Wednesday, September 8

Library Card Sign-Up Month

Marley Dias is this year's ALA spokesperson for Library Card Sign-Up Month

A library card may just be the most valuable card you will ever own in your wallet. The resources you can obtain with this one card is almost limitless. Wouldn't you want the same for your children or family members? Just think, with this one free card you can have access to books, materials, computers access, Wi-Fi, and the list goes on. 

Let's imagine that a family with limited education resources who suddenly obtains a card for each member. They can visit the library and in "quiet" travel to lands and universes. They can witness battles where good will conquer over evil and life long lessons learned. Maybe your child has a sudden interest on why the sky is blue and the grass is green. The answer is at the library. Yes, Google and other search engines are amazing, but it's more of a challenge and maybe more rewarding to find the answer inside a book. 
Pearl Public Library
Our libraries also offers more that just books. Movies, video games, exercise equipment, and even cake pans! Who knows what you will find to enjoy within the libraries of CMRLS. Best way to find out is visit your local library and see one of our friendly librarians who will start you on your library patron journey with your own library card. But wait, there is more! Digital resources galore! Want to read on the go? We have an app called cloudLibrary. You can see all that we have to offer and even sign up online to get your own digital library card. CMRLS is the place to start. We can't wait to see you at the library!

Wednesday, September 1

Banned Books Week

Yes Yes Yes, every year, we report on the same books that have been challenged (meaning not actually banned but was attempted to be removed or restricted based upon the objections of a person or group) or banned over the years.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Animal Farm by George Orwell

The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowlings

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

But this year I wanted to focus on worldwide books that have been banned. 

D.H Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover (1928), Jackie Collins's The Stud (1969) and Bret Ellis's American Psycho (1991) are among some of the books once banned in Australia.

In Ireland:
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley was banned in 1932, due to alleged references of sexual promiscuity.
Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger was banned in October 1951.
Borstal Boy by Brendan Behan was banned in 1958. The Irish Censorship of Publications Board was not obliged to reveal its reason but it is believed that it was rejected for its critique of Irish republicanism and the Catholic Church, and its depiction of adolescent sexuality.
The Country Girls by Edna O'Brien was banned by Ireland's censorship board in 1960 for its explicit sexual content.
The Lonely Girl by Edna O'Brien was banned in 1962 after Archbishop John Charles McQuaid complained personally to Justice Minister Charles Haughey that it "was particularly bad".

United Kingdom:
I thought this one was interesting:
Boy by James Hanley 
Hanley’s literary classic charts the short and brutish life of a boy who was unfairly neglected and forced out of school into the unforgiving world of work by his father. He escapes by running away to sea, but his exposure to the brutality that men are capable of only deepens his feelings of rejection. Narrated with unflinching language, it offers a visceral and acute observation of power imbalances. When Boy was initially published in the 1930s, it was prosecuted for obscenity due to the overtly violent writing and remained banned from 1935 until 1991. When the new British edition appeared in the early Nineties, there were significant omissions.  

In the 16th century, Spain had banned the Bible! But what is also interesting is that it has not been banned anywhere else. Challenged a lot? Yes!

If you really want to be bad you must read Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov or Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawerence. Both have been banned in more than 5 countries! 

Besides being challenged in the United States, Animal Farm by George Orwell was banned in Russia, Vietnam, and United Arab Emirates, and then some!

I would like to end with this quote from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: 

Tuesday, August 24

Introducing our new eBook/Audiobook app cloudLibrary


We apologize for any inconvenience, but Axis360 is no longer available. Please download our new free service, cloudLibrary. Enjoy eBooks and Audiobooks on your electronic devices.* 

You can scan the QR code with your smart device, or go to Your cloudLibrary to sign up. You will need your library card number and pin to start this service. 

Compatible Devices:

Monday, August 23

A Message From CMRLS Director, Mara V. Polk


August 23, 2021 
Dear Valued Library Patrons: 
On behalf of our entire family of libraries, we want to thank you for your support during the past couple of months. We are especially thankful for the financial support from our government leadership in Rankin, Scott, Simpson and Smith Counties.  
Our Central Mississippi Regional Library System Board of Trustees and Library Team are committed to providing traditional library services as well as digital services which include access to eContent (eBooks and eAudios), Databases, and free Wi-Fi at all branches.  
Currently, all libraries are open and available to the public. Most libraries are all open at their pre-pandemic operating hours. Each branch has hand sanitizer and masks for patron and staff use. We are recommending that patrons and staff wear masks, but it is not required. Because of the popularity and demand, our libraries are still offering curbside services.
All book returns are open. All returned materials are cleaned before they are shelved. Study rooms/spaces and meeting rooms are available for use. All public access computers are available for use.  Free Wi-Fi can be accessed on the outside of the library building. We are offering virtual and limited in-person programs mostly story time, book clubs and Friends of the Library meetings. All programs require pre-registration. Visit us on our website: for more information.  
Thank you for being a CMRLS patron!  Be safe and be well. 
Warm regards,  
Mara V. Polk, Director 
(601) 825-0100 ext. 101

