New resources available at Ricks Memorial Library

By CATHRYN CARTWRIGHT,

Ricks Memorial Library in Yazoo City has always been known for its special collections and its role in the town's local history.  However, Craig Wooten, the library’s director, wants the people of Yazoo City to know about the resources offered at the local library that benefit people of all ages.

Beginning in June, and continuing into July, Wooten said that they have a summer reading program available for preschool children and elementary students.  Children are encouraged to visit the library on Wednesday mornings at 10:30 a.m. or on Thursday afternoons at 4:30 p.m. to enjoy stories being read out loud and to explore the selection of children's books that they can take home and read to themselves.

"This year’s summer library program theme is ‘Libraries Rock’," said Wooten. "These programs will last about an hour."

The children's programs will be led by the Children's Librarian Lauren Woodliff, who will be reading books about music and doing craft projects with the kids.

Children will also be encouraged to check out books every week as they attend summer reading sessions, and library cards will be available as long as they bring an adult with them.

Wooten said that the library also has resources that are useful to most adults who are in need of internet access for job seeking, college work, or family history research.

"A lot of people utilize the library for the computers, applying for jobs, building their resume, working on papers for their school or even for online distance learning and classes," he said. "We also do local history research and family genealogy research for people, and that's something that we want people to know about."

Ricks Memorial Library maintains a membership with Ancestry.com through a computer program called Heritage Quest.  This program contains various historical documents such as census records which can be used to track a person’s ancestors and help them find out more about their personal family's history.

Ricks Library has also been known to host genealogy and family history research workshops with the help of local historical societies, such as the Daughters of the American Revolution.

College students have found the library computers useful to complete work for online classes and to do research papers.  Ricks Library has access to online databases which contain countless articles and other resources needed to help students write college research papers.

"We can guide you through that process if you need help," Wooten said. "But you can also access the databases at home through our website, but you will need to call us to get the access code first."

Ricks Library also keeps past copies of all Yazoo area newspapers for research purposes. Some go back as far as the 1800s.

"We have the older copies of newspapers on microfilm that are always accessible to patrons," Wooten said. "People can get on and look for their grandfather's obituary if he died in 1910, or we can look for it, whichever they would prefer."

Ricks Library also offers meeting spaces for local organizations and non-profits.  One meeting place is in the board room where the special collections are housed, which is available as a small space for meetings of ten persons or less.  The Mississippi Chemical Annex located in the back of the library is often used for much larger gatherings, which includes a fee to cover the heating and cooling of the building.

Along with offering a wide variety of hardcopy books, DVDs and audiobooks inside the physical collection of Ricks Library, Wooten said they now offer a large collection of eBooks, also called electronic books, which can now be checked out on any portable reading device.

"We currently have over 3,000 eBooks," Wooten said. "There are all kinds of titles.  There are new releases, Christian fiction, African-American fiction, classics and even most of our local summer reading books."

Wooten said that patrons can bring in their portable reading device such as a Kindle or an iPad, and they can help them get set up.  He also said that patrons can use library computers to check out eBooks as well.

Ricks Memorial Library is always looking for new members to support the Yazoo Library Association, which gives added benefits to members and library patrons.

"It’s a way to support the library," Wooten said. "You get added benefits, such as you can check out 10 books at a time instead of five, and you can keep them for 21 days instead of 14."

Wooten added that there are even more benefits to being a member of the Yazoo Library Association, along with special access to the library collections.  Membership is $20 for an individual, and all funds go to support library programs and to purchase books for the library's collection.

Wooten said that the library also has an on-going book sale room in the back of the building, featuring books, movies, DVDs and even vinyl records, for people of all ages and interests to enjoy at very affordable prices.

Ricks Memorial Library stays very active in the community by participating in a canned food drive with the local Manna House, as a way to help patrons reduce their overdue book fees and help support a local charity at the same time. 

Wooten said there is also a teenage library volunteer who is hosting beginner piano lessons on Wednesdays inside the library.

"We are always accepting volunteers," Wooten said. "If somebody wants to volunteer their time maybe a few hours a week, we would love to have them."

Wooten also said that the library and its resources are always available to local school teachers who need it.  He added that the library will give tours to elementary children, and that they have also visited classrooms with books so that children can have the experience of checking out a book from the library.

These and other programs are available at Ricks Memorial Library in Yazoo City.  Their hours of operation are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 8 a.m. - 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and they are also open 8 a.m. until noon on Saturdays.

For more information about Ricks Memorial Library's programs, visit their website www.yazoolibraryassociation.org, follow them on facebook at Yazoo Library Association, or call them at 662-746-5557.