Hello from the Jolly Librarian!

The Mayfield Library is always looking for ways to let you know what’s going on with us, so we can serve you better. To better achieve that aim, we’re starting this library blog.

As we communicate with you, please keep in touch with us. We welcome all feedback.

After all, the Mayfield Library is here for you!

Monday Motivator: Don’t Jump on the Horrible Train

It’s not hard, even if you don’t follow the news, to find examples of people behaving horribly this election season:

  • A political headquarters was firebombed.
  • A newspaper received threats after endorsing a candidate.
  • People were selling tshirts featuring a target over a certain quarterback’s face outside a stadium.
  • A person who had a candidate’s sign in her yard found a hate letter in her mailbox.
  • Some people’s yards signs have been stolen.

And that doesn’t include the vitriol that’s been plastered all over social media.

It makes good people despair. And it makes not-so-good people like me want to lob a few verbal assaults of our own. But then I remember that saying  from George Bernard Shaw that Southerners seem to have made their own: Don’t wrestle with a pig. You’ll only get dirty, and the pig likes it.

Just because the horrible train seems especially crowded this election season, we don’t have to jump on it. We can certainly debate the issues and remain civil.  (As I was walking to the library, I heard two students doing just that. I was proud of one who happened to remember that Congress had something to do with passing laws. And I was also proud that when the discussion was over, they walked together to class.)


We need to remember that just because the haters get the space and the publicity, they are not the only people out there. In fact, I think they are the minority, just a vocal one. So when the horrible train passes by, remember it’s not the only mode of transportation this election season.  Let it continue on its way without you.


The Jolly Librarian’s Literary Movie Review: “The Family Fang”

First things first. Some basic information about the Jolly Librarian’s reviews:

The Jolly Librarian almost never goes to movies in the theater. Too many people chatting, checking their phones, and invading her personal space. So the movies in this column will already be available for home viewing.

Second, there must be a book connection.

Third, the Jolly Librarian knows almost nothing about movies, so the review will be basically whether she liked the movie or not.

Now, down to business:

Literature-loving Tennesseans were thrilled when they learned that Nashville resident Nicole Kidman wanted to make a movie out of Sewanee professor Kevin Wilson’s novel, The Family Fang.  This novel about a married pair of performance artists who force their children, Annie and Buster,  into their subversive actions of art is both funny and heartbreaking.  (Enough said. If you haven’t read this book, stop reading this review and go buy it or check it out of a library: NOW!)

The Jolly Librarian, although happy whenever an author is respected and comes to good fortune, was a tiny bit wary of what Hollywood would do to a such a wonderful, layered novel. But after the first thirty minutes, she stopped comparing the movie to the book and simply let the movie be itself.

And once that happened, the Jolly Librarian enjoyed herself indeed. The movie is faithful enough to the book that there was no throwing popcorn at the screen, yelling, “Where did you get that? That wasn’t in the book. That makes no sense.”  (Another reason the Jolly Librarian doesn’t go to the theater.) Both Nicole Kidman and Jason Bateman portrayed Annie and Buster with a poignancy that may or may have not brought tears. The movie stood on its own merits as well as serving as a reminder of what a wonderful novel it was based on.

The Jolly Librarian recommends that you watch the movie, read the book, and write yourself a reminder that Kevin Wilson’s new novel comes out in early 2017.


How to Succeed in College (5 Tips at a Time): Part 7

1.  Stay current.  Don’t let yourself get behind on the course reading or completing assignments.  Procrastination causes stress, gives you less time for doing quality work and doesn’t allow you to get the most out of class discussions.

2.  Participate.  Be an active participant in class discussions and actively think about the content of the reading.

3.  Actually learn the material.  Don’t just concern yourself with accumulating the necessary points for a course, but actually try to understand the material, content, bigger picture.  Ask yourself, “Could I pass the final exam if it were given to me 6 months from now?”  If you are truly learning the material and not just memorizing, the answer will be “yes.”

