Sunday, April 4

National Library Week: April 4-10, 2021

CMRLS Celebrates Mississippi Authors

Libraries have celebrated National Library Week in April since 1958. For 62 years, during this week, libraries across the country have held receptions and luncheons; brought in authors, elected officials, or local celebrities to tout the benefits of the library for a thriving community. Library staff planned special programs for all ages. Civic clubs invited Library directors to give “State of the Library” addresses. That is… until… COVID!

How is CMRLS celebrating this year? We are celebrating Mississippi authors… virtually. John Grisham, Greg Iles, Charlaine Harris, Janet Ferguson, and Katina Rankin are all considered successful Mississippi authors and extremely popular authors with CMRLS patrons! The lineup for this celebrated week:

·         Monday, April 5 John Grisham (Recorded, Library of Congress) The first winner of the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction (2009), John Grisham is America’s most popular writer of legal thrillers. The Guardians (Doubleday) is his hair-raising thriller about wrongful convictions. Watch this interview with Marie Arana, literary director of the Library of Congress, for the 2020 National Book Festival.

·         Tuesday, April 6Greg Iles (Recorded, Mississippi Public Broadcasting) Novelist Greg Iles of Natchez is interviewed in 2017 by Marshall Ramsey for Mississippi Public Broadcasting. Iles' most recent book is Cemetery Road, out in 2019, discusses here the third installment in his trilogy of books that began with the New York bestseller Natchez Burning. Ramsey talks to Greg about Mississippi Blood and what the future holds in store now for this prolific writer.

·         Wednesday, April 7Charlaine Harris (Recorded, Library of Congress) Charlaine Harris appears at the 2012 Library of Congress National Book Festival. Harris is the author of the Sookie Stackhouse book series that was turned into the popular HBO series True Blood. Her newest series is the Gunnie Rose series which includes 3 titles including the 2021 release of The Russian Cage.

·         Thursday, April 8, 6:30 p.m.Janet Ferguson (Live, ZOOM meeting) Join us for a live discussion with Mississippi author Janet Ferguson whose series Southern Hearts and Coastal Hearts are well received in our CMRLS libraries. Ferguson is a Grace Award winner, FHL Readers Choice Winner, and a Christy Award finalist. She grew up in Mississippi and received a degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Mississippi. She has served as a children’s minister and a church youth volunteer. An avid reader, she worked as a librarian at a large public high school. She writes humorous inspirational fiction for people with real lives and real problems. Janet and her husband have two grown children, one really smart dog, and a cat that allows them to share the space.

·         Friday, April 9Katina Rankin (Recorded, Meet My Mississippi) Katina Rankin, on-air personality, author, and humanitarian, is interviewed by Patricia Neely Dorsey from Hill Country Network and Meet My Mississippi. Rankin, who grew up in Magee, discusses her career and her children's book Up North Down South / City Folk Meet Country Folk.

We hope you enjoy hearing this group of authors discuss their work and a bit about their personal lives. Most of all, we want you to appreciate the talent that comes from Mississippi. These represent just a fraction of the literary legacy on which Mississippi can boast.

Happy National Library Week 2021!

Thursday, March 25

Everyone Saves Money at the Library!

If you haven't paid a visit to your local library lately, then you probably paid too much. Because libraries are such great savings places, the Forest Public Library is celebrating National Library Week and Money Smart Week with a special checkout incentive during the month of April. Every time patrons borrow materials from the library, they receive a printed receipt with the due date and renewal information, website and telephone contact, and at the very bottom of the receipt - right underneath the total number of checkouts for the session - the dollar amount saved by using your library. The information is displayed on the receipt in the same way that membership cardholders save money at local retail stores, drug store chains, club member companies, and online shopping venues.

The savings to the library user is often significant. Patrons check out a variety of items at the library, including DVDs, books, audiobooks, CDs, fitness equipment, and even cake pans! These items can be expensive to purchase, especially if only used one time. Libraries often compare to bookstores with the most recent bestsellers and just-released DVDs of the newest movies and television series. To buy, rent and/or stream these items can cost hundreds of dollars per year. The library staff had the idea to total how much money local patrons save during a one-month period.

The promotion also has an additional money incentive - a $100 VISA card! Each time patrons check out items, they will receive an entry for the drawing. The entry will include the patron's card number and the amount saved on the receipt. The drawing will be held on Friday, April 30, at 5:30 p.m., and the winner will be notified on Monday, May 3rd. The $100 VISA card is provided by the Friends of the Forest Public Library.

National Library Week (April 4-10, 2021) is a time to celebrate our nation's libraries, library workers, contributions, and promote library use and support. First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is sponsored by the American Library Association and all types of libraries across the country participate. During the pandemic, libraries have learned to adapt resources and services to meet patrons' needs. The theme for National Library Week 2021 is "Welcome to YOUR Library." The Forest Public Library staff welcomes patrons to visit the library in person, use our continued curbside service or see what is available online with our free virtual programs, online databases, and library apps. 

The American Library Association is also a supporter organization for Money Smart Week, which is held April 10-17, 2021. Money Smart Week is a national public education program coordinated by a network of supporters that provides people of all ages the knowledge and skills to make better informed financial decisions focusing on the key financial pillars of saving, spending, borrowing, and planning.

Combining the two important weeks with a month-long promotion is the best way to celebrate both events. Welcome to your library, save money, and enter a drawing to win a $100 VISA card! Everyone saves money at the library -- how much will you save?

