Why I Loved National Library Week 2016

William McMullin, Director, Northeast Regional Library

Joy! Wonder! Encouragement! Excitement! It’s all at the library during NLW!

During the last 40 years I’ve attended at least 500 programs for National Library Week. Each year the librarians at the 13 branches in our Northeast Regional Library System try to present a showcase of events that highlight the best that the libraries have to offer so our patrons can enjoy this special week.

At the Rienzi Library, the mayor of Rienzi visits with the 6th graders of Rienzi school each year and inspires them to follow their dreams. His heartfelt encouragement often includes tales of courage and challenge. This year he talked about the dramatic change these students will experience when they go to a new school, but throughout the talk he reminded them to be courageous and bold in whatever path they follow.

At the Corinth Library, on two separate days, two gifted artists described how they came to be painters. They both talked of early influences and the fact that throughout their lives they enjoyed drawing and sketching and were honored to be included in the art show that is on display. Mrs. Kathy Bryant Williams referred to her mother Iris Bryant as an important influence in her development as an artist.  Mrs. Sylvia Marlar Caples had finished her presentation when a young man spoke up from the audience to say how much he had appreciated her work back in 1995. He then brought the painting that she had created for him that year into the auditorium for her to see! She was overjoyed to have such acclaim and he was giddy with excitement because she had influenced him to paint also.

At the Burnsville Library the subject of Native American artifacts was discussed by Mr. Matthew Newcomb. His arrowhead and rock collection included items that were worked over 6000 years ago by the inhabitants of our area. As he discussed the history and tradition of the Choctaw and Cherokee tribesmen, he encouraged a young listener to study the area, to seek for artifacts, to pay attention to his surroundings, and to be a good student of history.  The young boy was excited by the program and encouraged to participate in this collecting adventure.

At the Walnut Library librarian Eric Melton entertained the school children with some of the funny books owned by the library that are available to them to check-out. For free! They could tell that anyone could have fun while reading a good book.

At the Belmont Library a volunteer named Gail Barnes also presented a special story hour. She used puppets and cutouts to explore how animals are transformed from eggs to full grown animals. The theme for Library Week this year was Libraries Transform and each of the librarians were trying to make a point that each of us can be transformed when we explore, study, learn, and grow.  We are truly transformed when we use the library.

At many libraries over the years there have been Open Houses, Luncheons, Teas, and every other kind of event you can think of to show off the hospitality of the library staff. Last Monday alone I had 4 kinds of cake at 4 different libraries, plus a few glasses of punch to wash it down. What a delight to meet the librarians in their hostess mode. They are kind, generous, and many of them like to cook. Good for them, bad for the waistline.

Our libraries could not put on these events without the help of many partners. Banks have come forth this year to present budgeting and saving presentations at Booneville and Iuka. Dulcimer Guilds performed at Ripley and Iuka. Tishomingo County Emergency Management helped people sign up for CODE RED. The Baldwyn Library presented several speakers whose lives had been transformed in various ways – dieting, getting off of drugs, learning a skill. These wonderful testimonies were then followed by professionals who could answer questions from the audience. It was an emotional evening.

In former years we’ve had the help of county agents and county home demonstration clubs, firemen have showed us how they put on their fire gear, game wardens have taught us how to use a life preserver, early responders have taught us CPR, nature specialists from Crow’s Neck helped us identify snakes and turtles and other creatures. Each year I am delighted at the variety of community helpers who have lovingly and willingly participated in sharing their abilities and interests with our patrons.

It is a delight to experience something new at the library. I hope you will take a moment to visit your friendly librarian, check out a book or an e-book, select and watch a DVD, or listen to an electronic audiobook or one on CD. If you need help the librarian will be glad to help you. Visit the library and take every opportunity to transform your life.