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From the Director

Year-End Thoughts

Year end brings a time of reflection. As I look back on 2012 for the library, many events and milestones immediately come to mind.

We were honored to be awarded a Citation of Excellence for superior customer service from our state librarian at our annual conference. It affirmed our commitment to superior service with a can-do attitude in a cost effective manner.

Our 140th birthday celebration with author Susan Orlean was a highlight of the year and we were pleased it was one of the top entertainment events on MLive.

We launched First Saturday @ KPL, a monthly program for school age children last spring, hosted all KPS first-graders twice this fall, and kept kids reading over the summer through our summer reading games. Through these efforts, kids checked out 19% more books this year than the year before!

We bonded with author Luis Urrea when he visited as our Reading Together author, launched our Geek campaign in the Do-Dah Parade, graduated the first class of our Nonprofit Leadership Academy through ONEplace.

Of course we continued to provide materials for reading, viewing, and listening and assistance at a variety of public service desks at Central and branches.

It was good year at the library and we are ready to move on to 2013.

Best wishes for the new year; come visit soon.


Year-End Thoughts

Year-End Giving

It is the time of year when we all receive many requests for donations from a wide variety of local, regional, and national organizations.

The library does not conduct an annual fundraising campaign nor send out a solicitation request. Our only fundraiser is our annual Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee to raise funds to buy books for distribution through our Ready to Read program.

Of course donations to the library are always welcome and greatly appreciated.

A donation 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 Local History, Teens, or Ready to Read. Undesignated gifts are directed where they are needed most.

And don’t forget our good Friends; your donations of gently used books and audio visual material are always appreciated.

We appreciate if you think of the library when you are considering your year-end giving.


Support the Library

What’s On Your Bookshelf?

My Ideal Bookshelf was recently published. We have it in our collection, although it is checked out and I haven’t yet seen it. I have read about it, however.

The premise is that the books we keep, let alone read, say a lot about who we are and how we see ourselves. The author asked dozens of cultural figures – authors, filmmakers, chefs, architects – to select a small bookshelf worth of books to represent themselves.

What books would you select if you had been asked? I’m still pondering this for myself. As I look around my bookshelves at home, I see favorite novels, biographies of presidents especially Lincoln, memoirs by women, some autographed children’s books. I’m not sure these are the ones I would select to say who I am but for various reasons and at various times, those are the books I have chosen to have on my shelves.

What’s on your shelf that says who you are? If you can’t select the entire shelf, how about one title?


My Ideal Bookshelf

A Visit to Remember

The library and Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS) recently partnered to bring children’s book author and illustrator Patricia Polacco to town for a day and what a day it was!

This was not her first visit to KPL – she’s been here several times since publishing her first book, Meteor!, in 1988. We consider her a very good friend of ours as well as the children of Kalamazoo.

Patricia spoke to 4th and 5th graders at Washington Writers Academy and Milwood Elementary schools and to more than 200 children and their families at Central Library, but she is much more than a “storyteller.”

Her presentation as well as her 85 books(!) dealt with her learning disabilities, her family, heroic teachers in her life, the pain she suffered from being bullied. She revealed very personal emotional issues and kids totally related to her. As she signed books after the presentation, she listened to tens of children tell her their stories, how they relate to her story, and how meaningful her books are to them. The book signing line moved slowly but no one complained. They waited patiently for their turn.

Her books are available in the children’s area at Central Library and all branches; there is a message for children that can also be appreciated and understood by adults.

Thanks for visiting KPS and KPL, Patricia. Come again soon.



Patricia Polacco

State Recognition for Customer Service

I’m pleased to share some good news… KPL was one of three libraries in the state to be recognized for excellence in customer service by our state librarian at last week’s state conference in Detroit.

Hopkins District Library joined us in receiving “Citations of Excellence.” A middle school library in the Howell Public Schools won the “State Librarian’s Excellence Award.”

Our recognition was based on our Customer Service Plan set in 2007 and sustained by a staff committee that continues to define, measure, recognize, and reward staff for excellence in customer service. We most recently revised our plan to include a “Code of Service” that outlines and defines the level of service expected from our staff.

An important dimension of our customer service is our collaboration and partnership with other community organizations, especially Kalamazoo Public Schools. All KPS first graders visit a KPL location three times during the year, “First Saturday @ KPL” encourages families to make library visits part of their weekend routine, and “Lift Up Through Literacy” includes education and literacy initiatives for families.

We are honored to be recognized for this state honor.


State Librarian's Excellence Award

Library Value

I admit I seldom borrow an audiobook, don’t rent library meeting rooms, check out a CD only occasionally, BUT I do check out tens and tens of books and many movies, and I download ebooks through OverDrive. I live in the KPL district and I get my money’s worth with my library card.

