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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

Cordova Library Chases Fears of Learning English for ESL Customers

By: Marcey Wright

Join the conversation! The English Language Learners' Conversation Group at Cordova Branch Library is your chance to learn English at your own pace.The fear of learning English is fading at Cordova Branch Library (8457 Trinity Road), where customers learning to speak the nation’s official language can attend free English Language Learners’ Conversation Groups. Offered each Saturday (1 pm – 2 pm) and fourth Thursdays of each month (2:30 pm – 4 pm), groups give English as a Second Language (ESL) customers a chance to learn at their own pace.

“Non-native English speakers can gain confidence, build their vocabularies, reduce their accents, practice pronunciation, and become more fluent in speaking English,” said Philip Williams, Cordova Library branch manager. “The atmosphere is always welcoming and friendly, never threatening or stressful,” he promised.

Native English-speaking volunteers with specialized ESL tutoring experience have helped customers from Ethiopia, Turkey, Spain, Japan, South Korea, Brazil, and Iraq to name a few. During sessions, attendants learn practical skills for daily use. “The emphasis is on informal, everyday English,” Williams said, “but participants also learn more about American society and culture, and get answers to their questions about everyday life in America, like how to order food, shop for groceries, or even visit the Library!”

In addition to learning everyday English, organizers say the program’s benefits will reach far into the future. “Helping [ESL] Library customers become more proficient in English will help them to accomplish their goals in life, like getting new or better jobs, pursuing higher education, addressing health issues by communicating with doctors and pharmacists, purchasing a home, or even obtaining U.S. citizenship,” Williams said. “Becoming more proficient in English can be a life-changing event that begins here at Cordova Library.”

For more information about English Language Learners’ Conversation Groups or other programs at Cordova Branch Library, call (901) 415-2764.

Customers From Around the World Call Cordova Library 'Home'

By: Marcey Wright

Citizenship Workshops at Cordova Branch Library help customers to feel at home while earning their American citizenship!There’s no place like home. Library customers from around the globe are one step closer to making America their home, thanks to Citizenship Workshops at Cordova Branch Library.

During these interactive sessions, prospective citizens learn about the naturalization process and the responsibilities of U.S. citizenship, along with immigration laws, how to file paperwork, and tips on passing the U.S. citizenship exam. “The best part of Citizenship Workshops is that customers have the opportunity to ask questions,” noted Cordova Library Branch Manager Philip Williams. “Customers get the help they need to become U.S. citizens,” he added.

Cordova branch librarians, in partnership with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (Memphis field office), are preparing for another Citizenship Workshop on Thursday, March 6, 2014, 5 pm – 7 pm at Cordova Library (8457 Trinity Road).

Workshops have been offered throughout the Memphis Public Library System at other branches like Bartlett Library, Randolph Library, Whitehaven Library, and the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library. Program organizers say all Citizenship Workshops have the same objective. “We help our customers who would like to become U.S. citizens reach their goals. Then, they will enjoy all the benefits of citizenship and have access to wonderful opportunities that come with being an American citizen,” Williams concluded.

For more information about Citizenship Workshops at Cordova Branch Library, call (901) 415-2764. Click here for a complete list of Memphis Public Library events.

Toddler Storytimes at Poplar-White Station Library Jumpstart Early Literacy

By: Na'Tasha Farr, Special to MPLIC

Toddler Storytimes at Poplar-White Station Library are each Tuesday in April 2014! See story for details.Parents can jumpstart their toddlers' love for literacy during Toddler Storytimes at Poplar-White Station Library (5094 Poplar Avenue). Kids, ages one to three, will gain the confidence they need to learn early reading skills like rhyming, singing songs, creating finger puppet plays, and working with board books.

During each storytime, toddlers repeat four rhymes to help them learn association. Along with rhyming, toddlers and parents read stories, review alphabet sounds while practicing words, and learn to associate words and actions using songs like "Itsy Bitsy Spider". Motor skills and creativity are also put to work at the end of every storytime when toddlers participate in arts and crafts.

