a short attention span - and never force reading. If they get restless before the end, let them go. Encourage them to pick the books to read as soon as they're ready. Keep books where they can reach them and play with them on their own. Read in front of your baby to set an example that you love reading. With small things like recipes, signs, instructions, read them them out loud to your baby. Whenever you're reading out loud, make it fun with different voices and facial expressions - your baby will love it.

As your children grow, keep reading aloud - and let them read to you. Older siblings should be encouraged to read to their baby sister or brother. Involve the whole family in reading out loud regularly - that is really fun!

Bring your baby to our Babies & Toddler Storytime (birth to age 3) every Tuesday at 10 am. When they get older, they can come to Children's Storytime (ages 3 to 5) every Wednesday at 10 am.

Children can go through a lot of books, as they have different interests and abilities as they grow. The best way to keep up is to come to the Library, where we can help you select books appropriate to their age. You can check out up to 15 books, which may last them for the two week checkout period.

Reading aloud is the best present
you can give your baby and young child.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Natchez Teens Have a New Hangout!

Calling all Natchez Teens ages 13 to 18.
Do we have a place for you!

The new Teen Zone is awesome. We want to provide a really fun, safe place for teens to hang out, meet new friends, and learn new things - while being around positive role models who want them to succeed.

The new room will be painted in bright, eye catching colors. We have soft, comfortable chairs, a new colorful carpet, stackable chairs for events, and stools for quiet conversation or for reading your favorite books. A 46 inch tv, a Wii console with games, a popcorn machine, and a Kareoke machine will be used for special programming throughout the year. A large storage locker is filled with board games and craft supplies that can be accessed anytime by asking a librarian for assistance. Check out the new teen magazines: Teen Vogue, GamePro, Spin, Mad Magazine, something for everyone! There will also be two new computers with internet access that will be exclusively for the teens. NO ADULTS ALLOWED!!

Come check it out! Join us Thursday, October 28 at 3:30 pm for our Open House. Bring your parents, invite your teachers and school librarians -  this may be their one and only chance to step into the Teen Zone and see what the Armstrong Library has to offer. And be sure to bring all your friends.

The Teen Zone was made possible by funding under the Federal Library Services & Technology Act administered by the Mississippi Library Commission. Matching funds were provided by the Friends of the Library. At a time when libraries are struggling with cuts in funding, it would seem we always find a way to provide services to the public.

Click to see photo gallery of Teen Room Renovations.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It's Deja Vu All Over Again

The Mayor and Board of Aldermen voted to cut the Library funding by $55,000. After all, the Library has those trust funds they can use. The Library Director told the Board that if they did that, it would jeapordize the Library's state funding, since state law requires local jurisdictions to maintain their level of funding in order to receive state funding. Also, only the interest of trust funds can be used for operating the Library - and they do not count as part of the local funding. Sound familiar? But this news wasn't from this year - it was from 2001. However, in 2001 there was a happier ending. The Board voted to reinstate the funds.

The Mayor and Board of Aldermen voted to increase taxes and part of the increase was for a dedicated millage for the Library. Of course, people came out in droves against a tax increase, but no one seemed to object to giving the Library more money. Faced with all this pressure, the Board votes to cut the tax increase. Guess what got cut? The Library, of course. This didn't happen this year either. It happened in 2000.

The Mayor and Board of Aldermen voted to increase taxes and part of the increase was for a dedicated millage for the Library. I know I'm repeating myself, but this time (2005) it actually happened! 2.575 mills was dedicated to the Library. This did not represent an increase in funds, but it meant the Library could predict its income based on the value of a mill and didn't have to beg the Board every year to fund it out of the General Fund. In good years, it would go up, and in bad years it would go down. This was a major goal for the new Library Director when she arrived in 2002.

As we all know, the City claims it reduced the millage last year (2009) when the value of a mill happened to go up and thus taxes would increase. They certainly didn't want the Library getting more money! However, there is nary a mention of this in the newspaper. In fact, in several articles, it references the last time taxes went up was when they dedicated millage to the Library. Plus, they just happened not to inform the Library. Interesting, don't you think?

PS  While I was going through back issues of the Democrat searching for "library", I kept noticing all the positive things happening across the river. Of course, Concordia Parish Library got $875,944 in ad valorem taxes for a population of 19,060, whereas we got $255,000 for a population of 31,307 (2008 figures). What's wrong with this picture?

Concordia Parish: $45.96 per person for the library
Natchez/Adams County: $8.15 per person for the library

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Borrow Practically Any Book You Want FREE

Books Just Fly to You!
Have you ever gone to your Library looking for a certain book and found we don't have it? Do you belong to a book club and need extra copies of a title for your group? What about looking for that old favorite book that you haven't read in years? Thanks to the Interlibrary Loan (ILL) service offered at your Library, your chances of getting the book you want is greatly increased.

How do you get a book through ILL? The easiest way is to come in your Library and ask. But if you want to know if something is available or if you have other questions, then email our Reference Librarian - or you can always call your Library at 601.445.8862.

