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2019: A Recap

Sometimes a lot of the work we do is behind the scenes and might go unnoticed.  Such was the case for us in 2019, which was a very busy year for the Jeff Davis Parish Library.  So I thought I’d spend this last month to reflect on what kept your library bees so busy in 2019.

New faces joined our family!

Leah Harford, Tiffiany Cormier, Cynthia Fogleman & Laci Cormier joined the JDPL staff this year.  Along with their coworkers, these ladies revolutionized programs for youth in their branch libraries and brought tons of new energy and ideas. We can’t wait for you to see what they have planned for 2020!

We offered more programs!

Speaking of programs, your amazing JDPL crew offered over 600 programs this year.  That’s almost double the number of programs we offered in 2018!  Our total attendance went from 5,900 in 2018 to 7,900 in 2019.  We experimented with new program ideas and times — some worked, some did not — and we learned from them all.

We teamed up with others!

We all know great things come from working as a team, so this year we continued some long-standing partnerships and began some new ones.  We worked with the Registrar of Voters to coordinate voting machines for local schools participating in the Louisiana Young Readers Choice Award voting.  We provided free art classes at Council on Aging.  The City of Jennings and multiple local businesses provided coupons that we used as incentive prizes for our summer reading program.  We partnered with ASSIST to provide weekly programs for summer feeding program participants.  We collaborated with Carnegie Library and Jennings Kiwanis to offer a Super Summer Sign-Up event, giving families a chance to learn about summer camps and enrichment activities.

We got a makeover!

With a new director, it seemed fitting to update our look so we did just that.  We updated our logo, slogan, mission and vision statements.  Take a look and see for yourself:

MISSION: Enriching lives by bringing our community together through literacy, information and opportunities for growth.

VISION: A community connected by its shared desire for all to live happy, fulfilling lives, today and tomorrow.

…and coming soon in 2020, we’ll have a new website!

We learned new technology!

We updated to Office 365 and Windows 10, so our staff had to learn new versions of Microsoft Office.  We also began using Canva to design all of our marketing materials.  Thanks to a new partnership with InfoTech Solutions, our staff received regular online security training — we learned about ransomware, hackers, and how to keep our online data safe.  All this learning so we can better assist you with your own information and technology questions.

We brought the library to YOU!

This year we brought the library out into the community by participating in local events.  You may have seen friendly faces at any of these events:  Lake Arthur Art in the Park, ASSIST Resource Fair, Welsh 4th of July Old Time Festival, Elton Fall Festival and Christmas Parade, and Jennings Halloween on Main.  This was in addition to our bi-weekly Bookmobile visits to Topsy, Raymond, Lacassine, and Fenton AND our bi-weekly visits to homebound residents and all local nursing homes.  Whether it’s serving hot cocoa or giving people the chance to checkout materials from the Bookmobile, we are always seeking opportunities to get out into the community.  So expect to see us out and about in 2020. We also made new services available to you online, including the ability to renew and place reserves on items — all from your phone or home computer!

We spent a lot of time planning!

With your help, we created a 5-year Strategic Plan that will provide a road map for what we do and how we spend our resources in the upcoming years.  Through community meetings and surveys, we identified each community’s needs and wants and created a list of ways that we can meet those needs.  We’ll release the full plan in January, so stay tuned for more!

Thank you to everyone who supported us this year, by visiting our libraries, encouraging a love of reading in others, downloading our ebooks, attending our programs, using our computers and fax services, paying your taxes — and always doing so with smiles and encouragement.  You make it a joy and a privilege for us to serve you!





October 2019

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. 

September 2019

Small but Mighty: the Power of Small Libraries

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.

From left: Clare Coleman (Director), Ressie Stutes (Elton Asst. Mgr), Jean Stoute (Welsh Mgr.), Ramona Hardee & Brenda DeWolf (library board members)

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.

Library in Stowe, Vermont

Library in a shopping mall

Former church now public library in Magog, Canada

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.

Smallest library in Vermont

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.

August 2019

Back 2 School? We’re ALWAYS in school! 

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!


Learning Express Library:  www.jdplibrary.org 

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! 


Miss Humblebee’s Academy: www.jdplibrary.org 

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.

Khan Academy: www.khanacademy.org 

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.).

Dave Conservatoire: www.daveconservatoire.org 

Fabulous website that teaches all ages the fundamentals of music, including theory, ear training, improv, and music history. 

National Geographic Kids: https://kids.nationalgeographic.com 

Check out this magazine at the library, then let your kids explore online for more learning and fun!

Fun Brain: www.funbrain.com

Offers free online games and activities for grades 1-8, searchable by grade level. 

