Overview of Conference Speakers and Programs 

Featured Speaker

Wednesday, October 18th
Hattiesburg Hall C:  12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
MLA Business Meeting and Opening General Session Featuring John Chrastka

How people listen to stories, and how people learn from stories, is rooted in their own values and emotions, and in their hopes and fears. For library advocacy work to succeed, the stories we choose to tell are often more important than how polished we are as storytellers. Join opening general session speaker John Chrastka as he challenges us with two question: Do we tell “the library story” in the right way? And, what can happen in library advocacy if we embrace the fact that regular people - our neighbors and fellow Americans - are interested in the work we do, even if they don’t use the library? He will share insights on how to engage during conference with session-content and other attendees to build up your storytelling skills. 

Thursday, October 19th
Hattiesburg Hall C:  2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Closing General Session Featuring John Chrastka

Throughout the conference you have learned new ideas about how to do your work better and more effectively, and to focus on results for your community. So, how do you find the funding to support this new project or idea? Join John Chrastka as he closes out the conference with reflection and advice on how to build new administration, donor, funder, voter, or constituent support not only for your great new idea, but also for your whole library and the Mississippi community of libraries. He will talk about an approach to asking for support that is rooted in your own personal and professional story.

John Chrastka is executive director of EveryLibrary, the first nationwide political action committee for libraries. Since 2013, EveryLibrary has helped 62 library communities with ballot measures for funding, operations, and buildings, winning 46 and securing over $220 million in funding on Election Days. A long-time library trustee, supporter and advocate, Mr. Chrastka is a former president of the Board of Trustees for the Berwyn (IL) Public Library (2006 – 2015) and is a former president of the Reaching Across Illinois Libraries System (RAILS), a multi-type library system. Prior to his work on EveryLibrary, he was a partner in AssociaDirect, a Chicago-based consultancy focused on supporting associations in membership recruitment, conference, and governance activities, and was Director for Membership Development at the American Library Association (ALA). He is a current member of ALA, the Illinois Library Association (ILA), and the American Political Sciences Association (APSA). He was named a 2014 Mover & Shaker by Library Journal for his work with EveryLibrary. He tweets at @mrchrastka.

General Session Speakers

Tuesday, October 17th
Garden Room:  1:30 pm - 3:30 pm 
Financial Literacy Training For Librarians
MLA Pre-Conference Session 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) wants to help make libraries the go-to source for unbiased financial education and resources in every community. This pre-conference session will demonstrate CFPB’s easy-to-understand, behaviorally informed financial education resources available to libraries; provide program ideas, resources, and tools, and help libraries connect with local partners.

Dr. Becky Smith is an Assistant Extension Professor in the department of Agricultural Economics at Mississippi State University and the director of the MSU Extension Center for Economic Education and Financial Literacy. Becky is an economist who works in the area of helping individuals, families, firms, and communities to build assets through economic education and financial coaching.

Wednesday, October 18th
Hattiesburg Hall C:  9:30 am - 11:30 am
The  Digital Turn in/and the Library 
Sponsored by the Association of College and Research Libraries Section

When asked if they have ever been to their institution’s library, some college students will say no, having never checked out a book from the stacks or even entered the building often at the heart of campus. Yet push further and you’ll find they have checked out ebooks, downloaded a journal article in a database, or looked at old yearbooks online. That is, they have been to the library, one that exists in bytes and computer screens rather than bricks and mortar. The digital turn is evident in the library--whether in physical spaces or resources or professional positions: computer labs, data services, institutional repositories, digital scholarship centers, web librarians. What are some of the possibilities, and limitations, that this digital turn opens for academic libraries? Coats will discuss the library as an engine for research and teaching in the digital age.

Lauren Coats is Director of the Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL) and Associate Professor of English at Louisiana State University. As director of the DSL, established by and housed in the LSU Libraries, she collaborates with staff, faculty, and students at LSU and beyond to support and develop digital scholarship and pedagogy. Lauren founded and edits Archive Journal, an interdisciplinary, cross-professional journal on the theory and use of archives and special collections. A former Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Postdoctoral Fellow, she continues to work with the Postdoctoral Fellowship Program as its Associate Dean. At the heart of these various positions is the library: her interest in the structure of and access to information has developed through her work in and for libraries. This interest animates her research and teaching in early American literature. Lauren is completing a book manuscript, “Archives of Discovery: Mapping North America 1728-1900,” about the creation, publication, and dissemination of discovery and exploration narratives in early America. She directs a collaborative digital humanities project on nineteenth-century newspapers, and has published work in J19, PMLA, CLIR reports, Lehigh University Press Digital Scholarly Editions, and more.

Wednesday, October 18th
Lamar I:  10:30 am - 11:30 am
Tell Your Community's Story Through Your Collection
Sponsored by the Technical Services Roundtable

Libraries are expanding their collections to more than just books. This panel discussion will tell you what and how libraries across the state are cataloging, from cake pans to iPads to tools! Come find out how you can tell the story of your community through your catalog! The program will be followed by a Technical Services Roundtable business meeting.

Panelists: Jim Thompson, Librarian - Holmes Community College
Terry Lajuanie, Head of Technical Services - Lamar County Library System
Helen Mangnum, Technical Services Manager - Central Mississippi Library System
Judy Hilkert, Technical Services Coordinator/Acquisition Librarian - Hinds Community College
Nicole Minor, Collection Development and Cataloging Coordinator - Columbus-Lowndes Public Library System




Jim Thompson is an academic librarian for the Goodman campus of Holmes Community College. He teaches technology outreach classes to the community through CTE and is Vice President of the Holmes County Chamber of Commerce. He is currently writing a book about career exploration with shadowing opportunities in early academic careers.