Thursday, March 18

April at the Morton Library

 If you need to try and find something new to read, stop by the library and pick a book from the jar to try.  They are color-coded by genre of the book or just grab one for something totally different.  We will also be having National Library Week so we will be having a lot of great activities online for all ages.  We will also have take-home crafts to pick up in the library for all ages and even a family craft for the whole family to make together. Come check out a family movie and make some snacks and spend quality time together as a family! 

We would like to thank all of our Friends of the Morton  Library for all that they do for us all year long and would like to invite others to become a Friend of the Library and receive special library benefits and help to make our library the best it can be! We need your help to do this! Memberships can be picked up at the library. The enrolment fee for joining is Students $1, individuals $5, family $10, and a business $25 per year. This is a great way to help out your local library!

We are slowly trying to update the inside of the library to make it more enjoyable for you so come by and see the progress!

Tuesday, March 9

One Author, Three Books, and Fourteen Days in Ireland

Of all the holidays celebrated throughout the year, St. Patrick's Day is always a favorite! Whether a simple pinch for not wearing green, rollicking shenanigans at a local pub, or the festivities of a St. Patrick's Day parade, March 17th is the date that we set aside to pay tribute to everything Irish. However, if you happen to be one of the millions who read Nora Roberts novels, embracing Irish culture could possibly become a life-changing experience.

Nora Roberts is the author of more than 220 novels, publishing at least five per year with no ghostwriters. Her books are perennial New York Times bestsellers numbering more than 500 million worldwide. Forbes magazine estimates her net worth at $390 million as of January 30, 2020. Over the last 30 years, an average of 27 Nora Roberts books sold every minute. According to her website, if you placed all the Nora books top to bottom, they would stretch across the United States from New York to Los Angeles 18 times! Recently The New York Times called her "America's favorite author."

During my tenure as a youth services librarian, I had not known much about Nora Roberts (who also writes as J.D. Robb); however, I worked with a branch manager who waited with bated breath for each new novel. I can remember her sneaking in a page or two of the latest release with every spare moment. That same branch manager gifted me with a Nora Roberts trilogy during a period of at-home recovery. Those three books - The Gallaghers of Ardmore - began a reading journey that changed my life. Nora Roberts introduced me to the Emerald Isle with her enchanting stories, and years later, I spent fourteen days discovering its allure for myself.

Ardmore is a charming coastal village in County Waterford and the setting for two of her best-selling Irish trilogies. According to The Irish Times, American tourists flock to Ardmore every year. Most of them stay at the Cliff House Hotel - a five-star hotel, which is literally built into the side of a cliff and offers seaside views from the terrace or balcony of each room. However, if they are Nora fans, they have come to drink from St. Declan's Well, hike the Cliff Walk, and pay their respects to the local pub An Tobar, which was owned by the now-deceased Kevin Gallagher. The pub was renamed "Gallagher's" for the trilogy of books entitled Jewels of the Sun, Tears of the Moon, and Heart of the Sea - all of which can be checked out at CMRLS libraries.

The next stop on the Nora Roberts Ireland tour is the picturesque town of Cong located in County Mayo which offers parallels to the Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy. According to her personal blog, Roberts' visit to Ashford Castle was an inspiration for the series. In August of 2014, she appeared at an event at the castle to promote the release of the trilogy - Dark Witch, Shadow Spell, and Blood Magick. Each of the three main characters has an animal guide, which includes a horse, a falcon, and a wolfhound. For Nora followers, the castle visit must include the guided trail rides, a morning walk with the two resident wolfhounds, and a hawk walk at the Ireland School of Falconry. The evening meal must take place at Cullen's at the Cottage, where Iona (the main character from the first book) has dinner her first night at the castle. The castle grounds, the thick patches of forest, the small shops, and the winding path that comes out in the village are exactly as Roberts describes them in the books.

The Nora journey through Ireland continues to County Clare, the home of the Concannon Sisters of the Born In Trilogy. In a special note introducing the series, she describes the pull of Ireland - the wild cliffs, the green hills, and the enduring beauty. "I love the feel of Ireland, the warmth and humor of the people, the light, the look, the music. When I was able to make the trip with my family, I knew I was home the moment I landed at Shannon Airport."

After receiving too many rejections to count, Roberts' first published novel in 1981 was a Silhouette romance entitled Irish Thoroughbred - the first of the Irish Hearts Trilogy. According to Nielsen, she is now ranked as the third bestselling author in the 21st century, bested only by James Patterson and J.K. Rowling. For her devoted following, she delivers the true storytelling experience. And for those readers who have just a wee bit of the luck of the Irish, Nora's novels promise the trip of a lifetime.

Thursday, February 25

March Events For The Morton Library

 The month of March is always a fun month!

It is Dr. Seuss's Birthday and Read Across America!  We have a lot of fun planned with Dr. Seuss crafts to pick up at the library and Don't forget to come check out all of your favorite Dr. Seuss books!  We all love Dr. Seuss and all of his books so make this a fun day! 

St Patrick's Day is March 17th so don't forget to wear green!

March 20th is the first day of  Spring! I know we are all ready for it!  Plan on doing something fun outside or come to the Library and check out our books on Spring flower planting. This is the time to get all of our gardens and flower beds ready for summer. 

Our Adult Online Event is With Brian Easterling a former champ on the Forged in Fire T.V. show. Be sure to go online and watch his demonstrations. The video will be online all month.

Please go to our Online Event Calendar to see all of the exciting stories and crafts for all ages.

Monday, February 22

F is for February...Fables, Fantasy, Folk Tales, and Fiction

During the month of February, the Forest Public Library offers a literary lesson that focuses on the letter F. With all the current talk of fake news, what is the true definition of Fiction? Is it just another word for a fib or falsehood? What is the difference between a Fish Tale and a Folk Tale? Are Fairy Tales the same as Fantasy? And what about Fables...especially Aesop's and his talking animals?