How does it work? The Reference Librarian takes your request and begins her search through other public libraries within the state of Mississippi. If the book cannot be found there, then she will go to what is called the World Cat, which offers more search options and generally searches academic libraries and public libraries from all over the country. Chances are very good that she'll find your book.

And now it's a free service! We used to charge $2 to partially cover postage. Thanks to a grant received through the Mississippi Library Commission we can now offer the service free of charge!

You can go to our website to read our ILL policies, but here are a few important points:
  • You must have no fines on your library record.
  • We cannot borrow NEW books published within 6 months of the time of the request. Just like the us, most libraries prefer to save their new books for their own patrons.
  • We cannot get college text books and most genealogy materials.
  • Generally the loan period for ILL's is thirty days but not always, lending periods are up to the lending library.
So the next time you can't find the book you're looking for, stop in at your Library and let us help you.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Summary of Changes Due to Budget Cuts

"Cutting libraries in a recession is like cutting hospitals in a plague."

Effective October 1, 2010 (the beginning of our fiscal year) the cuts imposed by the City go into effect. If you want to complain, contact the Mayor or your alderman. Click here for their names and contact information.

  • Less Staff. One staff member was let go. We were short staffed to begin with, so this means you may have to wait longer to get help. Please be patient with us.
  • Reduced Hours. Rather than closing on Saturday, we're opening later on Saturday and closing earlier on three days. New hours are listed here.
  • Increased fees. Overdue fines for books was raised from 10¢ to 15¢ a day. Copying and printing went from 15¢ to 25¢ a page.
  • Magazines Cancelled. About half our magazines will not be renewed, including American History, Antiques & Collecting, Create & Decorate, Education Digest, Essence, Familyfun, Fitness, Forbes, Jet, Kiplinger, Martha Stewart Living, Natural History, New Yorker, O: Oprah, Oxford American, People, Popular Mechanics, Prevention, Psychology Today, Real Simple, Road and Track, Saturday Evening Post, Southern Lady, Victoria, Woman's Day, Workbench/My Home My Style. If you want to help, a very nice affordable gesture would be to donate a year's subscription to one of these magazines. Email if you're interested.
  • No Online Databases. Ancestry Library Edition and World Book will not be renewed. The databases provided by the State through MAGNOLIA will still be available. Heritage Quest is provided by the Friends of the Library and will still be available.
  • Newspapers Cancelled. New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal will not be renewed. Fortunately, we received a grant (for one year only) to receive these online.
  • No New Equipment. Our public computers are eight years old and heavily used. If any need to be replaced, there will simply be one less computer.
  • No New DVDs. We were just beginning to transition from videos to DVDs. Fortunately, we just received a $3000 grant to buy new ones.
  • Charge for Using Meeting Rooms. Use of our meeting rooms used to be free. Now there is a charge of $15 for half day and $25 for all day.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Library Budget Cut by City of Natchez

“Cutting Libraries in a recession is like cutting hospitals in a plague.” Well, the budget approved by our City leaders did just that. In 2005, the City placed the Library on a dedicated millage of 2.575 mills. When property reassessments in 2009 would have resulted in the Library – finally – after 11 years – receiving an increase in funding, the City leaders decided they Library should not have any increase in funding. Apparently, they believe the Library can operate in 2011 (and in 2010, as well – but I will address that later) with the same amount of funding as it did in 1998. THIRTEEN YEARS AGO! In 1998, we did not have any computers and the minimum wage was $5.15!

Unfortunately, we cannot operate the Library on the same level of funding as we did in 1998. This knowledge, and the realization that our City leaders think so little of the importance of your public library, have forced us to make some significant changes in the services we offer.

To begin with, we have had to let one library employee go. Being short staffed to begin with, this means you may have to wait in line a little longer to be assisted. Overdue fines for books (which have not been raised in about 15 years) will increase from 10¢ to 15¢ a day. Charges for printing and copying with increase from 15¢ to 25¢ per page. The charge for color printing will remain the same.

The biggest effect is a reduction in hours. Rather than eliminate the four hours we are open on Saturday, we chose to close one hour earlier on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. We will still be open on Thursday until 6. On Saturday, we will open an hour later, at 10:00 am. Therefore, beginning October 1, our hours are 9-5 Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 9-6 Thursday and 10-1 Saturday.

So, we are cancelling about half of the magazine subscriptions (that were just renewed this summer!). Among the titles cancelled are: American History, Antiques & Collecting, Create & Decorate, Education Digest, Essence, Familyfun, Fitness, Forbes, Jet, Kiplinger, Martha Stewart Living, Natural History, New Yorker, O: Oprah, Oxford American, People, Popular Mechanics, Prevention, Psychology Today, Real Simple, Road & Track, Saturday Evening Post, Southern Lady, Victoria, Woman's Day, Workbench/My Home My Style. Additionally we will NOT renew in 2011 two very important and heavily used online databases, World Book and Ancestry Library Edition. World Book provided online access to a vast array of research titles for school children of all ages. Ancestry Library Edition is a genealogy database for use by researchers using the Library’s computers.

