Jessie Mann, the head librarian at the Duck Hill Library, never imagined that she’d go back to work after working 40 years and retiring in 2000. However, in 2009, after volunteering at the library, she accepted the position of librarian and returned to the workforce.
“I got tired sitting at home, and I wanted something to do,” she said.
She said when she was initially offered the job, she didn’t think she could do it, but she gave it a try and she was a perfect fit. Mann is quick to tell you she doesn’t do it alone, crediting, Tina Burns, a volunteer for working alongside her.
“I’ve got some good customers here in Duck Hill,” she said. “I work with some really good people.” Mann said she doesn’t have any trouble at all. Being in an area where high speed internet is hard to come by, areas like Duck Hill need their libraries for those who may need to go online to do schoolwork, research or to find employment.
On Thursday, the library was busy with many people checking out books, movies, looking for magazines, and using the computers. But, Mann said that is not always the case.
“Some days it’s slow, and there’s hardly no one in here, and other days it’s busy,” Mann said. “It gets hard, this old mind of mine isn’t as quick as it used to be. It’s hard to remember stuff.”
Mann grew up in Duck Hill, with the exception of a brief time in Mississippi Delta and in Grenada.
“The cotton fields would flood and it came all the up to the house and my mother said ‘Get me out of here,’” Mann said laughing. She said the family returned back to Duck Hill when she was in the fifth grade and she has called Duck Hill home ever since.
Mann said she’s always been a hard worker, having to work in the cotton fields when she was younger. When she graduated high school, she went to work.
“I’ve always worked my way to some supervisor or head position,” she said. “I don’t know why. I get tired of leading, I want somebody to tell me what to do for a change.”
When she married her husband, Billy Mann, she moved to Grenada.
But, that stay didn’t last long either with Mann and her husband moving back to Duck Hill. “To call from Grenada to Duck Hill was long distance then and it was expensive. My husband told me, ‘I may as well move you back to Duck Hill then and we moved back.’”
The couple has three sons, and Mann also helped raise her grandson.
“He didn’t want to leave, he wanted to stay with me,” she said. “I had to go back to work for him because kids need school clothes and stuff.”
When asked where she got her strength from, she said it comes from God, and for a woman who has lived through eight decades and has seen many changes in Duck Hill along with the nation as a whole, Mann has a lot of spunk and sass to go along with her strength.
However, it’s her humbleness and her unwavering faith in God that really keeps her going. Her faith was tested the latter part of 2017.
Back in Dec. 2017, her grandson was in a horrible accident on Highway 51. Mann said she’d never experienced an incident like that until his accident. She gets teary-eyed when speaking about the incident.
She said doctors had given her grandson up because of the brain damage he sustained, but she never gave up on her grandson.
“The doctors said he was lucky to be alive,” she said. “I said no, prayer did this. We had so many churches from across the nation praying for us. Prayer did this and not anything else.”
She said after undergoing many surgeries, her grandson is at home resting and walking with the assistance of a walker.
Mann said it can be a struggle, but she still gets up and gets it done every morning. It helps that she loves what she does.
Being in Duck Hill for so long has its perks. She knows practically everyone that comes into the library by name and greets them as if she’s been friends with them all their lives.
“If I don’t know them, then I know their family,” she said.