From the Director

Library news and happenings.

You Are The Reviewer

Almost every magazine or newspaper I pick up seems to have an article about e-readers, often combined with the author’s viewpoint that books are going away, print will be obsolete.

Some studies show that reading overall is on the rise, be it on e-readers or traditional books. Some believe that the ease of sharing reviews about books is contributing to the increase.

Technology is allowing the casual reader to share the joy of reading, the discovery of a new author or an overlooked author. Previously major newspapers had separate book review sections; few of those still exist. Instead readers, rather than professional book reviewers, post their reviews on Amazon, bookstore websites, Twitter, Facebook, LibraryThing and Goodreads websites, and within library catalogs. Some sites provide for a rating system, usually a number of stars.

Then the dialogue begins! Other readers chime in, some, of course in agreement, others in strong disagreement. Some readers wonder if such comments are really reviews, but others say “who cares”. I’m in the group of “who cares”. I like to know the opinion of other readers; it often helps me decide to read or not read a particular book.

Book reviews may be added online to our catalog. Click on the “add a review” icon and share your opinion with others. As more readers contribute through public libraries with the same library catalog system, the number of titles with patron comments will grow.

Come visit, get a book, share your opinion.


Write a Review

Statewide Library Statistics

The Library of Michigan has just released the 2009 edition of Michigan Public Libraries Data Digest, a compilation of activity in our state’s public libraries. The data is pulled from the annual reports we all submit to the state and covers fiscal year 2008/2009.

The digest includes a brief five year comparison between 2003 and 2008. Numbers / usage is up in all areas: items available, hours open to the public, programs offered, use of computers. This growth, during a time of reduced budgets for many public libraries, is encouraging. Many libraries, including KPL, have reduced hours, tightened materials budgets, and reexamined programming.

In other interesting, fun statistics:

  • Michigan public libraries hold over 35 million books, almost four for every resident.
  • Each resident checks out an average of over 8 items per year.
  • Public libraries entertained and educated over 2.5 million people with our programs.
  • We received 52.7 million visitors, double the number of visitors to our state parks.
  • Combined, Michigan public libraries encompass more than 5 times the size of Ford Field Football Stadium!

Come visit soon – check out “your” four books, attend a program, use a computer, ask a question.


Michigan Public Libraries Data Digest

I Don’t Dislike the 800s

I have a reputation around the library of not liking the 800’s, meaning books that have a Dewey number classification in the 800s: plays, poetry, essays, literary criticism, satire and humor, literature.

When I made the comment that has earned me that reputation, I was referring to the amount of shelf space we devote to the 800s in comparison to the number of times books in these categories are checked out in a year. It was in the context of a discussion about books needing to “earn” their shelf space and a comparison to retail – more retail shelf space is devoted to items that sell. In our case, “selling” generally means circulating, although some books, of course, are used within the library and not checked out to a patron.

In the case of the 800s, we devote much more space to them than the circulation percentage would warrant, but we aren’t in the retail business either.

Collection maintenance, ordering new titles and discarding old ones, is a delicate balance within libraries. We want to have the new, hot titles; we want our shelves to look inviting; we want patrons to check out our materials; but we also want to have that old, favorite title a patron wants to reread or a title someone wants to browse, but not check out.

Our librarian staff is experienced at finding this balance, using a variety of tools, including circulation statistics, lists of standard titles, and their experience helping patrons. We also keep current on old titles that might have a new life through a movie version or renewed attention to the author.

Come visit soon; I’m betting we will have what you want to read next.

P.S. I really don’t dislike the 800s, actually I read quite a few books of essays, but I admit, I don’t read poetry very often.


800s: plays, poetry, essays, literary criticism, satire and humor, literature

Show Support for Literacy - Sign the Scrolls

“The Declaration for the Right to Literacy” scrolls are in Kalamazoo as one of their last stops before heading to Washington for presentation to President Obama on Sept. 22.

The scrolls were drawn up at a national literacy conference last year and have already been signed by thousands of citizens from 31 states. The scrolls are here through the efforts of Dr. Juan Olivarez, president of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, and a strong, vocal literacy advocate on the national and local level. We are pleased the library was asked to host the event to celebrate their arrival here and to kick-off the community signing.

About 100 representatives of education, businesses, and nonprofits gathered at KPL. Several spoke of their personal and organizational commitment to literacy before lining up to sign. I briefly outlined our commitment to preschool literacy through our Ready to Read program and storytimes.

Signing the scrolls shows support for literacy as a fundamental American freedom and that every American must be able to read and write to fully and equitably participate in community life.

As one of the speakers said, librarians are the original literacy champions. We are, but we are pleased to see literacy receive the broader attention it deserves. Signing is important, but more important is to do something about it within your own circle. You can start by reading to the children in your life every day or volunteering through our Ready to Read program or the Kalamazoo Literacy Council.

I hope you will have a chance to sign the scrolls while they are in Kalamazoo for a few days. 


Ann Rohrbaugh, Valerie Wright and Lisa Godfrey sign the "Declaration for the Right to Literacy" scroll at KPL