We have cancelled three newspapers, each very heavily read: USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and New York Times. Fortunately, we had written a grant to provide access to these newspapers online, but the grant is for one year only, so if funding is not restored, these will disappear completely next year.

Being fiscally responsible has apparently resulted in our budget cut. Not one time has the Library overspent its budget and had to go to the City to ask for more money. How many other City departments make that claim? This is truly a sad day for us all. Our eight-year old computers are used so heavily that I wonder what we will do when they finally give out. Replacement of dead computers is simply not an option with this budget. Our City leaders are not Library users and obviously do not feel adequately funding the Library is important. That message is up to us to convey to them. Here's a link to their information.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Library Funding

As you may be aware, the City has slashed the Library's budget. We have not finalized how we will be coping with this unforeseen tragedy, but we will let you know as soon as it is determined. This process led us to look into the history of Library funding, and we found some interesting information. This may help you to understand why what the City did to our budget was so devastating.

Is the Library a part of the City government? Not really. In Mississippi, public libraries are independent government agencies that get most of their funding from local governments. We receive funds from the City of Natchez and Wilkinson County.

Why doesn't Adams County contribute to Library funding? There are several agencies that serve both City and County residents and are funded by both. However, as you may have noticed, the City and the County don't always get along. So in 1990, they decided to divide up funding responsibilities. In this agreement, the County agreed to be responsible for funding the Airport, and the City agreed to be responsible for funding the Library.

Doesn't the State provide funding? Several years ago, the State decided to require all public libraries to be run by professional librarians. However, many local governments (especially the smaller ones) complained that they couldn't afford to do that. So the State offered assistance. First, smaller counties were merged with larger ones, which is why we also manage the Wilkinson County libraries. Secondly, the State provides a grant to reimburse the cost of personnel salaries. However, in order to qualify for the grant, the local government must agree not to lower their funding level.

What is millage? Each year the City (and other local governments) determine the amount of property taxes taxpayers will pay, and they express that amount in millage. Millage is the amount per thousand that is used to calculate property tax. It's used instead of percentages, which is the amount per hundred. So, for example, a millage of 40 is the same as 4%. If your house is worth $100,000, you would pay $4,000 in taxes, unless you have a homestead exemption. Some states use percentages, but Mississippi uses millage - maybe because it confuses voters more.

What is dedicated millage? This is when a certain amount of a tax is "dedicated" to a certain purpose. For example, a local government might increase taxes by 3 mills and dedicate that amount of money solely for the purpose of funding their library. This is done because taxpayers usually object to their taxes being raised, but they may not if they know where the money is going. It also means that the beneficiary can depend on a stable source of income without having to always fight for their money.

In future articles, we'll discuss what happened to the Library's funding, and you'll find this information helpful in understanding why we are in such a crisis.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Importance of Reading

It is a well-known fact that when there were no televisions or computers, reading was a primary leisure activity. People would spend hours reading books. The tragedy is that, with time, people have lost their skill and passion to read, because there are many other exciting and thrilling options available, aside from books. And that is a shame because reading offers a productive approach to improving vocabulary and word power. It is advisable to indulge in at least half an hour of reading a day to keep abreast of the various styles of writing and new vocabulary.

It is observed that children and teenagers who love reading have comparatively higher IQs. They are more creative and do better in school and college. It is recommended that parents introduce the importance of reading to their children in the early years. Reading is said to significantly help in developing vocabulary, and reading aloud helps to build a strong emotional bond between parents and children. The children who start reading from an early age are observed to have good language skills, and they grasp the variances in phonics much better.

Reading helps in mental development and is known to stimulate the muscles of the eyes. Reading is an activity that involves greater levels of concentration and adds to the conversational skills of the reader. It is an indulgence that enhances one's knowledge consistently. The habit of reading also helps readers to decipher new words and phrases that they come across in everyday conversations. The habit can become a healthy addiction and adds to the information available on various topics. It helps us to stay in-touch with contemporary writers as well as those from the days of old and makes us sensitive to global issues.

Reading is a great stress reducer. You can't multitask when you read. So you are relaxed physically and mentally while reading - and it takes your mind off of everything else that may be bothering you.

So if you want to be brilliant, creative, verbally proficient, knowledgable, and relaxed - all you have to do is read - and it's free at your Library.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Recipe for a Great School Year

The other morning, I was enjoying watching Chris (our cataloger) put up her new display in our foyer, and I thought it was worth sharing with our blog readers.

Recipe for a Great School Year:

     4 cups hard work
     1 cup creativity
     2 cups fun and friendship
     1 cup communication
     1 cup enthusiasm
     1 cup cooperation

     Combine all ingredients. Enjoy!

Chris's displays are always so creative and original, and this one is no exception. Colorful and appealing, it looks like a handwritten recipe card.

The only thing I can add is: stir in large amounts of reading material from your Library. We can help you with the hard work, providing sources for research papers. The fun and all the rest we can help with by providing a wide selection of leisure reading.

A successful school year is the result of the whole family's participation. The family that reads together, succeeds together! Stir it up!

We invite you to come in and see our new display and enjoy all the services your Library provides.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Are Libraries Really Neccessary?

