Hinds reference librarian and archivist James Kennedy is well known on the Raymond Campus for his eclectic taste in travel, food and music, just to name a few of his passions. He chronicles his many journeys here, there and everywhere in his social media, journeys that include his gourmet finds and critiques of the musical acts he takes in.
This year alone, he’ll attend 50 or so musical performances. He just saw alternative country band American Aquarium for the fifth time this year and bluegrass act Béla Fleck for the third time.
Time off with travel is scheduled around family visits, of course, but also who is performing when and where, even if that is in, say, Ireland or Spain. His passport is newly renewed and ready for 2023.
Along the way he collects pins that are attached to a bucket hat he occasionally wears, especially when he is out and about on his travels. The pins are a tribute to everything from Hinds, where he has been honored as a Hinds Hero, to commemorations of events or groups.
A Laurel native, he has degrees from Mississippi State University and the University of Southern Mississippi, including a master’s in history and another in library science. Those two degrees coincide comfortably with his current role as archivist at the McLendon Library.
He’s been a Hinds employee since 2000, snagging a job at the college on his second try. “I’ve always been a librarian here. Occasionally, I’ll teach a history class,” he said.
He also touts the resources of the libraries at student orientation classes. “I tell folks, we’re here to help you succeed, if you need help. Obviously, we won’t do the work for them but I tell them we want you to succeed and we’ll be glad to help you do that.”
It was during the college’s celebration of its Centennial in 2017 that Kennedy realized he had other ways he could help. As part of the many events that year, the college promoted employee giving through payroll deduction to the Foundation, which funds student scholarships but also employee projects including conference attendance.
He started giving to the Foundation general fund and then noticed he could give to specific scholarships and projects.
“I know a lot of people who have either set up these scholarships or who are involved in them,” he said. “So let me help spread it out a little bit. So I donate to one scholarship fund, then to another.”
Among others, he has donated dollars to scholarships in honor of the late Mike Hataway and the late Fred and Sue Brooks, both of whom taught at Hinds for many years. As a historian, he has also supported the Utica Institute Museum.
“I’m here to help. Another way of helping students is making sure that the college and different departments and different areas within the college have funding,” Kennedy said.
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