Friday, August 20

A Pattern Story: August Book Club

 "...every story is a pattern story."  ~~ A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, George Saunders

According to George Saunders, no writer begins his or her great work of fiction with the idea, "I think I'll write a pattern story" or "What this story needs is pattern." And yet, no matter how funny, beautiful, complicated, or bizarre, every story is a pattern story.

Life, in itself, is a pattern story, though we rarely recognize repetition as part of the process. The same is true with stories. For example, all rags to riches stories follow the same pattern. The protagonist starts out with hard times, then an opportunity presents itself which leads to a change of fortune or the ability to overcome the original adversity. The characters and/or circumstances might be different, but the pattern is the same. The same is true for rebirth. The lead in the story is experiencing darkness - physical, spiritual, or maybe even other-worldly. He succumbs to the torture that is his life until an unexpected intervention breaks through the bondage. Once free, the main character begins to live life with peace and happiness. 

A pattern story can also be compared to the acts of a play. In comedy, the protagonist is characterized as pretty normal - the pizza guy, the beat cop, the lawyer, the dogwalker, or the loafer. Their life is upended by an unusual and unexpected conflict, which is perpetuated by their self-deluded desire to find a solution. The involvement of the main character usually results in even greater chaos, until he or she returns to normal life. In drama, the story follows an opposite pattern. Maybe everything is okay or great or even perfect in the beginning. Then a problem arises that usually descends from bad to worse. Finally, the story hits rock bottom. All hope is lost - or maybe not! Could there be a way out? A way to rise above the waves and make it to the shore? At the very end, once the main character finds salvation, he learns a lesson he never forgets - a gift that came out of the darkness.

As with the other exercises, once a reader begins to recognize pattern, it becomes difficult to overlook. Tragedy, mystery, adventure, romance - every story is a pattern story. If the main character is overcoming a monster (real or imagined), he restores peace and calm by facing down the foe that seeks to wreak havoc upon his society, his family, or himself. If the protagonist is beginning a quest, he answers a call to act, sets out on a journey, encounters troubles that threaten and overwhelm, and finally, by whatever means necessary, finds the inner strength or outside help to restore peace - usually accompanied by a new perspective of life or greater responsibility. 

When you strip a story down to its barest bones, similarities of pattern exist. Even the most original ideas for fiction follow a pattern, which is sometimes described as formulaic or predictable; however, readers are often creatures of habit when it comes to genre fiction. If readers prefer romance, they have general expectations of pattern. The protagonists meet, experience an attraction, reject the relationship on one or both sides, face a midpoint crisis, confess their deepest secrets and fears, break up completely, recognize their misery and loss, and complete the pattern with a declaration of love and a happy ending.

Pattern is expected in all genres; it is why readers read what they do. In fantasy, the pattern involves a hero's journey. In horror, the reader waits for the unexpected horrifying twist that is totally expected. If the reader is bored, he or she might choose adventure which provides an adrenaline high. Or maybe they want to read fiction that shocks the senses with its graphic realism. These novels still follow a definite arc with internal struggles laid bare for all to see. Armed with preexisting prejudices and judgments, realistic fiction combines the main characters' layers of motivations, fears, and desires with adverse external circumstances and internal conflict - creating what is known as the framed narrative, or the story within the story.

Saunders is correct in his statement: "every story is a pattern story." The best writers master the art of a pattern story, and readers return to their favorite genres and authors time and again to find that formula they crave. From Agatha Christie's crime fiction to Julia Quinn's regency romance to Michael Farris Smith's gothic Southern realism, pattern is what readers expect. The difficult task for the writer is to create an addiction to pattern from which the reader never recovers.

Please make plans to attend the Forest Public Library adult book club on Tuesday, August 24, at 6:00 p.m. as members discuss pattern in the books they are currently reading and in their favorite genres. Pre-packaged snacks, bottled water, and canned drinks will be provided.

