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From the Director

First Grade Visits!

Each fall all 1,200+ first graders in the Kalamazoo Public Schools visit the library twice. We are almost finished the first round of visits. The first graders heard a story, received their very own library card, and chose a book to take back to school.

When they visit again in a few weeks, they will return the book and look for another one, then hopefully return again with their family. We hope to make library visits an ongoing family routine for these first graders.

Many studies show the difference in school readiness and academic achievement between children who have been read to and visited libraries and those who have not. We know that children who live in poverty are at the highest risk for starting school unprepared to learn.

We are working closely with the Kalamazoo Public Schools as well as many others in the community to support school readiness. Services and programs for preschoolers as well as those in the early elementary grades are listed on our website. Our staff would also be happy to describe them to you.

It takes all of us to support our community’s children – help us spread the word about library services and the importance of regular library visits.


We Have Good Friends!

This week, October 19 – 25 is National Friends of Libraries Week.

KPL is pleased to celebrate our good friends, the Friends of KPL. They are major contributors to our library’s success through their community advocacy for the library and their donation of about $50,000 annually to enhance our programs and services.

In their advocacy role, they were the primary funders of our very successful spring millage campaign and, of course, they helped us get the word out about the vote and the library services it supports.
Their annual donation comes from the revenue from the bookstore, located on the lower level of Central Library. They sell “gently used books, very gently priced” that have been donated or have been withdrawn from the library collection.

Their 2013-14 donation funded our summer reading activities, supported the Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee, and provided an enhancement to many programs: Global Reading Challenge, Reading Together, Youth Literature Seminar. They thanked the library staff with years of service recognition and honored retirees.

We have very good friends; they would welcome you as member and as a bookstore patron.
Thank you, good FRIENDS OF KPL, and happy Friends week.

Library Satisfaction & Use

Earlier this summer, a Harris Poll was conducted nationally to determine the level of library satisfaction and use of public libraries.  Here are a few interesting results:

  • 66% of adults are extremely or very satisfied with their public library, a 7% increase from the 2008 survey
  • Parents are more likely than those without children to be extremely or very satisfied
  • 64% of Americans have a library card, down from 68% in the 2008 survey
  • Women are more likely than men to have a library card:  71% vs 57%
  • Higher levels of education coincide with higher likelihood of having a library card; those with a high school education or less are the least likely to have a card
  • 89% of adults believe it is important for children to have their own library card
  • Eight out of ten adults with library cards have used the library in the past year; 18% visit every other week or more
  • The top reason for visiting their library is to borrow a book (56%), borrow a DVD (24%), or borrow / use digital content (15%)
  • Men are more likely to borrow CDs than women (12% vs 7%), to use reference materials (also 12% vs 7%), and to check email (14% vs 5%)
  • 89% feel the public library is a valuable education resource; 65% believe the library is an entertainment resource

None of these results are particularly surprising to me. Based on what I hear from our patrons and the results of our millage vote in May, I am guessing our percentage of adults extremely or very satisfied might be higher than this national poll. I’d also guess that the other findings are in line with those of our patrons.

I hope you are using KPL services, both online and at our five locations. If you haven’t been here in a while, come visit soon.


Read Whatever You Choose

We are joining with libraries, bookstores, and publishers across the country to affirm the freedom to read during Banned Books Week, Sept. 21 – 27.

You may be surprised to learn there are hundreds of reported attempts to remove materials from libraries and schools for content deemed by some as inappropriate, controversial or even dangerous. This year the spotlight is on graphic novels which are often the target for censors.  Two graphic novels appear on the Top 10 List of Most Frequently Challenged Books compiled by the Intellectual Freedom Office of the American Library Association:  Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series at #1 and Jeff Smith’s series Bone at #10.

Banned Books Week is to remind us of the importance of preventing censorship and ensuring everyone’s freedom to read any book they choose.

As in recent years, we will celebrate the week during Art Hop on Friday evening, October 3, with our partner the SW Michigan Branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. Local celebrities will read from frequently challenged books.

