Wednesday, April 8

Social Distancing

Social isolation or social distancing as it is called involves keeping at least six feet away from another human being and avoiding groups exceeding 10 in number. It sounds like my social life in college.

Solitary confinement or shelter-in-place is another term that is becoming common in the lexicon. It reminds me of the days when I had to stay at home and watch television because I did not have the money to go out on a date with a pretty girl who would let me pay for her meal, and then choose to keep her social distance from me.

If not for these past social experiences, I might not have adapted so quickly to these unusual times, the new normal.

I used to enjoy the single life of eating, sleeping, watching television, reading, and exercising. I appreciated the overall peace and quiet. Today I live in the country. My nearest neighbors are far, far away. That's a good place for them.

I remember Y2K, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and 2012. I began doing research on the more viable disaster theories. This pandemic gives me the opportunity to test my preparation plan which has been years in the making.

One final bit of terminology I would like to share today is the definition of the word, "Covidiot." It's a derivative of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) nomenclature. I always try to be more kind with my words, but there is a pandemic going on and these are serious times. A "covidiot" describes a person who does not acknowledge social distancing or shelter-in-place protocols. He or she may not even realize that there is even a problem at all. This person may also have a habit of hoarding the essentials that other people desperately need; toilet paper, for example. Such an attitude can be extremely dangerous.

Beware of "covidiots." They tend to carelessly walk within a few feet in front of you and they may or may not have a persistent cough.

Not everyone is on board with social distancing.

Be careful out there.

Tuesday, April 7

What To Do?

All across our state, people are home. Adults are working from home and kids are doing distance learning for school. All this time at home eventually leads to the Teenagers' favorite cry, "I'm Bored!"

Well, Magee Teens and Tweens, be bored no more! The Central Mississippi Regional Library System and your favorite Youth Services Librarian Mr. Matt have got you covered!

Missing the chance to come to the library and find a good book? Then download the Axis360 or Freading app. They both have bunches of good books to read on your smart device or even listen to them.  You can also go to the CMRLS website and read books online through the Tumble Book Library. There is even a good selection of graphic novels. All you need is your library card number and pin.

Wait, you don't have a library card?!?! Go to the CMRLS website and click on the services tab to sign up for a digital library card! Once things return to normal, you will be able to come to the library and get a physical library card. 

Maybe you do not want to read. How about a magazine? Download the Flipster app and browse the selection of popular and specialty magazines. 

Maybe you need a dance party! Download the Freegal app and get your jam on. This free music app allows you to download 5 songs every week. During this unusual time, you even get unlimited streaming. So to quote Kevin Bacon from the classic "Footloose", Let's Dance!

All of this should keep you busy for a while. But, if you just need something different, try a scavenger hunt. I know, we have to stay home. Then do a picture scavenger hunt. Some friends of mine did one last week and it looked like a lot of fun. Here is what you do. Make a list of different kinds of pictures to take with your phone. Some examples could be a group photo with everyone cross eyed. Posing with a "duck" while making duck lips. A picture of something blue. Well, I think you get the idea. Then, send the list and photos to your friends so they can play too. Post them on your social media sites and see how many people you can get to play along. 

Please remember that through all of this, we miss seeing all of you every day at the library. We hope that very soon we will see you again. Until then, be safe and stay healthy!

Saturday, April 4

Library System Continues to Serve During COVID-19 Outbreak

All branches of the Central Mississippi Regional Library System (CMRLS) are currently closed to the public, but many of the library’s digital resources are still available online during this time of social distancing.

CMRLS has created a remote “digital library card” sign-up option to ensure that library cards can be issued to those who want to access digital materials and services while they are at home. To sign up for a digital library card, or to reset the PIN number on an existing library card account, users can visit and click on the tab “Services” and be directed to complete the online application.

The library has a Virtual Reference Collection page, located at, to make it easy for users to access all its digital content in one place. Regular updates are posted to this page, including links to additional free educational and informational content. Users will also find links to the library’s Axis360 eBook service and Freading where cardholders can access eBooks, eAudiobooks, music, and more.