All of the above are great reference questions, and librarians love finding answers! The first F-word that encompasses them all is Fiction. Or maybe not...after all, Fables, Folk Tales, and Fairy Tales are found in nonfiction - a conundrum that we will address later in the lesson.

According to the dictionary, Fiction has three definitions: 1) It is literary in the form of prose, especially short stories and novels, that describes imaginary events and people. 2) It is invention or fabrication as opposed to fact. 3) It is a belief or statement that is false, but that is often held to be true because it is expedient to do so. The Latin word fictus means "to form," thus Fiction is formed in the imagination. There is also a distinction between Fiction and its literary friends, Folk Tales and Fairy Tales, as they add a little fun and frolic to their fascinating stories. Fiction can sometimes be foreboding and frightful, but it is always deliberately formed or fabricated.

If one searches Fiction as a subject in the CMRLS card catalog, there are tens of thousands of records. That is not a whopping Fish Tale, which is defined as an over-exaggeration. There are Fiction books about feast and famine, fashion and food, feminists and fascists, fortune tellers and fortune hunters, fathers and fosters, friendships and foes, and foxes and ferrets -- and that is only the F's! Somebody has been busy fabricating, for sure!

With that much Fiction in one library system, how do Fables, Folk Tales, and Fairy Tales (which are clearly Fiction) find their way to nonfiction? When most people hear the word nonfiction, they think of facts and figures; however, that is false. (I know, it's all a bit flummoxing.) Not every book in the nonfiction section of the library is factual. Fables, Folk Tales, and Fairy Tales have their own address - 398 Dewey Lane - and everyone who lives there is a fraud.

A Fable is defined as a short story that is usually about animals and is intended to teach a lesson, which is a bit faulty because a Fable is also defined as not true. Aesop's Fables are still popular today because children (and adults) love animals who are clever enough to outfox a fox or outrun a rabbit or outsmart a trickster, especially when they use human characteristics to do so. A Folk Tale is a story or legend that is passed down as a tradition among certain "folk." Most Folk Tales belong to a particular demographic, and the stories are often embellished, superstitious, and false. Because Folk Tales began as an oral tradition, they have much in common with Fish Tales - the tendency of a fisherman to exaggerate the one that got away or the one that can't be caught. The tales get more far-fetched as the story goes and grows.

A Fairy Tale is another fake in nonfiction - probably the biggest fake of all. Fairy Tales have a common pick-up line that identifies them immediately, "Once upon a time." Then they always leave the faithful reader believing the same falsehood, "and they lived happily ever after." These tales are formed in magical lands with imaginary beings or imaginary lands with magical beings. Unfortunately for everyone who resides on 398 Dewey Lane, nothing is ever as it seems. 

Fantasy, on the other hand, just flaunts in front of everyone and tells it like it isn't. This story is not happening in the real world. Period. Fantasy lives in an imaginary universe with its fantastical characters and far-reaching stories, and readers of all ages find themselves lost in these worlds forever. Fantasy welcomes the fanatics who fixate on big, fat epics and opens its doors to the past and future. Fantasy knows that once a reader enters the fictitious portal, the fateful destination is the only exit.

This brings the February library lesson to a close with one final question. Why is Fiction so popular and important in the literary world? Is it because wishes are only granted in Fairy Tales, or because good and evil are so easily recognized, or is it because one's own reality is sometimes a bit too true? Author Ernest Hemingway said, "All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened, and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you, and afterwards it all belongs to you."

Fiction is best compared to the good fortune of having a famous friend that one might occasionally be required to forgive but never forgets - no matter what he tells you, where he takes you, or where he leaves you in the end. 

This month's blog post has been brought to you by the Letter F. 

Monday, February 1

February is Library Lovers Month!


From February 1st to February 28th all CMRLS libraries will take part in a Library Lovers Reading Challenge. We challenge our patrons to read at least one book during February and keep track of their reading on our Beanstack app. There is a drawing for four age groups (Preschool, Kindergarten-fourth grade, teens (fifth-12th grade), and Adult. Then, what is the prize? A $25 Walmart gift card is the prize, for each age group!

Libraries and schools across the nation will encourage their communities to visit the library during the month and read a target number of books. You may set your own target, but by keeping track of your reading on the Beanstack app you will gain an entry into our drawing for each book you read and track during February.

  • So, register for this challenge.
  • Keep track of the books you read using the Beanstack app.
  • Each book you read gives you an entry into the drawing for your age group.
  • A computer-generated drawing will take place at 9:00 a.m., on March 1, 2021.
  • You may log your books until that time. Winners will be contacted that day.
  • HaPpY READing!


Thursday, January 14

From Public to Personal: The Importance of an Excellent Library

Jane Austen, the author of Pride and Prejudice, said, "When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library."

Public librarians understand one thing above all else - the unexaggerated importance of an excellent library. During these technologically-advanced times of electronic books and audiobooks, virtual programs and databases, and digital media, an entire generation has moved towards the ephemeral and away from the enduring. And yet, without an excellent library, Jane Austen herself would have been miserable. 

So how does one create or curate an excellent library? If you want to build an excellent home, you seek out excellent contractors. If you want to serve excellent food at a party, you secure excellent caterers. And if you want to create an excellent library, you start with the advice of excellent librarians. Thus, the purpose of this blog is to help the reader create an excellent personal library by following the guidelines that librarians use on a daily basis to create excellent public libraries. 

