Como Library

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Como library is one of the eight recipients to receive the John Cotton Dana Award for outstanding achievement in library public relations.  From left are teens Shaquille Conrad, Shakemia Towns, librarian Alice Pierotti, Briana Patton and Mathew Holloway, who all worked on the winning project, Elders Remember.   Photo by Dennis Head

Como library one of eight in nation to win PR award

By Rita Howell

Como’s Emily Jones Pointer Public Library has received the American Library Association’s prestigious John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in library public relations.

One of eight libraries across the country selected for the award, the Como Library will receive $10,000.
The prize-winning project is “Elders Remember,” a collection of videos from interviews by teen volunteers to record and preserve memories and traditions of Panola County music.

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“Elders Remember is a project our community has already embraced and celebrated,” Como librarian Alice Pierotti said.  “Being recognized outside our community for this work is such an honor.  And to garner such a prestigious prize – it’s the American Library Association’s top honor – should be to the delight of all Como library patrons.”

With the emphasis in the Como community on hill country blues, the project also included interviews with gospel singers and even covered Broadway influence from Panola Playhouse and remembrances of the now-defunct Como Opera Guild.

Twelve interviews on DVD are available at the Como Library. Portions of the interviews may be viewed online at or on YouTube. The videos include performances by many of the artists interviewed.

“Folks come from around the world come to Como,” Pierotti said.  “So far this year we’ve already seen visitors from Spain, Norway, New York, Vermont, Iowa, Nashville, Jackson, New Orleans, Union Grove, NC, Plano, TX, as well as more local folks from Water Valley, Oxford, Clarksdale, Tunica, Hernando and Memphis.

 “These people are coming to Como and the library to hear and discover more about our region’s music.  The library took the problem of not having enough good information to share with them and found a creative way to gather information.  We knew it was a fantastic idea.”

The Elders Remember project was funded by a $15,000 grant from the Mississippi Library Commission in 2010. The team of teen volunteers who interviewed, filmed and edited the project, under the direction of Pierotti, included Shaquille Conrad, Shakemia Towns, Briana Patton, Mathew Holloway, Vernisha Brunt, James Rodgers, Keondre Price, Melvin Harvey, Jamil Mottley, Desiree Armstrong, Jalen Taylor and Teariny Wheatly.

Interview subjects were R.L. Boyce, Franklin Bowden, John and Evelyn Waldo, Ricky Swindle, Julius Harris, Raymond and Joe Ella Walker, Robert “Booma” Canon, the Como Mamas (Angela Taylor, Della Wright and Ester Mae Wilbourn), Martha Frances Garrison, Sherman Cooper, Jimbo Matthus, Bobbie Turner Mallory and Betty Turner Freeman.

“I am so very proud of Alice Pierotti and Judy Card, Youth Services Specialist, First Regional Library,”  said Catherine Nathan, director of First Regional Library. “This is a huge honor!”

The Emily Jones Pointer Public Library is one of 13 branches of the First Regional Library system which serves five counties in Northwest Mississippi.

The John Cotton Dana honor has been awarded continuously since 1946 and is sponsored by EBSCO, the H.W. Wilson Foundation and the Library Leadership and Management Association, a division of the American Library Association. In all, there were 108 submissions to the competition this year.                                                                                        
The John Cotton Dana Awards will be presented at a reception on  June 24 in Anaheim, Calif. during the the ALA annual conference.