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!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Be Careful Before You "Like" Something on Facebook

If you're on facebook, you've seen tons of these posts. "Like" if you hate cancer - or if you hate bullying. If I get X number of likes, my dad will quit taking drugs. Name a city without an R in it. Find a word in this puzzle. Cute pictures of animals asking you to "like" them. Posts that say something magical will happen when you click on the picture. Pictures of famous people with quotes they never said. Guess what? Most are scams.

You may have worked hard to get rid of junk mail, put yourself on the "do not call" list, and are careful not to open suspicious links in your email. But if you responded to any of these posts, you may have been victimized by a scam called Like Farming. Remember how you laughed at people who responded to the email from the Nigerian promising millions? Well, you may have just done something very similar.

Here's how it works. Someone creates a facebook page called something like Support Our Troups. Then they post heroic pictures, telling you to "like" if you support our troups and ignore if you don't. How do you ignore that without feeling guilty? When you like or share it, it goes to all your friends - who then like it and it goes to all their friends. Suddenly this page has hundred of thousands of likes - and their associated facebook identities. There are experts who tell marketers how to do this - here's an example of one.

Some of these may be legitimate. Some may be from someone who doesn't have a life and gets thrill from having a bunch of likes. Some may take you to unwanted websites. But more and more are in it just for the money. How do they make money?

It might just be a clever marketing scheme for a legitimate company. CafeMom is a website for mothers (started by 2 men, which makes me immediately suspicious) that is quite profitable. They put up a facebook post that said "Like" if you love your kids and got 1.3 million likes. Very valuable to their advertiser supported site!

But it may also just be spammers who build up their collection of facebook identities and sell them. They usually work together in loose networks who post each others photos, so they can quickly gain tens of thousands of names and facebook addresses. Then they sell them to a facebook advertiser.

This is perfectly legal and very profitable. Aside from feeling creepy, you might think it's harmless. Terri, the mother of Katie, the child used in this scam, certainly didn't think so. 3.5 million people liked this photo, and their identities were sold for big bucks.

"This is my sister Mallory. She has Down syndrome and doesn't think she's beautiful. Please like this photo so I can show her later that she truly is beautiful." 

What can you do to prevent your identity from being sold? It's not easy. When I went on facebook this morning, I spotted 15 spammers from those who are friends with the Library on facebook - before I quit counting. The most important thing is to Think Before Clicking. Ask yourself: Do I really have to like or share this? Remember, you are not only exposing yourself, but your friends as well. You should be able to notice the most obvious ones. However, these scammers are becoming more and more clever.  Look at the page that originated the post - not your friend who shared or like it. If it's not one you recognize, don't click. If you have friends who keep sending these, send them a link to this post and suggest that they be more careful. If they ignore your advice, you may want to unfriend them.

Friday, April 5, 2013

National Library Week is April 14-20

Please help us celebrate! Did you know? ...

Our country is made up of individual communities, each with its own needs that can be as unique as the communities themselves. In the middle on all of these challenges, often in the very heart of our community, is a solution, a trusted institution that makes it its business to understand our needs: the library.

Librarians listen and respond to meet community needs. Libraries provide the space for diverse groups to come together for a common purpose, to tackle local issues. Librarians work with elected officials, small business owners, students, seniors and the public at large to discover what their communities needs are and to meet them.

The library helps foster all types of communities. We see this in our library firsthand, in ways big and small. New moms connect at storytime, genealogists conduct their ancestor searches, teens meet up to collaborate on projects and to hang out together after school, student can research topics then use the computers to write papers, visitors can keep in touch with home via wi-fi, the list goes on!

Service to the community has always been the focus of the library. While this aspect has never changed, libraries have grown and evolved in how they provide for the needs of every member of their community. Programs are just one way the library recognizes the changing needs. In addition to children's programming and teen programming, we offer monthly programming for adults. We are adding technology programming, as well.

This week, schools, campuses, and communities across the country celebrate National Library Week.  It is a time to remember that needs of our community matter to one of our most important institutions: our library.

Come visit your library today and find out for yourself what we have to offer!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Spring is here! Or so the calendar says…I think Mother Nature is sleeping in late here in the Natchez area, but nonetheless, this is a time to celebrate life, fertility, abundance, and all things new. Trees are budding, flowers are breaking through the soil, and baby animals are taking their first breaths on this beautiful planet. This is a time of year to rejoice, as we awaken from the Winter.

