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From the Director

142 Years and Going Strong!

We are in birthday mode!

We trace our founding to October 12, 1872, which makes us 142.

Each year at this time, I pause to consider our long, strong history and appreciate that only about eight years after the Civil War, folks in Kalamazoo were opening a library.

Of course we have considerable information about the library’s history on our website and while you are reading that, enjoy the many essays and other information about Kalamazoo and the area that our staff has compiled.

Please stop by – any of our five locations or our website. We think our founders would be proud of how the library has developed over the years and we acknowledge we are only the current “caretakers;” many others will follow us.


Test Prep / Career Help

I often use this blog to promote our services and events. It has been a while since I have called attention to one of my favorite services and one that amazes patrons when I happen to mention it:  Learning Express Library.

Learning Express Library is a database of online classes and video tutorials available to public libraries through the Library of Michigan. It has several components: Job and Career Accelerator; Computer Skills; Adult Learning Center; Career Center; High School Equivalency; College Prep.

If you are preparing to take an exam for a job, college, or even graduate school there is a good chance a practice test is available. If you are considering a career choice or change, there is some good info here. Want to brush up on your computer or math skills or business writing before a job interview? This is the place.

Many folks look to Google for everything. You won’t find the type of learning, practice tests, and career information through Google you will find here. Even if you don’t need it now, we all know family or friends who might find it useful. Help me spread the word about this state-provided service.


Proposition 1 - Personal Property Tax

Many governmental agencies, professional organizations, and businesses are urging a “yes” vote on Proposal 1 on August 5. This week the library board followed the lead of others and passed a resolution of support.

This proposal accomplishes two major goals without raising taxes:

  • Provides a tax cut for small businesses by ending the personal property tax they are required to pay
  • Creates a stable, reliable funding system for such services as police, fire, roads, libraries, and other community services as a replacement for personal property tax revenues

Many organizations and media outlets have published FAQ’s, impact statements, and informational bulletins.  Here is a link to the one complied by the Michigan Library Association.

The library community is hopeful this proposal will pass and eliminate some of the funding uncertainty for libraries.  


Thank You Voters!

….for the renewal of our millage on Tuesday. We are grateful for this strong confirmation of the services we are offering and the priorities we have set with community input.

Thanks to the Citizens Committee for KPL, the Friends of the Kalamazoo Public Library, our board and staff, but most importantly to the voters for this vote of support.

Come visit soon!

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Millage Renewal Approved
vote-2014-2-160
/support/millage.aspx

More Books for My Reading List

I like book lists... “best of” and favorites from reviewers, friends, and our staff. I always add more titles to my “list of books-to-read-sometime.”

Here is another one: 2014 Michigan Notable Books

This list is announced each year by the Library of Michigan. The twenty books focusing on the state, notable residents, and events in our state’s history are selected by a committee of folks from libraries, bookstores and related organizations.

I’ve read a few of these books and have added a few more to my list.

2014 Michigan Notable Books:

  • Beyond Pontiac’s Shadow: Michilimackinac and the Anglo-Indian War of 1763 by Keith R. Widder (Michigan State University Press)
  • The Bird: The Life and Legacy of Mark Fidrych by Doug Wilson (Thomas Dunne Books)
  • Birth Marks by Jim Daniels (BOA Editions Ltd.)
  • Bluffton: My Summers with Buster by Matt Phelan (Candlewick Press)
  • Bootstrapper: From Broke to Badass on a Northern Farm by Mardi Jo Link, (Alfred A. Knopf)
  • The Colored Car by Jean Alicia Elster (Wayne State University Press)
  • Detroit: Race Riots, Racial Conflicts and Efforts to Bridge the Racial Divide by Joe T. Darden and Richard W. Thomas (Michigan State University Press)
  • Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff (The Penguin Press)
  • The Great Lake Sturgeon Edited by Nancy Auer and Dave Dempsey (Michigan State University Press)
  • I Invented the Modern Age: The Rise of Henry Ford by Richard Snow (Scribner)
  • In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods by Matt Bell (Soho Press)
  • November’s Fury: The Deadly Great Lakes Hurricane of 1913 by Michael Schumacher (University of Minnesota Press)
  • Poetry in… Michigan… in Poetry – Edited by William Olsen and Jack Ridl (New Issues Poetry & Prose)
  • The River Swimmer by Jim Harrison (Grove Press)
  • Something That Feels Like Truth by Donald Lystra (Northern Illinois University Press)
  • Sweetie-licious Pies: Eat Pie, Love Life by Linda Hundt, Photography by Clarissa Westmeyer (Guilford)
  • Taken Alive: The Sight’s Rock and Roll Tour Diary by Eddie Baranek, Edited and Forward by Brian Smith (Hiros Rise Music)
  • Tear–Down: Memoir of a Vanishing City by Gordon Young (University of California Press)
  • Tuesdays With Todd and Brad Reed: A Michigan Tribute by Brad Reed and Todd Reed (Todd & Brad Reed Photography)
  • The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works Edited by Ron Riekki (Wayne State University Press)

