We all need legal help at some point in our lives, whether it’s for a will, custody case, divorce, or help understanding our rights. While librarians may not be the ones who can offer that assistance, we CAN help you locate the best legal resources. We can also provide free legal forms and programs that allow you to spend time one-on-one with an attorney for FREE. In honor of National Pro Bono Week, coming up October 21-26, we thought we’d highlight what Jeff Davis Parish Library has to offer in terms of legal help.
On October 23, from 3-5pm, the Jennings Library will host a Lawyers in Libraries event. This free event allows you to spend about 15 minutes asking an attorney questions about civil issues. We host this event every year and are willing to host legal aid workshops if enough people ask.
The heart of what we offer, however, lies in what we can offer in terms of referring you to excellent resources (both online and by phone). One of the best kept secrets is that all public libraries in Louisiana offer Gale Legal Forms, which is a huge collection of legal forms that you can edit and print from any computer. Anyone with a library card can access these forms on our website. It is best if you know what form you need, as library staff cannot tell you this.
If you don’t know what forms you need, have no fear. The library has resources for that too! The Louisiana State Bar Association has a Find Legal Help page that has everything you need. From here you can search for an attorney (including those who charge reduced fees or do free pro bono work). If you want to self-represent and just need help selecting forms and navigating the courts, the section of Self-Help Services and Legal Forms will be very useful. For more specific topics, click on the Legal Information and Online Resources section. This section covers questions regarding turning 18, court interpreters, legal research, abuse hotlines, and witness preparation. This site also links you to the Law Library of Louisiana, which has TONS of free legal forms and information on many different topics (including divorce, emancipation, Medicaid, Social Security, SNAP, expungement of criminal records, and MORE).
We all know attorney fees are expensive, but help is available and the library is a great place to start. We may not be able to answer actual legal questions, but we can definitely do better than Google.
When we think of famous libraries, we probably envision large buildings like the Library of Congress or ancient ones like the Great Library of Alexandria. But when someone asks us to share a favorite memory about visiting a library, for most of us that memory will be of a small library. Most likely it will be the one we grew up with, or the one we brought our kids to. It will probably be a library packed full of books, some covered in dust because they haven’t checked out in decades and the librarian can’t be convinced to part with what she views as “her children.” It may or may not be a quiet library, but it mostly likely is one where the librarians know your name and they know what you like.
And that pretty much sums up the power of small community libraries, something which I was reminded of while recently attending a conference in Vermont for small libraries. The Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) Conference is held annually and Jeff Davis Parish Library finds so much value in this conference that we specifically budget each year for at least three people to attend. This year, three library staff and two library board members were able to attend.
The conference was held in Burlington, a small city of just under 43,000 people. Located in northwestern Vermont, Burlington is surrounded by pristine mountains and lakes. This region is very agrarian and known for its maple syrup, hard ciders, and craft beers. Most of the libraries we visited were historic buildings, with the exception of one in a shopping mall. Burlington is less than an hour away from the Canadian border, so some of us were able to visit some libraries in Quebec as well.
The library that best represents the power of small is the Charles D. Brainerd Library in West Danville. It is the smallest library in Vermont, at only 10×17 feet. Formerly a gas station, this building was converted into a library and is supported by volunteers. It has no electricity, no AC or heat, and it is only open for 2 hrs a day from Monday – Friday. But it is obvious to any observer that this library is loved and appreciated by its community.
The ARLS Conference had attendees from all over the country. There were solo librarians who operate by themselves, working maybe 16 hrs/week and serving a population less than 3,000. Then there were “medium” libraries like us. There were libraries with huge budgets and libraries with no budget, depending solely on volunteers and donations. There were librarians serving extremely liberal communities and those serving extremely conservative communities, and everything in-between. There were sessions that pushed us out of our comfort zones, and speakers who re-ignited the passion for what we do and why it’s so important.
What impacted me the most, however, was to see how much these libraries are doing with so very little in terms of space, money, and staffing. Some of the libraries with the least amount of resources are the ones making the biggest impact on their communities. They have learned to be creative and look beyond the physical walls of their buildings. They have reached out to community partners and become a fixture at local events. Some have opened their doors on Thanksgiving and Christmas, voluntarily sacrificing their personal time so that no one in their community spent a holiday alone or cold.