Given the purchase price for a hardcover book, the cost to use a computer at a copy center, and fees to attend a class, the library is a good value for those who even use our services a few times per year.

How much would you pay out-of-pocket for library services? Try our library value calculator. I hope the library is a good value for you.


Library Value

Happy Birthday, MeL

The Michigan eLibrary, known as MeL, just celebrated its 20th birthday.

MeL was launched in 1992, just as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was funding computers for libraries and internet became affordable through the e-rate program. MeL provided the content.

MeL’s centerpiece is a collection of databases that support homework, small business, job searches, and general informational inquiries. There are now over 1,000,000 full-text article retrievals each year.

MeLCat, the state wide catalog for interlibrary loan, includes the holdings of 415 participating libraries. Each year, there are also over 1,000,000 requests for materials to be shared statewide, by sending the item to a user’s home library or by sending the user to the home library of the item, if it cannot be loaned.

Our statewide system is considered a model of efficiency in the tech world. MeL users consider it a model of the good use of federal money to benefit library services.

Happy 20th birthday to MeL from the 140 year old KPL! It’s a month of library birthdays.


Michigan eLibrary (MeL)

We Have Good Friends

Most every day, week, and month has some designation, many of them somehow related to libraries, books, or reading. This week, October 21 – 27 is “National Friends of Libraries Week.”

The Friends of KPL are members of United for Libraries, a division of the American Library Association for trustees, friends, and advocates of libraries. Their mission is to support citizens who govern, promote, advocate, and fundraise for all types of libraries.

As I have often written here, KPL is fortunate to have very good friends. They contribute $50,000 - $60,000 per year to the library, all from the proceeds from their bookstore. A lot of used books pass through their hands.

Their contribution funds our summer reading games for all ages and provides support for many ongoing programs including Global Reading Challenge, Reading Together, and our recent 140th birthday celebration.

One of their goals for the year is to increase their membership. Please consider joining at modest fees that range from $5 for students and $15 for a family, to $100 for a benefactor.

Happy “National Friends of Libraries Week” to our good friends, the Friends of KPL.


Friends of Kalamazoo Public Library

Teens Reading for Food

It’s TEEN READ WEEK! This week, October 14 – 20, libraries, schools, and bookstores will celebrate Teen Read Week, with events and programs aimed at encouraging teens to read for pleasure and to look to the library for free reading materials. Many studies have shown that teens who are regular readers and library users achieve more in school.

The spokesperson this year is John Green, author of many teen books, most recently The Fault in Our Stars. John visited here several years ago and we feel a special bond with him; I imagine every library he has visited and every teen he has talked to feels likewise….he’s that kind of guy!

KPL will celebrate with a Teen Read-a-Thon on Saturday, October 20. Teen will be gathering pledges of food items for Kalamazoo Area Loaves and Fishes as they read up to six hours at the central library.

If you want to sponsor a teen reader, contact our teen service desk at 553-7807. It will be a win-win event….teens reading leisure materials to benefit our local food bank.


Teen Read Week

Anniversary Celebration!

KPL is celebrating its 140th anniversary this week with an appearance by literary journalist and author, Susan Orlean. What better way for a library to celebrate than to bring a best-selling author to town for a free public appearance.

Orlean’s most recent book is Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, just out in paperback. It tells the story of Rin Tin Tin’s journey from a puppy on the WW I battlefield to movie star. An earlier book, The Orchid Thief, was made into the Oscar-winning movie, Adaptation, starring Meryl Streep. She has also been a staff writer for The New Yorker.

I hope you will join us Friday night, October 12, 7 pm, Kalamazoo Central High School Auditorium for this free program to celebrate our anniversary. A selection of her books will be available for purchase and signing at the event.


Susan Orlean

Banned Books Week

KPL will join libraries, schools, and bookstores across the country in celebrating the freedom to read during “Banned Books Week,” September 30 – October 6.

Bill and Judith Moyers are this year’s honorary chairs. In this video essay, Bill Moyers talks about how libraries provided his first opportunity to indulge his love of reading and learning and shares his dismay over efforts to remove books from schools and libraries.

This week is an opportunity to remind us all that the ability to read, speak, think, and express ourselves freely is a right, not a privilege. Libraries often lead the efforts to speak out for the right to read; without the help of outspoken supporters, books are still being removed in some communities.

KPL and the American Civil Liberties Union will celebrate our right to decide for ourselves what to read, listen to, and view with a “Readout” on Thursday evening. Local literacy celebrities will read from frequently challenged books.

Join us at this event; celebrate and appreciate your freedom to read, listen, and view.

Bill Moyers on Banned Books Week from on Vimeo.