Library staff members will be working to possibly offer virtual children’s story times, and regular updates to its social media pages to share useful and interesting content. Virtual story times will be available through the library’s Facebook page and Instagram pages. Users can find the library on Facebook (CMRLS.Libraries), Twitter (CMRLSLibrary), Twitter (CMRLSTeen) Pinterest (CMRLSLibrary), Flickr (CMRLS Photos), Instagram (CMRLSLibraries).

CMRLS also wants library users to know that all materials checked out from the library have been extended to May 4th and that no overdue fines will be charged during the library’s closure. Library book drops are also closed, and patrons are being asked to keep their checked-out materials until the library reopens.

“Acting on advice and recommendations from the CDC, Governor Tate Reeves, the Mississippi Library Association, and Mississippi Library Commission, nearly all public library systems in the State of Mississippi are currently closed,” said CMRLS Executive Director Mara Villa Polk. “Even so, the decision to close was a tremendously difficult one to make, and we really miss our
patrons. I am proud of our library team member’s efforts as they continue to engage with the community in a safe and responsible way while working to improve and adapt library services during this crisis.”

The Central Mississippi Regional Library System serves Rankin, Scott, Simpson and Smith Counties. Patrons can contact the library via email at: or by calling 601-825-0100.

Tuesday, March 31

Some thoughts on social distancing

The following is adapted with permission by Sheri Cornett from

As we socially distance from each other for the physical well-being of our community,
May we remember the importance of meeting together.
We are thankful for the tools such as social media and cell phones
That allow us to communicate with each other when we are not in each other’s physical presence.
May we love each other well.
Use this time,
To renew your people.
May this time of peace from social engagements
Bring us closer to our families
And closer to times of rest.
May we remember those who have been socially distant for years,
The elderly, the chronically sick, those with disabilities that make it hard to attend events.
May we learn what their lives are like and come through this
With greater compassion and understanding
And intentionality in our love for them.
May we not grow complacent in our love,
And our compassion,
Instead, may we grow and learn.
As we consider the physical well-being of our community,
May we be prayerful and humble
As we worry about our own well-being and the well-being of our loved ones,
May we be open and generous,
Not hoarding, but giving, as your spirit would teach us.
And may we do nothing out of fear,
But Love, Love, Love.

Wednesday, March 25

Getting Ready for Quarantine

The Coronavirus has been impacting the world since December 2019 with cases climbing on every continent except Antarctica. Some government officials downplay the seriousness of this pandemic by telling us not to panic or that it is not as dangerous as the regular flu which kills thousands of people every year.

Whenever I hear something like this I'm reminded of a direct quote from John Cusack in the movie 2012 released by Columbia Pictures, "When they tell you not to panic, that's when you run!"

There are several movies and television shows about pandemics that one can refer to that do not include mutant zombies: Contagion (2011), Outbreak (1995), Survivors (1975-1977), Survivors remake (2008-2010), Jeremiah (2002-2004) and others. If you really want to crank this up a notch to something more realistic, then the docudrama, After Armageddon (2010) (available online) will put everything into perspective. 

The Spanish Flu lasted for two years from 1918-1920 and infected 500 million people worldwide in a world of nearly 2 billion with a fatality rate of at least 50 million. According to World Book Online, "the Spanish flu killed at least 600,000 people in the United States and 20 million to 50 million people worldwide."

If it comes down to quarantine, preferably at home, do you have water, food and reading material? Have you refilled your medical prescriptions? This will be a good time to catch up on your reading. Maybe I will have time to work on my taxes.

There are books on survival that you can read such as, How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times or Tools for Survival: What You Need to Survive When You're on Your Own by James Wesley Rawles. He also has a blog online available to the public called

The LDS Preparedness Manual by the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a comprehensive study guide on food storage and disaster preparedness. It is available online.

