From the Director
Library news and happenings.
….to Alice Munro for winning the Nobel Prize in Literature.
As I have often written on our book blog, I don’t read many short story collections, with one exception: Alice Munro.
She has been called the “master of the contemporary short story” for her sparse fiction that often begins in an unexpected place then moves back or forward in time. She says her recent collection Dear Life is her last and she is finished writing.
The report of an author’s reaction to winning a major prize is always interesting to me. Apparently the Swedish Academy was unable to locate her before the public announcement. They left a phone message for her. It turns out she was visiting her daughter in British Columbia and was awakened at 4 AM with the news. Reports are she sounded groggy and emotional!
In a recent interview, she said she fell into writing short stories by accident. She thought stories were practice until she had time to write a novel. Then she found they were all she could do.
Ms. Munro is the first Canadian woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. The Canadian prime minister issued a statement of congratulations as have many writers. Her long-time readers are pleased and hope indeed there will be more stories to follow.
Alice Munro Wins Nobel Prize in Literature
In my brief introductory comments at last week’s banned books program offered in partnership with the ACLU, I mentioned that our materials selection policy is based on the Library Bill of Rights, the Freedom to Read and Freedom to View statements.
After the program, one of the attendees approached me to share that her grandfather had written the Library Bill of Rights. What??!! Wow! That makes him the James Madison of the library world.
The Library Bill of Rights was written by her grandfather, Forrest Spaulding who served as director of the Des Moines, Iowa, Public Library from 1917 – 1952. He drafted the Library Bill of Rights in 1938 and it was adopted by the American Library Association the following year. It has been revised a few times since but retains its original flavor and intent.
We had a very interesting conversation. She knew her grandfather and was well versed in his library accomplishments. She also shared her experiences from an event in Des Moines a few years ago to recognize him that she and other family members attended.
So many of us have a connection to libraries. I enjoy hearing them…thanks for sharing this connection.
Library Bill of Rights
A recent study from the University of London found that children who read for pleasure are likely to do significantly better in school than their peers. Children who read for pleasure made more progress in math, vocabulary, and spelling than those who rarely read.
Are these results surprising? Not to educators and librarians. It is the reason for our close partnership with Kalamazoo Public Schools.
For the third year, all KPS first graders will visit a KPL location twice in the fall and then again in the spring. Northglade first graders visited the Powell Branch in the Douglass Community Center to launch this year’s visits. Each student received a KPL card, checked out a book, and heard a story. In a few weeks they will visit again to learn how to return a book and select another one. In the spring, we will celebrate a year of first grade reading and promote summer reading games.
For the first time, there are two new components to our partnership with KPS. All KPS students will be eligible for a one year KPL library card that will permit them to check out three books at a time. With full information from their parent or guardian, it can be converted to a full, unlimited access KPL card.
Second is our evolving very close relationship with Northglade. We are undertaking a two year project to determine if a close relationship between a school and a public library improves student achievement. We think it will! We expect every student and staff in the school will have and use their KPL card, that there will be visits back and forth with Powell Branch staff frequently at Northglade and students of various grades visiting the branch, and a library presence at all Northglade events.
As Walter Dean Myers, the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and recent visitor to KPL says, “reading is not optional” if you are going to be successful in school and life. We are working on that with our partners at KPS.
We’ll report periodically on our progress.
“Reading Is Not Optional”
It is Banned Books Week, the national book community’s annual celebration of the freedom to read. We join with libraries, bookstores, and publishers across the country in drawing attention to censorship.
Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a surge in challenges to books in schools, bookstores, and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since the launch. In 2012, the most challenged title was Captain Underpants series for children; second was The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.
Many books long considered American classics have also been challenged and sometimes banned over the years. You might be surprised by some of the familiar titles.
We will extend our celebration into next week and on Tuesday, October 1, host our traditional readings with the ACLU. As in past years, local celebrity readers will read passages from titles that have been challenged.
Join us for that program and exercise your right to read whatever you choose.