Banned Books Readout

Importance of Words

One of our staff recently gave me an editorial on the importance of “every word.” The author wrote of “pockets of language poverty,” a phrase I had not heard before. One example he wrote about is when parents are unemployed, kids lose the secondary benefit of casual access to workplace words. Hearing the terms that are part of the workplace enhances a child’s understanding of the world.

Increasingly kids are not hearing and learning the words they need to be successful. Reading is one way to learn new words and be transported to different times and places; learning through conversation can be equally important.

This is a good reminder to all of us who work with, live with, know kids… with them, encourage them to read, talk with them, share your experiences. We all have a part in giving kids the many words they need to make their way in the world.



Show Me Your Card!

September is “Library Card Sign-up Month.” 2012 marks the 25th anniversary of this monthly designation during which libraries across the country remind parents that a library card is the most important school supply of all.

The honorary chair this year is two-time Super Bowl champion Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers. You can see him on our website holding a KPL card!

Once again, we will be issuing library cards to all 1st graders in Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS) who do not already have one. All 1,100+ first graders will visit a KPL location twice this fall. We will have library cards ready for them; they will select a book to take home and check it out on their library card. A few weeks later they will come again to return the book and check out another. We hope this will establish a routine for regular family visits.

If you know a KPS 1st grader, later this month ask them about their library visit and ask to see their library card. Even better ask any student you know to show you their card and if they don’t have one, encourage them to visit any of our locations to register for a card as the first step in becoming a regular library user.


Library Card Sign-Up Month

What did you read at the beach?

I’m always sorry to see summer and beach reading days come to an end. I admit to having spent many hours sitting on the beach reading this summer BUT not necessarily reading “beach reads.”

“Beach reads” has a bad rap. One definition I saw recently: breezy, lightweight for pool or lakeside reading.” Well, many of the books I read this summer at the Lake Michigan beach do not fit this definition. Among others, I read and recently blogged about The President’s Club. I read The Tiger’s Wife  for August book group; Canada, Richard Ford’s new book; A Hundred Flowers; Destiny of the Republic; By the Iowa Sea; The Snow Child; among others, all from our collection.

Although I am hoping for at least one more weekend of beach reading, I’m moving into another season of reading—primarily in my living room instead of the beach—but my book choices aren’t going to change.

What did you read this summer? Do your reading choices vary by season?


Beach Reading

Celebrating Summer Reading!

What a summer for readers!

We celebrated a strong summer of reading with a concert in Bronson Park on Saturday featuring Milkshake, a high energy, rock and roll band for kids. We tossed around a big globe, shared baseballs, and spread some sunshine. I hope you were there; no matter what your age, it was fun.

Kids have attended many fun events over the summer but most importantly, they’ve been reading. The reading game was based on reading 20 minutes per day with prizes at 20, 40, and 60 days. So many kids read so many days that we ran out of prizes. What a good problem to have—we were happy to order more.

We had a 25% increase in registrations and a special emphasis on KPS first graders, all of whom visited the library three times during the school year and were preregistered for summer reading. It is especially important to maintain newly acquired reading skills over the summer for that age.

Thanks once again to our very good Friends for sponsoring our summer reading games!

I hope you had a good summer of reading and that back-to-school goes smoothly for all the kids in your home or life.



Summer Concert

KPL in Good Company!

Much to our surprise, we recently learned Kalamazoo Public Library was selected one of five “exemplary public library websites” for our Support the Library section.

In a recent issue of Public Libraries, a publication of the Public Library Association, “The Website Clinic” author examined the fifty-five websites listed on the “Library Website Hall of Fame.” Of those, he selected five to propose as models for fundraising through library websites.

We’re thrilled to be third in his list of five public libraries, which includes Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Enoch Pratt Free Library of Baltimore, New York Public Library, and High Plains Library District in Colorado, as model websites, “worthy of emulation.”

The author proclaims the information on our Support the Library pages to be “valuable and intelligently presented. Nice work.” As he noted, you can easily donate to KPL using the Donate button, just one click away from KPL’s homepage.


Public Libraries: Bringing in the Money

It was a very good year!

Our year ended on June 30 and it was a very good one!

Circulation of print and AV materials was up 21% over the previous year. Not surprisingly, the percentage increase was greatest in ebooks – from about 3,600 to over 17,000. Our total circulation was over 1.6 million so ebook circulation is still small in comparison to print and AV.

Program attendance was strong also, especially for our programs for children and teens; attendance at youth programs was over 37,000 for the year. We have increased our emphasis on programs for these ages, both in the library and around the community, in support of our priority of “creating young readers.”

Computer use, number of cardholders, and hits to our website are all up for the year, too.

Come visit soon, in person or through our website... check out an item, attend a program, find information on our website.


Kalamazoo Public Library

Are You a Friend?