Here in Jeff Davis Parish, we know that libraries don’t have to be huge to be powerful. Sure, it would be nice to have a library with spacious meeting rooms or separate children’s rooms where kids can be kids without disturbing the quiet. It would be awesome to have makerspaces with 3D printers and sewing machines and whatever else the big city libraries are dreaming up. But we work with what we have, and what we have is a dedicated group of librarians who want to know you by name and want to help you achieve a happy and fulfilled life. We have a beautiful historic building that has been preserved and is being used for the good of all. We have three branch libraries and a bookmobile that ensure everyone in our parish has access to our services. We have programs that prepare young kids for school and outreach to those who cannot leave their homes or their facilities. We are a safe haven. But most importantly, we are your small hometown library that wishes to serve our community to the best of our ability and continue to make a difference in whatever way we can.
It’s that time of year again, when we are either dreading or celebrating the upcoming school term. Regardless of which side of the fence we fall on, there can be no doubt that a good education is one of the most important things that we can do for ourselves and our children. And when I say education, I’m not just referring to what happens in a classroom during grades K-12. Education begins at birth and it should continue until the day we take our last breath.
I was blessed growing up to have a mom who was a teacher and to have experienced many different types of schools: homeschooling, private, public, traditional university, and online university. In all of these schools, I learned there are many ways to educate myself and that no specific method is better than the other. Sure, there are pros and cons to each method and we do all have very different learning styles, but I believe that an educated person is one who makes an active choice to be so.
Some of the most intelligent people I know have resumes that will never reflect their level of wisdom. They are self-taught, well-read, and open to learning from every life experience. They may or may not have gone to college. They may or may not have had good grades in school. But what they have in common is a shared belief that learning never stops.
Encouraging continuous learning for all ages is what libraries do best. It is at the heart of every choice we make, and we are constantly striving to provide ways for you to take charge of your own learning. Whether it is learning to read, cook healthier meals, improve your knowledge on a specific topic, find out what is really going on in the world — the Library can help. As our world of knowledge continues to appear in new digital formats, librarians can suggest ways for you to learn in the way that you prefer.
I believe everyone knows that we have books, magazines and newspapers. So I’ll just suggest a few items that you may not be aware of. These resources are all freely available either through our library or online. If you don’t see something on a topic you would like to learn, or if you know of other resources not listed here, please let us know — we can all learn together!
Create a free account using your JDP Library card and gain access to a wealth of resources for the entire family. This site includes: skill building for math, English, social studies, science, technology, research and study, as well as standardized test prep and practice exams, adult literacy, US Citizenship, career help, and more!
Create a free account using your JDP Library card and prepare your little ones for Kindergarten. This site helps ensure your 2-6 year olds have the necessary skills before school.
I am a HUGE fan of Khan Academy because it’s always free, easy to use, and offers high quality lessens on pretty much every topic for PreK-12, including Common Core math! It also includes lessons on personal finance (loans, taxes, debt, car expenses, saving, budgeting, etc.).
Fabulous website that teaches all ages the fundamentals of music, including theory, ear training, improv, and music history.
Check out this magazine at the library, then let your kids explore online for more learning and fun!
Offers free online games and activities for grades 1-8, searchable by grade level.
A unique learning site for ages 8-15 covering many subjects, from art to marine biology, from civics to programming. Through this online community, kids learn about internet safety AND the real world.
Free site dedicated to teaching kids computer coding. This is the agency that administers Hour of Code programs all over the world.
Used by public schools in Jeff Davis Parish, this free site offers K-5 students a way to improve math skills.
Academic Earth offers access to free university online courses. These courses are available through other sites or directly through the universities, but AE brings them all together in one place.
This site has a large online course library where classes are taught by real university professors. All courses are free (with a paid option for certificates) and the site is very easy to use.
Not everything on this site is free, but it is definitely all top notch! Courses are from some of the same universities found on the other sites, but edX organizes them into Courses (the free stuff), graduate level, professional certifications, and Xseries (in-depth knowledge).
Open Culture has over 1000 lectures, videos and podcasts from universities around the world. It’s all free but it has a lot of ads – so be careful not to click on any images. Use this site when Coursera or Academic Earth aren’t enough.
This site is based in the UK, so you’ll see courses from European universities. Many courses are free but there are some that cost.
Another site based in the UK that also offers free university courses in an easy to search website.
