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From the Director

Amazing MeL Turns Ten

MeL… as in Michigan Electronic Library, which just celebrated its 10th birthday.

The resources in MeL, available to Michigan residents through the Library of Michigan, are wide-ranging. Preparing for a job or college entrance exam….there are practice tests. Kids and teens need homework help….there are many resources here as well as age appropriate games and activities. There are also legal, health, government, and jobs section as well as books and literacy links.

And, of course, there is MeLCat, a very popular interlibrary loan type service that allows users to search library catalogs from across the state and request items not in their home library.

I can’t begin to convey the breadth of MeL in this brief message. It is worth a look even if you don’t think you “need” something there. I’m confident you will find something interesting.

And, happy birthday MeL, and thank you Library of Michigan.

 


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.


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

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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.

 


Just 15 Minutes a Day Can Make a Difference

 I often write here and in LINK, our newsletter, about our #1 priority of creating young readers – preparing young children to be ready to learn when they enter school. Some new resources have been added to our website to support this goal.

Once again research has shown that children who are read to do better in school. A new emphasis, Read Aloud 15 MINUTES, maintains that “15 minutes of reading aloud daily, starting at birth, will change the face of education in our country.” Additional information about this initiative is on our website.

15 minutes a day of reading to young children dovetails nicely with our program 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten and soon to come will be our Early Learning Calendar for 2015, available in December.

Storytimes continue to be a favorite for many families of young children. Many plan their library visit around Storytime or plan for play time in the Story Place, the activity room for young children at Central.

These resources and many others are described on the Kids & Parents section of our website. We update it often, so visit often.

And, of course, read to all the young children in your life.


New Look for the Central Rotunda

The first floor rotunda at Central has a new look.

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Shelving for new fiction and nonfiction, Hot Picks, and urban fiction has been repositioned to go around the opening rather than as spokes from the opening. New display tables have been added and much of the seating has been moved to the second floor. The space is more fully a browsing area for new materials, not a seating area.

In the second floor rotunda, additional seating has been added by current magazines. Current newspapers have been moved across from Local History and tables and chairs have been repositioned to create a more quiet reading and study area.

The first floor changes reflect our priority of “reading, viewing, and listening for pleasure” and provide a space to highlight staff picks, librarian favorites, and topical books, along with new books.

Patrons have asked for a more quiet reading area and we hope that will be the use of the area by Local History.

Come visit soon and see our rearranged look.

 


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.