Monday, August 2

Library Card Night at Trustmark Park


August is here, bringing with it the end of summer break and the beginning of a new school year. The Central Mississippi Regional Library System is here to make the 2021-2022 school year a successful year for students and teachers. As part of our Back to School promotion this year we are partnering with the Mississippi Braves for Library Card Night at Trustmark Park! Library Card Night will be August 28 at 6:05 p.m. Just show your CMRLS library card and you can get up to four guests in the game for $3 each. Check out our online calendar for other Back to School events at your library. Hope to see you soon! 

Saturday, July 17

July events at the Morton Library


Summer reading is still going strong! We still have a lot of fun online activities for all ages.

For adults, we have Blue Feather Bakery and fun crafts to make.

For Tweens/Teens, we have Who's Tail is it Anyway? Trivia.

We have lots of Preschool Story Times, the Hattiesburg Zoo, and the Mississippi Aquarium!

These are all great virtual events that you can enjoy as a family.

Our in-house Family Story Time is July 8 at 5 p.m. Be sure to go to our online calendar to register for this event or call the library at 601-732-6288.

The link to register is below.

We are still having take-home crafts each week to pick up at the library so there is no excuse to be bored this summer, we've got something for everyone! 

There is always something to enjoy at the Library!

Wednesday, July 7

Online Resources Available at Your Fingertips

 In our mission to ensure we have free and easy to access resources for our patrons, we have online tools available to help students, teachers, job seekers, and many others. We have online tools from test prep to world books online, and if you do not see what you are looking for on our website then one of our librarians will be happy to help direct you in the right direction.

Highlighted Online Tools

ACT and Other Test Prep Resources

From the ACT to the ASVAB test we have you covered with practice tests to study guides. Some may require you to log in with your library card and pin.


If you are needing to write a research paper here is the tool for you. Magnolia provides a large collection of newspapers, periodicals, reference books, journals, etc.

Mississippi DMV Practice Tests 
This DMV tool gives you access to practice tests if you needing your permit or driver's license. It also provides tests and manuals for cars, CDL, and motorcycles.

Job Resources 
By going to this tool you will see many links that will take you to websites to find jobs or books about how to find a job.

By using your library card to log in you will have access to 5 free music downloads a week and stream playlists for 3 hours each day.

Rocket Languages 

Needing to learn a new language for work or just for fun? Rocket Languages offers 15 different languages including American Sign Language.

Tuesday, June 29

Happy Audiobooks Month!

When I was a little girl, how I loved it when my mother read to me! Her voice was so soothing, and she always put just the right amount of inflection in her voice. When I was a little older, my Science teacher, Mrs. Jan Burrows, would read to us and boy was she good! (She was the one who introduced Edgar Allen Poe to me). 

To this day, I still love people reading to me, so I check out audiobooks.  

But Mrs. Frances that is cheating! No, it is not. Everyone has different learning styles: Visual (spatial) Learner, Aural (auditory) Learner, Verbal (linguistic) Learner, Physical (kinesthetic) Learner, Logical (mathematical) Learner, Social (interpersonal) Learner, and Solitary (intrapersonal) Learner. *

I happen to be part visual and aural. 

So if you like being read to, try an audiobook.  I would suggest anything read by Jim Dale. He has narrated all of the Harry Potter books and he narrated Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I listened to Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper through our Axis 360 app. Not something I was wanted to read, but Dale kept me captivated. 

Tim Curry narrated the Lemony Snickett series entitled, The Series of Unfortunate Events. He brought the evil out in Count Olaf. 

Need a good laugh? Try David Sedaris. He is always too funny! Me Talk Pretty One Day, Naked, and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim are my favorites.

I like to listen to George Guidall. I enjoyed him reading, The Cat Who series by Lillian Jackson Braum (I can't help it, I loooove cozy mysteries!) but he also does Vince Flynn's series, Mitch Rapp. 

So give it a try. Instead of having the TV on while you are cleaning the house, listen to an audiobook! In the car? Put in an audiobook. I talked to one lady and she listens to audiobooks while she crochets!


Monday, June 28

The Heart of a Story

The July adult book club at the Forest Public Library focuses on the second exercise of A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders, entitled The Heart of a Story. According to Saunders, great writers use elements of structure and form to carry the reader to a pivotal point where they can't go any further without being fully engaged, wholly committed, and forever changed. He describes this place as the heart of the story, and he uses the example of a literal cart to reach that destination.