If you pay any attention to the news, you know that state and local governments are suffering from serious budget problems. Many desperate politicians are drastically cutting funds for public libraries, causing cutbacks in hours and services. Some communities are losing their libraries altogether. Mississippi is no different. There was an article in many state newspapers this week discussing the cuts to state funding of libraries. Local governments are being asked to make up the difference, but most simply cannot afford it. All across the state and country, people are asking "Are libraries really necessary?"

After all, with the internet, do we really need books and libraries? First of all, not everyone has access to the internet, especially in poor, rural areas. Secondly, libraries are so much more than just books. Communities that cut their library budgets are only making matters worse. Libraries remain one of the best economic engines available and probably do more than any other government service to help people and communities survive hard times.

There is overwhelming data showing the value of libraries in a bad economy -  library usage increases significantly during these times. Why? Because libraries provide needed services. When budgets are tight, people frequently quit buying books and subscribing to newspapers and magazines. So they come to the library to read them for free. (We even offer coffee for only $1 while reading that magazine.) Instead of paying for movies, people check them out for free at the library. When people lose their jobs, they come to the library for help with resumes and job searches - or to start a new business.  Children can be entertained for free with books, storytime, and special children's computers. Free use of computers at libraries is very popular. Come into the library any time, and you'll see people using the computers.

There is no better place for research than a public library - which helps people with all manner of problems related to a poor economy. Learn how to do things yourself rather than hiring someone to do it for you. Find out how to avoid foreclosure or increase your credit score. Look for scholarships for school or training. Whatever you need to know, you can probably find the answer at your library.

So are libraries really necessary? You bet! Investing taxpayer money in a public library in a no brainer.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

We Feel Like We Won the Lottery

WOW! What a week! We found out that we have been awarded FIVE grants totaling $156,000. We are always applying for grants since we operate on a very tight budget, especially during these hard economic times. This week, we really lucked out.

HVAC Repairs - $136,000. If you use the Library, you know all the problems we have had with our antiquated heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC). We knew there was federal stimulus money available for energy conservation, administered through the Mississippi Development Authority. The City of Natchez owns our building, but it could not apply for this particular grant because they had already applied (and received) one. Fortunately, Adams County agreed to apply for the grant on our behalf. We haven't even been officially notified yet, so we don’t know when the work will begin or how long it will take, but we will keep you updated. We are just thrilled to know we will soon be able to offer a comfortable environment to our patrons - not to mention our staff, computers, and books. (See the article in the Natchez Democrat.)

New Teen Room - $11,000. We are soon going to have the best Teen Room imaginable that may become the most popular place in town for local teenagers. Since more and more reference materials are becoming available online, we decided that we no longer need a room dedicated to reference materials. So that room will be transformed into the Teen Room, with new paint and cool furnishings. Books and other materials appropriate to teenagers will be shelved there, of course. There will also a TV that can be used to play WII games or watch movies, a computer, a craft area, and other enticements. For teens in our community, the Library will soon be equal to Fun! We hope for a grand opening in October.

Breaking News - $3,000  Right now the library subscribes to several print newspapers. Some popular out of town newspapers are either unavailable or arrive late. Most newspapers are also available online in a format that looks just like a regular newspaper. We are purchasing two special touch screen computers for the Dr Clifford Tillman Memorial Reading Room that will be for newspapers only. It may take some getting used to, but staff will be available to help and there are added benefits, such as accessing older issues and searching for certain topics. We will continue to subscribe to all print newspapers except the New York Times, which arrives a week late by mail and is costly. We will also be able to provide the Baton Rouge Advocate online, which was not available for delivery in our area.

New DVDs - $3,000  Video cassettes are outmoded now, so we have started ordering movies on DVD/Blue Ray. But it is expensive to build up a collection, and this grant will help us to get a jump start.

Time and Print Management Software - $3,000 We installed this software in the Armstrong Library, and it allows us to efficiently manage use and printing on our public computers. This grant will allow us to also provide this software to our branch libraries in Wilkinson County.

The last four grants are funded through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and administered by the Mississippi Library Commission.

More to Come  We are currently seeking proposals to complete the exterior repairs and painting our building so desperately needs. So soon your Library will look pretty again!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Back to School

Summer Library Perogram is over. We had fun with Andy the Ambulance, Shoney Bear, storytellers, and reading books - and more books.

Now it is time for school to begin. Students and teachers, do not forget your public library as your partner this school year.

Please contact us early so we can have materials ready and available.

Come join us for a successful school year and adventures with books at your public library.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Help with School Work Online

It's that time again. Everybody is busy with back to school shopping, retraining the alarm clock to wake you up at 6 am, and dreading all the research papers that will be due all too soon.

Never fear! The Armstrong Library has been working all summer on building up our collection, so we can better help this year's students with their homework and research. Here are some helpful online resources for all students from elementary to college level.