Have you ever wondered why people choose to read books about holidays around the holiday?? I have. I think that it is just silly! It shouldn't matter if you read a Christmas themed book around the Fourth of July or a Easter book around Thanksgiving. All that matters is that you READ!!

So, to mix things up a little here are a few children's books that I picked out to enjoy around Easter along with your other book selections: Books about books, and books about the library!!

That Book Woman by Heather Henson. A moving tale that honors a special part of American history--the Pack Horse Librarians, who helped untold numbers of children see the stories amid the chicken scratch, and thus made them into lifelong readers.

I Know A Librarian Who Chewed on a Word by Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton. All librarians love books but have you ever met one who just ate them up...literally? Miss Devine does. In this adaption of "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly," one Dewey Decimal Diva has gone on a most unusual eating binge.

READING Makes You Feel Good by Todd Parr. Reading makes you feel good can imagine you are a scary dinosaur or you can make someone feel better when they are sick and you can do it anywhere! Read this book and feel good!

The Return of the Library Dragon by Carmen Agra Deedy. Miss Lotta Scales, a dragon also known as Miss Lotty the Librarian, wants to retire from taking care of the school's library but will not willingly stand by and see her beloved books replaced by computers.

I hope everyone enjoys the Easter holiday! And remember, no matter what type of book you read this weekend, the most important thing is that you read it!

Friday, March 22, 2013

New Books for March


Calculated in Death by J D Robb. Lt Eve Dallas must crunch the numbers as she investigates the death of a successful accountant; by Nora Roberts, writing pseudonymously.

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult. A New Hampshire baker finds herself in the midst of two Holocaust stories: her grandmother's story of survival, and the confessions of an elderly German man, an SS officer.

Alex Cross, Run by James Patterson. While Alex Cross pursues a Washington serial killer (or killers?), someone is after him.

A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy. This final book by Binchy, who died in 2012, is about guests at an inn by the sea on Ireland's west coast.

Red Velvet Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke. Hannah Swensen becomes a suspect when her romantic rival turns up dead; recipes included.

Guilt by Jonathan Kellerman. The Los Angeles psychologist detective Alex Delaware and the detective Milo Sturgis pursue the story of a beautiful nurse.

Touch and Go by Lisa Gardner. An investigator probing the disappearance of a seemingly perfect Boston family must dig beneath the surface.

Bad Blood by Dana Stabenow. Kate Shugak, an Aleut private investigator, must sort out murders motivated by revenge between two Alaska towns.

Private Berlin by James Patterson & Mark Sullivan. A superstar agent at the German headquarters of an investigation firm disappears.


Coolidge by Amity Shlaes. This biography reclaims the 30th president as a conservative hero.

Killing Kennedy by Bill O'Reilly & Martin Dugard. The host of The O'Reilly Factor recounts the events surrounding the assassination of  John F Kennedy.

Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly & Martin Dugard. The host of The O'Reilly Factor recounts the events surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

Remembering Whitney by Cissy Houston with Lisa Dickey. The gospel singer discusses her daughter Whitney's life.


Confessions of a Murder Suspect by James Patterson & Maxine Paestro. Tandy Angel is, along with her brothers, a suspect in their parents' murder but having grown up under Malcolm and Maud Angel's perfectionist demands, Tandy decides she must clear the family name no matter what.

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare. When seventeen year old orphaned shapechanger Tessa Gray is kidnapped by the villainous Mortmain in his final bid for power, the London Institute rallies to save her, but is beset by betrayal at every turn.

The White Bicycle by Beverley Brenna. Taylor Jane Simon, an eighteen year old girl with Asperger's Syndrome, travels to France, as she struggles to become independent of her controlling mother and meets a new mentor.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sanez. Fifteen year old Ari Mendoza is an angry loner with a brother in prison, but when he meets Dante and they become friends, Ari starts to ask questions about himself, his parents, and his family that he has never asked before.

In Darkness by Nick Lake. In the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake, fifteen year old Shorty, a poor gang member from the slums of Site Soleil, is trapped in the rubble of a ruined hospital, and as he grows weaker, he has visions and memories of his life of violence, his lost twin sister, and of Toussaint L'Ouverture, who liberated Haiti from French rule in 1804.


Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds. The carrots that grow in Crackenhopper Field are the fattest and crispiest around, and Jasper Rabbit cannot resist pulling some to eat each time he passes by, until he begins hearing creepy carrots wherever he goes.

Emeraldalicious by Victoria Kann. When Pinkalicious and Peter decide to visit their favorite park, they find that it's no longer their favorite place--the park is now filled with stinky trash!  So, Pinkalicious decides to make an extraspecial wand out of a stick and some flowers.

