Forest Library is enhanced by recent donations of books

When Norma Ruth Lee learned that the Forest Public Library was featuring a display for National Cookbook Month, she decided that one of her prized cookbooks belonged in the display. When Gary Risher received an extra copy of a book commemorating fifty years since the Vietnam War, he chose to donate the book to the library for Veteran’s Day. And, when the Forest Garden Club purchased a new book about the growth and care of begonias, President Karen Ingle and the local members recognized that the best shelf for a book on begonias was at the library.

“We love to receive books that are representative of the people we serve, and most people have at least one special interest which defines what is important to them,” said Dianne McLaurin, Forest Public Library Assistant Branch Manager. “The Forest library serves as a center of activity with increased library visits of 5000-plus per month; unfortunately, for the past three years, the library’s total monetary budget has decreased each year.” When area residents donate books to the library, especially nonfiction, they not only supplement a shrinking library budget, but they also share with others a part of what’s important to them.

Lee recently donated a hot pink book entitled Miss Mississippi Cooks, which features first hand pageant stories, tips, tidbits, and favorite recipes from former title holders. Why is this cookbook special to Forest? On pages 238-243, Miss Mississippi 1967 Joan Stephanie Myers is featured with photos, an interview, and her select recipes. Even though Myers represented Mississippi College, she is the only Miss Mississippi who lived in Forest while holding the title. She was also chosen first alternate to Miss America.

“Back during the golden years of the Miss America competition, millions of people tuned-in to the nationally televised finals,” said Lee. “Needless to say, when Miss Mississippi Joan Myers was introduced as living in Forest, she definitely put our city on the map!”

“Proud Forest viewers were thrilled to watch as their friend and neighbor wowed the judges and won the hearts of a nation,” explained Lee. “In the cookbook, Joan shares her story about being adopted and living in Forest with her mother, Mrs. Lucille Myers and I am pleased to donate this book to the Forest library in honor of my friend, Joan Myers Bayer, and in memory of the wonderful Lucille Myers.”

Risher, representing American Legion Post 9, donated a book entitled Vietnam War 50th Commemoration: A Time To Honor.  In recognition of Veterans’ Day, Commander Risher and the local post donated the book to remind residents of the continued tribute to area veterans. The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans’ organization. Celebrating its 100th year in 2019, the American Legion is the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization; however, Risher, who serves as Veteran Service Officer for the local post, states that local membership has fallen over the past years.

“It’s important to me that we show active support for our veterans. I think we need a good dose of patriotism in this country, but we also need more participation on the local level,” Risher said. “The American Legion’s success depends entirely on an active membership at each post. The organization has raised millions of dollars to help veterans and their families during times of need and to provide college scholarship opportunities, but the local post must thrive within the community to be effective. Hopefully, by donating this book honoring our Vietnam veterans, we can increase respect for their service, duty and sacrifice.”

Ingle, president of the Forest Garden Club, also acknowledges the importance of staying active within the local community. The Forest Garden Club donated an informative book entitled Begonias: Cultivation, Identification, and Natural History by Mark C. Tebbitt. The local club supports the library with seasonal displays and annual magazine donations. According to Ingle, partnering with the library is another way to be seen and involved in the community. “We just recently hosted the District meeting in Forest, but we also have to interact with people around us. In order to recruit new members, area residents must see and appreciate what we do. We want to donate books and magazines to the Forest library to provide reading materials that are both current and informative. If someone grows begonias after checking out a local library book, then we have left a visible footprint in our community.”

McLaurin said that everyone benefits from new book donations. “We just recently received an anonymous donation of books from an area nursing student, which includes the NCLEX-RN examination study guide, a 2018 pharmacology reference, and a career book about nursing. We now have an up-to-date nursing section at the library, thanks to one donation. People who love to quilt buy books about quilting, history buffs are always increasing their personal libraries with the latest in-depth narrative, and bankers are interested in the newest finance and investment books. During the upcoming holiday season, share your interests with your community by donating just one new book to the library. Books are like gardening, patriotism, and recipes from a former Miss Mississippi; they are always better when shared with others.”

The Forest Public Library is part of the Central Mississippi Regional Library System serving public libraries in Rankin, Scott, Simpson and Smith counties.