Jackson, MS -- Main Branch of the Public Library -- August 16, 2007

Can I just reiterate what I've probably said repeatedly in other posts: I love librarians.

I loved the librarians in Jackson, Mississippi who, though the executive staff was lukewarm about talking to me, feeling unfamiliar and skeptical about the idea of a blog, were still kind to me and took the initiative to tell me about their programs and show me around their library.

In retrospect, it was a small miracle, actually, when I really think about it, that anyone did speak with me. I would arrive at the library circulation or information desk unannounced, sometimes with my pack, sometimes looking like, well, I'd just stepped off a bus and hadn't slept in two days. I would explain my project, which, if I were to be completely objective, probably sounded a bit unconventional, and ask to speak to someone who would be able to tell me about what the library does for the community and let me take a photo of them (not their patrons--that would be a disruption) with something representational about their library, as I was trying to put a personal face to the public libraries across our country.

Librarians, and the people running the library show, on the whole, were very enthusiastic about my project. Though not all were eager to have their photos taken, most were very tech savvy and very interested in promoting the reading community through blogging. You can't not love the internet and be a librarian, be it to, as I heard about in Bowling Green, Kentucky, to help a child build a time machine or, as I witnessed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, locate jobs in the area. Libraries are about community and about sharing information--the same ideas behind a blog. Lots of libraries have their own blogs and some even have MySpace pages for their teen departments.

Out of respect for the executive staff there will be no internal library photos on this posting, though, the librarians informed me that they love photos. In fact, in their children's department they frequently photograph children reading so they can display the photos on a bulletin board above the drinking fountain. The kids are so proud, they said, to see their pictures up there and, after a week or so, they get to take them home.

What's great about their library? Besides the librarians themselves, tons of things: Java N' Jazz nights, from six 'til eight on Tuesday nights, featuring local musicians (the walls of the room they have it in are also lined with local artwork); the Applause series at noon on the fourth Tuesday, which draws people from the downtown area with well-known local authors, and--this was one of my all time favorites that I came across on my tour, up there with "books in a bag" for book groups and being able to check out passes to cultural events--Drama therapy. The library has formed The Welty Group, which is led by a children’s librarian, who is a trained drama therapist!

More on the library is at www.jhlibrary.com.

Thanks for all of your kind words and for being so helpful!

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