Learning Express Library is an interactive online learning platform featuring over 770 practice tests, tutorials, and ebooks related to job search and workplace skills improvement, career certification and licensing exam preparation, college entrance and graduate school admissions exam preparation, GED exam preparation, and basic skills improvement in reading, writing, and math, for all ages. You'll get immediate scoring, complete answer explanations, and an individualized analysis of your results.

World Book Online is the premier online reference source, with thousands of articles, state of the art multimedia, editor reviewed Web sites, periodical content, and more. Plus, there are more than 1.3 million pages of primary source documents – books, documents, selections – fully integrated with the encyclopedia content. Research and teaching tools include timelines, citation builder, and saved research.

MAGNOLIA, provided courtesy of the Mississippi State Legislature, is the most extensive online research tool. Close to a hundred different databases can be searched for reliable information. It includes searches in magazines, newspapers, journals, business information, biographies, literary criticism, and much more.

New Online Reference Resources.This past summer we purchased new printed reference materials from Salem Press, which includes online access. So you have a choice of print or online.

All these online resources are currently available to our patrons and can be accessed using Library computers or on your home computer. (You need to call the Library first regarding how to do this from home.) Let us help you or your student make this a successful school year! We will be presenting an informational talk and demonstration on how to use our online resources this fall. Details coming soon.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

New York Times Best Sellers

Here's this week's best selling books, according to the New York Times, that we have available in your Library. We print this list every week - look for it next to the New Books Section.


THE SEARCH, by Nora Roberts. The only survivor of a serial killer has found peace in the Pacific Northwest, but her life is shaken by the appearance of a new man and a copycat murderer.

THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST, by Stieg Larsson. The third volume of a trilogy about a Swedish hacker and a journalist. Excerpt

PRIVATE, by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro. The head of an investigation company pursues the murderer of his best friend’s wife.

SIZZLING SIXTEEN, by Janet Evanovich. The bounty hunter Stephanie Plum comes to the aid of a cousin with gambling debts.

THE HELP, by Kathryn Stockett. A young white woman and two black maids in 1960s ¬Mississippi.

THE PASSAGE, by Justin Cronin. More than a hundred years in the future, a small group resists the vampires who have taken over North America. Excerpt

FOREIGN INFLUENCE, by Brad Thor. The covert operative Scott Harvath joins a new spy agency and investigates a bombing in Rome that killed American students.

THE LION, by Nelson DeMille. John Corey, now a federal agent, pursues a Libyan terrorist.

THE ISLAND, by Elin Hilderbrand. A woman, her daughters and her sister take refuge from life’s complications on a tiny island near Nantucket, but their time there is far from quiet.

THE THOUSAND AUTUMNS OF JACOB DE ZOET, by David Mitchell. Forbidden love in Edo-era Japan. Excerpt

ICE COLD, by Tess Gerritsen. A group of friends are murdered when they take refuge in a remote abandoned village in Wyoming.

FAMILY TIES, by Danielle Steel. A woman who raised her deceased sister’s three children must juggle their needs, her business and the new man in her life.

DEAD IN THE FAMILY, by Charlaine Harris. Sookie Stackhouse is exhausted in the aftermath of a Fae war.

UNDEAD AND UNFINISHED, by MaryJanice Davidson. Betsy Taylor, a suburban vampire queen, makes a deal with the Devil that involves traveling to hell with her kid sister.


OUTLIERS, by Malcolm Gladwell. Why some people succeed, from the author of “Blink.” Excerpt

SPOKEN FROM THE HEART, by Laura Bush. A memoir from the former first lady.
THE LAST STAND, by Nathaniel Philbrick. Custer, Sitting Bull and the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Excerpt

FIFTH AVENUE, 5 A.M., by Sam Wasson. The making of the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s" and its cultural influence.

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS, by Rebecca Skloot. The the story of the woman whose cancer cells were cultured without her permission in 1951. Excerpt

BORN TO RUN, by Christopher McDougall. Secrets of distance running from a Mexican Indian tribe.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

FREE Practice Tests and More

You might have noticed public service announcements recently on Mississippi Public Television and Radio about Learn A Test from Learning Express Library. Learn A Test is a valuable service which has grown more comprehensive in scope, offering skill development at every academic level and beyond. Here are just a few of the services offered absolutely FREE, thanks to the Mississippi Library Commission.

Elementary and Middle School Level
  • Math Skills Improvement
  • Reading Skills Improvement
  • High School entrance exams preparation
High School Level
  • Math skills improvement
  • Reading comprehension skills improvement
  • Vocabulary and spelling skills improvement
  • Writing and grammar skills improvement
  • AP preparation (Advance Placement)
  • GED study guides and practice exams
College Level:
  • CLEP testing preparation
  • Graduate school entrance exams preparation
  • Math and reasoning skills improvement
  • Reading comprehension skills improvement
  • Vocabulary and spelling skills improvement
  • Writing and grammar skills improvement
  • Technical and career college skills
  • Practice tests for careers in Electrical, Plumbing, Air Traffic Control, Military Aviation, and more
  • Job search and resume writing skills
  • Business writing
Skill Building for Adults:
  • Math and reasoning skills
  • Reading skills improvement
  • Writing and grammar skills improvement
Computer Skills
  • Adobe Flash and Illustrator courses
  • Adobe Photoshop courses
  • Corel WordPerfect courses
  • Microsoft Access, Excel, Outlook, and Powerpoint courses
All of this PLUS study guides and practice tests for virtually every standardized test out there. Many of the study guides are also available in Spanish. Recently, 24 eBooks have been added including titles to help prepare for careers in Civil Service, Education, Allied Healthcare, and more.

