From the Director
Library news and happenings.
This is the week of the 9th annual Teen Filmmaker Festival; Sunday, February 26, 2:30 pm at Rave Motion Pictures in downtown Kalamazoo.
As in years past, we put out the call for teen-produced and directed films by Michigan teens from 13—18 years old. Films from the finalists will be shown at this special event, open to movie fans of all ages.
Prizes will be awarded for best film, best animation, best experimental film, best documentary, best short film, best technical merit, best music video, and judges’ choice; the people’s choice award will be chosen by the audience.
If past years are any indication, there will be a wide variety of creative films with interesting technical effects, some funny, some serious. I expect to once again be amazed by what these teens have produced.
Although the festival is free, tickets are needed. The Rave will be distributing tickets on a first-come, first served basis on Sunday, the day of the festival, beginning at 11 am when they open.
See you there.
Teen Filmmaker Festival
Last week I wrote about our recent birthday party to celebrate the 115th anniversary of Children’s Services at KPL. I also wrote that 2012 is a milestone year for many of our services with more celebrations ahead.
Well, I didn’t have in mind that January 10 was the 7th birthday for MeLCat, our statewide shared catalog and the basis for interlibrary loan. Each month we borrow about 1,300 items for our patrons from other libraries AND we loan about the same number to other libraries across the state. A delivery service moves the items within days to wherever they are needed, then back to the home library.
Patrons can place their own holds and be notified when the item is ready to be picked up at their home library. If we don’t have what you need, it may be available through MeLCat.
Happy 7th birthday MeLCat!
Several weeks ago, I wrote about library funding threats with the proposal to eliminate personal property tax. The issue continues to receive media attention across the state but most of the coverage does not mention that personal property tax (PPT) is a critical source of local library funding.
The legislature will take up this issue in January. The library community is committed to informing our legislators and our patrons of the importance of this revenue source and what it would mean if it was eliminated and not replaced.
Personal property tax is a tax paid by businesses, not individuals or homeowners. It is based on the tangible or physical assets of a business such as office furniture, computers, industrial machinery and equipment, copy and fax machines. It is not a tax on land and buildings.
About 10%, $1.2 million, of our revenue is from personal property tax. If PPT was eliminated and not replaced by a guaranteed, stable funding source for libraries, KPL would be forced to make significant reductions in our programs and services, in addition to those we have already made. We would further reduce services hours at all locations, eliminate adult programming and reduce youth programming, have fewer public computers , buy fewer new materials…..basically all services would be reduced, with some eliminated.
KPL, like most libraries, is increasingly busy. Our circulation is up 31% in the first six months of the year; computer use, patron assistance, attendance at events – all up.
The library community is advocating “replace, don’t erase” the personal property tax. If eliminated, it needs to be replaced. Our board of trustees has adopted a resolution supporting that approach.
Please ask your state representative or senator to fully replace the tax, consider writing a letter to the editor, and share this library threat with others.
Replace Don't Erase
It is the time of year when we all received many solicitations for a wide range of good and worthy causes.
The library does not conduct an annual fundraising campaign nor send out a solicitation request but, of course, donations are always welcome and greatly appreciated.
Unfortunately, from our perspective, charitable contributions to nonprofits, like the library, were eliminated in Michigan’s tax reforms for 2012. That means this year, 2011, is the last year your cash donation to the library could earn up to a 50% Michigan tax credit.
Currently, a maximum gift of $400 to the library by a married couple filing jointly earns a Michigan tax credit of $200. With the similar federal deduction, the actual cost of that $400 gift is just $76.
A donation to the library can be designated for a specific collection, such as large print or children’s; a location such as your neighborhood branch; or a service such as Ready to Read, Reading Together, adult programming. Undesignated gifts are directed where they are needed most.
We appreciate if you think of the library when you are considering your year-end giving, keeping in mind the change in the tax laws for next year.
Support the Library
As I have often written, each day and week has some special designation, many relevant to libraries. This week, November 13–19, is the 90th anniversary of “American Education Week.”
The goal of this designated week is to “inform the public of the accomplishments and needs of schools and to secure the cooperation and support of the public in meeting those needs.”
KPL is particularly proud of our relationship with Kalamazoo Public Schools. As I previously wrote in this blog and in our newsletter LINK, all KPS first graders recently visited one of our libraries and were given their own library card. We are now in the midst of their second visit to return the books they checked out and hopefully to begin a pattern of regular library visits.
We are now preparing for the “Global Reading Challenge,” a battle of the books type program for fourth and fifth graders; we just concluded this year’s “Youth Literature Seminar” focusing on teen literature; and, of course, we have many resources for students at all grade levels, both in print and online.
We applaud our colleagues in education and join them in supporting student learning and achievement.