Remember grocery stores maintain an inventory for three days thanks to our Just In Time (JIT) inventory system. After a crisis event it will take about three days for things to begin to get ugly. It has been said that society is only 72 hours away from anarchy.

When this pandemic comes to an end, we will hopefully be better prepared for the next crisis that comes our way.

Tuesday, March 24

Having Trouble Finding Titles to Check Out on our Magic Wall?

Several months ago, I was set to travel for several days and wanted several audio books to listen to during my road trip and several eBooks to have reading material while I was gone.  A confession: I still prefer to hold a book in my hands to read. Reading off a screen is okay but given a choice I will almost always opt for a physical book. Over the past several years, though, I have discovered how wonderful it can be (and lighter too!) to download books and audio onto a device when traveling. Anyway, back to my trip. When I tried to download items, I got extremely frustrated because I put in umpteen titles and always got the result to get in the queue because the item was checked out at the moment. Has that happened to you? Getting put on the hold list is great and easy; however, if you are looking for something to read right now, it can be annoying. Allow me to show you something I discovered. This is the screen you see when going to our Magic Wall.

With one minor change, you can see all titles that are available for immediate checkout. Under the Availability tab, change All to Available Now and the items displayed are available right now. Under format, you can also limit your results to Audio or eBook. 

For those of you that have never tried an eBook, let me encourage you to give it a try during this time that our libraries are closed. It may not be your preference, but it's an alternative that will allow you to read new material during this time. We certainly miss all our patrons and hope we will be able to see you face-to-face soon.

Monday, March 23

A Book Review for Times Like These

Last year, I received this book as a birthday gift. The book, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, is written and illustrated by Charles Mackesy. The book was also selected as the 2019 Barnes & Noble Book of the Year; however, I wonder if it might be an insightful message for the COVID-19 world that we witness today.

Our CMRLS director, Mara Polk, sent out an email on Friday confirming another week of library closings and requested that branch managers "keep up the CMRLS blog." She suggested that we do book reviews, share things we could do while at home, DIY, etc., and then she ended the email with this statement, "You're doing the best you can, when you can, and how you can," which is exactly the message of this book.

When reviewing an adult book, it is easy to discuss character development, realistic settings, strength of plot, conflict and resolution, audience appeal, appropriate genre or writing skills; however, when reviewing books with illustrations, such as children's books or graphic novels, you have to not only read but see. These pages belong to Charles Mackesy -- the words, illustrations, and copyright; but the message belongs to us all.

I was reminded of the book over the weekend when one of Forest's hometown authors, Jan Risher, posted an illustration on her Facebook page and then followed-up with her weekly column for The Acadiana Advocate. I read the column and shared it to my own page, then I decided to review the book for the CMRLS blog.

Here's my book review of The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy:

My first reaction to the book was...Huh? I don't get it. How was this book selected as Barnes and Noble Book of the Year? And it's written for adults? Do any of the libraries in our system have this book? I called my daughter who also bought herself a copy and asked for her thoughts. She had the same reaction. Are we missing something? Three days ago, I re-read it after seeing the post, and I realized that the book is a rare literary masterpiece. That morning, I showed up for class at the school of unlearning.
"The greatest illusion," said the mole, "is that life should be perfect."
-Charles Makesy
I am so grateful that I am reviewing this book today and not three months ago. My reviews would have been completely different because today our lives are completely different. The words on each page are not simple, they are profound. As we face the most indescribable world crisis, this book provides lasting lessons. Life is not perfect. How we react to things is a freedom. We can't control the big things, but we can love what is right in front of us.
"One of our greatest freedoms is how we react to things." 
-Charles Mackesy
"When the big things feel out of control...focus on what you love right under your nose." 
-Charles Makesy