4. Review frequently.  Be sure to review the material in an ongoing manner, rather than cramming before an exam.

5.  Be open to confusion.  Learning new material isn’t easy (it’s not supposed to be). If you are being challenged, you should expect moments when you don’t “get it.”  Yet.  Don’t say “I can’t get this,” say “I don’t understand this, yet.”


How to Succeed in College (5 Tips at a Time): Part 6

  1. It is now midterm week. Evaluate what has worked so far. Give yourself a high five for your successes.
  2. Take a hard look at what’s not working. What do you need to do?
  3. If you haven’t already done so, visit your instructor during office hours.
  4. Plan out the rest of your semester. The last half usually has more assignments, and managing your time is essential.
  5. Use fall break to catch up, but schedule at least one restful/fun activity.

Monday Motivator: Appreciate Other People’s Journeys

I was chastised by a student last week. She had been told that I didn’t like for my colleagues to tell students I had a doctorate in English. “You should not be ashamed,” she said. “It’s an important thing.”

She then told us a bit of her story. Her grandfather was a medical doctor in Argentina who fled the country during the Dirty War to ensure his family’s safety. He accomplished that but was never able to practice medicine again. Like many students from immigrant families, she felt proud of her grandfather’s sacrifice and duty bound to make something of herself to prove worthy of it.

Of course, not all people’s stories are awe inspiring. Some folks don’t make it. Some become angry, bitter, resistant to instruction, or afraid to try. In our line of work, we see those people as well. But instead of judging them, let’s take a minute to think about the journey behind the person we see in front of us. When we know the story about the appearance, we still may not like the person, but we’re often a little more empathetic.

And for the record, I’m not ashamed of my doctorate. I was just making the point that a doctorate in English doesn’t necessarily mean I know every comma rule by heart🙂

How to Succeed in College (5 Tips at a Time): Part 5

Today’s tips come from a staff member and former faculty member:

1.  Take care of yourself.  Juggling school, work, family can be difficult.  Be sure to include time for yourself and your well being.  Even a five minute walk on a beautiful day can work wonders.  

2.  Keep your study time focused.  Watching the third season of Breaking Bad (again), texting friends and trolling on Facebook, all while you are reading the required chapter in your textbook, is not an effective way to study.  A short block of focused study time is much more effective than an hour of “multitask” studying.

3.  Know thyself. When you tell yourself, “I do better under pressure,” know if that is really true or if it is a rationalization which allows you to put things off.  Do you really study better at night or are you studying at 1:00 a.m. because you have Netflix?

4.  Allow imperfection.  Being a “good student” doesn’t mean you should know everything.  We all have our strengths and weaknesses.  It is okay to earn a B or a C if that is as much mastery as you are going to get in a particular subject.  Do your best and accept that your best isn’t perfect.

5.  Stay organized.  Find a system you can maintain over the long haul, not just the first week of class. Your pockets or the backseat of your car is not your best option for filing papers.  Check your school email every day so you aren’t surprised by a due date or a changed class location.



Monday Motivator: Say Thanks

Last week I received two thank you notes. One was from a friend whose husband had died the week before, thanking the library for sending flowers. The  other was for a birthday present, sent by a friend suffering from dementia.

I mention these two things because formal thank-you notes seem to have gone the way of the dinosaur. I am not a formal person, but more than once in the past few years, I have wondered if a present sent for a birthday, graduation, wedding, or baby shower ever arrived because the gift was not acknowledged. Since I was not able to attend the events, there was no way to know. I was in the awkward position of not wanting my gift to have been lost, but also not wanting to appear like the grumpy aunt who wants to know why the thank-you notes haven’t been sent. A quick email or text would have been more than sufficient.

I am not Miss Manners, and my point is not to have everyone go out and send a thank-you note. But the fact that two people with many cares and worries managed to send one reminded me that I need to be more aware of the kindnesses that people do for me on a regular basis and express my appreciation.

And by thanks, I don’t mean the mumbled word that really just means “Okay, we’re finished with this transaction.” I mean an actual expression of heartfelt gratitude for the person.

I’m going to try (meaningfully) thank five people this week. Why don’t you join me?