In the exercise, Saunders loads the cart with TICHN (Things I Couldn't Help Noticing). He explains that if readers pay special attention, they "enter into a transactional relationship with the writer." The reader begins to fill his TICHN cart with observations. These observations take the reader beyond the summary inside the front cover of the book.

In the beginning, the heart of the story is very much like a human heart. The reader knows that it is beating with a pulse, "What next...what next...what next," but it remains hidden from view. Sometimes it is buried within a file or dossier of information that the writer deems important to respect the reader; however, carrying the weight of too much information can cause the reading energy to drop.

At this point, the writer must shed the excess to protect the heart. How much of the back story is necessary? When is digression allowed? How much repetition is acceptable? What about causation - investigating the role, impact, or association of specific occurrences within the story? Is it important to present pages and pages of detailed descriptions about certain characters to fully introduce them to the reader? Does the reader need to know the tiniest details of each interaction or decision in order to be informed? How does this process apply to the more modern reader who prefers minimal descriptions - showing versus telling - the Ruthless Efficiency Principle or the Hollywood Version?  According to Saunders, "The writer revises, the painter touches up, the director edits, the musician overdubs."

And the heart of the story continues to beat...pounding, fluttering, racing. Over and over, the reader reviews his cart of TICHN. The writer and reader are moving closer towards the life force of the story. A bond is strengthened; all parties are engaged. No matter what happens at this point, the writer-reader agreement is solid - the heart of the story is opening. Even as the cavity is revealed, every layer is removed, and every consideration is critical, the reader trusts the writer to bring closure.

Finally, the reader reaches the final page. The contents of his TICHN cart have brought him to this place - the stopping place. If the writer has been successful, the book has become a thing of movement, of fear, of change, of love, of life. And that life is claimed by the heart of the story.

Be sure to register for either one of the July adult book clubs scheduled for Tuesday, July 13, at 2:00 p.m. and Tuesday, July 27, at 6:00 p.m. Both meetings are held in the Forest Public Library conference room and prepackaged snacks are provided. 

Tuesday, June 22

The Job Process

Here in library world we have job positions that come open and must be filled, so we can effectively serve the needs of the public. It is often a slow and tedious process, but we want to get the right applicant for the job position being applied for.

Over the course of my career(s) I have been called in a number of times to do an interview for a position that I had applied for. It did not always go well. Sometimes it went too well. At the end of the day I may have not gotten the job, but I did get to practice my interview skills. I would do better next time.

Interviews have certain requirements such as dressing and behaving in a professional manner. A candidate must feel comfortable answering and asking questions over the course of the interview. It's important not to be nervous. How do you approach such a problem? Learn to relax.

The job application is an essential part of the job hiring process. It is also helpful to have a cover letter and a resume. From this we can determine the literacy level of the job candidate. Can they read and write? 

From the amount of effort that is put into the job application we can often assess how much effort a candidate will be willing to put into the job.

The candidate must be qualified for the position for which he or she is applying and the job application will help determine this.

Working at a library can be a challenging and rewarding experience.
We owe it to the community to hire the right candidate for the positions we have open.

Monday, June 14

Consider an Author's Debut

When CMRLS staff order new materials for our libraries, you may think it is a simple activity; however, you would be mistaken. Speaking from almost 20 years of personal experience, it is an often stressful yet always fun activity. Some months it is easy to spend your budget, even exceed your budget, so you must cull through the selections and trim the order. Other months it takes a lot of research to complete the acquisition process. When preparing an order, there are many things to consider. Using myself as an example, many of the patrons that utilize my branch read thrillers, psychological, mystery, and romance fiction; however, it is my responsibility to have a diverse collection so I must also order fantasy, science fiction, western, etc., genres. It is easy to add best sellers and well-known authors to the list, but when I look at debut authors or authors unknown to me, it is necessary to research, read the reviews, and look at other information available.

Recently, I ordered a debut author’s title, The Sweet Taste of Muscadines by Pamela Terry. I read the reviews, looked at the cover and decided to give it a try. The final decision for pushing the order button, however, was the fact that the word muscadine was in the title. The branch where I work has hosted a Muscadine Jubilee for years, so I suppose my decision was based somewhat on non-professional reasons. The book arrived and went into the area for new fiction. It was checked out several times and two different patrons mentioned to me that I needed to read this book. (As an aside, despite popular misconceptions, librarians do not sit around and read all day.) Given the recommendations, I checked out the book and started reading.

