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From the Director

Happy National Library Week to You!

This is National Library Week, April 12 – 18. We join with libraries, schools, bookstores, and publishers in celebrating this week to highlight the value of libraries. This year’s theme is “Unlimited Possibilities @ Your Library.”

National Library Week

In the mid 1950s, research showed that Americans were spending less time with books and more time with radios, TV, and musical instruments. Concerned we were reading less, publishers formed a National Book Committee. In 1957, they developed a plan for National Library Week. The first celebration was held in 1958 with the theme “wake up and read.” The celebration continues.

Each day of the week now has a focus. Tuesday is National Library Workers Day. Thursday is Celebrate Teen Literature Day, a designation aimed at raising awareness among the general public that today’s teen literature is a vibrant, growing genre with much to offer today’s teens as well as adults. A relatively new aspect of the week is Library Snapshot Day. We’ll be taking photos all day Wednesday to show “a day in the life of the library.” Look for photos on our website and Instagram.

Celebrate National Library Week with us and visit one of our five locations or through our website. Much has changed in society and in libraries since the first celebration, but we still provide a wealth of information and a wide variety of services with staff to help.


Library Shout-Out

I want to call your attention, give a shout-out as it were, to some services and upcoming events.

  • It is tax time. We have a link on our homepage to tax information including the paper forms the federal and state governments provide to us. Other forms are available online. There is also a link to sign-up for free basic tax preparation for those with household income under $53,000.
  • The Teen Filmmaker Festival is Sunday afternoon, Feb 22. Further details are on our website. I expect there will once again be creative, fun, thoughtful, inspiring films from teens. Come early, the theater will fill up.
  • Jerry Dennis, author of The Living Great Lakes, will be here in less than a month: March 3. Copies of the book are available at all locations; program information is available on our website and in print brochures also available at all locations.
  • We’ve revamped the Music page on our website. There is new information and links to Hoopla and Freegal.
  • There is a new display in the rotunda popular reading area at Central: Indie Next List. These are titles based on recommendations from independent booksellers across the country.
  • Watch for the March, April, May LINK, our newsletter, for a wide array of spring programs. It will be in your mailbox soon, and
  • It might still be winter but we are busy planning for summer reading!

Come visit soon – one of our locations or via our website.

Michigan Notable Books 2015

The Library of Michigan has recently announced the “2015 Michigan Notable Books.” This is a list of 20 titles, published during 2014, which are about or set in Michigan or the Great Lakes region, or are written by a Michigan author.

Titles include fiction and nonfiction for a wide variety of readers. All are selected with the intention of paying tribute and drawing attention to people, places, and things that relate to Michigan.

Again this year, several of the books have a Detroit theme or focus. I’ve read Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Detroit, and an Epic Quest to Arm an America at War and have recommended it widely. It was on my “best of” list for 2014.

Nice to see Derek Jeter on the list with his middle-grade story, The Contract.

As usual, after seeing this list, I’ve added several titles to my list of “books to read sometime,” especially those about Detroit. I think it is important for all of us to understand and appreciate Detroit’s history and current challenges.


Interesting Info About Reading

I caught up with some professional journals over the holidays and am just sharing a few interesting items I read:

  • January 24 has been designated National Readathon Day. The idea is to read from noon to 4 PM that day to celebrate literacy and raise funds for a program that provides books to underserved communities. Although I don’t know of an organized readathon around here, reading all Saturday afternoon sounds good to me. Count me in.
  • I am a fan of Abraham Lincoln and have read many books about him and the Civil War. (I even have a cup and saucer that is a replica of the White House dishes during his time and have casts of his hands on my mantle.) There is a vast amount of literature about him; he is only surpassed by Jesus and William Shakespeare.
  • Have you heard the phrase “reading insecurity?” One article defined it as “the subjective experience of thinking that you’re not getting as much from reading as you used to.” It is linked to reading on screens - set aside an hour to read on your tablet and end up scrolling through Facebook instead. The logical cure would seem to be reading a print book instead.
  • Related to screen reading – several studies suggest that people skim and scan for information on the internet and don’t start at the beginning and read to the end.
  • Should we be worried about ereading? One study showed that students who read a short story in print could better reconstruct the plot than those who read it on a screen.

Well, there is a study that will “prove” almost anything. I’m always interested in a new book about Lincoln in print or eformat. I read both.


Looking Back at 2014 - Part 2

Last week I wrote about looking back at 2014 with a focus on our millage renewal and several building changes that patrons and use patterns have told us have been successful. We also had some programming highlights in 2014.