The first consideration is the ability to view the library as a reflection of the community of readers. Library patrons possess different interests, passions, hobbies, and concerns, so the excellent librarian must know and understand the public he or she serves. The same application is true when creating a personal library. One must know and understand their own unique likes and dislikes. Whether the library is two small shelves at a reading nook or a room of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, the collection of books should reflect the personality of the individual. Dr. Neil Aitken, author and poet, stated the following: "A personal library not only reveals what types of narratives, knowledge, and beauty we think are worth investing in and holding onto, it also serves as a way in which we build a model of the universe as we understand it. A library's very arrangement can be used to affirm certain hierarchies and relationships to privilege some texts over others and to position ourselves in relation to all these different voices. Our personal library is a type of argument - a case we're making about ourselves in our own eyes and in the eyes of those we expect will encounter it. With every purchase and acquisition, we are saying to others (and to ourselves), 'I am the type of person who owns this type of book.'"

Just recently, a long-time CMRLS librarian began the process of creating a personal home library. She recognized the similarities between her work as a public librarian and her efforts to stock her home bookshelves. "I began to learn things about myself as I organized my personal collection of books. I knew that I was a devoted reader of romance, but I was surprised by how interested I was in history, travel, folklore, and personal memoirs. My collection of books helped me to understand more about my preferences, just as I have done for library patrons over the years."

As with the public library, the personal library uncovers what's missing or the gaps in our collections. According to Aitken's article, "the gaps in a collection also reveal what we do not know or have not made a priority in our lives." His father, who was a professional librarian, admonished that when visiting someone at their home, you should "always check out their bookcases" - not only for what's represented but also for what's missing.

The second consideration is the budget size when it comes to developing a collection. Public librarians face this dilemma on a monthly basis as they select books for their patronage. English author Neil Gaiman stated, "Don't ever apologize to an author for buying something in paperback, or taking it out from a library (that's what they're there for. Use your library.) Don't apologize to this author for buying books second hand, or getting them from bookcrossing or borrowing a friend's copy. What's important to me is that people read the books and enjoy them, and that, at some point in there, the book was bought by someone."

Some private libraries consist of signed first editions, while others are made up of books from library book sales, second-hand thrift stores, and discounted displays at independent bookstores or big-box retailers. Personal library collections range from rare to bestseller, hardcover to paperback, oversized to miniatures, and baby board books to scholarly tomes. As compared to the public library, the personal collection also requires occasional weeding (or removing) a book to make room for a new addition.

A final consideration is the atmosphere of the personal library. Excellent public librarians understand the significance of creating a place for patrons that feels welcoming, safe, and connected. The same is true when creating a private home library. Aitken calls it a "chosen literary refuge" and within it, we can "find the tools we need to survive and thrive in a sometimes hostile world." Excellent public libraries provide us with curated collections that educate, inspire, entertain, and inform, but more importantly, they provide the sanctuary to immerse ourselves in what is most important  - our sanity. No matter our struggles, we can find solace within the walls of an excellent library - public or private.

Author James Baldwin said, "You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive." Aphra Behn called it, "that perfect tranquility of life, which is nowhere to be found but in retreat, a faithful friend, and a good library." And Susan Sontag described her library as an "archive of longings."

One final quote from Dr. Aitken (and maybe the most important consideration) emphasizes the transforming power of the library, both public and private. "But each vital in the same way that it asserts the importance of what we choose to keep, of what endures move after move, of what we hold sacred. Our libraries sustain us - and in time, we hope, will sustain those who come after us."

To read the article, A Library of One's Own by Dr. Neil Aitken, please follow this link:

Also, check out the CMRLS libraries for the following list of books about creating an excellent library:

Monday, January 11

Today's Mississippi Authors - A Diverse Group

Most of us have no problem recalling a few Mississippi authors: John Grisham, Greg Iles, Nevada Barr, just to name a few that are still supplying us with stories today.  Today we will dig a little deeper and highlight a few authors that have published books in the last year. Some of these titles were written by people from Mississippi and a few are Mississippi transplants - not originally from Mississippi but currently living here. Perhaps you will be intrigued and request one of these titles to read. 

An award-winning investigative journalist recounts the 1964 “Mississippi Burning” murders of three civil rights workers by the KKK, describing his role in reopening the case and bringing its mastermind and participating Klansmen to justice.

Request Race Against Time.

An engaging portrait of Natchez, Mississippi traces its rich cultural heritage and remarkable contradictions, sharing the stories of history-shaping locals, from FBI informant and brothel madam Nellie Jackson to enslaved West African prince Abd al Rahman Ibrahima.

Request The Deepest South of All

Angie Thomas's newest novel will be available for request very soon. This book is set 17 years prior to the events in The Hate U Give.

Critically acclaimed novelist Michael Farris Smith pulls Nick Carraway out of the shadows and into the spotlight in this fascinating look into his life before Gatsby.

Southern PI Sarah Booth Delaney and her friends find their Christmas cheer turning to fear when strange accidents befall them during holiday festivities and are determined to catch the wrong-doers, who deserve nothing but coal in their stockings this year.

Request A Garland of Bones

Quinn Colson is about to find out whether his quest for justice can co-exist with his loyalty to the law.

The above books are just a sampling of the fine offerings from Mississippi authors. For more recommendations, visit your local CMRLS branch and allow your librarian to help you find other selections. 

Thursday, December 31

January Events for The Morton Library


   Just because Christmas is over doesn't mean all of the excitement is gone.
At the Morton Library, we are still reading, making crafts, and having contests! 
We have fun crafts to be picked up for our take-home crafts this month.
We are also having another fun contest! This one will show all of your creative talents!
It's making a snowman! The only rules are that it can't contain anything that will go bad or melt and it needs to be no taller than 24 inches high. Other than that let your imaginations run wild and see who can create the best snowman. So let the contest begin and may the best snowman win! Bring your snowman to the library no later than Jan 17th . The winner will be picked that afternoon. A small prize will be given.