Whyville: www.whyville.net/smmk/nice 

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. 

Code:  https://code.org 

Free site dedicated to teaching kids computer coding. This is the agency that administers Hour of Code programs all over the world.

Zearn:  www.zearn.org

Used by public schools in Jeff Davis Parish, this free site offers K-5 students a way to improve math skills.


Academic Earth: https://academicearth.org 

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.

Coursera: www.coursera.org

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.

EdX: www.edx.org 

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: www.openculture.com 

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.

FutureLearn: https://www.futurelearn.com

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.

OpenLearn: www.open.edu/openlearn/free-courses

Another site based in the UK that also offers free university courses in an easy to search website.


GCF Learn: www.gcflearnfree.org 

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 Learn: https://mva.microsoft.com 

Microsoft makes it easy to learn all of their software for free through this site.

Learn My Way: www.learnmyway.com

This site is similar to the GCF site, except that it’s based in the UK so some courses might not be relevant.

Codeacademy: www.codecademy.com 

This site is dedicated to teaching computer coding for adults and older teens. Basic features are free, but the more advanced options cost. 

HTML Dog: https://htmldog.com 

Free tutorials for those who want to learn or improve computer programming skills, such as CSS, JavaScript, and HTML. 

Hack Design: https://hackdesign.org/lessons101 

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: www.udacity.com/courses/all 

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!

July 2019

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.


F is for Fireflies / by Kathy-jo Wargin 

Presents rhyming sentences for each letter of the alphabet that remind the reader of God’s blessings in summer. 

Goodnight Summer / by Adam Gamble 

From swimming in the ocean to Fourth of July fireworks, this adorable board book captures the enduring spirit of summertime fun. 

It’s Summer / By Linda Glaser 

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. 

A Lullaby of Summer Things / by Natalie Ziarnik 

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. 

Summer Walk / by Virginia Snow 

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. 



Amelia Bedelia Makes a Splash / by Herman Parish 

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. 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days / by Jeff Kinney 

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. 

Eloise’s Summer Vacation / by Lisa McClatchy 

Join Eloise, Weenie, and Nanny as they go on a road trip across the country for vacation. 

Fort / by Cynthia DeFelice 

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 Ha-Ha: My Life is a Joke / by James Patterson

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 Moody and the Not Bummer Summer / by Megan McDonald 

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. 



All Summer Long / by Hope Larson 

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. 

Lawn Boy / by Gary Paulsen 

Things get out of hand for a twelve-year-old boy when a neighbor convinces him to expand his summer lawn mowing business. 

Home Time / by Campbell Whyte

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.

Deep and Dark and Dangerous / by Mary Downing Hahn 

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. 



Croak / By Gina Damico 

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. 

Midnight Sun / by Trish Cook 

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. 

The Extra Yard / by Mike Lupica 

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.

The Moon and More / by Sarah Dessen 

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. 



My One Hundred Adventures / by Polly Horvath 

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. 




Summer Smarts for Cool Kids: over 150 fantastic and fun learning activities to help kids beat the summer blahs / by Penny Warner

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.

Summer Sips to “Chill” Dips / by Marilyn La Penta 

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. 

June 2019

“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: 

  • Main Street Deli 
  • Mr. Clint’s 
  • Pappy’s 
  • Peto’s 
  • Snow B’s Express 
  • Sonic 
  • Tiger Mart 

Thank you to the following locations for providing the space we need for large gatherings: 

  • Beulah Davis Center, City of Elton 
  • James O. Hall, American Legion Post 19 
  • Lake Arthur Community Center 
  • Presbyterian Church of Welsh 
  • Roanoke United  Methodist Church 
  • St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church 
  • St. Lawrence Catholic Church 
  • Topsy Baptist Church 

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!

May 2019

Summer Reading Program

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!

April 2019


This is the theme for National Library Week 2019, and what a true statement it is!  The libraries in this community (city/parish/school) are fighting daily battles for their patrons and students, waging war against poverty, addiction, abuse and neglect, loneliness, misinformation, illiteracy in all its forms, and so much more.  These are often done so on a one-to-one basis, so the services we provide usually go unnoticed.  National Library Week occurs every year in April and it is a time when libraries across America promote the value that we provide.  The theme this year, Libraries = Strong Communities, is part of a larger Libraries Transform initiative which developed the following statements: 

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March 2019

This post is either going to land me on the hate list of all book lovers, or it will totally resonate with them. Either way, I must unburden my feelings. I have kept my silence far too long.
There. I said it. Now let me explain myself…

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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. 

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