Sometimes I read debut titles and they are wonderful; other times, let’s face it, there are some duds out there. Or maybe I should say, not every book is for every reader. The Sweet Taste of Muscadines was an awesome read. Lila and her brother, Henry, return to their southern home when their elderly mother dies unexpectedly. In the book, Lila reflects on funerals, thinking they are “a time not only of great emotion, which is at least expected, but also of enormous tension and even, occasionally, uncomfortable revelation. Secrets are spilled at southern funerals.” And then she proceeds to share some of those revelations she is aware of. “Peter Wood asked his wife for a divorce at his father’s funeral, and right before they lowered Sonny Culpepper’s mother into the ground, his Aunt Lois told him she was not really his aunt but was in fact his sister.” When Lila and Henry arrive home to plan their mother’s funeral with their sister, Abigail, nothing goes as expected and a secret is revealed that changes their entire family history. A secret that sends Lila and Henry on a journey pursuing the truth. I highly recommend this book. It will make you laugh; it will make you cry; it will leave you impacted by its story. I already have a note in my file to keep a watch out for her second book which the back cover informs she is currently writing.

Let me encourage you to seek out first books. Look in the stacks for them. Just because a book is not on a best seller list or by a best-selling author does not mean it is not worth reading. You might discover an author’s once-in-a-lifetime treasure or start a journey with an author that will produce many more delightful stories. Remember Delia Owens whose debut novel Where the Crawdads Sing was on the New York Times best seller list for a total of 124 weeks? Or John Grisham whose debut novel A Time to Kill did not become well known until his second novel The Firm became a best seller? As for The Sweet Taste of Muscadines, you may request your copy by clicking the link below. Let us know if you discover some treasures.

Request a copy.


Thursday, June 10

The Theatre of the Imagination

Before television there was radio, an entertainment medium that employed the Theatre of the Mind. This format involved utilizing the imagination, not the visual stimulus used today.

Radio shows were common during this time period and my favorite show was The Shadow. He was an invisible crimefighter who "knew what evil lurked in the hearts of men." He was compelled to fight evil with all the resources at his disposal.

The Shadow was written by Walter Gibson and initially portrayed by Orson Welles. One of my favorite episodes, The Silent Avenger, aired back in March of 1938. I remember it well sitting by the fireplace. It was the highlight of my evening.

I miss the radio shows of yesteryear. But eventually my radio nostalgia had to come to an end with the advent of television. 

At the Flowood Library we have an impressive collection of audiobooks to listen to. So while we do not have radio shows, we can check out an audiobook and pretend for a while. 

The Theatre of the Mind, the theatre of the imagination lives on.

Monday, June 7

A Page at a Time

American author and epic fantasy writer Terry Goodkind said, "A book is read one page at a time. A shelf is read one book at a time. A library is read one shelf at a time." 

The most amazing journey of a reader begins a page at a time. Even as a small child, the act of turning the page is one of deliberate movement. Teachers witness the phenomenon all the time. As a child learns to read, he/she develops decision-making skills with each positive or negative reaction to a single page. A child cannot always identify where a story is headed, but they know almost immediately if they want to find out. If they are not interested by page one, they might not even make it to page two.

Adults are the same, even though our power of deductive reasoning has been strengthened over time with practice and repetition. In the book, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, George Saunders gives an example of how this process is so critical to the response of the reader: "In the first pulse of the story, the writer is like a juggler, throwing pins into the air. The rest of the story is the catching of those pins. At any point in the story, certain pins are up there and we can feel them. We'd better feel them. If not, the story has nothing out of which to make its meaning."

Each page presents the possibility of a pivotal moment for the writer and reader. The writer decides what will happen next, and the reader decides if he wants to know. Children understand this concept with their first bedtime stories. One page can introduce a warning, and they anticipate a pin drop. One page can create specific curiosity about a setting like a beautiful castle, or a dark wood, or a candy-coated cottage. One page can initiate a conflict that even the youngest listener recognizes as trouble. Saunders calls this "a linear temporal phenomenon."

In classic logic, formulas are fixed. Monday comes before Tuesday. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Everything is absolute - true or false. The simplest definition of linear temporal logic is that a condition is true until another fact becomes true or an expected condition will eventually be true if the path continues. However...if a subsequent path appears in time, one questions if the expected condition will remain true forever or never be true at all. Isn't that the very definition of reading?

That scientific formula is supported by the bowling pins example. We know they are up there - in the air - and we feel that we understand their trajectory. But, once again, what might happen, what needs to happen, or what will happen remains in the air until we turn the page.