Learn A Test is a free service. To begin your journey, go to Learning Express Library and register. (There is also a link on our website - go to Practice Tests under Resources.) Your user name can be your library card number OR our library code (090) plus your phone number without the "1" or dashes. Then you will create your password. Once you are registered, you can choose what areas you would like to work on, and your work may be saved and returned to when you log in again. You work at your own pace, and correction and guidance is offered all along the way. If you encounter any difficulty logging in, call the Library for assistance (601.445.8862.)

Learn A Test can open up an unlimited world of learning and achievement!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Water Your Mind - Grownup Summer Fun

Why should kids have all the fun making a splash at the Library this summer? We have some things in mind that should give grownups that great feeling of summer vacation reading.

Scrapbooking Group

If you've been curious about scrapbooking or even are a long time scrapbooker, join us on Saturday mornings from 10 am -12 noon for our summer scrapbooking group. If you're working on a project, bring it along. The Library also has some helpful books on scrapbooking and card making.

Book give-away

We're giving away some nice hardback new releases this summer as a reward for grownups reading. For each book read, enter a slip into a weekly drawing. We'll give away two books each week through July 15.

Book Review bulletin board

If you've recently read something you thought was particularly wonderful, we'd love to have you write a short review to post on our Water Your Mind bulletin board. Take a few minutes and read some of the reviews - you might discover a new author to love.

Have suggestions for other fun activities? Would you like to form a discussion group for mystery lovers? How about a rose growers group? Questions? Call your Library at 601 445 8862.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Teen Summer Library Program

This year the Teen Summer Library program theme is Make Waves @ Your Library. This summer we are doing more than making waves and reading books. During the month of June teens who sign up for the program will have an opportunity to particpate in the designing of the new Teen Zone space. We will be meeting every Wednesday from June 9-30 from 3:00 to 4:30 pm. We will discuss paint colors, furniture choices, wii games , board games, books, and magazines. If you're a local teen in grades 7-12, you're invited to sign up and participate, and if you bring a friend you get an extra chance for the raffle.
If you're not into room design, have no fear. We will still be doing crafts, playing games, discussing the latest books, and raffling off prizes. On June 16, we will have a special guest from the County Extension Service to talk about healthy eating through hands on activities and of course, there will be FOOD!

So if this sounds like fun and you haven't signed up yet, call the library for more information.

Monday, May 17, 2010

New Teen Room

It’s that time of year again – registration for the Summer Library Program is underway. The theme for this year’s program for children is Make a Splash – Read!

The Teen theme is Make Waves @ Your Library.

We are looking for a few good surfers to ride a really BIG wave – our new Teen Room! We have written a grant, which if funded, will furnish our room with all kinds of stuff: a Wii, games, a big-screen TV, comfy furniture, craft supplies, storage …. (the list goes on!). We hope to know by the end of this month if our grant (a Library Services and Technology Act grant administered through the Mississippi Library Commission) request is approved.

If our grant is funded, we'll need your help to design the new Teen room and to develop a new Teen program to go with it. We want this room to be a hangout for the teens of our community – for them to have a safe place to come, have fun, interact with other teens, study, and read – to find out that the Library is much more than a place to come when they have a school project to research or complete. We want this room to reflect the needs and wishes of our teens. What better way than to just ask? We have some ideas, but we want to know what the teens and the community think. Please email our Teen Librarian or call her at 601.445.8862 and let her know your ideas.

Check out the Teen section of our website for more information on the Teen Room and the Teen Summer Library Program.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Make a Splash-READ!

Parents, are you looking for things for your children to do during the summer? Hurry on down to your Library and sign up for the FREE Summer Library Program. Our theme this year is  Make a Splash –READ! . The children will explore the world of water through presentations, stories, songs, and other activities about oceans, rivers, lakes, pools, and the creatures that live there.

At the Armstrong Library in Natchez, children in grades 1 through 6 have their program on Tuesdays, June 8 through 29. There are two programs each day - one is 10 - 11:30 am, and the other is from 2 - 3:30 pm. PreK and Kindergarten children have their program on Wednesdays from 10 - 10:30.

In Wilkinson County, the program is on Tuesdays at the Centerville Library and Wednesdays at the Woodville Library - both from 2 - 3:30 pm.

Children who participate will maintain or improve their reading skills and enjoy a fun filled series of programs, which will help them develop the library habit. The goals of our program are to encourage our children to keep reading during the summer and to introduce them to the public library as a place for lifelong learning.

We want the children to be summer readers. The ability to read and enjoy reading is an important factor in the success of our children.