   We have a great event for adults online this month. It is an interview with  Author Randy Pierce.
It will be a zoom talk on January 21 at 3:00 p.m. He is the author of the book Missy. Please join in 
and hear all about him.

Don't forget to return any books that you may still have at home from prior to covid, we are relieving
fines right now so please return any books you may have and we will take care of the fine for you.

Thursday, December 17

Christmas Trees Throughout the Years

 O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree! How lovely are thy branches! ~~ Ernst Anschutz

In 1824, a German composer and teacher named Ernst Anschutz paid homage to the fir tree when he penned the modern lyrics to "O Tannebaum." The original folk song was written in the 16th century by Melchior Franck and was rewritten again in 1819 as a tragic love song by August Zarnack. However, it was not until the custom of the Christmas tree developed in the 19th century, that Anshutz's version morphed into the beloved English Christmas carol. The song tells the story of the faithful fir tree with its evergreen branches that bear the joyful message of the Christmas story. According to the various lyric changes, the tree gives us pleasure and delight, fills our hearts with music, and brings us light in winter's gloom.

The Forest Public Library agrees that nothing brightens the holidays like the first sight of Christmas trees. As part of the Forest Area Chamber of Commerce's Stationary Christmas Parade, the library staff created a display of 12 Christmas trees throughout the years, beginning with the Pioneer tree. 

Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote of Christmas celebrations during the pioneer days; however, it is doubtful that she had a Christmas tree in her "little house." Most pioneer homes were too small to make room for a tree, or wood was too scarce to "waste" on a tree. Christmas gatherings happened by the fireplace or around the traditional meal. Children might be fortunate to find a new penny in a knitted stocking, but most children delighted in a homemade gift, such as a carved wooden toy or a cornhusk doll. If a pioneer home was large enough for a tree, the decorations included pinecones, yarn or straw figures, bits of ribbon, and flour ornaments.

The Victorians took quite a different attitude toward the Christmas tree. In the 1870s, store-bought ornaments were introduced and quickly replaced homemade decorations. Paper designs of Christmas ornaments were printed in ladies' magazines and glass Christmas tree ornaments made their first appearance on American trees. Victorian trees were trimmed with gilded angels, stars, walnuts, and crosses - the more gold, the better. Candles were also used to illuminate the tree. One traditional token remained. The Christmas cracker was made with colored tissue paper and a sweet verse (and sweet treats) inside. These popping tubes were called "Kisses," and were later mass-produced by Tom Smith and Company, who manufactured nearly eleven million in a single season.
From feast to famine was the tale of the depression-era Christmas tree. Gone were the great excesses, replaced with meager and frugal trinkets...with one exception. The tree at Rockefeller Center was erected on Christmas Eve in 1931 by construction workers. The tree was a 20-foot balsam fir decorated with strings of cranberries, garlands of paper, and tin cans. That year, America was in the middle of a deep depression with unemployment near 60% in the construction industry. The laborers received holiday checks and bonuses, and for them, the Christmas tree was a sign of hope and better days ahead. The official tree lighting at Rockefeller Center started in 1933 with a 40-foot tree illuminated with 700 lights and continues to this present day.
In the twenty years that followed, Americans witnessed an era of great prosperity. During post-war consumer craziness, many Americans were buying and building new (and modern) houses, and they did not want old-fashioned fir trees. Concept trees featured in glamour magazines were artificially produced in factories, usually in one color - pink or blue - with the same color ornaments. These trees were a favorite of Peanuts' character Lucy as she strolled through the commercial tree lots.
In the 1960s, the Christmas tree became even more commercial with the appearance of the silver aluminum tree. From 1958 until the mid-'60s, the tree could be purchased in the Sears catalog, along with a rotating wheel of four primary colors. Many families substituted the traditional evergreen tree for the shiny new tree with its Shiny Glass Brite ornaments. Little did these companies know that one television special would send their trees and rotating wheels packing to attics and basements throughout the country.
In the 1965 Peanuts' special, A Charlie Brown Christmas, the main character buys a scrawny, live fir tree to protest the over-commercialization of Christmas. After his friends make fun of his selection, Charlie Brown takes the fir tree home to decorate it. He places one red ornament on the tree, and it bends under the weight. Charlie Brown thinks he has killed the tree. Later, his friends come along and redecorate the tree with an eclectic mix of ornaments - teaching them (and the viewer) the real meaning of Christmas.
After the Charlie Brown special, Americans begin to see the Christmas tree as something to love and cherish. Ornaments became more personal in the 1970s, and trees returned to their natural green color. In 1973, a company called Hallmark produced its first Keepsake ornament. Since that year, over 400 ornaments have been issued. These Keepsake ornaments are carefully stored each year with other family heirlooms to be used again during the next Christmas season. Each year, the unpacking of the ornaments creates familial connections that serve as part of the tree decorating rituals, which also include holiday music, hot cocoa, and happy memories.
The most common theme for artificial Christmas trees from the beginning of the 1970s until the present day is a more natural appearance. Evergreens of all shapes and sizes have been produced to satisfy the discriminant customer. The science of flocking used by natural tree farms to create the resemblance of snow was soon copied in the artificial market. Flocked trees are especially popular in Southern climates where snow is scarce.
Whoville trees made their first appearance in the Dr. Seuss book How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The best-known decoration in Who-lore is the iconic curved conifer tree - a whimsical style used in American displays to the present day. The magic of the Whoville tree is found in its association with a favorite childhood story that celebrates not only the joy and wonder of a season but the difficulties and challenges as well.
At the turn of the millennium, the idea of a themed Christmas tree was still in vogue. As part of the Y2K celebration, patriotic trees were trimmed with flags and stars; red, white, and blue ornaments; and the year 2000 memorabilia and keepsake ornaments. Despite the warning that the world would end on January 1st, Americans continued to deck out their fashionable Christmas trees to coincide with the historic celebration.
Approaching the present day and in keeping with fashion, the designer tree is a must-have for families of influence. Gucci, Dior, Chanel, and many of the biggest names in fashion began designing unique Christmas trees to benefit charities in the late 1990s. After the millennium, department stores seized the opportunity to market these trees to the consummate shopper. A color scheme, oversized ornaments, and a large topper are the secrets to a designer tree -- sometimes accompanied by an interior designer who decorates the tree in the client's home. 
And finally, the annual tree at the Forest Public Library - no branches, only books. But, as always, still lovely.
Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, 
with what delight I see you!
When winter days are dark and drear, 
you bring us hope for all the year.
Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, 
you bear a joyful message!
That faith and hope shall ever bloom 
to bring us light in winter's gloom.
Oh Christmas tree!

