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Previous Stories From What's New

These are stories that are between 90 days and a year old.

Previous Stories From What's New

Gaston Park Library Customers Celebrate Black History Month in Creative Way – Setting Positive Examples

By: Marcey Wright

Honoring past generations by helping future ones, customers at Gaston Park Library (1040 South Third) will celebrate Black History Month by forming an African American Book Club, set to launch at the branch Saturday, February 15, 2014, 2 pm – 4 pm.

“The purpose of the African American Book Club is to heighten awareness of black writers, poets, and playwrights from the past to the present,” said Gaston Park Library Branch Manager Inger Upchurch. “Our (adult) customers expressed an interest in establishing the book club to stress the need for reading and to serve as an example for children and teens.”

Following the lead of other Memphis Public Libraries, Gaston Park Library will continue its journey into the past during the second Saturday of each month (2 pm – 4 pm) and will host a local guest writer each quarter.

“African American literature is rich with knowledge that’s right at customers’ fingertips,” Upchurch continued. “The book club will spotlight a collection of classic African American fiction and nonfiction books, from Toni Morrison’s Bluest Eyes to Ben Carson’s Gifted Hands. We will start with reading an all-time favorite, Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” said Upchurch. “We hope customers will learn information about African American history, life experiences, and pride!”

For more information about the African American Book Club at Gaston Park Library, call (901) 415-2769.

Tuesdays at the Library Mean Teens and Technology

By: Marcey Wright

Teens, mark your calendar for Teen Tech Tuesdays at Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library!Teens and technology will unite at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library (3030 Poplar Avenue) for Teen Tech Tuesdays (TTT), free and interactive sessions allowing teens a chance to learn today’s cutting edge technology for tomorrow’s world of work.

“TTT isn’t really a class,” explained Nancy Knight, assistant director of community outreach and special projects. “It’s like a ‘free period’ for experimenting and learning. IT professionals, graphic artists, and film makers will attend some sessions to discuss tech careers or offer hands-on instruction in film editing, photo editing, and other topics of interest.”

Thanks to funding from Best Buy, the Memphis Public Library Foundation purchased the latest technical gadgets for teens to freely explore each Tuesday, 2:30 pm – 5 pm at Central Library. Philanthropic organization Friends of the Library will provide snacks for participants during programs also.

Laptops, tablets, cameras, and tripods are a few of the devices teens can choose from, and organizers say more is on the way. “Soon we will add keyboards and a beat station as well, so teens can learn basic music editing. We will add equipment that is the latest and greatest in terms of quality and capability,” Knight said. “This will provide teens with an opportunity to do more with devices than just surf the Internet or update Instagram and Twitter.”

Largely driven by teens’ interest, Teen Tech Tuesdays will offer the tools and guidance teens say they want to learn. Knight commented, “If teens are interested in something specific and we don’t have instructors, we will reach out to the Library’s community partners to find someone who can offer the instruction they need. Plus, our teen librarians will provide Library resources for teens to explore independently.”

More than books alone within Library walls, Memphis Public Libraries are committed to “satisfying customers’ need to know” through technological advancement now and far into the future. “Assisting customers with finding the information they are looking for is the traditional role of the Library,” Knight concluded, “but TTT embodies the future of Library services!”

For more information about Teen Tech Tuesdays, call (901) 415-2726 or email Keshia.Williams@memphistn.gov.

Cordova Library Offers Customers Cheap Rates on ‘International Travel’

By: Marcey Wright

International Storytimes at Cordova Library take children and families around the world!

International travel just got a lot cheaper for Memphis Public Library customers. Children and families can experience the sights and sounds from around the world at one of Cordova Library’s International Storytimes.

“Each program is presented by someone who has either lived in another country or is from another country,” explained Sharon Evrard, storytime organizer and Cordova Branch librarian. “Presenters are allowed to include anything they feel best highlights their homeland.”

