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Shelf Talk 1

Updated: Feb 16, 2021

By Beth Roberts, MCLS PR and Customer Service Specialist

In a spare drawer at home, under the knickknacks and mementos that build up in spare drawers everywhere, are some of my prized possessions. I dug them out the other day and counted them: eleven small, rectangular cards. Library cards, each a reminder of a community I have been fortunate to call home. I have a card from the town where I grew up, my childhood signature sprawling and confident on the back. I have a card from the college I attended, its edges worn and slightly cracked from use. I have a card from the library in a tiny town where I completed a summer internship, where the best entertainment on a Friday night was a book. I even have cards from places visited on vacation, when reading the next book in a series just couldn’t wait until I got home.

Our family moves every few years, following my husband’s job. Each new place means a chance to start fresh, to build new relationships, to experience a new local history. For me, putting down roots in a new home begins with a visit to the library. I love to walk the stacks of books in a new library, choosing an author to be my companion until I make friends. I meet the people who work there and ask them questions about the town, learning all I can about local groups and activities. When my kids came along, the library became a place to meet other mothers while the kids learned to love reading through story, craft, and activity times. Everywhere we go, the library quickly becomes a central part of our life, a key way to plug into the larger life of our community. As the Mississippi County Library System (MCLS) director Lowell Walters often says, “Libraries are the community’s living room.”

Imagine my delight, then, when the opportunity came to work for a library! We moved to Blytheville in June of 2017. The MCLS was in a period of transition: Lowell Walters had just been hired as the System’s director, and he was looking forward to helping the county’s libraries better serve their communities. I was the first hire he made, as the MCLS Public Relations Specialist. Now I get paid to do something that comes naturally: spread good news about the library!

And the good news has been abundant. Over the last few years, the MCLS has replaced a leaking roof and failing skylight on the Blytheville Branch, rebuilt the Keiser Branch after it was destroyed by a tornado, increased security features at the Blytheville Branch, made repairs to the Osceola Branch’s exterior, implemented a new online catalog system, joined the Arkansas Digital Library Consortium (now offering 60,000 eBooks, AudioBooks, and eMagazines for checkout via the Libby app), launched a Library of Things, expanded Summer Reading opportunities, and dramatically increased public programming.

I am so excited to be able to share good news about your MCLS and our community through our new column, Shelf Talk. We are so thankful to the NEA Town Courier for providing this opportunity and for being so supportive of library programs. Each column will highlight a program, service, or resource that we believe will benefit you, our customers. Is there something you want to know more about? Call the Blytheville Library at 870-762-2431 or email

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