GCF has been helping adults learn 21st century skills for almost 20 years. All lessons are free and cover topics such as typing, Microsoft software, social media, internet safety, basic math and literacy, and more!
Microsoft makes it easy to learn all of their software for free through this site.
This site is similar to the GCF site, except that it’s based in the UK so some courses might not be relevant.
This site is dedicated to teaching computer coding for adults and older teens. Basic features are free, but the more advanced options cost.
The first 50 lessons on this site are free and give you a crash course in graphic design. A useful list of tools is also included, but be aware they are almost entirely all focused on Apple products.
Udacity offers online lessons on technology I’ve never even heard of! To find the free lessons, filter your search by Type—Free Courses in the left Category menu. Want to build a self-driving car? You can learn it here!
As we reach the “Dog Days of Summer,” I thought it would be helpful to suggest some book titles that your children might enjoy. These books are all about summer and can be requested from any of our Jefferson Davis Parish Libraries.
Presents rhyming sentences for each letter of the alphabet that remind the reader of God’s blessings in summer.
From swimming in the ocean to Fourth of July fireworks, this adorable board book captures the enduring spirit of summertime fun.
A child observes the coming of summer and its effects on the weather, animals, and plants. Includes suggestions for summertime activities to enjoy alone or with a parent.
Sights and sounds of a summer twilight mingle with recollections of a lovely day at the beach as a household settles in for the night.
Discover bugs on a summer walk with Grammy. Beautiful illustrations and clever rhymes will guide readers as they learn to identify twenty-six different bugs and how to create a caterpillar habitat.
Sent to an all-girls summer camp, Amelia Bedelia tries to figure out how her old-fashioned camp can compete with a high-tech computer camp across the lake, where her cousin is spending his own summer break.
It’s summer vacation, the weather’s great, and all the kids are having fun outside – except Greg Heffley, who is inside his house playing video games with the shades drawn. Greg’s mom has different plans for him.
Join Eloise, Weenie, and Nanny as they go on a road trip across the country for vacation.
In this summer story about friendship and revenge, 11-year old Wyatt and his friend Augie are having the best summer of their lives hanging out in the fort they built in the woods, until two older boys mess with the fort–and with another kid who can’t fight back.
Jacky Hart has found a hidden talent in the performing arts, and she’s a triple threat onstage! She wants nothing more than to act and sing all summer–but her parents have other plans for her.
Judy’s big plans for the summer seem ruined when two of her best friends go away, and then her parents leave her and Stink with Aunt Opal, but a new “thrill-a-delic” plan has her racing toward fun.
A coming-of-age middle-grade graphic novel about summer and friendships, written and illustrated by the Eisner Award-winning and New York Times bestselling Hope Larson.
Things get out of hand for a twelve-year-old boy when a neighbor convinces him to expand his summer lawn mowing business.
Even though they’re twins, Lilly and David don’t agree on much…except that the last summer before high school is the perfect time for relaxing with friends. But their plans for sleepovers, fantasy games, and romance are thrown out the window when the whole gang falls into a river and wakes up in a village of fantastic creatures.
When thirteen-year-old Ali spends the summer with her aunt and cousin at the family’s vacation home, she stumbles upon a secret that her mother and aunt have been hiding for over thirty years.
A delinquent sixteen-year-old girl is sent to live with her uncle for the summer, only to learn that he is a Grim Reaper who wants to teach her the family business.
17-year-old Katie Price has been sheltered since childhood with a rare disease that makes even the smallest amount of sunlight deadly. During the day she is housebound, but after nightfall, Katie can venture out to the local train station and play her guitar for travelers. One night, her dreams come true when she’s noticed by Charlie, whom she has secretly admired for years, and decides to hide her condition from him as the two embark on a uniquely powerful romance over one nearly perfect summer.
Teddy has been training all summer with his new friends Jack and Gus to make the new travel football team in Walton, but when his long-absent dad comes back to town and into his life he is faced with a much bigger challenge.
During her last summer at home before leaving for college, Emaline begins a whirlwind romance with Theo, an assistant documentary filmmaker who is in town to make a movie.
Twelve-year-old Jane, who lives at the beach in a run-down old house with her mother, two brothers, and sister, has an eventful summer accompanying her pastor on bible deliveries, meeting former boyfriends of her mother’s, and being coerced into babysitting for a family of ill-mannered children.
