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Custodian of the Jefferson Davis Parish Library’s Public Records is Library Director,
Clare McNally Coleman

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February 2019

“I’m a diamond in the rough, a shiny piece of coal.  Tryin’ to reach my goal, my power of speech.” 
Someone recently asked me why I love the musical Hamilton so much, and my answer was simple: because it captures the heart of America. While thinking more about that, I realize there’s a lot more to it than that.  It represents our belief that anything is possible, that everyone has the potential to rise above their situation.  This is also a core belief of librarians, so it makes sense that I would be drawn to this musical. 
“Hey yo, I’m just like my country.  I’m young, scrappy, and hungry.  And I’m not throwing away my shot! 
For those unfamiliar with the Hamilton craze that has swept our nation, it is a Broadway musical that tells the story of Alexander Hamilton and his wife Eliza.  Lest you assume this production is about a bunch of white guys long dead who have no relevance today, let me inform you the cast is almost entirely made up of young people in every shade of color.  Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the musical, is the son of immigrants.  After reading the book Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, Miranda was inspired to adapt the story in a way that would resonate with modern audiences.  The music is a mix of pop and rap, and it takes kind of an alternative history approach, letting the audience imagine “what if our founding forefathers had been like this?”  It is raw and it tugs at every heart that has ever yearned for “more.” 
“We’ll bleed and fight for you.  We’ll make it right for you.  If we lay a strong enough foundation. We’ll pass it on to you.  We’ll give the world to you and you’ll blow us all away.” 
So what does this have to do with libraries?  Librarians believe in the power of knowledge.  We take seriously our role in preserving the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  We welcome all and we strive to provide the tools necessary for our community to thrive.  Sometimes this takes the form of story times, which prepare young minds for successful school years.  Other times it may be lengthy assistance at a computer as someone applies for jobs.  Or opening the world to a teen who needs to believe that there is more to life than their current struggles.  Sometimes it’s the simple act of providing an escape through books, movies, or music to people who are homebound. 
“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  We fought for these ideals; we shouldn’t settle for less. 
We librarians are not perfect.  We carry with us our own experience, bias and fear, but we rise above that every day that we come to work because we believe so strongly in what we do.  For this reason, our library has chosen a new slogan: 
This is our way of reminding everyone that we are a place where everyone can discover their own way of pursuing the “American Dream” — whatever shape that dream may take. 
“There’s a million things I haven’t done.  But just you wait, just you wait.” 
P.S.  The quotes in this article are all lyrics from Hamilton.  The entire soundtrack can be downloaded FREE through our Hoopla app.  Find it HERE

January 2019

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.

Let me introduce myself.  My name is Clare McNally Coleman, daughter of Ed and Flo McNally and sister to James, Matthew, Kathleen and Aimee.  I am a proud graduate of Jennings High, McNeese and LSU. I live in Moss Bluff with the love-of-my-life, Eric — a chemical engineer who is way too smart for his own good and is the most amazing chef!  We’ve been married for 15 years and before moving to Moss Bluff we lived in Victoria, Texas and Bear, Delaware.

When I’m not at work, I am travelling the world, hiking, reading a trashy romance novel, spending time with family or belting out Broadway musicals.  I love to discuss current events, politics, history and world religions. I lead a local group of women called the No. 1 Ladies Hiking Society, who act as a support group for women interested in active travel.  I share my own travel stories and thoughts on my personal blog, Planes Terrains & Avocados.

I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, and this is important to know in order to understand what influences many of my decisions.  When your body unexpectedly stops working in your early 30s, it acts as a wake up call. I have learned not to take my health for granted, to find joy in everything, and to travel as often as possible NOW (rather than waiting for retirement). I have learned to love ebooks because it hurts to hold a print book.  Audiobooks have become a treat for me, as they give me something to enjoy on really bad days.

I am passionate about building better communities and believe this is one of the most important roles of a public library.  We are the safe place where all are welcome and all can receive the tools they need for a happier life and better future.

Knowing this about me should explain why in 2019 we will be focusing on the following:

  • Promoting health literacy and a happier, healthier community
  • Improving internal software so library staff can be more mobile, communicate more easily, and keep up with current technology
  • Adding more outreach for homebound patrons, group facilities, and community events
  • Providing more services to after-school kids, promoting healthy habits & fun learning

By Clare Coleman

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