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Pearl River County libraries shine

The Pearl River County Library System has been designated as one of 12 Star Libraries in the state of Mississippi.

The Mississippi Library Commission recognized Pearl River County as a Star Library for its 2019 fiscal year. The MLC compares per capita rate usage for a library’s interlibrary loan use, statewide database use, number of registered users, withdrawn items, circulation, total program attendance and public Internet terminal use.

Star Libraries are those with the three highest scores in four different expenditure categories. The expenditure categories were for budgets under $300,000, budgets between $300,000 to $599,999, a budget range from $600,000 to $999,999 and library systems with $1 million and above budgets.

Pearl River County Library System falls into the $300,000 to $599,000 expenditure category.

For many years, the library system was in the top 10 percent for the state for circulation of items, said Library System Director Carol Phares.

However, library budgets were cut in 2008. When the county’s library system lost its book buying budget and staff hours were cut, the library system also lost its top 10 percent status.

The staff at both the Poplarville Library and Margaret Reed Crosby Memorial Library have worked hard to keep patrons coming in.

“We have a motto that ‘no is not in our vocabulary.’ If we don’t know something, then we’re going to find out and I think that’s played a part in getting the Star Library (desingation),” said Phares.

Although the library system still does not have a book buying budget, the community has been generous with book donations and the library staff have worked hard to keep the existing collection fresh.

“One of the most important things a public library can do is keep up with their collection and that means weeding the books that are not being read,” said Phares.

Outdated books can cause problems, for instance outdated medical books could provide dangerous misinformation.

On Thursday morning children’s librarian Angela Gatskie worked in Poplarville’s library sorting donated books. She needed to evaluate the condition of the books and determine if they were already in the library’s collection before they could be added into the system.

Donated books not added to a library’s collection are sold in regular book sales to fund the purchase of new books.

In 2018 and 2019, the library introduced new programs like family fun night, and the Friends of the Margaret Reed Crosby Memorial Library were very active, said Phares, which she thinks contributed to the Star Library designation.

Children’s programming has continued even with the pandemic. Children’s librarians Megan Miller and Gatskie offer virtual story times and crafting videos to keep children engaged with the libraries.