I have often written here about our very good friends, The Friends of the Kalamazoo Public Library. I am writing about them again to share their goal of increasing their membership.

The Friends goal is 150 or more (!) new members. That’s a very reasonable goal for a community our size with a strong history of support for the library.

Once again this year, the Friends are funding our summer reading games for all ages: the game cards, programs, prizes, the end of summer concert – about $25,000 worth – and that’s only about half of their annual gift to the library.

Selling gently used books, gently priced in their bookstore is their major source of income. Memberships provide a secondary source of revenue.

Membership brochures are available throughout the library and in the bookstore, of course. You can also join through our website.

Please consider joining; membership levels range from $5 - $100 and are tax deductible.


Join the Friends of KPL

Agree or Disagree: Books that Shaped America

I like lists, especially lists of books. The Library of Congress recently selected a list of 88 books they judge to have shaped America. All the titles are by American authors; Benjamin Franklin is the only author with multiple titles on the list…..he has three.

The list includes a wide variety of titles and has generated some interesting online comments: thin on books from the 60s; what, no John Updike or Maya Angelou; few writers of color.

The books are on display at the Library of Congress through September. They also have an online survey on their website.

What do you think of the list? What’s missing or shouldn’t be included?


Books that Shaped America

Ebooks and More for Kids

If you have children in your life, you might know about the TumbleBook Library but if not, here is a brief overview with a link to our website for more detailed information.

Kids and tweens can listen to or read along at their own pace to animated, talking picture books, read-alongs and ebooks on a computer or ipad. In addition to books, there are videos, puzzles and games, and language learning. All are available through our website. A good starting point is the virtual tour for an overview of the various features.

The books range from picture books, easy readers, chapter books, teen fiction, and graphic novels. Suggested grade level is included.

Children learn in various ways and many of today’s kids learn best in an online environment or as a complement to print learning. We’ll have books in both print and online format for many years to come.


TumbleBook Library

Rest In Peace, Ray Bradbury

It has been widely reported in the media, that science fiction writer Ray Bradbury passed away earlier this month. Most of the articles included that he was an ardent library fan, that he had done much of his writing in libraries, and that he was very outspoken about the proposed closing of the Long Beach (CA) main library to help balance the city’s budget.

I’m quite sure many libraries feel a connection to him; KPL does.

His often banned book, Fahrenheit 451, was our first Reading Together title. When we launched our version of the “community reads” model in 2003, we were looking for more than a good book. We were looking for a title that would engage the community in a meaningful dialogue. With that goal, we chose his book at the height of the national discussion over the US Patriot Act. It was a good choice, good timing.

Mr. Bradbury did not travel much by then and he did not come to KPL. He did, however, “appear” by phone and we had a good two-way discussion with him. That was before the days of Skype and this phone conversation was a well-attended program that year. His book and this phone conversation was the start of a successful, still going strong, Reading Together program for KPL. Since then, most of the authors have come to Kalamazoo.

Farewell, Mr. Bradbury. Thank you for your support of libraries, your many books that have become favorites of readers, your visit by phone to KPL.


Ray Bradbury


Moving to an E-World

A recent library publication included some statistics to show “its’s an ‘e’ world”. Some of them seemed worth sharing:

• 2,267,233,742 - Internet users worldwide

• 644,275,754 – number of websites as of March 2012

• 47,097 – magazines, newspapers, newsletters, TV/radio transcripts around the world that offer online full text, up from about 5,500 in 2000

• 112 – number of e-mails sent and received each day by the typical user

• 183% - increase in public library e-book collections in the past year

Of course KPL’s holdings reflect this shift to an ‘e’ world also. These statistics are from our annual report to the Library of Michigan submitted earlier this year:

• 1,352 – downloadable audio items

• 4,184 – e-books available

• 16 – database subscriptions

Most of our holdings are still in “physical units”: print books, DVDs, CDs, but we are increasingly moving to the ‘e’ world also.

Come visit soon – through our website for e-resources or any of our buildings.



Encourage Summer Reading

School will be over for area students on Wednesday, June 13. It is no coincidence that we kick off summer reading games the same day.

Research shows that students, especially those from low-income families, lose more than two months of reading achievement over the summer and that the loss is cumulative. More than half of the achievement gap between lower and higher-income youth is due to unequal access to summer learning opportunities.

KPL, like most all public libraries, is hard at work creating summer programs to keep children reading and learning. All first graders in KPS have been preregistered for our summer reading game. KPL staff handled out 100’s of brochures outlining the games during the DoDah Parade; we’ve had information on our website, have distributed informational materials through KPS, and are promoting it as families have visited one of our library locations.

Our goal is to keep children reading over the summer and especially to help level the playing field for children without opportunities for summer learning.