You can go to our website for more details and to download a registration form and agenda.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

How Libraries Stack Up

In the United States, we go to libraries to find jobs, create new careers and help grow our small businesses. We borrow books, magazines, music, and movies. We learn to use the latest technology. We get tools and information needed to reenter the workforce. We get our questions answered, engage in civic activities, meet with friends and co-workers, and improve our skills at one of the 16,600 U.S. public libraries. Every day our public libraries deliver millions of dollars in resources and support that meet the critical needs of our communities.

Here are a few ways that our public libraries stack up:

Every day 300,000 Americans get job seeking help at their public library.

Most public libraries provide free wireless Internet access for their users. Nearly 12,000 now offer free Wi-Fi. That's more than Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, or Borders.

2.8 million times every month business owners and employees use resources at public libraries to support their small businesses.

Library cards are about as prevalent as credit cards. Two-thirds of American's have a library card. For many young people, the first card in their wallet is a library card.

More libraries - 5,400 - offer technology training classes than there are computer training businesses in the U.S. Every day, 14,700 people attend free library computer classes, a retail value of $2.2 million. That's $629 million worth of computer classes annually (based on 286 business days per year).

Every day, Americans borrow 2.1 million DVDs from libraries, and we spend over $22 million for DVD rentals at outlets like Netflix and RedBox vending machines.

Americans turn to libraries when searching for new jobs. Both public libraries and One Stop Career Centers provide career counseling resources, resume assistance, and help in filling out online applications.

More public libraries offer free meeting rooms than there are conference centers, convention facilities, and auditoriums combined.

Every year, Americans visit the library more often then we go to the movies and six times more often than we attend live sporting events (includes professional and NACA football, baseball, basketball, and hockey).

U.S. public libraries circulate as many materials every day as FedEx ships packages worldwide.

Libraries are at the heart of our communities, a resource for people of any age to find what we need to help improve our quality of life.

Save some money - visit your Library!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Amazing Animal Facts

A cat can run about 20 kilometers per hour (12 miles per hour) when it grows up. This one is going nowhere today - it is too lazy !.

Bears whose brown fur is tipped with lighter colored hairs are called grizzly bears . The smallest species of bears is called sun or Malayan bears. Male bears are called boars. Bears are native to the continents of North America, Asia, Europe, and South America. Alaskan brown bears, world's largest meat eating animals that live on land, can weigh as much as 1,700 pounds (771 kilograms)

No two zebras have stripes that are exactly alike. Zebras' enemies include hyenas, wild dogs, and lions. Male zebras are called stallions. Zebras usually travel in herds.

There are more than 50 different kinds of kangaroos. Kangaroos are native of Australia. A group of kangaroos is called a mob. Young kangaroos are called joeys.

How do reindeers survive in the extreme cold? Most animals don’t eat moss. It’s hard to digest, and it has little nutritional value. But reindeer fill up with lots of moss. Why? The moss contains a special chemical that helps reindeer keep their body fluids warm. When the reindeer make their yearly journey across the icy Arctic region, the chemical keeps them from freezing—much as antifreeze keeps a car from freezing up in winter.

A cheetah can run 76 kilometres per hour (46 miles per hour) - that's really fast! The fastest human beings runs only about 30 kilometres per hour (18 miles per hour). A cheetah does not roar like a lion - it purrs like a cat (meow).

The largest frog in the world is called Goliath frog. Frogs start their lives as eggs often laid in or near fresh water. Frogs live on all continents except Antarctica. Frogs belong to a group of animals called amphibians.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Up and running!

Since the Library reopened March 29th, we have been thrilled with the response from patrons. Everyone who has walked in has just marveled at the openness and lightness of the space. Many have asked, "What did you do? This is amazing!" Really, the only new thing in the library is the carpeting - the open effect is simply a result of better use of the space. There are little seating areas that were created by spacing the bookshelves so that the windows are visible as one looks down the rows.

Removing the curtains has also opened up the space wonderfully. There will be some type of clear UV protection on the windows, but no curtains. Our surrounding views are stunning - and having them visually available has been a huge improvement.

Of course, we are far from finished. The Nonfiction Section is finally open, and our Geneaology Section is up and running again, although not totally complete yet. It also has a much improved layout which makes it easier to use. When the former reference room is finally cleared out, the new Teen Zone will take shape. We are planning new furnishings for the space with the help of a grant applied for through the Mississippi Library Commission. New furnishings are on order for the former periodicals room, the new Dr Clifford Tillman Memorial Reading Room, thanks to the many donations given in his name. The dedication is scheduled for 2 pm on Tuesday, May 11 during our Open House. We hope you'll stop by and see how nice your library is looking.
Here are the most recent pictures. Click on the arrow to replay the slide show, or click on any picture to go to the online album with captions. (If you're reading this on Facebook, you'll have to go to the original blog to see the pictures.)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Fun with Words and Letters

