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Shelf Talk 26: Community Catalog

Almost exactly a year ago, I was at the Public Library Association’s biannual conference in Nashville, Tennessee. The small delegation from the Mississippi County Library System (MCLS) spent several days learning from and with other library professionals from across the nation. We heard about the difference strong library programs and services can make in the communities they serve. We came home inspired, ready to bring new ideas to life in Mississippi County.

Then COVID came.

Doors shuttered, events cancelled, people isolated, and suddenly everything we thought we knew about serving our community changed. In a world that was instantly virtual, our community had to redefine itself and how we relate to each other.

Community is one of the things I love most about Mississippi County. Over the past year, I’ve seen this community stand up and stand out in countless ways: we’ve navigated online and hybrid schooling, we’ve supported local businesses, we’ve fed the hungry, we’ve cared for the sick, we’ve volunteered our time and money, we’ve found new ways to meet together…we’ve survived a pandemic. The historic snowstorm of last week reinforced those community lessons: instead of looking out for just ourselves, the people of Mississippi County brought food to neighbors, opened warming shelters, fought to conserve energy, and played together in the snow.

And we’ve used the library. Books make excellent company for the homebound and quarantined; over the last year, we’ve seen more and more people browse our shelves and our online catalog not just for their own interests, but for books to take to family members and friends. Remember that our catalog does not just cover one MCLS branch. At (or with the Librista app!) you can request a book from any county library and have it delivered to your local branch within a week. With curbside pickup you don’t even have to get out of your car; just let us know you’ve arrived and we’ll bring your books out to you!

The catalog can help you find books, eBooks, AudioBooks, eMagazines, reference materials, community events, and links to other MCLS resources. Use your library card number and 4-digit PIN as a passport to free tutoring, test prep, and resume resources through (, check out digital resources though the Libby app, set up a personalized reading list (and share it with your book club or classroom), and set an alert to let you know the next book by your favorite author has just arrived. Browse our catalog today: you’ll be surprised by everything there is to check out!

The online catalog is an excellent way to see what books are new, what’s popular, and even search for books by reading level. It’s also a handy way to see what’s happening in the community. Local groups can put searchable announcements for upcoming events, fundraisers, volunteer opportunities, and more right in our catalog, for free! Community Spotlight posts will link directly to an organization’s website or social media pages, to help your customers connect with you. If your group would like to advertise through our Community Spotlight, reach out at the email address below and we’ll get you started!

Our libraries are also open to in-person services. We provide free computer and internet access for anyone who needs to file taxes, conduct online banking, print a paystub, apply for a job, complete schoolwork, update a business profile, and more. We have current newspapers and magazines to browse, games to play, and a safe, warm environment to pause for a minute and enjoy the community. Stop by to say hi and learn about all the things your Mississippi County libraries have to offer!

As the weather begins to warm and the pandemic begins to wind down, your MCLS will continue to serve this incredible community in the best ways we can. Stay tuned for announcements about community conversations, financial workshops, Summer Reading, and more! As always, feel free to contact me at anytime with questions or suggestions.

Snow scape of the Blytheville Public Library; building and parking lot are covered in white from the recent snow storm
Blytheville Library in the Snow

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