If you are not able to attend the Forest Public Library book club in person, please enjoy the exercise presented in the book: Read one page and answer the following questions: Without looking at the page, 1) What do you know so far? 2) What are you curious about? 3) Where do you think the story is headed?

Consider this final quote from the book as we complete the first exercise. "It's kind of exciting to pause here and admit that, as things stand, it's not yet a story. Not yet. And I'm going to claim, right now, that by the end, it's going to be a great story. So, there's something essential to learn here about the form itself: whatever converts not yet a story into great story is going to happen any minute now, over this next (last) page."

Friday, June 4

Tucked Inside a Fire Station is a Library!

 Summer is the best time of year to visit the Reservoir Library. Yes, it's warm outside and the library is cool, but there are so many other things to do here besides visit the library. Did you know that this time of year is gator season? The firefighters pointed one out to us last Friday morning in the waterway behind the library/fire station. It was seven feet of awesomeness! So, while you while away a hot summer day reading in our easy chair, you can glance outside and gator-watch.

This area has other forms of wildlife that always keep the view interesting. There are beautiful cranes that fish the waterway. We also have two families of geese. What's cuter than a teenage gosling? Bird and gator watching not your cup of tea? Why not go fishing? If you're lucky, one of the firemen may join you. I love a good fish fry, hint-hint.

The botanical garden is also located here. The mile-long walk is dog-friendly and shaded. It's very peaceful, and if you call the Rankin County Board of Supervisors, you can reserve a pavilion and have a picnic. 

Lastly, the best part of being located in the fire station, is that we get to visit with our brave firefighters and see them in action. They make us feel safe in our little corner of the world.

The Relevancy of Public Libraries

Do you think public libraries are a white elephant, an institution that is no longer relevant? I thought for a moment. Actually I was surprised to hear such a question. Wasn't it obvious that public libraries are still an important and vital asset to the community? Yet this highly intelligent person did not understand the need for the public library.

Each librarian employed within the Flowood Library is a problem solver, capable of providing basic library services to patrons in need, but also able to go beyond the call of duty to solve problems that a patron would never be able to solve without help.

Here are a few examples:

A young woman walks in and needs assistance typing up a vehicle title. This would require the use of a typewriter. What's a typewriter? Do they even have those anymore? I sat down with her and she handed me the document to type. She also handed me some carbon paper. I hadn't seen carbon paper since the 80s, but I still remembered how to use it. It was precision typing. Making a mistake was not an option. I completed the task and handed her the documents.

I had a patron who needed air put in her tires. I was certified in the use of a tire gauge and a bicycle pump, but I reached for my portable air compressor and we went outside. Putting air in a tire seems to be a challenge for some patrons. I solved her problem. She went happily on her way.

A librarian is the Jack or Jill of all trades, but a master of none. If we don't have the answer to the patron's question, then we know someone who knows someone who has the answer. A librarian is like a human search engine.

The public library is here to stay for as long as people need information assistance, as long as there is one unique problem to solve. All you need is a library card. Most of what we offer is available free of charge. Our purpose here is to improve literacy, but also to help build a better community.

I sit back in my office chair and look at the time. It's later in the afternoon. I hope it will be a peaceful evening. One of my department managers is standing at my office door. She tells me that there is a problem in the Children's Department. Two teenagers, a boy and girl are sitting too close together. Young love, I remember it well. I glance over at my squirt gun.

"I'll take care of it," I said.

Thursday, June 3

The Richland Library In June

 Starting Monday, June 7, 2021, Preschool Story Time is back.  Each week we will have books, songs, and a craft designed for children ages birth to preschool age.  At this time participants must register via the online calendar or inside the library. We are limiting each program to 30 minutes and 12 participants. The meeting room will be sanitized before and after each program.  

Monday, June 7th at 11:00 a.m. we will be reading books about watermelons and we will be making watermelons out of paper plates.  Click here to sign up for this program.

Monday, June 14th at 11:00 a.m. we will be reading books about balloons and we will be making animals out of balloons. Click here to sign up for this program. Registration begins on May 31, 2021.

Monday, June 21st at 11:00 a.m. we will be reading books about birds and we will be making a bird out of tissue paper and paper plates.  Click here to sign up for this program.  Registration begins on June 7, 2021. 

Monday, June 28th at 11:00 a.m. we will be reading books about frogs and we will be making a lily pad name craft.  Click here to sign up for this program. Registration begins on June 14, 2021. 