Thursday, December 10

December Events At The Morton LIbrary

We have a lot of fun events at the Library this month!

     We have a Gingerbread contest where you come into the library and pick up a paper gingerbread man and make it look like something other than a gingerbread man. They need to be turned in before Dec 20th for judging and the best one will win a small prize!

 We also have a new take-home craft each week to be picked up. 

The week of Dec 14th come by the library to pick up your little Christmas treat.

We have a ton of Christmas movies and books for you to watch this Holiday Season so come by and see what all we have available or you can go online and reserve your copies to be placed on hold for you.

The Elf on the Shelf will be up to fun and mischief from now until Christmas so come by the Library each day and see what he is up to and to fill out your letters to Santa! We have a magic mailbox that sends your letters directly to Santa! 

 We look forward to seeing all of you and we hope you stay well and have a very Happy Holiday!


Friday, November 20

December Events at the Morton Library

 We are going to have a lot of exciting things going on in December!

First off we will be having a contest to see who can Disguise the best Gingerbread Man! Come by the library and pick up your Gingerbread Man and take it home and decorate it to look like something other than a Gingerbread Man. Bring it back to the Library by December 20th and We will pick the best disguise to win a prize.

Next, we will be having a special Letters to Santa! Come in the Library and make out your Christmas list and we will have a magical Santa mailbox where you can put your letter in and it will be sent to Santa as soon as you put it in the mailbox!

We will also have a Santa's Naughty and Nice list up for you to add your name to for Santa to see. You better be nice or Santa will know!

We hope you have a great and safe Christmas Holiday! Spend time with your family and read some Christmas stories. We have lots of Christmas books for you to choose from so come see us and get some books to read together as a family and make this Christmas one to remember!

Merry Christmas from the Morton Library!

Wednesday, November 18

Nothing Trivial About It: The Answer Is… by Alex Trebek

Tragically, Alex Trebek, the long-time host of the syndicated game show Jeopardy!, passed away earlier this month on November 8, at the age of 80, after struggling with pancreatic cancer. As a fixture on the show for 36 years, Trebek became a steadfast daily presence in the lives of millions of Americans. He became a symbol of intellectual achievement and commitment to curiosity and learning.

Behind the symbolism, though, lay an ordinary human with a story to tell. Before his death, Trebek released his autobiography, The Answer Is…:Reflections on My Life, this July. Alex Trebek was born as the son of a Ukranian immigrant hotel cook in a mining town in northern Ontario. Trebek does not pay short shrift to his origins, nor is he condescending in his tone. He understands most people are probably reading the book for insight into the world of Jeopardy!, but I think this choice is revealing of a very humble attitude in his perspective on his success.

Trebek does get to Jeopardy! and tells you about iconic champions Ken Jennings and James Holzhauer, but also tells you about his favorite contestants of lesser renown as well. Both in the book and on the show, he could vacillate between gravitas and silliness, becoming whatever the situation called for. He mentions several times that he is the host, not the star, of Jeopardy! The show itself is the star, and we are the players.

Written well into his cancer struggle, The Answer Is… can be pensive, but it is never morose. It is far closer to being joyful and full of life. While a look into the life of Alex Trebek (written by the man himself) may surprise its readers, we should all be so lucky to take stock of our lives as the final curtain closes.

Tuesday, November 10

Pearl Staff Book Reviews

Hello, CMRLS patrons! We know it has been a crazy year, and with things slowing down due to COVID, our staff has had more reading time on our hands. We would like to share with you what we've been reading lately. If you have read any of the following or want to recommend new picks, please let us know in the comments! 

First up, we have Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. 

Pearl Circulation Supervisor Amy Lee writes:

            Wow!  I highly recommend this read! At first, I thought the title was overhyped because it was part of Reese’s book club, but then curiosity eventually got the best of me. Therefore, I had to see what the fuss was all about. I am so glad I did! The characters are unforgettable, and the plot and storyline are brilliant. I literally could not put this book down because it drew me in. It is such a bittersweet, unforgettable story that makes you cheer for Kya, the heroine, in all her trials. This is a must-read! 

Kya has been living on her own since she was abandoned by her family as a small child. Living in an old shack outside of a charming North Carolina beach town, Kya only leaves her house to boat to the local gas station for groceries, as well as study local coastal wildlife. As a result, she has been given the nickname “Marsh Girl” by most of the town, many disapproving of her wild living and failure to blend in with society and its ways. One day, a young man, from a respected family in town, is discovered dead in the marsh.  No one, not even the sheriff, can figure out how he died.  Was it simply a tragic accident, or was there foul play? 