"Life is difficult but you are loved." -Charles Makesy

A book review is so subjective. I read hundreds of book reviews each year, as does every librarian who is responsible for ordering books for their patrons. The reviewers for journals and magazines try to convince us that their reviews are completely objective, but they rarely are. We all have these elevated notions that we are completely unbiased. No. We are still human. What we read and how we read depends on many personal factors. This book is small by adult fiction standards - not much text, mostly illustrations - and yet my adult heart grew three sizes reading it again this weekend. Three months ago, I was enjoying a birthday trip to booksellers, eating out at a favorite restaurant, and shopping at specialty stores. That was three months ago, not today.
"When the dark clouds come...keep going." -Charles Makesy
"This storm will pass." -Charles Makesy

"We have such a long way to go," sighed the boy.
"Yes, but look how far we've come," said the horse. 
-Charles Makesy

"I think everyone is just trying to get home," said the mole. 
-Charles Makesy

Last week, one of our "home" assignments was to watch webinars and tutorials to improve our library skills. I watched a webinar entitled Finding the Heart of Library Service. The webinar ended with a quote from Ram Dass, an American author of the book Be Here Now: We're all just walking each other home. So much of our world is quarantined at home, trying to stay safe, and avoid COVID-19. Businesses and schools are closed. Libraries are closed. Home has a new meaning for us all. We play music, we read books and exercise (and try new recipes), we post encouraging quotes, we find ways to be generous and supportive, and we show kindness.

One library in the CMRLS system has a copy of this book, cataloged as an adult graphic novel. (No, it's not Forest.) As soon as we librarians get back to reading reviews and ordering books, this book is going to the top of my list as highly recommended..if for no other reason than times like these.

Sunday, March 15

Notice of Library Closings

March 15, 2020

Dear Valued Library Patrons,

The Central Mississippi Regional Library System and the Board of Trustees have made the most difficult decision to close our twenty (20) branches in Rankin, Scott, Simpson and Smith Counties and the Headquarters office in Brandon, MS, to the public. With direction from the Mississippi State Department of Health, the Board of Trustees of CMRLS have decided to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus in our area, effective Monday, March 16, and until further notice. This closure affects traditional library services, all programs, outreach services, and meeting room reservations made by the library.

We ask for your cooperation and patience during these uncertain times.  If you have library materials currently in your possession, please do not return them in our bookdrops. CMRLS will waive any fines or fees associated with this time period. CMRLS will extend all due dates and suspend all notices during this time. CMRLS will not accept any material donations such as books and DVDs. Lastly, while closed, the libraries will be cleaned and sanitized.

CMRLS services can still be accessed through our digital materials. There are thousands of eBooks, eAudio books, music, and more, available 24/7.
We will continue to update our social media and website,, about any further disruptions to library services. 

A call center at the Mississippi State Department of Health is now available for the general public at 1-877-978-6453 to answer questions about COVID-19.

Again, we apologize for any inconvenience, but the health of our patrons and staff is of the utmost importance at this time. Thank you for your understanding.

Warm regards,

Mara Villa Polk, Director
Central Mississippi Regional Library System

100 Tamberline Street  - P. O. Box 1749 - Brandon, MS 39043 - Ph: 601-825-0100 - Fax: 601-825-0199

Friday, March 13

Temporary Program Cancellations

Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in  Mississippi and in an abundance of caution, all CMRLS locations will temporarily suspend all programs, outreach services, and meeting room reservations made by the library effective Saturday, March 14 tentatively through Sunday, March 29. We will continue to evaluate the situation to determine if we have to continue the suspension of services or to close branches.

CMRLS Libraries are open. CMRLS services can still be accessed through our digital materials. There are thousands of eBooks, eAudiobooks, music, and more, available 24/7.

We will continue to update our social media and website,, about any further disruptions to library services.

We apologize in advance for this inconvenience and we appreciate your understanding of the situation.

A call center at the Mississippi State Department of Health is now available for the general public at 1-877-978-6453 to answer questions about COVID-19.

Mara V. Polk
Central MS Regional Library System

Monday, March 9

Celebrating Youth Creativity All Month At The Pearl Public Library!