The Richland Library Book Club will meet on Tuesday, June 22nd at 11:00 a.m.  We will be discussing "Where the Crawdads Sing" by Delia Owens.  Click here to sign up for this program.  Registration begins on June 8, 2021.  At this time we will not be serving refreshments, but you may bring a snack for yourself.  Click here to request a copy of "Where the Crawdads Sing" or stop by the Richland Library and pick up a copy of the Book Club Display.  

Wednesday, June 2

Sebastopol June Happenings


Our Summer Library Program is almost here! 

June 7 - July 16, 2021

Sign up today in your local library or online with Beanstack.
Beanstack has added a “Friends” tab to the Beanstack page. Those registered in Beanstack will be able to share their “Friend Code” with family, friends, classmates, etc. This means if you are Beanstack Friends with someone they will be able to see your badges, what challenges you are in, and your reading log. If you don’t want anyone to see these things, you don’t share your “Friend Code”. Friends can see a leaderboard where all your friends are listed and can compete against each other.

Once you are signed up for Beanstack you are able to complete reading goals to be entered into a Grand Prize drawing at your library. Depending on your age group you will have different challenges and a different prize drawing, as listed below: 

Preschool - 5 books - a Prize Basket
Kids (K - 4th grade) - 5 books- a $25 gift card
Tween (5th - 8th grade) - 5 books- a $25 gift card
Teen ( 9th - 12th grade) - 3 books - a $25 gift card
Adult - 3 books - a $25 gift card

If you need any assistance using Beanstack or logging your books, your neighborhood librarians are always happy to help.

In-House Program

Family Story Time

Wednesday, June 09, 2021, at 11:00 AM - 11:30 AM

Join us for Story Time!  We will have stories, music, and a craft. This week's theme is Farm Animal Tales! Registration is required by phone, in the library, or online HERE.

Virtual Programs


  • Freedom Ranch: June 11 @ 9:00 a.m.
  • Police K-9 Department: June 18 @ 9:00 a.m.
  • Museum of Science: June 25 @ 9:00 a.m.

  • Craft With Rhoda Benton: June 10
  • Author Visit with Suzanne Woods Fisher: June 17

  • Pokemon Trivia: June 10
  • Pokeball Terrarium (Take Home Craft): June 10

Click HERE for more Summer Library Programs around our other libraries.

Sunday, May 30

Who Do We Honor and When?

When it comes to honoring our military, past and present, it can get confusing. Today we celebrate Memorial Day which, for many, signals the start of summer. Though it may be the start of the summer season for many of us, this day is meant to honor those men and women that served in our military and made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives in defense of our country.

Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and was started in the late 1860s as a nationwide day of remembrance for the many soldiers that lost their lives during the Civil War. As America became involved in other wars: World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the day evolved into a holiday to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars. For decades, the holiday was May 30, but in 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for Federal employees. This change went into effect in 1971, and since that time, Memorial Day has been set as the last Monday of May.

So now we know, Memorial Day is not to honor existing military personnel or to honor individuals that previously served in the military but to REMEMBER THE FALLEN, those brave men and women that made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. If you wish to celebrate someone currently serving in one of the five military branches, National Armed Forces Day is the third Saturday in May. To honor military veterans, Veterans Day is November 11.

As we participate in picnics, reunions, etc., this weekend, let us remember that many have given their lives for the freedom we enjoy.

Thursday, May 27

What I Learned from Four Russians and a Syracuse Professor

Librarians love to learn. If they say they don't, then their career choice is questionable. Most times, the pendulum swing from learning too much to never learning enough can be overwhelming, but one thing is for sure - the quest never stops. Such is the case of A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life by George Saunders and the idea for an adult book club.

The responsibility of planning and hosting a monthly adult book club at a CMRLS branch can be challenging. Book clubs take many forms, such as each member reading the same book and sharing insights, or selecting books following a certain theme or genre, or choosing books by a specific author or about famous (and infamous) people. The one common denominator is that each participant should learn something, so librarians do their best to make book clubs interesting, engaging, thought-provoking, and memorable.

As the branch manager of the Forest Public Library, I know the process well. When I started reading A Swim in a Pond in the Rain at the same time the Covid restrictions eased for resuming adult book clubs, I knew I had been given a fresh perspective. What could I learn about MYSELF in a book club? Could a book club answer the small questions, such as, what makes a reader keep reading or what makes the reading experience satisfying and what doesn't? What do the answers to those questions say about me as the reader? Could a book club answer the big questions? Consider this quote from the author in the book's introduction:

"We are going to enter seven fastidiously constructed scale models of the world, made for a specific purpose that our time maybe doesn't specifically endorse but that these writers accepted implicitly as the aim of art - namely to ask the big questions: How are we supposed to be living down here? What were we put here to accomplish? What should we value? What is truth, anyway, and how might we recognize it? How can we feel any peace when some people have everything and others have nothing? How are we supposed to live with joy in a world that seems to want us to love other people but then roughly separates us from them in the end, no matter what?
(You know, those cheerful, Russian kinds of big questions.)