  1. 1. The letters of the alphabet in order of their frequency of use in English are: ETAISONHRDLUCMFWYPGVBKJQXZ. This is useful knowledge for games like Wheel of Fortune, Hangman, etc.
  2. 2. Onomatopoeia is making words based on how the named thing sounds. The word for a dog's bark in Japanese is wan-wan. Spanish cats go guau.
  3. An anagram (same letters rearranged differently) of the name Michael Jordan is Lo! Nice, hard jam!
  4. You've probably been disgruntled at one time or another, but have you ever been gruntled? There are some words that either never had a positive form or their positive form faded from use. Here are some more: debunk, defenestrate, dejected, disconsolate, disheveled, dismayed, feckless, gormless, impetuous, impromptu, inane, incessant, inchoate, incognito, incommunicado, indomitable, ineffable, inept, inert, infernal, inhibited, insidious, insipid, insouciant, intact, invert, misgivings, misnomer, nonchalant, noncommittal, nondescript, nonpareil, nonplussed, unbeknownst, ungainly, unnerved, unswerving, untold, untoward. Some words that do have positive forms, though they are rarely encountered: disarray, disconcerting, immaculate, impeccable, inadvertent, incapacitated, incorrigible, inevitable, innocent, inscrutable, insensate, insufferable, interminable, reckless, unbridled, unflappable, unfurl, unkempt, unmitigated, unrequited, unruly, unthinkable, unwieldy.
  5. What do the words cookie, cosmos, cuckoo, message, museum, quack, sausage, sequoia, squeaky, and wages have in common? They are all comprised of only the odd-numbered letters of the alphabet: a, c, e, g, and so on.
  6. The full name of the city of Los Angeles is El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora La Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula.
  7. In 1740, Justice of the Peace Henry Fielding, under the nom de plume Captain Hercules Vinegar, summoned poet laureate Colley Cibber to court for the murder of the English language.
  8. The first letters of the months July through November, in order, spell the name Jason.
  9. The word galaxy comes from the Greek word for milk.
  10. Maine is the only state whose name is just one syllable.
  11. The female name Vanessa is Greek for butterfly.
  12. Aibohphobia is the term for the fear of palindromes - a word that is spelled the same way forward and backward. Go ahead, spell it backwards.
  13. To foreign audiences, the title of the movie There's Something About Mary proved mystifying. So, country by country, the movie was renamed. In Poland, where blonde jokes are popular, the title became For the Love of a Blonde. In France, it was Mary at all Costs. In Thailand, it was My True Love Will Outstand all Outrageous Events.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spring Cleaning at the Library

Lots of people have stopped me to ask if we are finished, yet. The short answer is “No!” – but what they generally mean is, “Are you open, yet?” That answer is “Yes!” – but, again, with a clarification. Not all of our collections are ready and available. We still have some spring cleaning to do.

Nonfiction is one area we are giving special attention to. Our circulation statistics (check outs!) show we check out nearly four times the number of adult fiction titles than nonfiction. This, obviously, is an indication that the majority of our patrons prefer fiction. So, we are evaluating many of the items in the nonfiction area to see if we still need them. In library-lingo that means we are weeding our collection. Merriam-Webster defines weed(ing) as

“to clear of weeds, to free from something hurtful or offensive, to remove the less desirable portions of, to get rid of (something harmful or superfluous).”
When we weed, we are removing the less desirable portions of a collection. The criteria we use are standards. We check our database and find (1) the subject, (2) the publication date, (3) the last time the item was checked out, (4) the number of times an item was checked out, and (5) the condition of the item. Different subjects have differnt standards. For example, a title related to history would be considered very differently from a book with medical or scientific information.

Other collections that still need spring cleaning are Reference, Teen, and Genealogy. The Reference collection is currently being evaluated in the same manner as Nonfiction. The Teen area will be the last to be addressed as it will move into the former Reference Room, which is still full of books. An interesting aside to that room is that a friend of mine, who is a retired librarian, was in town last week. She came by to see how the library looked and was delighted to find that the Reference Room is going to be our new Teen Room. She had started her library career here under Miss Gralow and was here when the Armstrong Library was built. Apparently, that room was originally intended to be a Teen Room, but was, instead, designated for use as a Reference Room. How’s that for some trivia?

The Genealogy area is currently being used for storage of unused shelving. However, we hope to have that area cleaned up and that collection available for use by the end of next week. The Jersey Settlers are scheduled to meet here on April 24, so we have to have that area ready by then!

This project has been HUGE, but worth it. Our sore muscles have sore muscles, but we are very satisfied with the results. The building has a definite airiness and is welcoming now. All the comments we have received have been positive. We certainly appreciate all the patience our patrons have allowed with this project. It is never a good thing to be closed – not even for one week, much less two – but all aspects of the project conspired against us being able to reopen in a more timely manner. Thank you.

BTW – next week is the “official” National Library Week. We will have some activities, but we are waiting to hold OUR National Library Week and Open House when we have all the interior work completed. That includes all the collections in place and the furniture ordered for the Dr. Clifford Tillman Memorial Reading Room delivered. We expect our Open House will be held during the first or second week in May. Come by and see the changes – we hope you like what we’ve done!

A library in Indiana was undergoing renovations, which of course took longer than expected. To keep everyone in good spirits during the wait, they made this video. Check it out - it's hilarious.