Please help us by bringing or encouraging all the school-age children in your life to sign-up, to read 20 minutes per day, to attend programs, and even earn some cool prizes! Ask them what they are reading and listen as they tell you – share their summer reading enthusiasm.

We are aiming for record-breaking summer reading games participation, but that’s not really what it is about… is about maintaining reading skills over the summer and having fun!


Summer Reading

It’s Summer at KPL!

Just sharing some miscellaneous info...

• Our summer hours are now in effect….we close at 6 pm on Thursdays and are closed Sundays. Winter hours will resume after Labor Day.

Summer reading games for all ages – youngest to oldest – begin on June 13, last day of school for Kalamazoo Public School students.

• Our popular First Saturday @ KPL program will continue through the summer along with many programs for school age children.

• We are beginning to consider suggestions for next year’s Reading Together title and would welcome your ideas for a title, author, or theme. Just add yours as a “comment” to this blog.

• And speaking of Reading Together, did you see the heartfelt letter this year’s author, Luis Urrea, sent us?

• You can now search the Kalamazoo Telegraph, a local newspaper from 1863 – 1913, through our website. It’s interesting reading even if you aren’t a local historian or genealogist.

• If you missed “Michigan at the Exposition: The 1893 Chicago World’s Fair,” it is on our website, along with many other programs.

• There are some online audio books, always available, you can download through our website. It makes exercising more enjoyable if you can listen to a good book at the same time.

KPL staff blog about books they have recently read and particularly enjoyed. Our reading tastes vary greatly; we invite your comments and welcome an online discussion.

• We’ve added ebooks for kids to our website. Some reluctant young readers who have access to an ereader, but be enticed to read more in this format.

Come visit soon…..Central Library, branches, or through our website.


Summer @ KPL

A Busy Week!

This final week of May and first weekend in June is a busy time for downtown Kalamazoo, as well as for the library.

On Wednesday, we will celebrate our 15th annual “Party in the Park.” You may have seen photos from previous years on our website. What a fun event for preschoolers and a feel good event for the adult participants—so rewarding to see the excitement in these young children as they hear a good story, sometimes even being read by a famous storybook character!

Friday night is Art Hop all over the downtown area including Central Library and the Barnabee Gallery at Powell Branch Library. Central Library will be displaying art work by children from Nebbi, Uganda, created with art supplies donated by Kalamazoo area residents; the Barnabee Gallery displays works created by WMU journalism students. 

Saturday is the Friends of KPL sidewalk book sale; books for 10¢ each or $2 for a bag full – what a bargain!

KPL staff, friends, families and even a few pets, will march in the DoDah Parade. Look for us in our black t-shirts as we encourage participation in our summer reading games and launch a new awareness campaign.

And Saturday afternoon is once again “First Saturday @ KPL.” This month our partners are KPS, NAACP, and Northside Ministerial Alliance. Sid Ellis is the guest storyteller. Sure to be a fun afternoon!

Stop by when you are downtown this week – it will be a busy, fun one as summer kicks off.


Party in the Park

Congratulations, Bobbe!

Bobbe Luce, the director of ONEplace@KPL, our nonprofit management support center, was honored last week as one of five 2012 YWCA Women of Achievement. Congratulations on this well deserved recognition, Bobbe.

Bobbe joined the KPL staff about 3 ½ years ago to establish this resource center with the goal of “developing and operating a nonprofit management support center designed to address the capacity-building needs of the nonprofit organizations in Kalamazoo County.” Although part of the library organizational structure, the service is funded by local foundations, primarily the Kalamazoo Community Foundation and the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation.

100% of survey responses from nonprofits who have participated in educational programs or networking opportunities, used the resources on the website, checked out materials from the collection, or received one-on-one assistance rate the service as “very satisfying” or “excellent.” Clearly this service is meeting a community need.

On behalf of the library, thank you, Bobbe, for leading this community service.


Bobbe Luce

Good Neighbor, Oshtemo Township

As I have previously written, KPL has many partners. One of our expanding partnerships is between our Oshtemo Branch Library and Oshtemo Township.

Over the years, we have had some joint programs, most recently the Earth Day concert in April. Our partnership will reach a new level however, with the dedication of the new Oshtemo Township Park on Saturday, May 19, at 2 pm.

KPL provided a right of way for the park and a path will connect the library and the park. We look forward to family outings with visits to the library and the park, and we foresee more joint programming in this new outside space.

In addition to this partnership centered on the township park, we worked together to have directional signs to the library, the township offices, and the park installed east and west of our buildings on M-43, and Oshtemo Branch will be a voting location for an Oshtemo Township precinct beginning with the August election.

Good partners: Oshtemo Township and KPL.


Oshtemo Township Park Dedication

Attention Ebook Users

I have often written here about opportunities as well as limitations for ebook use through public libraries. Now I want to call your attention to two ebook features on our website.