Join us for this program and exercise your right to read whatever you choose.

Bargains with your Library Card

Libraries promote library cards as the “most powerful card in your wallet.” For the month of September, your KPL card has even more power…. the power for discounts at some popular restaurants and retailers.

September is Library Card Sign-Up Month across the country. In celebration, many Kalamazoo merchants are offering discounts for showing your library card. The ever-growing list is on our website.

Have your KPL library card in hand, visit these local businesses, and enjoy a discount.

Thanks to these restaurants and retailers for partnering with us to promote library card month.

Homework Resources

As usual, summer has gone fast and it is back to school.  Although homework may not be assigned immediately, it will be soon.

KPL subscribes to more than 70 databases, many with a homework help perspective for students at all grade levels, including college. They cover an amazing variety of topics and have been researched and compiled by subject specialists.

Depending upon the format and the licensing agreements with the vendor, some are available through our website for home access, while others are available only within the library. Most require a KPL library card to log-in.

Links on our website for Databases and Homework Help will take you to these resources. Our staff are also available to help guide you to these databases as well as to other materials, both online and in print.

I hope back-to-school has gone smoothly at your home.

Ebooks @ the Library

Amazon recently rolled out “Kindle Unlimited” and described it as 600,000 ebook titles, 1000’s of audiobooks all for $9.99 per month. Read and listen unlimited. It sounds good, but wait…..are the books you want to read and listen to included??

I just read an informal “study”. The author identified about 15 titles, some current some classics, and checked the availability in Kindle Unlimited, in several other ebook services, and at two public libraries.

Hands down, more of the titles, both current and classics, were available through the libraries than from the vendors.

Yes, I realize there are differences…..ebooks through libraries are the library model: place a hold if not available, wait your turn, return the title at the due date BUT more publishers have made their titles available in ebook format to libraries than to Amazon.

KPL participates in a consortium of Michigan public libraries who share ebook services through OverDrive. The price is right… to resident cardholders….and there is a good selection of titles. Information is on our website and our staff are available to help get you started.

My advice….browse our ebook holdings before your subscribe to a commercial ebook service.

Where Have You Read?

I seldom leave home without something to read, usually a magazine, a book, or my e-reader in my purse. Although my phone is also in my purse, I don’t read on it to any substantial degree. Most times I don’t read when I am out and about, but unexpected waiting does occur and then I am glad to have reading materials with me.

Not surprisingly, when I recently came across the “Reader’s Bill of Rights” all ten of them spoke to me:

  1. The right to not read.
  2. The right to skip pages.
  3. The right to not finish.
  4. The right to reread.
  5. The right to read anything.
  6. The right to escapism.
  7. The right to read anywhere.  (My favorite!)
  8. The right to browse.
  9. The right to read aloud.
  10. The right to not defend your tastes.

My motto: Don’t leave home without something to read. Where is the most unlikely place you have read? It might be in line at the grocery store for me.

A New Look, New Features

Our website has a new look!

We have revised our website, especially our homepage, to have a more contemporary look and be easier to use, especially on mobile devices… increasingly the way our website is accessed. We’ve also added some new features and moved many of the links to other sections of the website to the bottom of the page.

I like the photos but my favorite change is the scrolling images of new books. Click on any that look appealing for the catalog record with more information and to place a hold. Similar scrolling images of new movies and music will be added soon to those sections of our website too.

With this change, we have revamped the Kids & Parents section and a new, easier to use calendar will be coming in the next few weeks along with some additional new features.

Visit our website often, watch for further enhancements, and let us know what you think about these changes.


We are still enjoying the glow of two big events last week: the grand opening of The Hub, our digital lab and the 17th annual Party in the Park to celebrate the importance of early childhood literacy.

Information about both The Hub services and the Party can be found on our website. The photos of both events tell the story….enjoy!

Party in the Park | The Hub Grand Opening



Party in the Park 2014