From the Director
Library news and happenings.
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.
Every month and week has multiple designations. July has been “Family Reunion Month.”
Family reunions are often the outgrowth or the motivation for searching your family history or genealogy. Family history begins with one’s self and works back from generation to generation. Genealogy is more complicated and begins with the immigrant ancestor and works forward through the generations.
Our Local History Room has resources, databases, and workshops to help you start a family history or make progress on your genealogy. We are an affiliate of FamilySearch which provides access to billons of birth, marriage, death, census, land, and court records from over 130 countries. There are also many other digital and print resources as well as occasional workshops.
Visit the Local History section of our website as a good starting point as well as just to browse interesting essays about Kalamazoo and southwest Michigan. There’s lots more there than genealogy information.
And enjoy your family reunion if there is one in your summer plans.
As most library users know, the Kalamazoo County Law Library is located on the lower level of Central Library next to the Friends Bookstore. We aren’t lawyers, but we have knowledgeable staff there to help. There is now another legal resource for Michigan residents: www.MichiganLegalHelp.com
The Michigan Legal Help website helps people handle simple civil legal problems without a lawyer. It contains articles about specific areas of the law and toolkits to help you represent yourself in court. Some forms are available and can be completed automatically online once you answer a few simple questions about the issue.
The website is not to be a substitute for a lawyer and does not cover all areas of the law. The self-help areas include family, protection from abuse, housing, consumer, expungement, and public benefits issues.
It is funded by the Michigan State Bar Foundation, Legal Services of South Central Michigan, and the Legal Services Corporation.
It might be a good first step as you deal with a legal matter in one of these areas.
Michigan Legal Help
I’ve just returned from Chicago where I attended the annual conference of the American Library Association. It’s a big conference – about 15,000 attendees including staff, vendors, trustees, Friends, library supporters. There are always more programs, more authors talks, more vendors demos than anyone can possibly attend and some of the best insights and new ideas come from casual conversation with other attendees.
As I begin to process all I heard and saw, here are a few observations:
- The software market for libraries is ever-growing. At every conference there are vendors with new or upgraded readers advisory, statistics, meeting room management, staff training software.
- Librarians still love authors and books. The author sessions were full and the publisher booths on the exhibits floor were crowded.
- We like author autographs, even in uncorrected proofs of books not yet published.
- We like to recognize good books with prizes. A new award, “The Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction” were awarded to Richard Ford’s novel Canada and the nonfiction to Timothy Egan’s book Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis.
- There is a major emphasis on the role of libraries in summer activities for kids with “interest driven learning.”
Attending a conference is re-energizing. Those of us who attended from KPL will share our experiences across the library. We returned with good ideas but also a renewed perspective that we are “on the right track” and an appreciation for our community support.
ALA 2013 Conference Program
I have often written here about the ebooks available through our website, but have seldom mentioned downloadable audiobooks. I check out many ebooks but few audiobooks, probably because I have a short drive to work, the time many listen to audiobooks.
Clearly reading is evolving. Today readers can continue the same story as they toggle between an ebook on their iPad or Kindle, a paperback at home, an eaudiobook in the car or on another mobile device….whatever format fits the setting and mood. And a new word…..this is considered the “transmedia” world.
We still maintain a large collection of the traditional audiobooks but in addition, downloadable eaudiobooks are available through our website. Many titles are available in ebook and eaudio format, some just in one or the other, depending upon the publisher.
Formats are evolving – VHS and cassettes are no longer – but for now, we have audiobooks in both physical and digital formats.
Earlier this year, a survey about library use was sent to a random sample of 2,000 residents within our service area. A very similar survey was also posted on our website. Responses to both formats were similar.
Here’s some of what you told us:
- Most respondents use the library once or twice a month
- Most use us to check out books, movies, or music – computer use is the next most frequently used service
- If we had to reduce hours, most favor closing the teen area during the school day
- Closing a branch is the least desirable reduction if our revenues are reduced substantially
- Providing children with good books, movies, and music is considered our most important goal
- If we are able to add additional goals, expanding homework help would be the most desired
- About 1/3 of respondents wish we had more ebooks available for loan; we wish more popular titles were available to libraries
- Another 1/3 of respondents told us they are not interested in checking out ebooks
- Most are neutral or undecided about having their photos on their library card – we’ve dropped that idea
- More than 2/3 would definitely vote to renew our millage to maintain the current services
Thank you for responding to our survey – we value your input and opinions.
What a downtown weekend it was! All of the library’s events were well attended: Art Hop, Friends of KPL sidewalk booksale, First Saturday @ KPL, and the kick-off of summer reading with music and games in our parking lot on a beautiful summer day. Thanks for stopping by.
We celebrate summer reading with fun and games but it is fun with a serious purpose….keep kids reading over the summer to counter the “summer slide.” Especially in the early elementary years, there is a gradually shift from learning to read to reading to learn and for enjoyment. Reading over the summer maintains the skills learned during the school year and contributes to a faster start in the fall.
Our community has many summer literacy activities planned. Check out opportunities wherever kids are going this summer: churches, YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, KPS, Nature Center, Communities in Schools among many others. Most every organization with a summer program has added a literacy component.
We are working together to build a college-going culture. Encourage kids to read this summer, share what you are reading, bring them to the library.
June Jubilee at Central Library
KPL will be joining with other downtown organizations to celebrate the “official kick-off to summer in Kalamazoo” with June Jubilee, June 6-9.
Link to our website to see full information on the library events or pick up a brochure downtown for a listing of all the events.
Friday night we’ll be celebrating a LEGO view of Kalamazoo at Art Hop. See classic Kalamazoo buildings in LEGOs!
Saturday is the Friends of KPL Sidewalk Sale on the portico….$2.00 for a bag of books…what a bargain. Visit their bookstore on the lower level too.
AND the June Jubilee Concert with Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers as the kick-off to summer reading in our parking lot from 1 pm – 4 pm. Hear good music, enjoy activities for kids, and, of course, sign-up for summer reading games….all ages.
AND finally, First Saturday@KPL from 2 pm – 4 pm in the children’s room.
See you there or elsewhere around downtown this weekend.
Summer June Jubilee
Our circulation of ebooks continues to grow but patrons often ask why we don’t have a specific new, popular title or why more copies of a title aren’t available. Unfortunately, the major publishers have been slow to make their ebook titles available to public libraries.
None of the six largest publishers sell or license ebooks to public libraries in the same way they do print editions. Three major publishers have pricing policies that make ebooks more expensive than print editions and others still refuse to make ebooks available to all libraries and are only now piloting programs that make them available to only select libraries.
The example of a recent bestseller makes the point: print edition cost to a public library: $15.51. Ebook cost on Amazon to an individual: $9.99. Ebook cost to a library from the publisher: $84.
The relationship between publishers and libraries is changing. Many small, independent publishers are willing to work with libraries; the major publishers have not yet adopted policies that address equitable access and fair pricing.
Oversight is needed to ensure that publishers do not inhibit access to ebooks in public libraries. The library community is urging policymakers to guarantee that all libraries and their constituents have unrestricted and equal access to ebooks at a fair and reasonable price.