First is a short video (1 minute 14 seconds) explaining publisher limitations on ebook availability through public libraries. Along with the video is an online petition to make your voice heard. I urge you to watch the video and sign the petition. You’ll find links on our home page and on our eBooks page.

Second is a Pew research study about ebook use. The results of this study will help libraries and publishers better understand the use of ebooks through libraries and, I am hoping, strengthen the library argument for ebook availability. I urge you to complete this brief survey. There’s a link on our eBooks page.

Ebooks lending through public libraries is an evolving service for us, an evolving market for publishers. Let your voice be heard, your opinion counted through this petition and research study.


Ebooks for Libraries


Many Partners

Frequently I write and talk about our good friends, The Friends of KPL. Well, we also have good partners.

Each year we update our list of partnerships. We currently have some type of partnership with close to 100 organizations, schools, government agencies, other libraries, and businesses, and we probably overlooked a few.

Not surprisingly, Kalamazoo Public Schools is a major partner in many of our youth and family programs: Summer Reading, Global Reading Challenge, and our newest one, First Saturday @ KPL.

We have a changing multitude of partners for Reading Together, depending upon the theme of the book. This year’s book, Into the Beautiful North, led to some new partners including the Immigration Assistance Program, Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, and Sierra Negra. Some partner with us every year, regardless of the book choice: WMU, area public libraries, Michigan News Agency.

ONEplace@kpl partners with many local and regional organizations: the Arts Council, the Nonprofit Alliance, Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, Kalamazoo Community Foundation among many others.

And just to name a few more: Rave Motion Pictures, a partner in the Teen Filmmaker Festival; the ACLU a Banned Book Week partner; Public Media Network to film events; Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra for Music and Make Believe; Kalamazoo Juvenile Home for author visits; and Kalamazoo County Tax Counseling Initiative to offer tax assistance.

We know we are all stronger and able to provide more services when we work together. We are fortunate to have good partners, and we hope they feel likewise about us.


Kalamazoo Public Library

Celebrating our Friends

Last week was a celebration of our good friends, the Friends of KPL.

The Friends held their annual meeting on April 14. A record breaking crowd of about eighty, celebrated a year of strong book sales in the bookstore as well as at several special sales and enjoyed retired KPL librarian Margean Gladysz talk about her book The Spy on the Bus.

On Wednesday, our Friends, along with tens and tens of community organizations, were honored at the STAR Award Breakfast to celebrate volunteers throughout the greater Kalamazoo area. Even though it was a week of celebrations and recognition for them, they continued their work on behalf of the library – they held a book sale at Oshtemo Branch on Saturday and as usual, staffed the bookstore at central, Wednesday through Saturday.

Last year the Friends funded our summer reading games for all ages, contributed to Reading Together events, and supported the Global Reading Challenge, general adult programming, and staff recognition.

As I say often and mean sincerely, KPL is fortunate to have very good Friends. You can support them and the library by becoming a member and shopping at their bookstore.


Friends of Kalamazoo Public Library

Indie Book Winners

Many “best of” and “book winners” are announced at year-end so announcing winners at this time of year caught my attention and is probably a good marketing strategy.

The American Booksellers Association recently announced the winners of the “2012 Indies Choice Book Awards” with the following description: “after a month of voting by the owners and staff at independent bookstores across the county, we have an outstanding list of winners that reflects the types of books independent bookstores champion best.”


And the winners are….

  • Adult Fiction Book of the Year: The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • Adult Nonfiction Book of the Year: Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton
  • Adult Debut Book of the Year: The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht
  • Young Adult Book of the Year: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

The full list of winners, 2012 Honor Award recipients, and Most Engaging Author Awards designees are listed on their website.

Readers can support independent booksellers by purchasing these titles or any books, of course, or borrowing them from the library. Independent booksellers and public libraries are good partners in promoting books and reading.


2012 Indies Choice Book Awards

Celebrate Libraries

Every week is an occasion to celebrate something. This is the big week for libraries. It is National Library Week!

This annual national observance was first sponsored in 1958 by the American Library Association as a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support for all types of libraries.

Within the week, there are some special designations: Tuesday is National Library Workers Day; Wednesday is National Bookmobile Day; Support Teen Literature Day is Thursday.

We appreciate the attention this week brings to libraries and the celebrity endorsements that go with it. This year’s theme is “You Belong @ Your Library.”

Here’s a good reminder from author Brad Meltzer, honorary chair of 2012 National Library Week. Come visit this week or any week and happy National Library Week to you.


National Library Week

National Poetry Month

April is “National Poetry Month” as first designated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. The goal is to celebrate poetry and its place in American culture. Libraries, booksellers, and literary organizations highlight poetry through displays, programs, and readings.