In addition to great storytelling, regulars to International Storytimes have enjoyed Indian and German folk dances, viewed Nigerian movies, played Native American games inspired by the Chickasaw and Cherokee tribes, enjoyed Chinese and Korean dance performances, and even shopped at an Ethiopian marketplace offering food, clothing, brassware, and lots more! Evrard said the topics of discussion are nearly endless. “We have learned about landforms and weather in desert and tropical countries, about the history of other countries, as well as schools and favorite foods kids enjoy in different parts of the world,” she said.

The "itinerary" of 2014 International Storytimes (11 am) is below!

  • March 15 – Poland
  • May 10 – Turkey
  • July 12 – Nicaragua
  • September 13 – Ukraine
  • November 8 – Mexico

First started in 2005, the program began as a way to celebrate diversity in the Cordova community but as more customers discovered International Storytimes, the program took flight. “We have visited more than 40 countries all over the globe,” Evrard said. “International Storytimes present a larger world to children – toddlers to teens – and their families. Kids love to learn about other kids, other animals, and other places. The Library supplies books and other material, but the best part is talking and listening to someone who is from another country. By sharing stories, music, food and fun, a great presenter can make customers feel like they are visiting the country themselves,” Evrard commented, adding that the benefits are two-fold. “Also, presenters who are new to America feel rewarded, welcomed, and needed at Memphis Public Libraries. And that’s a big deal!”

For more information about International Storytimes at Cordova Library, call (901) 415-2764.

Naturalization Ceremonies at Central Library Signify New Beginnings for New U.S. Citizens

By: Marcey Wright

A fresh sense of American pride will echo through the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library (3030 Poplar Avenue) on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 as newly-naturalized citizens pledge allegiance to the 50 stars and 13 stripes for the very first time.

The Memphis Public Library and Information Center, in partnership with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (Memphis field office), will host two Naturalization Ceremonies on January 22. The first one will begin at 11 am and will feature keynote speaker Beverly Robertson, director of the National Civil Rights Museum. The second ceremony is scheduled for 1 pm, and Director of Libraries Keenon McCloy will be the keynote speaker. (Both services will take place in meeting rooms A – C of the Central Library.)

More than 140 naturalized citizens are slated to attend each event, which is open to the media but closed to the general public.

“Hosting a naturalization ceremony is very special and meaningful to me, since I am a naturalized citizen,” said Library Adult Services Coordinator and event organizer Wang-Ying Glasgow. “Candidates are coming from all corners of the world, and this will be one of the most important days of their lives – one they have dreamed of for a long time and a moment that signifies new beginnings in their lives!”

Glasgow described the naturalization process as a rigorous one and said she expects excitement to fill the room of new citizens and their families. “It’s sort of like a graduation ceremony, marking a milestone that you have reached,” she explained. “It shows that applicants’ hard work has paid off and their dreams of becoming U.S. citizens are fulfilled.”

Two more naturalization ceremonies at Central Library are planned for July 3, 2014. These two services will be open to the public. For more information about the naturalization ceremonies at the Library, call (901) 415-2709.

'Read with Me, Sign with Me' Storytime is Quality Time for Families

By: Marcey Wright

"Read with Me, Sign with Me" storytime is 'quality time' for families with deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing children.More than just a storytime alone, “Read with Me, Sign with Me” is family time – a chance for families with deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing children to enjoy a story that’s read aloud and signed at the same time.

“‘Read with Me, Sign with Me’ brings a diverse group of people together – young and old, hearing, hard-of-hearing, and deaf – to practice signing everyday words, to learn best practices for helping deaf children learn to read, and to enjoy stories together,” explained Children’s Librarian Susan Penn. “The program also offers time for interaction between those who sign and those who don’t. There is a strong sense of community-building taking place,” she said.

Families with children ages 2 – 12 are invited to attend storytimes at 11 am on Saturdays, January 11, February 1, March 1, April 5, and May 3 at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library (3030 Poplar Avenue).

During storytimes, an age appropriate story is read and signed, followed by sign language practice, conversation, and arts and crafts related to the story. “We try to make the program a learning opportunity for children and parents as well,” Penn noted. “Children usually make something to take with them. Tips to broaden parents’ understanding of early literacy, writing, vocabulary, child development, the deaf culture, and more are shared at each program also”.