American Education Week
The annual conference of the Michigan Library Association (MLA) was held here in Kalamazoo a week ago. The facilities at the Radisson, downtown restaurants, and ease of finding their way around seemed to work well, at least from the perspective of those who mentioned it to me. Many walked down the street to the library; I hope some visited and shopped in our Friends Bookstore too.
The conference sessions were arranged by tracks. Most of the ones I attended were on the “ask the expert” track and focused on library millages, tax captures, legislative lobbying, employment issues. More fun than those though, was one presented by our Youth Services staff on “Won’t You Be My Neighbor – Getting Volunteers from the Community Involved in Storytimes.”
As expected, there were sessions and conversations about ebooks, technology opportunities and challenges, personal property tax threats.
It was a worthwhile conference. I came away with confirmation that KPL is a strong player in the state library scene but there is always something new to learn from others, that funding threats are a real concern but we are stronger when our voices are combined, and that reading and books are still our brand but the delivery is changing quickly.
Thanks MLA and downtown Kalamazoo for hosting a good conference.
Michigan Library Association
The proposal to eliminate personal property tax in our state has been well covered in the media. Most of the articles or opinion pieces have not mentioned however, that personal property tax is a critical source of local library funding.
If personal property tax is eliminated and not fully replaced, KPL will lose about $1.2 million or about 10% of our revenue. Some Michigan public libraries depend on this tax for up to 50% of their funding.
KPL has not yet determined the exact reductions we would make to accommodate a revenue loss of this magnitude. Certainly we would reduce staffing, programming, and materials purchases but we would likely also be forced to eliminate entire services, reduce hours, and perhaps close branches.
The library community is advocating to “replace, don’t erase” the personal property tax. If it is eliminated, it needs to be fully replaced by a guaranteed, stable source of funding for all libraries.
Please ask your legislators to fully replace the personal property tax, consider writing a letter to the editor, and share this library threat with other in our community.
Contact your Michigan Representative | Contact your Senator
Replace Don't Erase
The Historical Society of Michigan presented its 2011 State History Awards at their recent 137th annual meeting and conference. I’m pleased to report that KPL won the award in the “newsletters and websites” category for the local history section of our website “All About Kalamazoo History.”
The announcement described the 600 interconnected web pages covering more than 20 categories with basic as well as detailed information. It was cited as “an invaluable resource for researchers ranging from middle school students competing in history day to genealogists.”
Of course we are pleased to receive this recognition but even more importantly, we are pleased and hopeful that the announcement of this award and the accompanying publicity, will prompt even more use of the resources our staff has created.
I congratulate and thank our local history and website staff for their work and foresight in developing the local history section of the KPL website. I’m confident you will find something of interest there even if you don’t consider yourself a genealogist or a local history enthusiast.
2011 State History Award
We will be celebrating the 30th annual Banned Books Week (BBW) with Art Hop and a Read Out on Friday evening, October 7, from 5 to 8 pm.
BBW celebrates the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. It draws attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the country.
Again, as in recent years, we are partnering with the local chapter of the ACLU to sponsor an art contest inspired by one of the six books most frequently challenged or banned. The submissions will be on display during Art Hop. The winner will be announced at the event and later posted on the KPL and ACLU websites.
In addition to the art, the Read Out will focus on read aloud passages from challenged or banned books. You might be surprised at some of them: Shel Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic, Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, to name a few.
Many authors whose books have been challenged are participating in Read Outs around the country. Authors as well as readers are raising awareness of book censorship by posting videos on YouTube of themselves reading from their favorite banned books.
Celebrate and appreciate your freedom to read whatever you want to read!
Banned Books Art Contest
Our state legislature is considering the elimination of personal property tax (PPT), a tax paid by businesses on industrial equipment. PPT is a critical source of funding for municipalities and public libraries.
The average public library receives 11% of its revenue from PPT, some libraries as much as 30%. KPL is at the average with about 11% of our revenue from PPT.
The decline over the past few years in property taxable values has reduced library budgets, including ours. As library users know, we eliminated bookmobile service, reduced hours at branches and law library, reduced staff by about 10%, and cut expenditures in most all budget categories.
If PPT is eliminated, it must be totally replaced by a guaranteed, stable source of funding if library services are to continue at even near their current level. Without a replacement, we will be forced to consider a further reduction in hours, closing branches, reducing or eliminating programming, reducing staff.
Library use is soaring. We had record breaking circulation of library materials during our summer reading games and strong program attendance. Our public computers are full during most open hours and library visits have increased.
The Michigan Library Association is lobbying on behalf of libraries. They are reminding our legislators the PPT is a critical source of funding for public libraries and if it is eliminated, it needs to be replaced. I urge you to contact your legislator too.
Contact your Michigan Representative | Contact your Senator
Replace Don't Erase