The website of the Academy suggests thirty ways to celebrate the month, ranging from the predictable “read a book of poetry” to “integrate poetry with technology” and “visit a poetry landmark.” Their website also has a search function to locate a poem by title, poet, keyword, form or theme. That’s very handy if you vaguely remember a poem and want to locate it.

We have a large poetry collection, particularly at Central Library. Most is classified in the 811s. Some are compilations, others are the works of one poet.

And happy National Poetry Month to you.


National Poetry Month

eBook Update Continued

Last week I wrote here about the evolving ebook market.

I shared that libraries were bracing for a price increase for ebooks from Random House publishers. Indeed the recent increases are double and triple the prices we had been paying. As an example, one recently released title had been $40 for the ebook version; it increased to $120 as of March 1. The print version, with the library discount, is a little over $20.

Basically, the new Random House prices for ebooks to ebook distributors, not directly to libraries are

  • Titles in print as new hardcovers: $65 - $85
  • Titles available for several months or timed to paperback release: $25 - $50
  • New children’s titles in print as hardcovers: $35 - $85
  • Older children’s titles and children’s paperbacks: $25 - $45

In spite of these hefty price increases, libraries welcome that Random House continues to offer titles in ebook format to libraries.

Again, as I wrote previously, Penguin Books are not available in ebook format to public libraries. They publish many bestsellers and we, like all libraries, regret we cannot provide them to our users.

Bottom line: please know we will continue to provide ebooks as they are available and affordable for public libraries. Some titles we cannot provide at all, due to publisher restrictions, others we may not be able to provide until several months after their initial release.

The market continues to evolve.



An Evolving eBook Market

Most libraries, including KPL, experienced a strong increase in the circulation of ebooks after the holidays. Obviously readers were a popular holiday gift. Ebook users have learned how to download books from OverDrive through our website and many have attended our training or Q & A sessions.

In addition to titles available through the OverDrive consortium, we purchase additional copies of popular titles available to KPL resident cardholders. However patrons often ask why a particular popular title isn’t available in ebook format.

All publishers will sell us print copies, but not necessarily ebook copies. Their policies and approach vary considerably:

  • Random House titles are available; they recently announced a price increase.
  • HarperCollins titles are available to public libraries but each title is limited to 26 uses. The library must then renew its license for that title.
  • Macmillan does not make its popular titles available; some scholarly titles are available to public libraries.
  • Penguin terminated its agreement to provide to public libraries in February. Those titles already in a library’s catalog are still available.
  • Simon & Schuster titles are not available.
  • Hachette backlist is available, not the frontlist of new, popular titles.
  • Scholastic titles are not available.
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt titles are available.

Bottom line: the availability of a popular title in ebook format through a public library depends upon the publisher. Ebook lending through public libraries is still evolving and the specifics change frequently. Be assured, however, that we continue to follow the market closely and purchase popular titles available to us. Even if we don’t have the title in ebook format, we will have it in print.



Last Week and This Week @ KPL

Last week we kicked off this year’s Reading Together with a discussion of the book and the issues it raises led by Dr. Karen Vocke, associate professor of English at WMU. Almost all attendees had read the book and we had a spirited discussion interspersed with Dr. Vocke’s experiences working with the migrant community and her literary insights.

This week we welcome the author Luis Alberto Urrea to Kalamazoo. He will speak Tuesday evening, 7:00, at Kalamazoo Central High School. There are many other community events through early April, all described on our website.

Last week we launched a new initiative: First Saturday @ KPL. We encourage families to make a visit to the library part of their regular routine and on the first Saturday of each month, we’ll entice children with storytimes, fun activities, and special guests. Families who visit during First Saturday @ KPL are eligible to win door prizes. We were thrilled with the turnout at this first one and look forward to it growing as we partner with other community organizations. The next one is Saturday, April 7, 2 pm – 4 pm.

This week we have family storytimes, toddler talk, baby talk, and reading with Bailey.

Last week was the Teen Filmmaker Festival; this week tweens and teens can take their cartooning skills to the next level with comic master Kenjji Jumanne-Marshall.

And for adults, in addition to Reading Together events this week, we’ll offer tax help and Ask a Lawyer. See our website for eligibility for these two programs.

Come visit soon, either to attend a program or to find something good to read, view, or listen to.


Luis Alberto Urrea

First Saturday @ KPL

Join us on Saturday, March 3, for the start of a new initiative: First Saturday @ KPL.

Make a visit to the library part of your family’s regular routine! We’ll help you entice your children by offering impromptu storytimes, fun activities, and special guests on the first Saturday of each month in the children’s room at Central Library.

Families who visit during the First Saturday program time, from 2 pm - 4 pm, may win door prizes! This March, the prizes include Meijer gift cards for $100, $50 and $25.

