From the Director
Library news and happenings.
Earlier this fall, I read and blogged about James McBride’s new novel, Good Lord Bird. Dare I say I knew it was a good book and others, like important literacy judges, agree. Earlier this week, McBride was awarded the National Book Award for Fiction for this work.
Of course one of his previous books, The Color of Water, was our 2005 Reading Together title. I still get an occasional comment from library patrons who attended his talk or his concert and remember how much we appreciated and enjoyed his visit to Kalamazoo.
He was one of the most approachable, engaging authors I’ve met. I’ll always consider him a friend of KPL’s.
Good Lord Bird
….to Alice Munro for winning the Nobel Prize in Literature.
As I have often written on our book blog, I don’t read many short story collections, with one exception: Alice Munro.
She has been called the “master of the contemporary short story” for her sparse fiction that often begins in an unexpected place then moves back or forward in time. She says her recent collection Dear Life is her last and she is finished writing.
The report of an author’s reaction to winning a major prize is always interesting to me. Apparently the Swedish Academy was unable to locate her before the public announcement. They left a phone message for her. It turns out she was visiting her daughter in British Columbia and was awakened at 4 AM with the news. Reports are she sounded groggy and emotional!
In a recent interview, she said she fell into writing short stories by accident. She thought stories were practice until she had time to write a novel. Then she found they were all she could do.
Ms. Munro is the first Canadian woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. The Canadian prime minister issued a statement of congratulations as have many writers. Her long-time readers are pleased and hope indeed there will be more stories to follow.
Alice Munro Wins Nobel Prize in Literature
In my brief introductory comments at last week’s banned books program offered in partnership with the ACLU, I mentioned that our materials selection policy is based on the Library Bill of Rights, the Freedom to Read and Freedom to View statements.
After the program, one of the attendees approached me to share that her grandfather had written the Library Bill of Rights. What??!! Wow! That makes him the James Madison of the library world.
The Library Bill of Rights was written by her grandfather, Forrest Spaulding who served as director of the Des Moines, Iowa, Public Library from 1917 – 1952. He drafted the Library Bill of Rights in 1938 and it was adopted by the American Library Association the following year. It has been revised a few times since but retains its original flavor and intent.
We had a very interesting conversation. She knew her grandfather and was well versed in his library accomplishments. She also shared her experiences from an event in Des Moines a few years ago to recognize him that she and other family members attended.
So many of us have a connection to libraries. I enjoy hearing them…thanks for sharing this connection.
Library Bill of Rights
It is Banned Books Week, the national book community’s annual celebration of the freedom to read. We join with libraries, bookstores, and publishers across the country in drawing attention to censorship.
Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a surge in challenges to books in schools, bookstores, and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since the launch. In 2012, the most challenged title was Captain Underpants series for children; second was The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.
Many books long considered American classics have also been challenged and sometimes banned over the years. You might be surprised by some of the familiar titles.
We will extend our celebration into next week and on Tuesday, October 1, host our traditional readings with the ACLU. As in past years, local celebrity readers will read passages from titles that have been challenged.
Join us for that program and exercise your right to read whatever you choose.
Banned Books Week
It’s September, back-to-school, library card sign-up month.
Once again, we join libraries across the country in reminding parents and caregivers that a library card is the most important school supply of all.
Your KPL card provides access to print books, ebooks, online homework help, and research tools and resources.
We are pleased local businesses and organizations are partnering with us to offer an incentive just for showing your KPL card during September. If you don’t already have a card, here is a further incentive.
Click here for the entire list and information on signing up for a KPL card.
See you at the library or at one of our partners.
Library Card Signup Month
As you have been out and about in Kalamazoo, you may have noticed an increasingly number of “little free libraries,” essentially an oversized mailbox or birdhouse with books to share.
The idea started in 2009 with a simple concept—take a book, return a book.
It is now estimated there are between 6,000 and 7,000 little free libraries across 36 countries and at least 1,650,000 books have been donated and borrowed.
Of course these won’t replace libraries, but they are a nice companion. More information is on their website www.littlefreelibrary.org. Local information is available at kalamazoolittlefreelibraries.com or through a link on our website.
Feel free to take a book, leave a book if you pass one on your walk or drive.
Little Free Libraries
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