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.