We expect a growing list of partners to help KPL staff plan and carry out First Saturday events. Our partners currently include Kalamazoo Public Schools, the NAACP, the Northside Ministerial Alliance, and the Hispanic American Council.

Of course in addition to enjoying activities, we encourage you and your family to check out books, movies, and music, and to read every day. We’ll be glad to sign you up for a library card if you don’t have one.

See you on Saturday!


First Saturday @ KPL

Good Films Coming This Week!

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

eBook Availability

The availability of e-books through public libraries is ever changing.

Libraries, including KPL, offer downloadable e-books through a vendor–OverDrive. Publishers offer their titles to OverDrive, libraries purchase titles in e-book format through OverDrive, patrons download e-books to their device through their home library using the OverDrive technology.

Three of the major publishers have not allowed their titles to be purchased by public libraries through OverDrive: Macmillian, Simon & Schuster, and Hachette. Just this week, Penguin announced they too will no longer offer their titles in downloadable format for public libraries to purchase. (Read more)

With this move, Random House is the only big-six publisher allowing unrestricted access to its e-books through libraries. HarperCollins does work with libraries, but has implemented a limit of 26 uses or checkouts of the title before it must be “repurchased.”

If you don’t find a particular e-book title available for download though our catalog, quite likely it is from a publisher who will not sell to public libraries.

The American Library Association is continuing to talk with publishers about the future of e-book availability for lending through libraries. We, along with the entire library community, share your frustrations with this ever changing e-book situation, both the availability of titles and the process of downloading to various devices. Stay tuned.

Some recent articles...




New Look in Teen

There’s a new look in Teen Services on the lower level of Central Library.

Teen patrons and our staff in teen have long wished for an area separate from the rest of the lower level to allow for teen programming and discussions there without disturbing others. We now have it, along with a bright, fresh look.

We’ve installed a divider between the teen area and the AV collection. Large windows provide an open feeling but create a separate area. Computers have been moved to a counter mounted on the divider to free up space for a programming / discussion / hang-out area for teens.

Along with the divider, we have bright, 2012 colors thanks to our Facilities Management staff.

You don’t need to be a teen to stop by for a look. You might wish you had had a teen area like this when you were in middle and high school though – I do.



Teen Services

Did You Know?

…… the county Law Library is located on the lower level of Central Library?

……all KPL locations have paper and reproducible tax forms and information about free tax preparation clinics?

……eBooks and eaudiobooks are available through our website?

……our librarians will be glad to suggest books based on what you have read and enjoyed?

……KPL staff share their favorite books, music, and movies on our blogs?

……if you missed a concert you enjoy it on YouTube?

……there is a printable calendar of all the library activities for kids on our website?

……there are some amazing teen filmmakers in Kalamazoo?

……many photos of historic Kalamazoo are posted on our website?

……Luis Urrea, this year’s Reading Together author will be here on March 6?

……there are used books for sale at Central Library?

……you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter?


Library Services

Bag Sale Time!

The Friends of KPL will hold their winter “Bag Sale” on Saturday, January 28 from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm in the Van Deusen Room on the third floor of the Central Library.

As in past years, books are 10¢ each OR a whole grocery bag full for $2.00. What a bargain!

I see the bags and boxes of good books that are dropped off at the library for the Friends. The Friends ad for this sale is correct: the sale is “featuring exceptionally good stock!”

Thousands of books will be available when the sale begins at 9 am and Friends volunteers will restock during the day as space allows.

This is an easy opportunity to support the library and build your home library….or a classroom library.

Thanks to our good friends, the Friends of KPL, for sharing / recycling books through their bookstore and these periodic booksales.


Friends ‘Bag’ Sale

Happy Birthday to MeLCat!

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!



Happy Birthday!

We had a birthday party at KPL last week! We celebrated the 115th anniversary of Children’s Services with special storytimes and cupcakes….it’s not a birthday party without cake….and we gave the gifts: a coloring book “Celebrating 115 Years of Reading at Kalamazoo Public Library.” The story coloring book was created by Janie Bynum, local author and illustrator.

In December 1896, KPL dedicated a room for exclusive use by children, one of the first ten libraries in the country to do so. Now, 115 years later, early childhood literacy and preparing children to learn to read, remain our highest priorities.

The story coloring book follows Grandpa and Little Bear as they visit the library each week to borrow books, use the computers, attend storytime, make crafts, and play in the puppet theater. It’s a fun look with an underlying serious message: the importance of regular library visits and reading to children.

Interestingly enough, 2012 is a milestone for many of our services. We are planning more celebrations this year, including a big one for the entire library in the fall.

Happy birthday, children’s services!



Children’s Services: Celebrating 115 Years