Skippyjon Jones Cirque de Ole' by Judy Schachner. Skippyjon Jones, the Siamese cat that thinks he is a Chihuahua dog, wants to perform his high wire act in the circus.

Pete the Cat: Pete's Big Lunch by James Dean. Pete the cat shares his big lunch with his friends.

Pete the Cat: Play Ball! by James Dean. Pete the cat is ready to play baseball!  Pete's team, the Rocks, is playing the Rolls.  But when the game doesn't go Pete's way, what will Pete do?

Friday, March 8, 2013

What Does a Reference Librarian Do?

In addition to being the Teen Services Librarian, I am also the Reference Librarian. You might be wondering just exactly what does a Reference Librarian do. Basically, I answer questions. They come from patrons, either in person, by phone, or through email.

It's always been satisfying helping high school and college students find materials needed to write their research and term papers, using books or through our huge database, MAGNOLIA.

I also answer simple questions, such as finding phone numbers and addresses, facts about states, how to spell or define an obscure word, etc. However, I do receive more challenging questions or requests for research from all over the country - especially from genealogists.

Since moving here from Ohio almost ten years ago, I have decided every person in the United States must have some kind of connection to Natchez. My cup runneth over with requests for obituaries, birth records, any mention of "my great-great grandfather who once owned a store downtown back in 1898." As I rattle my brain looking for informaion or go nearly blind reading old microfilm, I keep telling myself that this is job security.

Just when I want to throw my hands in the air from frustration, I get a gem of a question from one of my local patrons that puts a smile on my face. It reminds me that my job is different every day, and I'm always learning something new, whether I want to or not.

Here are a few questions that came across my desk or were asked of other librarians across the country.
  • Do you have the book,  How to Kill a Mockingbird?
  • Can you help me find a book I checked out several weeks ago? I can't remember the title but the book was blue with gold letters!
  • Can you send me a list of all the local criminal lawyers in town? (Letter sent from inmate at local jail.)
  • I need a photograph of Jesus. No, not a painting or picture, but a photograph!
  • Don't you have any Shakspeare in real English?
  • I'm trying to find the words to a song, if I hum the tune can you figure it out?
Never a dull moment. I love my job!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

1863 to 1963 to 2013

When he established Negro History Week in 1926, Dr Carter Woodson realised the importance of providing a theme that would focus the attention of the public The Association for the Study of African American Life and History designated the theme for the 2013 Black History Month as the celebration of the 150th and 50th anniversary of two African American turning points: the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation and the 1963 March on Washington.

The Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, declared that slaves in all confederate states then at war with the Union were "forever free" and made them eligible for paid military service in the Union Army. Although it did not end slavery in the nation, it did transform the character of the war. After the Proclamation was made, every advance of Federal troops expanded the domain of freedom, and black men were allowed to serve in the Union armed services. By the end of the war almost 200,000 black soldiers and sailors had fought for freedom.

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom took place on August 28, 1963 in Washington, DC. More than 200,000 demonstrators took part in the walk. Dr Martin Luther King, Jr delivered his I Have a Dream speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, noting that the Emancipation Proclamation gave hope to black slaves. The following year Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as a concrete step of fulfilling the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation.

A good way to celebrate Black History Month is to learn more about these two major events in our history - and especially to educate our young people about their significance. What better place to learn than your Library. Come in to see all that we have to offer and bring children with you.

Friday, February 8, 2013

It's Awards Time Again!

Yes, it's that time again! Awards are being aired practically every weekend for the next month. We have The Golden Globes, The Grammys, and The Oscars. Everyone in entertainment is getting ready to be recognized for their great performances in film and music. While all the TV hype has been going on, the lists for award winning young adult literature quietly arrived in my email box. Here are a few titles to tantalize my teen readers.


Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. On October 11, 1943, a British spy plane crashes in Nazi occupied France. When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn't stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she's living a spy's worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution. As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she becomes friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane.

Dodger by Terry Pratchett. Seventeen year old Dodger may be a street urchin, but he makes his living from London's sewers, and he knows a jewel when he sees one. He's not about to let anything happen to the unknown girl, not even if her fate impacts the most powerful people in England. With Dodger's encounter with the mad barber Sweeney Todd to his meetings with the great writer Charles Dickens, history and fantasy intertwine in a breathtaking account of adventure and mystery.


Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 by Phillip Hoose (on order). In 1995, he received a black band on his lower right leg and an orange flag on his upper left, bearing the laser inscription B95. Scientists call him the Moonbird because, in the course of his astoundingly long life, this gritty, four ounce marathoner has flown the distance to the moon and half way back. B95 is a robin sized shorebird from the rufa species. Each February, he joins a flock that lifts off from Tierra del Fuego, headed for the breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic, nine thousand miles away. This species of bird has lost nearly 80% of its population because many of its ancient feeding stations along the migration circuit have been destroyed by human activity. Moonbird has been sighted as recently as November 2011, which makes him nearly twenty years old. Shaking their heads, scientists ask themselves: How can this one bird make it year after year when so many others fail?

Bomb: The Race to Build and Steal the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin. A suspenseful combination of science and history, Sheinkin exposes the international race to develop an atomic weapon and bring an end to World War II. This true life spy thriller features an international cast of characters and will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Period photographs of key players and an abundance of primary sources bring this well researched story to life.

These are just a few of the winners and all can either be found on the shelves of the Teen Zone or they are in the process of being purchased. These books and their authors are being recognized for great writing, captivating stories, wonderful characters, and interesting research. Don't be afraid to expand your horizons, you may never know what great things you'll find. Ask the Teen Librarian for a full list of winners and finalists.

Monday, February 4, 2013

New Books for January


A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. The 14th and final novel in the Wheel of Time fantasy series.

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

The Fifth Assassin by Brad Meltzer.  Tracking an assassin who is recreating the crimes of the four men who murdered presidents, Beecher White discovers that they all were working together.

The Third Bullet by Stephen Hunter. The veteran sniper Bob Lee Swagger investigates the assassination fo John F. Kennedy.

Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini. A novel about Elizabeth Kechkly, who was born a slave, earned her freedom through her dressmaking skill and became a friend to Mary Todd Lincoln; she is a character in the movie : Lincoln.

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis. Fifty-some years in teh life if ab African-American family whose matriarch arrives in Philadelphia in 1923.

Standing in Another Man's Grave by Ian Rankin. After retiring from the Edinburgh police force, John Rebus investigates the case of a young woman who disappeared in 1999.

Kinsey and Me by Sue Grafton. Stories about Grafton's character Kinsey Millhone as well as explorations of Grafton's own past.

The Forgotten by David Baldacci. The military investigator John Puller, the protagonist of "Zero Day," probes his aunt's mysterious death in Florida.

Collateral Damage by Stuart Woods.  Back in New York, the lawyer Stone Barrington joins his former partner Holly Barker in pursuing a dangerous case.

The Round House by Louise Ardrich. A native American family faces the ramifications of a vicious crime.

The Husband List by Janet Evanovich. In New York City in 1894, a wealthy young woman yearns for adventure and the love of an Irish-American with new money, rather than the titled Britons to whom her mother hopes to marry her off.


Thomas Jefferson by Jon Meacham. The Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer celebrates Jefferson's skills as a practical politician.

No Easy Day by Mark Owen with Kevin Maurer. An account by a former member of the Navy SEALS, written pseudonymously, of the mission that killed bin Laden.


Ali's Pretty Little Lies: Pretty Little Secrets by Sara Shepard. In the weeks leading up to Ali's murder, Ali reveals her plots against Emily, Hanna, Aria, and Spencer, as well as a dark secret that has the potential to destroy everything.

Bitter Blood by Rachel Caine. College student Claire Danvers struggles to remain neutral in the growing conflict between the vampiers and humans of Morganville, which is further complicated by the arrival of a ghost-seeking television production crew.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor. Seventeen-year-old Karou, a lovely, enigmatic art student in a Prague boarding school, carries a sketchbook of hideous, frightening monsters--the chimaerae who form the only family she has ever know.

Blood Moon by Alyxandra Harvey. When the vampire tribes convene for the rare Blood Moon ceremonies, family secrets and forbidden magic put all of the Drakes in danger, and Nicholas is caught between saving his little sister Solange or his girlfriend Lucy.


The Best Time to Read by Debbie Bertram. A boy who has just learned to read tries to find someone in his family who will listen to him read aloud.

Pete the Cat Saves Christmas James Dean. When Santa falls ill and Christmas may have to be canceled, Pete the cat comes to the rescue.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Ace Atkins - At home in Mississippi

Fans of the late Robert B Parker have asked me, "Who is this Ace Atkins who's taken over writing the Spencer books?"

Well, as it turns out, Ace Atkins is quite an interesting guy! (His real name is Ace, by the way: William Ace Atkins.)

