From the Director
Library news and happenings.
I’ve just returned from Chicago where I attended the annual conference of the American Library Association. It’s a big conference – about 15,000 attendees including staff, vendors, trustees, Friends, library supporters. There are always more programs, more authors talks, more vendors demos than anyone can possibly attend and some of the best insights and new ideas come from casual conversation with other attendees.
As I begin to process all I heard and saw, here are a few observations:
- The software market for libraries is ever-growing. At every conference there are vendors with new or upgraded readers advisory, statistics, meeting room management, staff training software.
- Librarians still love authors and books. The author sessions were full and the publisher booths on the exhibits floor were crowded.
- We like author autographs, even in uncorrected proofs of books not yet published.
- We like to recognize good books with prizes. A new award, “The Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction” were awarded to Richard Ford’s novel Canada and the nonfiction to Timothy Egan’s book Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis.
- There is a major emphasis on the role of libraries in summer activities for kids with “interest driven learning.”
Attending a conference is re-energizing. Those of us who attended from KPL will share our experiences across the library. We returned with good ideas but also a renewed perspective that we are “on the right track” and an appreciation for our community support.
ALA 2013 Conference Program
Our circulation of ebooks continues to grow but patrons often ask why we don’t have a specific new, popular title or why more copies of a title aren’t available. Unfortunately, the major publishers have been slow to make their ebook titles available to public libraries.
None of the six largest publishers sell or license ebooks to public libraries in the same way they do print editions. Three major publishers have pricing policies that make ebooks more expensive than print editions and others still refuse to make ebooks available to all libraries and are only now piloting programs that make them available to only select libraries.
The example of a recent bestseller makes the point: print edition cost to a public library: $15.51. Ebook cost on Amazon to an individual: $9.99. Ebook cost to a library from the publisher: $84.
The relationship between publishers and libraries is changing. Many small, independent publishers are willing to work with libraries; the major publishers have not yet adopted policies that address equitable access and fair pricing.
Oversight is needed to ensure that publishers do not inhibit access to ebooks in public libraries. The library community is urging policymakers to guarantee that all libraries and their constituents have unrestricted and equal access to ebooks at a fair and reasonable price.
Last week, May 13-19, was Children’s Book Week. This designation was established in 1919 and is the longest-running literacy initiative in the country.
The original goal of the week was to promote higher standards in children’s books. It is now focused on a celebration of books for young people and the joy of reading, with the hope of instilling a lifelong love of reading in children.
The original declaration for the week was “A great nation is a reading nation.” Still true, no matter the format or the device on which children, tweens, and teens are reading.
Encourage the children in your life to read….bring them to the library, read to them, read with them.
Children’s Book Week
Kalamazoo beer has been in the news lately…. Bell’s, several new breweries and brewpubs opening, and most recently, the campaign to vote for Kalamazoo to be designated “Beer City USA.” We are worthy of that designation; we have a beer history. Read about “The Brew from Kalamazoo” on our website and enjoy the photos as well.
And, did you know we also have a distillery history? Read about “Luke’s Best” as one of the first products to bring national attention to Kalamazoo.
On a totally different topic, May 13 is the anniversary of the 1980 tornado. Those of us who were here 33 years ago, remember it well. I was at a meeting of the Friends of KPL when the sirens went off and we all moved to the basement storage area. What a sight when we emerged. We have a video as well as a map, description, and links to other information on our website.
And while you are reading about beer, whiskey, and a tornado, scroll through the other topics on the local history section of our website. We live in a city with a rich, fascinating history.
All About Kalamazoo History
Booklovers, including many librarians of course, are celebrating World Book Night on Tuesday, April 23. Held in the US, UK, and Ireland, the aim is to promote the value of reading, books, libraries, and bookstores by distributing free books all across the country. About 25,000 volunteer booklovers will be personally handing out specially printed copies of books to light or non-readers and to those without the means or access to books. The titles chosen for distribution are contemporary or classic titles that appeal to a wide range of new readers. They are diverse in subject matter, age level, gender, as well as ethnic and geographical considerations.
The day is chosen to celebrate the International Day of the Book as well as Shakespeare’s birthday.
There are about 2,000 World Book Night host locations, including KPL and several area bookstores. About 25 volunteers signed up through KPL, selected their title, and picked up about 20 copies of the book last week. They will distribute the books around town on Tuesday evening….watch for them if you are out and about.
World Book Night
I have often written here about weekly and monthly designations / celebrations. Well, now it is our turn. This is National Library Week.
We join with libraries, schools, bookstores, and publishers in celebrating this week to highlight the value of libraries. This year’s theme is “Communities Matter @ Your Library” with Caroline Kennedy, a strong advocate for reading, literacy, and libraries, as the honorary chair of this year’s celebration.
We know you value library services: circulation of all materials in up 9% over this time last year, computer use at all locations is strong, and visits to our website have increased about 14%.
You’ve told us through a recent survey, from your comments to staff at service desks, and in casual conversations around town, that you recognize and appreciate the library’s role in the community.
We appreciate your support and welcome your comments.
Celebrate National Library Week with us and come visit soon.
National Library Week
Most librarians like to read, compile, and share book lists. We seek them out, we check off the ones we’ve read, and add still more titles to our ever growing list of books we want to read.
Of course there are many annual lists and best of lists in all different categories, but there are also subject lists that are timely. I want to share two that are vastly different but both timely.
The young adult division of the American Library Association has compiled a list of basketball books to support March Madness. There are some good suggestions to help extend the college basketball season.
To mark the ten year anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq, The Washington Post has compiled its list: “10 Years of the Iraq War: 10 Great Books.” They write that “like all wars, this one has produced a library of great books.”
Do you have any to add to either list?
The Final Four
March is “Literacy Month.” The focus is to celebrate the love of reading among children and to promote literacy as a fundamental skill for success in school and in life.
Libraries, schools, and bookstores are celebrating with a variety of activities and events to encourage reading.
We have many resources on our website: new books, staff picks, tips for parents and caregivers in using books with their children. We offer many programs: Ready to Read, First Saturday @ KPL, storytimes, and even a book club for children and their adults called Bookworms. There is a printable calendar of all our youth programs for your refrigerator door and, of course, we have lots of books to check out.
We celebrate literacy year-round but we are glad to call extra attention to it in March.
I hope you are sharing your enjoyment of reading with the children around you. Bring them to the library, read together.
As you may have heard or read, KPL had a bed bug “experience” this week. I’ll say I learned more about bed bugs than I ever knew before and perhaps than I wanted to know, but I’m proud of how quickly we were able to respond.
We’ve put some information on our website that you might find helpful and I’m linking to the news release we sent to the media outlining the situation and the actions we took.
Do you consider the environmental impact when choosing a print or e-book format?
I admit, I’ve only thought very briefly about this question and it doesn’t enter into my decision to read a book in print or digital format. My decision is based primarily on availability.
I recently came across a short article on this very topic. It gave me pause. The author considered the trees used to make paper, chlorine bleach to dye the paper, use of recycled paper, amount of ink, energy needed to produce the ink, lifespan of a typical e-reader, and carbon emissions from production and use of an e-reader.
Bottom line conclusion from the author: an e-reader is the more environmentally responsible choice for those who read more than 23 books per year.
Now that you know this, will it make a difference in the format you choose?