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2014 Michigan Notable Books
michigan-notable-books-logo-160
http://www.michigan.gov/libraryofmichigan/0,2351,7-160-54574_39583---,00.html

Back to School

We’ve had a good summer beginning with our summer reading kick-off during June Jubilee through strong participation in our summer reading games, good attendance at programs, and several days of recordbreaking circulation. Now it is back-to-school time.

We’ve gathered many online databases for early elementary through college on our website. They range from eLibrary Elementary to Gale Virtual Reference Library which provides access to reference materials on business, history, science, environment and more. Some of these resources require a KPL library card to access.

Also in the back-to-school mode, we will offer three sessions of new program Think College. Representatives from KRESA, along with our staff, will share information on preparing for college and show several test preparation resources.

Our buildings are available for studying, some locations have small study rooms for group work or tutoring. And, of course, we have staff to assist and lots of printed materials to checkout or use at the library.

I hope back-to-school went smoothly at your home.

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Think College
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/teens/think-college/

Little Free Library

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.

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Little Free Libraries
little-free-library-160
http://kalamazoolittlefreelibraries.com/

Help With Legal Matters

As most library users know, the Kalamazoo County Law Library is located on the lower level of Central Library next to the Friends Bookstore. We aren’t lawyers, but we have knowledgeable staff there to help. There is now another legal resource for Michigan residents: www.MichiganLegalHelp.com

The Michigan Legal Help website helps people handle simple civil legal problems without a lawyer. It contains articles about specific areas of the law and toolkits to help you represent yourself in court. Some forms are available and can be completed automatically online once you answer a few simple questions about the issue.

The website is not to be a substitute for a lawyer and does not cover all areas of the law. The self-help areas include family, protection from abuse, housing, consumer, expungement, and public benefits issues.

It is funded by the Michigan State Bar Foundation, Legal Services of South Central Michigan, and the Legal Services Corporation.

It might be a good first step as you deal with a legal matter in one of these areas.

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Michigan Legal Help
legal-help-160
http://www.MichiganLegalHelp.com

What You Told Us

Earlier this year, a survey about library use was sent to a random sample of 2,000 residents within our service area. A very similar survey was also posted on our website. Responses to both formats were similar.

Here’s some of what you told us:

  • Most respondents use the library once or twice a month
  • Most use us to check out books, movies, or music – computer use is the next most frequently used service
  • If we had to reduce hours, most favor closing the teen area during the school day
  • Closing a branch is the least desirable reduction if our revenues are reduced substantially
  • Providing children with good books, movies, and music is considered our most important goal
  • If we are able to add additional goals, expanding homework help would be the most desired
  • About 1/3 of respondents wish we had more ebooks available for loan; we wish more popular titles were available to libraries
  • Another 1/3 of respondents told us they are not interested in checking out ebooks
  • Most are neutral or undecided about having their photos on their library card – we’ve dropped that idea
  • More than 2/3 would definitely vote to renew our millage to maintain the current services

Thank you for responding to our survey – we value your input and opinions.

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Survey Results
survey-results-160
/about/

All Things Local History

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.

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All About Kalamazoo History
local-history-logo-160
http://www.kpl.gov/local-history/all-about-kalamazoo/