Toddler Storytimes will be held 11 am – 11:25 am at Poplar-White Station Library on the following dates. 

  • April 1, 2014
  • April 8, 2014
  • April 15, 2014
  • April 22, 2014
  • April 29, 2014

“Toddler Storytimes give children a sense of reassurance,” said Senior Youth Services Librarian Michelle Allen. “All of these early reading skills that toddlers learn during storytime form a foundation that they will continue to build upon for the rest of their lives.”

For more information about Toddler Storytimes, call (901) 415-2777.

Black History Celebration: Library and Special Guests to Honor African American Trailblazers in Civil War Medicine

By: Marcey Wright

 African Americans in Civil War MedicineTo celebrate Black History Month and those who made it possible, Memphis Public Libraries are “pushing boundaries” with traveling exhibit – Binding Wounds, Pushing Boundaries: African Americans in Civil War Medicine.

Often lost from the pages of history, the names and faces of early African American physicians, surgeons, nurses, and other healthcare providers will be on display at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library (3030 Poplar Avenue) from Saturday, February 8 – Saturday, March 29, 2014.

An official opening ceremony will be held Thursday, February 20, 2014, 6 pm – 7:30 pm, also at Central Library. Special guest author, historian, and Civil Rights activist Dr. Miriam DeCosta-Willis will be keynote speaker. LeMoyne-Owen College’s concert choir is set to perform for the Black History Month celebration.

Contraband working for the Union Army; Photo courtesy of MOLLUS U.S. Military History Institute

Through the tell-all exhibit and Dr. DeCosta-Willis’ presentation, Library customers will meet people like former slave-turned-caregiver Susie King, who in 1862 served the Union Army as an unpaid Civil War nurse, teacher, and laundress, alongside her husband – a soldier. She later published her memoirs, detailing her struggles to help emancipate enslaved African Americans.

Click here for more information about the Binding Wounds, Pushing Boundaries exhibit.

For more information on the exhibit’s opening ceremony at Central Library, call (901) 415-2709.

Memphis Public Library Customers can Bypass the Theatre and Head to the Library

By: Marcey Wright

Adult Library customers can take a load off during the Wider Angle Film Series 2014 at Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library!Memphis Public Library customers can skip the movies and take a trip to the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library (3030 Poplar Avenue) for the 2014 Wider Angle Film Series, critically-acclaimed and award-winning foreign films suited for adult audiences.

“Films may be educational, culturally-enlightening, entertaining, or all of the above,” said Humanities librarian Nobuko Igarashi. “Our customers can expect to view great quality films that may not be widely released or shown elsewhere in a commercial movie theatre,” she added.

Funded by the Friends of the Library, films are shown on the second Wednesday of each month, 6 pm – 8 pm (unless otherwise noted), at Central Library (lobby level, meeting room C).

Movie screenings through June 2014 are listed below.

  • February 12 – Aliyah, directed by Elie Wajeman
  • March 12 – Broken, directed by Rufus Norris
  • April 9 – Three Worlds, directed by Catherine Corsini
  • May 14 – The Deflowering of Eva van End, directed by Michiel ten Horn
  • June 11 – Key of Life, directed by Kenji Uchida (starts at 5:45 pm)

“Celebrating our diversity as a community and learning about other cultures is an important part of what the Library does,” Igarashi noted, “but we provide further support through books and programs like A Wider Angle, which are educational and fun!”

For more information about the 2014 Wider Angle Film Series, call (901) 415-2726.

Come One and All to the Friends of the Library Spring Book Sale

Save the Date for May 23–24, 2014!

By: Marcey Wright

Friends of the Library Book Sales are great opportunities to stock up on books!The groundhog has little to do with predicting spring at Memphis Public Libraries. The Friends of the Library Spring Book Sale lets Library customers know that spring is here!

Mark your calendar today for May 23 – 24, 2014 to stop by the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library (3030 Poplar Avenue). Books for all ages, CDs, DVDs, magazines and more are all priced at $2 or cheaper!

For more information about the Friends of the Library Spring Book Sale, call (901) 415-2871.

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.

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