Perfect for parents of children ages 3-12, this book contains 20 chapters of fun activities, games, sports, and play that will keep your kid active this summer. Activities encourage thinking skills, motor development, social interaction, and self-esteem.
Young chefs can choose from many tasty, nutritious recipes. Kids will learn about nutrition and healthy eating, kitchen safety, sequencing, following directions, and math and measurement skills.
“It takes a village to raise a child” — African proverb
Every year, Jeff Davis Parish Library offers a Summer Reading Program that is top-notch and only possible through the support of others. This summer, our village of supporters has expanded and we are able to offer more programs and more incentives for reading. For this month’s Library Lines, I’d like to acknowledge the individuals and organizations who make up this village.
Thank you to the JDPL staff who all pitched in to make this summer a success. Selecting space themed books, stamping coupons, dropping off promotional flyers, creating elaborate decorations, designing creative programs, writing grants – our staff did all of this and more!
Thank you to the Arts and Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana and the Louisiana Division of the Arts, for awarding us Decentralized Arts Funding which paid for all of our professional performers. This funding allows us to bring highly talented performers to our parish for enriching experiences that we would otherwise be unable to provide.
Thank you to the Jennings Kiwanis and Jennings Carnegie Library, for partnering with us to provide a fun way for families to learn about summer activities. The Super Summer Sign-Up event was a success and we registered 51 children for the Summer Reading Program at that event! A special shout-out to Charlie Williams, Melody Bertrand, Will Hetzel and Tony Hulsey – the hard-working Kiwanians who made this event possible – and to Tanya Gaudet for giving us shelter from the rain.
Thank you to the City of Jennings and the following local merchants who donated coupons, which are being given to children who complete the Summer Reading Program:
Thank you to the following locations for providing the space we need for large gatherings:
Thank you to the families who are attending our events and registering your children for the reading program. All of our hard work means nothing without your participation, and we are so grateful for your support. We know how busy you are, and it means the world to us that you are taking this time to encourage a love of learning and reading in your families.
As they say, “it takes a village,” and during this summer it is obvious that the Jeff Davis Parish village is raising a community of future readers and leaders!
There are typically two camps of librarians when May comes around: those who are ecstatic about the upcoming Summer Reading Program and those who are inwardly repeating their mantra of “it’s only for two months, it’s only for two months.” I fall somewhere in the middle, eager to see the kids while mentally preparing myself for the onslaught that is about to arrive. I believe all librarians, however, would agree that there is something magical about summer in a public library.
The library was integral to my summer vacations. It was where I went to escape the heat, where I went to get craft books so I’d have something fun to make at home, and how I explored the world without ever leaving Jennings. A ride on my bike to the library, paired with a snow cone from the More Mileage station, was almost a daily routine for me in the summer.
Some say those magical summer days are gone, that children can no longer ride their bikes to snow cone huts and that internet has rendered libraries obsolete. But anyone who visits a public library during a summer program will see that the magic still exists. Children who were surrounded by YouTube and Facebook while still in the womb are just as enraptured by a great picture book as their grandparents were. Kids still want drawing books and comic books and “books to gross out my sister” books. Teens still want novels about being misunderstood and end-of-the-world dystopian books.
The public library has all of that, PLUS access to those books in digital format. For kids who prefer digital, we have TumbleBooks which offers online interactive picture books – perfect for reluctant readers! We also have OverDrive and Hoopla, which offer a HUGE selection of eBooks & eAudiobooks. For magazine readers, we have RBdigital which gives you instant access to popular magazines on your device of choice. And of course we have computers and WiFi, so if they need their YouTube fix & don’t have fast internet at home, we have them covered. Lest I forget, we also offer free programs every week, including toddler story times, professional performers, gaming and craft programs for teens, and more. For a calendar of events, click HERE.
When your kids say “I’m bored,” send them our way – we’ll make sure their brains stay active this summer!
WHAT IF BOOKS ARE BAD FOR US?
“I’m a diamond in the rough, a shiny piece of coal. Tryin’ to reach my goal, my power of speech.”
As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world … as in being able to remake ourselves. ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Happy 2019 everyone! This new year has brought much change to our library, including a new Director. While 2018 was a time of reflection for us, 2019 is going to be full of new ideas, new or improved services, more community outreach and so much more. What will never change, however, is our genuine love for this community and our commitment to providing high quality service to everyone. Continue reading