“Read with Me, Sign with Me” results from a partnership between the Memphis Public Library and Information Center, Deaf Family Literacy Mid-South, and Rhodes College. The trio works together to bring the storytime to families who make it a regular activity. “Each program draws between 25 and 65 Library customers on any Saturday and, yes, we have regular attendants,” Penn said. “‘Read with Me, Sign with Me’ has helped to encourage families with deaf and hard-of-hearing children to use the Library and trust that the Library has something to offer them,” she concluded.

For more information about “Read with Me, Sign with Me,” call (901) 415-2739.

Free ‘Speed Pitch’ Event to Help Customers Promote Small Business Ideas

Top three sales pitches will receive $100 cash prize!

Click here to register!

Have a great small business idea? The Memphis Public Library and Information Center, in partnership with Start Co., is here to help you pitch it! A special Speed Pitch Event and Information Session will be held Thursday, January 23, 2014, 11 am – 3 pm at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library (3030 Poplar Avenue, meeting rooms A – C).

The day will be filled with educational exercises, a “speed pitch” competition, and one-on-one training from business leaders. Free sales pitch training and practice will begin at 11 am. Then, at noon, aspiring entrepreneurs will test their pitch during the “Small Business Speed Pitch Competition,” a chance to effectively sell their small business ideas in two minutes. The top three sales pitches will receive a $100 cash prize! From 1 pm – 3 pm, participants will receive individual training on business development to help launch their businesses. Lunch will be provided.

 Click here to register!

Entrepreneurs and other local industry leaders will speak and offer information about MEMx, a strategic plan to transform and grow the Memphis economy.

For more information about the Speed Pitch Event and Information Session, contact Start Co. Relationship Manager Rachel Wilhite at rachel@neverstop.co.

Surprise in Store for Teen Tech Camp 2014

Organizers encourage teens to apply early!

By: Marcey Wright

Teen Tech campers 2013 had a blast learning to create their own video games with the help of industry professionals from SIM.Keeping up with the latest technology in today’s world is a task, but each year the Memphis Public Library and Information Center makes the task a lot easier for teens during Teen Tech Camp (TTC), an interactive, five-day workshop that allows young techies a chance to learn cutting-edge software from industry professionals of the Society for Information Management (SIM).

“Teen Tech Camp gives teens the opportunity to explore what is out there for them in the technological field,” explained Keshia Williams, event organizer and Humanities librarian. “Hearing SIM representatives talk about their college backgrounds and careers also offers campers a more concrete way of setting their goals toward a future in the world of technology.”

In previous camps, teens have learned to create their own video games using software like Scratch and Wings 3D, but organizers say TTC 2014 will provide campers with a new range of skills. “Instead of designing a game, campers will develop apps to use on cell phones,” Williams said. “They can expect to plan and develop their apps, have lots of fun, and make new friends from all over the City!”

Only 20 campers, ages 13 – 15, will be admitted into TTC 2014, which is completely free of charge. Applications will be available starting in May. “It is very important for teens to submit their applications on time, making sure it is filled out completely,” Williams noted. Since admission to the camp is so competitive, Williams offered a few pointers on how land a spot. “We base our selections on the essay questions that teens must submit, as well as the required teacher recommendation,” she said.

Currently, plans are still underway for TTC 2014, but parents are encouraged to get applications for their teens as soon as they are available. “Apply, apply, apply!” Williams concluded.

For more information about Teen Tech Camp 2014, call (901) 415-2726.

This event is sponsored by Memphis Public Libraries, the City of Memphis, and the Memphis chapter of the Society for Information Management.

Library Employees Prepare to Bowl Toward Achievement

Junior Achievement Bowl-a-thon Coming in March 2014!

By: Marcey Wright

Memphis Public Library employees and their families support Junior Achievement at Bowl-a-thon 2013.Smiles come to the faces of Library employees during this special time of year – the Junior Achievement Bowl-a-thon!

Equipping students with work readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy skills, Junior Achievement uses the annual Bowl-a-thon as its premier fundraiser. The City of Memphis, represented by its Divisions, participates each year. Memphis Public Libraries represent the Parks and Neighborhoods Division.