March is National Youth Art Month.
We take that very seriously at the Pearl Public Library!

This is the twelfth year that the library has invited Pearl School District students to canvass the library with their wonderful creations!

Below are just a few of the displayed art pieces these talented students of all ages have created!

The art stays up all month long for viewing during library hours.  Please do yourself a favor and come take a look!  The heart and soul all these students poured into their work is awesomely inspiring! 

Mark your calendar! On Monday, March 23 from 5:30 to 7:00 the library and the Friends of the Pearl Library, will host an official youth art exhibit night complete with a reception! It's free and ALL are invited!

Don't miss out! 

And don't miss out on BINGO FOR BOOKS on Thursday. March 12 at 6 p.m. It's a free program with a chance to win books, dvds and video games. Light refreshments are provided. Remember that BINGO FOR BOOKS is every second Thursday of the month!
Hey, it's time for a BALLOON REPORT!
Just so you know, the renegade balloon that deserted the pack on Friday, Feb. 14 is still hugging the ceiling. But don't you worry. That bad boy is traveling. It started out right above the circulation desk. It's coming down the other direction toward reference! We are watching it to see when it will make the great descent! LOL!

Come on in! See the art and check out the floating action!

We'll see you there!

Friday, March 6

Brain Builders for Your Baby

Did you know that babies can hear their parents before they are even born?  They are learning even before they come out of the womb, so it is important to start talking and reading to them early on.  

Once your baby is born it is important to keep helping them with their brain development.  Add learning to any time of the day, no matter if it is at mealtime or bath time.  You can find conservation starters to help with vocabulary on any theme from being at the beach to discovering their own body at

Find brain-building tips for ages 0 – 5 at  This site is free and has an app you can download or get texts to your phone so that you can take these fun learning tips on the go.

The Brandon Library has tons of board books, lullaby cd’s, or learning DVD’s that you can check out for your precious little one to learn and grow.  You can even bring them to our Baby and Me storytime for ages 0 – 15 months on Mondays at 1 pm, Toddler storytime for ages 15 months – 2 years old on Mondays at 10:30 am, or Preschool storytime for ages 3 - 5 years old on Wednesday and Thursdays at 10:30 am.  

Wednesday, March 4

Study Room Solutions

Have you ever had one of those days when you want to step outside into the backyard, away from the family and very loud television set, where it's peaceful and quiet?  You want to lay down in your hammock, swat a few mosquitoes and read a book on a sunny afternoon.

Then you hear the sound of a lawnmower and realize that it is Saturday and yards are being cut or you hear the sound of a very loud car radio in the distance and the music, if you can call it music, is getting closer and closer and closer.

Then it starts to rain, so you seek shelter inside of the family tent or gazebo that you have set up in your backyard.

Then it starts to get dark and you have to pull out the flashlight, so you can continue to read.

Then the batteries in your flashlight go dead.

You want to sit back and become immersed in that perfect book that took years to find and you encounter one distraction after another.

At the Flowood Library we have a reasonably quiet environment without the distractions you might normally encounter in your backyard.

And if perchance there is some noise, we have study rooms available that can be used for meetings, tutoring, or reading that perfect book that took so many years to find.

Sebastopol March 2020 Happenings

Tween and Teen Programs


March is already here and with a new month comes new events! March 1-7 is Teen Tech Week. This week is meant for teenagers to improve their knowledge with different technology they can find at the library. These may include DVDs, databases, audiobooks, videogames, and other technology that is provided by the library.

In the month of March, Sebastopol Public Library is hosting Minecraft for 4 days to celebrate Teen Tech Week. Come join us, bring your kids, or someone you know to enhance creativity while interacting with others in the world of Minecraft!

Minecraft days at the Library:

Tuesday, March 3, 3:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday, March 4, 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Tuesday, March 10, 3:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday, March 11, 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

We ask that you contact Sebastopol Public Library about signing up to ensure everyone gets a chance to join the Minecraft fun.


All Ages

Winter Crafters!