  • We had record-breaking circulation on July 7: 9,842 were checked out! That’s a lot of items. We’re aiming for 10,000 some day in 2015, most likely a summer day during summer reading games.
  • Program attendance was strong at all locations, especially during the summer as we worked with parents and caregivers to keep kids engaged in reading during the school break.
  • We continued to revise the homepage on our website with a special focus on new materials and a calendar of events – also available on our mobile app.
  • We bonded with authors Tracie McMillan and Novella Carpenter, our Reading Together authors, and began planning for Jerry Dennis’s visit in March.
  • We launched The Hub, our digital lab, and
  • We continued our very close partnership with Kalamazoo Public Schools.


Many of these services are described in detail on our website and in LINK, our quarterly newsletter, and through our biweekly enewsletter.

We have had a good year and are looking forward to 2015. Come visit soon – one of our five locations or our website.

Happy new year!


Looking Back at 2014

Year end bring a time of reflection. As I look back over 2014 for the library, many events and milestones immediately come to mind. Of course the first is the successful passage, by a strong margin, of our renewal millage in May. Our two millages are now in place for 17 and 20 years.

Several of our milestones this year, involved building projects which allowed us to expand public services. We created the “Story Place” by the children’s room at Central from space that had been a materials sorting area for returned items. We now have a wonderful family friendly program and play space as part of the children’s room.

A closet and storage area is now “The Hub,” our digital lab on the third floor Central, and we rearranged furniture and added several displays of materials in the first floor rotunda. As part of that rearrangement, we were able to create a quieter reading and study area on the second floor. We also completed the expansion of the Clarence L. Miller Family Local History Room.

Changes at branches were less dramatic this year, although we now have a computer room at Eastwood, were able to put holds out for self-pick-up at Washington Square, and moved the teen space and created a reading area with popular books at Oshtemo. At Powell Branch, rental space within the Douglass Community Association, rainbows and sunshine continued to create a welcoming environment.

All of these changes have been well received by our patrons and have generated positive comments. Use has increased too.

I hope it has been a good year for you, even if it didn’t involve any building projects! Come visit soon, especially if you haven’t been here in a while and best wishes for the new year.

Another Way to Reduce Stress

This can be a stressful, overly busy time of year. We’ve all read advice for reducing stress. Here’s another one: uninterrupted reading, even “slow reading.”

“Slow reading” is a return to reading habits of the time before cellphones, social media, Google….just sit in silence and read uninterruptedly. Reducing stress is certainly a benefit. Such reading time also enhances comprehension, deepens empathy, enriches vocabulary, and of course, provides pleasure.

The reading tips include going to a place with no distractions (turn off the phone and computer), and treat reading like something you deliberately make time for.

If folding this approach into this busy time of year just seems overwhelming, perhaps it will be a new year’s resolution for you.

Year End Donations

There is a new day designation, at least new to me……December 2 has been designated “Giving Tuesday.” This has a nice ring as opposed to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

This 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. There is a link on our website - look for “Support the Library” at the bottom of any page.

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.

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

Spelling Bee Thanks to KPL Staff


What a night for the 14th annual Great Grown-up Spelling Bee! THANK YOU to all the KPL staff who had a part in making this another successful year of raising serious money to buy books for kids through Ready to Read. It was fun. I can’t begin to name everyone who had a part before, at, after the event BUT I will thank Mikki who pulled it all together so smoothly and the KPL spellers, Bill and Lolita, who won 2nd place in a spell down against Portage District Library, no less, and to Karen who did an awesome job as word pronouncer. She must practice at home to be so smooth at this role. And our cheerleaders….great job with that 1980’s look and moves. For those of you old enough to remember…..I think Lolita was channeling the Jane Fonda’s work-out look!! Do we miss those days??

Well into the night, Neil Bremer the MC, asked how many were there for the first time. I was amazed how many hands went up. Although this event, now in its 14th year, is familiar to us, I think its longevity is partly due to attracting new folks each year.

Final numbers aren’t in, but indications are we raised the “usual” amount of $20,000 or so. I call that serious money to buy lots and lots of books for kids.

Thank you KPL staff. We have reason to celebrate and be proud today.

Great job everyone!


Good Reading

 I’m behind – I just read that October was National Reading Group Month. Oh well.

We are pleased to offer many services for readers, including book groups, in support of our priority of “reading, viewing, and listening for pleasure.”

Our primary service for book groups is Book Club in a Bag: ten copies of the same book in one easy-to-carry bag, along with a reading group guide. We have a substantial list of titles and are always open to suggestions of new titles to add.

The new books lists and Staff Picks on our website are good reading suggestions for book groups or individuals. Our staff are sharing their favorites of 2014 with new lists being added frequently.

And finally, we hope the recently rearranged rotunda at Central and the new displays will make browsing new titles easier. Of course good reads aren’t just new books; browse the stacks too or ask our staff for suggestions.