Banned Books Week
It’s September, back-to-school, library card sign-up month.
Once again, we join libraries across the country in reminding parents and caregivers that a library card is the most important school supply of all.
Your KPL card provides access to print books, ebooks, online homework help, and research tools and resources.
We are pleased local businesses and organizations are partnering with us to offer an incentive just for showing your KPL card during September. If you don’t already have a card, here is a further incentive.
Click here for the entire list and information on signing up for a KPL card.
See you at the library or at one of our partners.
Library Card Signup Month
As I have often written, we have very good friends, The Friends of KPL.
Their annual Fall-Bag-of-Books Sale is Saturday, September 14, from 9 am – 3:30 pm in the auditorium on the third floor at Central Library.
As in past years, all books are just 10¢ each OR a grocery size bag full for $2.00. Buy a bag there or bring your own. The bookstore on the lower level will also be open.
And while you are at the sale, pick up a membership brochure and consider joining. They would welcome having you as a member as a further way to show your support for the library.
Friends Fall Bag-of-Books Sale
We’ve had a good summer beginning with our summer reading kick-off during June Jubilee through strong participation in our summer reading games, good attendance at programs, and several days of recordbreaking circulation. Now it is back-to-school time.
We’ve gathered many online databases for early elementary through college on our website. They range from eLibrary Elementary to Gale Virtual Reference Library which provides access to reference materials on business, history, science, environment and more. Some of these resources require a KPL library card to access.
Also in the back-to-school mode, we will offer three sessions of new program Think College. Representatives from KRESA, along with our staff, will share information on preparing for college and show several test preparation resources.
Our buildings are available for studying, some locations have small study rooms for group work or tutoring. And, of course, we have staff to assist and lots of printed materials to checkout or use at the library.
I hope back-to-school went smoothly at your home.
Although it is not the beginning of a new year, back-to-school still seems like the beginning of a new year to me. With this “new year” we are making some changes at the circulation area of Central Library.
The Circulation Desk will transition to a Customer Service Desk. We’ll handle library card registrations and account questions or problems at that desk. Staff will be at the checkout kiosk to help library users check out materials there.
There is a change at the checkout kiosks. We have eliminated locked cases for DVDs and CDs so the checkout process for those items is much easier….no more unlockers.
We hope this change will allow us to provide better customer service as we respond to the increase in circulation and the decrease in tax revenues.
Service Desk Changes
As you have been out and about in Kalamazoo, you may have noticed an increasingly number of “little free libraries,” essentially an oversized mailbox or birdhouse with books to share.
The idea started in 2009 with a simple concept—take a book, return a book.
It is now estimated there are between 6,000 and 7,000 little free libraries across 36 countries and at least 1,650,000 books have been donated and borrowed.
Of course these won’t replace libraries, but they are a nice companion. More information is on their website www.littlefreelibrary.org. Local information is available at kalamazoolittlefreelibraries.com or through a link on our website.
Feel free to take a book, leave a book if you pass one on your walk or drive.
Little Free Libraries
I don’t buy a lot of books, afterall I am in a library every day. When I do buy any, they are usually gently used ones from the Friends Bookstore on the lower level of the Central Library.
The books I buy are generally of two types: literary fiction and big, thick biographies. Books in both categories are usually $2 each.
The literary fiction books I usually give as gifts, often as a small hostess gift or just a little surprise gift for a friend. I tend to select books I have already read so I add a note of why I liked the book and am giving them a copy, along with encouragement to read and pass it on to someone else.
The big, thick biographies I read gradually, sometimes over the course of six or eight weeks. These are books I can lay down, they aren’t page turners, so I read them off and on and, I admit, it is nice not to have the pressure of a due date. Many of them I then give back to the Friends to sell yet again.
I encourage you to shop the Friends Bookstore to build your home library and to support the library. Generous donations from the bookstore revenue support many of our programs, including summer reading games.
AND…news flash / drum roll…..credit and debit cards may now be used in the Friends Bookstore. Easier than ever to shop there.