Terry Lajaunie began his career at The University of Southern Mississippi in the Acquisitions unit of the University Libraries. He completed his MLIS in December 2001 and went to work as Technical Services Librarian for the Lamar County Library System. Today, he is Head of Technical Services for LCLS overseeing acquisitions, cataloging, inter-library loan and systems administration.

Judy Hilkert is the Technical Services Coordinator and Acquisition Librarian at Hinds Community College in Raymond. She received a BA in Anthropology from Mississippi State University in 1995, and a Masters in Library and Information Science in 2003 from the University of Southern Mississippi. Judy also teaches math at HCC as an adjunct instructor.

Nicole Minor is a 2016 graduate of the Master of Library and Information Science program from the University of Southern Mississippi.  She had the privilege to be published in USM’s scholarly digital publication, Aquila, titled Assessing the High School Graphic Novel Collections in Northeast Mississippi High Schools:  A Collection Analysis. You may visit her ePortfolio at http://nmino0.wixsite.com/eportfolio to read more about it. Currently, she is the Acquisitions & Cataloging Coordinator for the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library System.  

Wednesday, October 18th
Hattiesburg Hall C:  2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Retirement: Your Story Continues...
Sponsored by the Special Libraries Section 

Retirement is a huge step, not just financially, but in other ways too. Join Mr. Shannon Dyse, State Director of the Mississippi Deferred Compensation Plan, as he tells us how to plan for a financially secure future, and speakers from the Mississippi Retired Public Employees' Association (MRPEA), “Representing retired and active employees covered by PERS”, as they tell us how to make retirement a personal success.

Panelists: Becky Cade, Immediate Past President - Mississippi Retired Public Employees' Association
        Wynona Winfield, District Director - Mississippi Retired Public Employees' Association 
Shannon Dyse, State Director - Mississippi Deferred Compensation Plan

Wednesday, October 18th
Lamar I:  3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Stories from Behind Bars and How Friends Can Help!
Sponsored by the Friends of Mississippi Libraries, Inc.

The Friends of Mississippi Libraries Inc. will be joined by Big House books to discuss their mission of getting books into the hands of incarcerated Mississippians. Big House Books is a non-profit organization based in Jackson, MS. Attendees will learn how their local Friends of the Library group can support incarcerated Mississippians and ways to support Big House Books. This program is also hosting a book drive of new/gently used paperback books for Big House Books. These books will be sent to Mississippi prisoners.

Shelby Parsons is a volunteer and founding board member of Big House Books, a nonprofit organization that sends books to prisoners in Mississippi correctional facilities in order to promote literacy and be a vehicle of change for prison reform. Big House Books doesn’t judge a book by its cover. We believe in literacy for all – even for those in our correctional facilities. That’s why we’ve set out to provide books to Mississippians in prisons and juvenile detention centers. Every person has the right to educate themselves, and it’s our goal to make that a reality. For more information about Big House Books, visit us on Facebook or at https://bighousebooksms.org.

Wednesday, October 18th
Garden Room:  3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Advocacy Workshop with John Chrastka
Sponsored by the Public Library Section

Voters, constituents, and donors behave the way they do about library funding for two specific reasons, and very little of it has to do with what conventional wisdom says in library advocacy. Most of what drives their behavior is not their own user experience, but is instead their perceptions and attitudes of the public library as an institution, and also of the people who work there as engaged, passionate people who serve the community. In this session, join John Chrastka, founder and executive director of EveryLibrary, for a workshop covering data and field-tested messaging to activate those perceptions and help you shape more effective marketing for your library.

Thursday, October 19th
Garden Room:  10:30 am - 12:00 pm
Promoting School Libraries in the Community
Sponsored by the School Library Section

Julie Stivers, an award-winning school librarian from Raleigh, NC, will present on promoting school libraries within the school community. A brief School Library Section meeting will be held after Mrs. Stivers' presentation.


Julie Stivers—the librarian at Mount Vernon Middle School, an alternative public school in Raleigh, North Carolina and recipient of AASL's 2017 Frances Henne Award—has presented on diverse youth literature at YALSA's Young Adult Services Symposium and the National Conference of African American Libraries and Librarianship. Her work has been published in journals such as School Libraries Worldwide, Knowledge Quest, and YALS, and she is currently serving as the Taskforce Chair for the YALSA Presidential Theme: Youth Activism through Community Engagement. She believes in culturally relevant librarianship and pedagogy, inclusive library spaces, and finding creative ways to dismantle the traditional literary canon.

Thursday, October 19th
Lakeview:  12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Young People's Services Roundtable Luncheon

Join the Young People's Services Round Table for a luncheon with Southern author Corabel Shofner. Shofner is the author of the debut middle grade novel Almost Paradise, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, an imprint of Macmillan.

Corabel Shofner is wife, mother, attorney, and author. She graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia University with a degree in English literature, and was on Law Review at Vanderbilt University School of Law. Her first novel ALMOST PARADISE was published on 7/25/17 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux and her shorter work has appeared or is forthcoming in Willow Review, Word Riot, Habersham Review, Hawai’i Review, Sou’wester, South Carolina Review, South Dakota Review, and Xavier Review.

Thursday, October 19th
Hattiesburg Hall B:  12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Lunch with Retirees: The Value of Libraries and Librarians
Black Caucus Roundtable Luncheon

The MLA-Black Caucus Roundtable session will consist of a luncheon panel discussion entitled: Lunch with Retirees: The value of libraries and librarians. Each panelist will have 15 minutes to speak and question and answer will be afterwards.


MLA's mission is to provide professional leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.

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Wednesday: 1:00pm-5:00pm
Thursday: 11:00am-5:00pm

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