“The City of Memphis and numerous other companies assist Junior Achievement in meeting their objective of preparing youth for a brighter tomorrow,” said Ralph Bridgewater, event organizer and delivery and distribution supervisor for Memphis Public Libraries. “Winning this event does not bring us great status or a championship ring, but it shows that we are a group that takes public service beyond the walls of the Library and its branches.”

Competition is fierce, yet fun, as Library employees bowl to support Junior Achievement.Bridgewater said bowling teams are now forming for this year’s event, which will be held March 1, 2014. The general public is invited to help Library employees “bowl toward achievement” by joining an existing team or creating their own. To register, call (901) 415-2865 or (901) 415-2777.

“Come out and support this great cause,” Bridgewater concluded.

Foundation's Luncheon to Honor Long-Serving Board Members

Click here or call (901) 415-2831 to purchase your tickets today!

The Memphis Library Foundation is hosting an Appreciation Luncheon for long-standing board members on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. Call (901) 415-2831.

The Memphis Library Foundation was formed in 1994 to organize and raise funds for a new Central Library. Several dedicated volunteers with a passion for libraries banned together and worked untiringly alongside Library staff to raise more than $21.5M for the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, which opened its doors in 2001.

To celebrate 20 years of service, vision, and support of Memphis Public Libraries, the Memphis Library Foundation will recognize several of its long-standing board members with an Appreciation Luncheon on Thursday, February 6, 2014, 11:30 am at the Peabody Hotel (149 Union Avenue). Honorees include Dunbar Abston, Jack Belz, Mike Cody, Leslie Dale, John Paul Jones, and Honey Scheidt. Former Board President and Campaign Chairman the late Charles Leonard will be honored as well.

“These individuals made extraordinary contributions to the establishment of the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library,” said Diane Jalfon, Executive Director of the Foundation. “We are pleased to commend their efforts as we celebrate the success of our Library – one of our community’s greatest resources.”

The public is invited to attend the event and hear fascinating stories of how the iconic Central Library building came into existence. Individual tickets to the luncheon are $60 and can be purchased by calling (901) 415-2831 or by visiting www.memphislibraryfoundation.org/donation-center.

Today, the Foundation continues to support all 18 branches of the Memphis Public Library System and the nearly three million customers who visit them annually. Because of these ongoing efforts and others, more than 600 computers are available for public use throughout Memphis Public Libraries and more than 2,800 programs were offered in 2013 alone. The Foundation continues to raise private dollars to enhance the Library, its collections, technology, and programs.

For more information about the Appreciation Luncheon or the Memphis Library Foundation, contact Diane Jalfon at (901) 415-2831 or email diane.jalfon@memphistn.gov.

Library Encourages Customers to Welcome New Year with New Challenges

Memphis Public Library's College Fair 2014 is coming to Central Library January 14 - 15

The Memphis Public Library & Information Center (MPLIC), in partnership with the Memphis Talent Dividend, is hosting College Fair 2014 on January 14 - 15 at Central Library (3030 Poplar Avenue)!By: Marcey Wright

The Memphis Public Library and Information Center (MPLIC), in partnership with the Memphis Talent Dividend, is helping customers to reach their full potential in the New Year with the Library’s College Fair 2014, coming to the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library (3030 Poplar Avenue, meeting rooms A – C ) on January 14 – 15.

Each day of the fair is uniquely designed to meet the specific needs of Memphis citizens of all ages. On Tuesday, January 14, 10 am – 4 pm, high school students and recent graduates are invited to talk to college recruiters, ask questions about financial aid, take a look at dorm life, followed by a tour of the Library, and a crash course in Greek life!(High school students and recent graduates are asked to register prior to the event.) Working adults and other nontraditional students considering college are encouraged to attend the fair on Wednesday, January 15, noon – 5 pm. College recruiters will be on hand to help them navigate through the college admissions process, locate resources for financial aid, and answer questions.

College Fair attendants also will receive other helpful information like a sample college essay, an ACT writing test sample, a dorm room checklist, and earning statistics for college graduates.

To register or learn more about the Memphis Public Library’s College Fair 2014, call (901) 415-2847.

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