Tuesday, March 17 at 4:00 p.m.
It's the last week of winter! What better to do than some winter crafts in this cold weather? Join us for the last week of winter as we try out some amazing winter crafts!

Monday, March 2

Fun is the Name of the Game For the Pearl Public Library Team!

You can bet on that!

Did you know that February 27 was/is recognized as National Pokémon Day? 

It sure is. That's because it was on that day when Japan launched the first Pokémon video game in 1996.

Kayla, a HUGE Pokémon fan, had the great idea of doing a Pokémon display in February. Then Kimberly saw this cute Pikachu toy that she thought would be a great addition to Kayla's display. 

See! Team effort! Team fun! Yeeeeeeepppppp!

Kayla had a wonderful idea for a drawing. And that's how it happened.

YOU GOTTA CATCH PIKACHU and "become the world's greatest Pokémon Master" was Kayla's fun creation!

All participants had to do was fill out their "Pokémon Trainer's Name" and turn in the slip to reference.

The drawing was held on National Pokémon Day. And the grand Pokémon Master was Penny Parker, 9, of Pearl! 

Congratulations, Penny!

Penny Parker, the Pearl Library's very own Pokémon Master
But the fun doesn't stop there!

First of all, we hope you made it to the 12th Annual Come in From the Cold With a Good Book February Library Lover's Month celebration. 

Free Community Coffee, cookies and donuts - all donated by local businesses - for two days Tues. Feb. 11 and Wed. Feb. 12!
Always a good time! There was also a cute cafe and helium balloons for all to enjoy! The balloons were up the whole month of February! 

It never fails; a balloon gets away and floats up to the ceiling!

It's so much fun to watch and see how long it takes for the balloon to come down. 

But we aren't going to keep this fun all to ourselves this time! No, keep reading this weekly blog for a periodic report on the great balloon descent! LOL!

Stop by the Pearl Public Library where the good times roll or FLOAT!

We'll see you there!

Wednesday, February 26

Book Recommendations for Black History Month

February is Black History month, as you might be aware. There are many well-worn tales of giants of black history: Frederick Douglass, George Washington Carver, and Martin Luther King, Jr.--great men whose stories deserve to be told. But if you’re interested in diving deeper, may we recommend some perhaps lesser known tales, that are but a small sampling of the rich tapestry of black history in America?

The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom - Winner of the 2019 National Book Award for Nonfiction, The Yellow House is Sarah Broom’s account of her family home in New Orleans East. It is at once both personal and connected to the wide sweep of history in the Crescent City, including harrowing first-hand accounts of Hurricane Katrina from her brothers’ perspectives.

The theme of identity is woven masterfully throughout the narrative, whether it Broom and her family tying their identity to their home, or society tying their identity to their blackness. Broom’s ruminations will stick with you long after you finish her story.

All Blood Runs Red by Phil Keith and Tom Clavin - Keith and Clavin have given some long-overdue notice to the remarkable life of Eugene Bullard, a black American expatriate and French war hero, spanning both world wars. Fleeing from racial prejudice in his native soil in Georgia, Bullard uses his competence and charisma to make his way to Europe just before the Great War breaks out. Bullard becomes the first black fighter pilot in aviation history, but his remarkable story doesn’t stop there.

An exciting story told in plain, readable prose, it is a treat to witness Bullard fight to be treated equal to any other man, and then go beyond to lead a remarkable life.

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson - The Warmth of Other Suns is Wilkerson’s 2010 opus regarding a sometimes overlooked, but monumentally important piece of our American history - the Great Migration of African Americans from the South to the cities of the North and West during the first half of the 20th century.

Wilkerson tells the story of the Migration specifically through the individuals stories of three migrants--a sharecropper from Chickasaw County in Mississippi, a college-educated orange picker from central Florida, and a young doctor living in Monroe, Louisiana. Wilkerson does an excellent job of focusing alternatively on the large-scale social change, and the lives of the people who lived it.