Currently visiting professor in Journalism at the University of Mississippi, Atkins has an extensive background as a crime writer. He covered the crime beat as staff reporter for the Tampa Tribune from 1996 through 2001. He wrote his first two novels during that period. His first, Crossroad Blues, is about the murder of Robert Johnson in 1938.

His reporting on the unsolved murder of Tampa crime boss Charlie Wall earned him a Pulitzer Prize nomination in 2000. In 2006, Atkins turned the story into the novel White Shadow. Colleen Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times book editor commented, "White Shadow, the best novel set in Tampa I've read."

His next novels, Wicked City, Devil's Garden. and Infamous were all set in personally relevant locations: San Francisco, Alabama (where he was born) and Tampa. A mixture of first-hand interviews, original research into police and court records and tightly woven plots, they reflect Atkins' interest in true crime stories. In Devil's Garden, Atkins explores the early life of one of his heroes, Dashiell Hammett, the originator of the hard-boiled crime novel.

Recently Atkins began a series featuring Quinn Colson, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who returns home to north Mississippi. In 2011 the estate of Robert B Parker tapped him to continue the Spenser novels. When he was offered the previous books for reference, he answered that wouldn't be necessary - he already owned all of them! Robert B Parker was one of his literary heroes. Release of the two series is being coordinated so that the Spenser books will appear in the spring and the Colson books in the summer.

When asked why he moved to Mississippi, Atkins said, "Because most of my books are set in Mississippi, because the looks of the land and the people are different from the rest of the country, and because Mississippi is a very culturally rich state." He lives on a historic farm outside Oxford with his family.

Lovers of Parker's books I have spoken to have received Ace Atkins as a worthy successor, and that is really saying something! The next Spenser novel, Wonderland, will be out in May.

Find out more about him at his website.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Favorite Reads 2012: The Greater Journey

I love to read nonfiction, especially history and biography. Obviously, David McCullough is one of my favorite authors. His books are so well written that you might think they were fiction. They definitely are not, as they are meticulously researched.

His latest, The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, is a bit different from his earlier books. It's not about one person or event, and it doesn't take place in the United States. It's about the hundreds of Americans who went to Paris between 1830 and 1900 - not to visit or live - but to study. These were American artists, doctors, writers, scientists, and others who were adventurous enough to cross the Atlantic Ocean (which in those days was a dangerous and long trip) just to learn. They went on to have a tremendous effect on American culture and history.

What we as Americans may not realize is that during these years there was no place in America to learn these skills. Since they had to leave home, they decided to go to the best place to learn - Paris, France. Paris was the intellectual and cultural center of the world at that time. The book ends in 1900, because by then, it was no longer necessary to leave the US to study, mainly because of these intrepid adventurers who brought their knowledge home.

I was amazed at how many well known American artists, physicians, writers, and others made the "greater journey" to Paris. Elizabeth Blackwell, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Mark Twain, Samuel Morse, James Fenimore Cooper, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charles Sumner, John Singer Sargent, and Mary Cassatt are just a few.

Through the eyes of this author you will come to love Paris and vividly see the impact of this city upon these American students. You will also come to realize the tremendous effect these travelers had on our country. It also has many magnificent color pictures. This is an inspiring, enlightening, and entertaining book that I can highly recommend.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Favorite Reads 2012: Have You Met Pete the Cat?

Have you read to your child today? Have you been upstairs in our Children's Department lately? If not then I must introduce you to one of my new favorite characters, Pete the Cat!

Pete is a cool, laid back, blue cat who never sweats the small stuff. He never gets flustered when he runs into a problem, and he always manages to find a way to make lemonade out of lemons. He teaches young kids ages 4 and up to be resilient and to bounce with the bumps in life.

My first introduction to this "cool cat" was the book Pete the Cat: I Love my White Shoes written by Eric Litwin and illustrated by James Dean.  The book begins with Pete singing about how much he loves his new white shoes. On each new page he steps into colorful piles of strawberries, blueberries, mud; each time changing his shoes to a new color. Does he whine? Does he complain? Heck No! He just sings a new song about red shoes, blue shoes, and brown shoes and so on.

Frankly, things don't get much better than a happy song about each and every bad luck event, each of which can be turned into something positive. This is a book any child would love, as well as would the adult in his or her life.

The Library has been building up our collection of Pete the Cat books so come in and introduce yourselves to Pete. You can also find Pete at his web page. Here you will be introduced to the author and illustrator who also have very interesting background stories themselves.