Brenda Martin-Campbell, circulation, said the following about Stephenie Meyer's Midnight Sun:

Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer is Edward’s perspective from the Twilight series. It is interesting to see a different point of view from such a popular series. It is much different than Bella’s point of view which was how the original series was written. It helps us understand Edward and his actions better. I noticed a few things were different from how the original was written, but it was still very interesting and a great read. I would recommend to any Twilight fan!

Samantha Dinnella, our newest staff member read Blood Heir by Amelie Wen Zhao and writes:

In Blood Heir, there are two types of people: humans and affinites. Affinites are people with special gifts; however, they are often abused and sold into slavery. The main character is Anastacya Mikhailo (Ana). She is the Crown Princess and a Blood Affinite. After being framed for murdering her father, Ana flees for her life. She spends a year growing stronger and hunting the man that really killed her father. She also learns of a darker conspiracy that could annihilate her entire kingdom. 

I recommend this book, and I am waiting for the sequel, Red Tigress, to come out on March 2, 2021.

Morgan Hedglin, Pearl branch manager, recommends Darling Rose Gold and writes: 

Don’t let the pretty cover fool you, this book is creepy and sinister. Based on the true story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, a victim of Münchausen syndrome by proxy (MSBP) who eventually murdered her abusive mother with her online boyfriend, Stephanie Wrobel reimagines what may have happened if the titular Rose Gold sent her mother to prison instead of killing her.

The events of the book go back and forth between present-day and 5 years earlier when the mother Patty was sent to prison. Rose Gold has agreed to let Patty have a second chance and live with her upon release, but does she or Patty have revenge in mind?

Excellent read for fans of The Act on Hulu or Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Do you have any book recommendations for us? 

Until next time, 

Happy reading! 


Friday, October 9

Escape through Time

If there has ever been a time in my life where I wanted to escape the reality of today, it has been 2020. Seems like just as soon as I have adjusted to one thing and think, “Nothing else can happen,” something “else” comes along. One of my top methods of escape is reading and nothing breaks me out more quickly than a time travel novel. For many years, it has been a favorite subject of mine. My all-time favorite time travel novel is Jack Finney’s 1970 illustrated novel, Time and Again. If you are a time travel fan and have not read this book, I would highly recommend giving it a try. Finney followed up with From Time to Time in 1995, and while it is a good read, it does not surpass Time and Again in my opinion.

Time travel novels cover a wide range of storylines. Some are alternate histories like Stephen King’s novel, 11/22/63. There are mysteries, romance, historical fiction – there is a time travel novel out there for almost every genre. Even James Lee Burke has a hint of time travel in his newest novel, A Private Cathedral. There are many fans of Diane Gabaldon’s time-traveling series, better known as Outlander. If you are awaiting the next installment, perhaps you missed the 2017 Seven Stones to Stand or Fall, which is a collection of Outlander fiction. A personal recommendation: If you like the Outlander series, try The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer. It is a novel about a neurosurgeon that time travels to Italy in 1347 during the time of the plague. 

Looking for something new to read that is different from your normal selection? Already a fan of time travel novels but do not know how to find another one? Click on the link below to our card catalog that lists 235 novels of time travel fiction. And if you happen to pick Jack Finney’s Time and Again, check back with me after you are finished. My sister and I always disagreed about the ending. You will know what I mean if you read the book. Happy reading!

CMRLS Adult Time Travel Fiction

Thursday, October 8

October Events at the Morton Library


      We are ready for Halloween at the Morton Library!  Be sure to come by on Oct 30th for Trick or Treating.  Come by anytime to pick up your treat bag.

     We also have fun stories and crafts online that you can make at home. There is something for all ages, even adults! We may not be able to have events in the library yet but there is plenty to do online, including resources to help you with your homework, school projects or making a new resume. Check out all of these ideas at CMRLS.LIB.MS.US. 

      We also have some fun Teen events going on for Teentober this month.

We have a  write and illustrate your own Halloween Graphic Novel contest  (pg13 rated please) and Write your own Scary Halloween story. The best of each category will win a small prize. Plus we are having an art contest to re-design our Acorn Children's library cards. You must be between 5-18 years old. Come by the library to pick up a registration form for this contest. The winner will win a $50 gift card!


Wednesday, September 30

Crickets: The Plaguing Sound of Tuesday Night

Crickets - urban slang for absolute stillness, complete quiet, the sound of silence. Exactly how one would imagine life inside a library with librarians shushing the few whispers that make it to the desk - except at the Forest Public Library on a Tuesday night. Post-Covid Tuesday night at the library is certainly not what it used to be. This past Tuesday night, very few patrons visited the library between the hours of 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. Crickets.

Because of its designation as late night at the library, Tuesday night was always programming night. Many of the programs were scheduled before closing; however, on very special nights, programs were scheduled after closing. These Tuesday night programs were called BACK DOOR EVENTS. Over a period of three years, the entertaining events became the most well-attended programs at the library.

BACK DOOR EVENTS were never still or quiet. Months of planning went into each program, which usually included a menu of food to fit the occasion. If the event was a book signing with an author from the Mississippi Delta, then the menu included Delta Grind grits, a magnolia cake from a local baker, and southern-fried catfish. If the event celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month, local Latino patrons served up homemade tamales, while children painted corn husks with spices and sang a traditional pinata song. And if the event celebrated the premiere of the Outlander television series, the menu included authentic Scottish fare of bannocks, shepherd's pie, and jam tarts.