He follows that paragraph with another question: If a story drew us in, kept us reading, made us feel respected, how did it do that? That is the question we want to answer during the next six months. The first chapter is entitled "A Page at a Time," and consists of a story, discussion, and afterthoughts. During the month of June, book club participants are asked to share one page from any book they have read or are currently reading, tell the group why they selected the page, and comment on what curiosity the page creates. Using the book as an impromptu guide, the book club format will follow the accompanying reading exercise of each chapter. Sharing only one pre-selected page, "we'll take stock of where we find ourselves. What has that page done to us? What do we know, having read the page, that we didn't know before? How has our understanding of the story changed? What are we expecting to happen next? If we want to keep reading, why do we?

According to Saunders, that's the million-dollar question: What makes a reader keep reading? We can answer because we want to, but why do we want to? Each month's book club discussion will be followed with afterthoughts on the CMRLS news blog, along with an introduction to the next month's reading exercise. Registration for the Forest Public Library book club is required. Space is limited to 12 participants for each Tuesday time slot. Prepackaged snacks, canned drinks, and bottled water will be provided. 

The more we learn, the more we connect with others. One final quote from the book as we embark on this six-month learning experience:
"These days, it's easy to feel that we've fallen out of connection with one another and with the earth and with reason and with love. I mean: we have. But to read, to write, is to say that we still believe in, at least, the possibility of connection."

Wednesday, May 26

Never Judge a Book by Its Cover

Many strange things happen in library land on a daily basis. One thing that the library offers is notary services, and sometimes we get an odd one or two. 

One day I found myself sitting at a table assisting a library patron in my job as a notary for the public library. I looked up at the patron I was helping with a notary document. The patron had a  10-year-old child with them, who looked up at me with curious eyes. This person did not look like the type to need the document I was working on.  

I finished notarizing the document and handed the paperwork to the patron. It was a carry and conceal application for a firearms permit. 

The grandmother took the documents, paid $3.00 for the notary service, gathered her paperwork and started walking out of the library. She called to her grandson and the little boy got out of his chair and followed his grandmother.

I returned to my office to finish my lunch and read the latest news on the computer. Never judge a book by its cover folks. It will always surprise you. 

The Flowood Library offers notary services for a nominal fee of $3. Notary services are available Monday - Wednesday, and Friday from 9:30 - 5:30; 10 - 7 on Thursday. Additional times are also available by appointment.  

Tuesday, May 25

Learning a new craft is easy at the library


One of the fun things I have found about being a librarian is the need to research for ideas that will be interesting to others. Pinterest becomes your friend. After finding a new idea you experiment with it to decide if this is something maybe others in your community would find interesting and would like to try. A couple of simple paper crafts that I discovered were quilling and iris paper folding.


Quilling or paper filigree is an art form that involves the use of strips of paper that are rolled, shaped, and glued together to create decorative designs. The paper is rolled, looped, curled, twisted, and otherwise manipulated to create shapes that make up designs to decorate with. This art form has been around for centuries. This craft can be simple or extremely difficult depending on your skill and creativity. My creativity is the type that follows other people's plans with just a little twist of my own. I did a couple of classes about quilling and know at least one who it became a fun art form for her.

                                            quilling                        iris paper folding

 A new craft I have found is called iris paper folding. Iris folding is a papercraft technique that involves folding and taping strips of colored paper in such a way as to form a design. The center of the design forms an iris—a shape reminiscent of the iris diaphragm of a camera lens. Iris paper folding originated in 20th-century Holland.


Iris folding is done with a pattern. The crafter uses the finished product to decorate the front of a greeting card, as a scrapbook embellishment, or to decorate with. Strips of colored paper are folded and taped in place following a specific pattern. In February, here at Raleigh, we did a valentine card with a heart on the front. This June there will be available a kit to make an elephant. The finished product will be 8 ½ by 11 inches. It gives the appearance of being difficult but is an easy craft to do once you understand the simple concept.


I have always wanted to be artistic but just don’t have the gene for it, so I find it fun to create using the ideas that those who were creative before me have shown the way. Why not check out your library to see what new creative skills you can learn.