Teens remember Tuesday nights for the Halloween BACK DOOR EVENTS when a corpse lay prostrate on a table filled with edible hearts, lungs, and red velvet cinnamon-roll intestines to be consumed by ghoulish protagonists from horror stories. They might eat crickets, but no one was ever quiet. These teens also rejected the clawingly sweet sentiments of Valentine's Day with a Love Bites program where sarcasm and saltiness were served up with heartbreak cookies and fries not guys! Of course, if someone asked the teens which menu stood out in their minds, it was the salute to Black History Month with pulled pork and collard green eggrolls and cornbread salad. 

Life at the library was definitely festive on Tuesday nights, whether it was celebrating St. Patrick's Day, Fourth of July, Mardi Gras, Thanksgiving with Friends, or a Camino Island Christmas with Bruce Cable bow ties. Party-goers showed their books in exchange for Mardi Gras beads, donned their Scottish plaids while listening to live bagpipes, and visited their favorite John Grisham island while reading ONE BOOK. The highlight of every BACK DOOR EVENT was food - from New Orleans etouffee to coastal crab cakes. The sound of every event was a chorus of mirth.

Now, it's just crickets. Absolute silence. Complete quiet. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote these words in The Great GatsbyLife starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall. As cooler weather indicates the change of yet another season and as libraries continue to plan virtual programs, some patrons wonder if life will ever start all over again. Some wonder if they will ever share lively conversations over delicious meals, or meet the candidates in person, or sing and dance with a live band. Some wonder if they will hear the squeal of children when the pinata bursts and everyone is scrambling on the floor for candy. Most wonder how long it will be until the next BACK DOOR EVENT.

For now, thanks to a pandemic, there is the plaguing sound of Tuesday night, which is actually no sound. Maybe a library is supposed to be quiet after all; just not this one.

Tuesday, September 8

Virtual Schooling Tips


You made the choice to virtual school your kids. Things are going okay but you have questions about how things are going. Here is a list of some ideas a teacher posted to help you feel a little more secure.

Tips for families doing virtual school:

1. Sit with your child a few times and learn the program. A lot of programs allow a child to answer twice. However, the first answer is what is counted for their grade. Often children do not understand this and so worry less about their first answer.

2. Click on all the buttons. Do this both in student and parent logins. Learn where they can see their grade. Learn where they can see their progress. It is important that they know how much they need to do a day to finish on time. Also, can you as a parent see their class syllabus or curriculum? This will let you know what they have worked on and what they will be working on.

3. Make sure they write some every day. Buy a workbook like Brain Quest (this one is really good for following standards by grade). Or have a notebook and give them a writing topic. Make sure they remember how to use a pencil.

4. Encourage them to read EVERY day. Make sure they have print outside of their computer time. Get a library card. Let your librarian help you find grade-level and books of interest to encourage reading. Set up goals for how many minutes and how many books read. Celebrate those goals.

5. Early readers have sight words to learn, make flashcards, and put them in a folder. Have a words I know side and the words I’m learning side. Help your child review these sight words regularly.

Whether virtual school, regular school, or homeschool, a key to success is for you to stay involved. Your child will be blessed and so might you.

Wednesday, August 26

Where to Donate Books during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Books can sometimes feel like our most valuable of treasures; their ability to transport, inform, and instruct can feel magical. If you are the type of person who is currently reading a blog post on a library website, I don’t think I have to make too strong a case about the feelings that books inspire.


Because of those feelings, it is understandable that we feel guilty when we run out of space in our lives or our shelves for ALL the books we would ideally like to keep. Therefore, instead of tossing our old books in the dumpster or leaving them in a box on the curb, we attempt to share the joy that these books have provided to us (or a loved one).


Here at the Flowood library, we have received MANY calls recently asking whether we are accepting book donations at this time. Unfortunately, due to the current CMRLS policy during this pandemic, we are unable to accept donations right now. Although we surely will in the future again, it is impossible to know exactly when that will be.


In the meantime, I have researched some options if you need to downsize your book collection for the foreseeable future. Wherever you decide to take your donations, please DO make sure that any books you want to donate are in good condition. A couple years ago, I stored my Harry Potter hardbacks in a place where the Mississippi heat and humidity got to them, growing mold and bending the cover. It bummed me out, but I had to throw them away, because nobody wanted to read those books! Anyway, here are some of your options.


  1. Goodwill - I called the Goodwill Center at the Crossgate Shopping Center in Pearl, and the associate I spoke to said they are accepting books. The address is 5708 Highway 80 East in Pearl, and the hours are 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. Monday - Friday. You might still want to consider calling ahead 601-664-3424.


  1. Salvation Army Family Store - The Salvation Army Store is accepting books at this time. They request no textbooks nor encyclopedias be donated. The address is 110 Presto Lane, Jackson, MS, 39206. The donation hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Please call 601-982-4881 to schedule an appointment.


  1. Big House Books - Big House Books is an organization that sends free books to Mississippians in prison and juvenile correction that request them. While they are not accepting general donations, they are currently looking for paperback copies of “dictionaries, urban fiction, CDL manuals, trade learning, GED manuals, James Patterson books, and John Grisham books.” E-mail to donate if you have any books that fit this description.


  1. Little Free Libraries - You may have probably seen a little free library before. They are book donation boxes in publicly accessible areas where you can leave and/or take books. There is a helpful (although incomplete map) in the Little Free Library Website link below, listing several in Brandon, one in Mize, and plenty in Jackson. Our friend and former librarian Lisa B. tipped me off that there is a Little Free Library in Winner’s Circle Park (across from the Flowood Library) next to the vending machines, and one on Lakeview Drive, not too far from Oakdale Elementary.


For more information, please visit these websites: