Well, here it is, the last day of Black History Month and all month I have been reflecting on what an honor it is to be working at a trailblazing library system, such as Kalamazoo Public Library. Why would I call KPL a trailblazer? Well, it all started with Mrs. Alma Harrod Powell. She was before her time. She went from being a housekeeper to a Library Assistant to a renowned storyteller and historian. It all started while working in the home of a world traveler, Mr. Larry Firth. Mr. Firth would return from Africa with artifacts that heightened Mrs. Powell interest in African history. In 1944 she participated in an apprenticeship course at KPL and in 1946 she became a KPL Library Assistant. In 1957 Mrs. Powell received a citation from the Michigan Library Association which acknowledged her skill as a storyteller. In 1968 a small library room in Lincoln School opened and was named Alma Powell Library Project. Mrs. Powell was followed by Mary Mace Spradling and Roberta Cheney. They were trailblazers in their own rights.
This all happened at KPL in Kalamazoo, Michigan before the civil rights movement. As a black female Mrs. Powell was a pioneer and Kalamazoo Public Library was a trailblazer. And we keep right on blazing because this year KPL will be the first library in Michigan to have its own antiracism team. We have begun selecting a team and we will begin training and working towards institutional equality.
Yes, as I said, it is truly an honor to be a part of this historical establishment.
We’re seeing more and more dads in the Children’s Room, as they bring their kids to storytime, choose books to take home, and share in the fun of playing with toys in the Story Place.
As more dads take on caregiver responsibilities, we are glad to see more parenting books written just for them. A Dad’s Guide to Childcare is one that I like. It’s practical, has clear photos that illustrate step-by-step processes, and even addresses difficult situations that may come up.
As part of the renovation of the Central Library Children’s Room, we’ve added some more Parenting books to our shelves. If you’re looking for books about parenting children from birth to 5 years, you can now find those books in the Children’s Room. We’d be glad to help you find the books that are just right for your family.
A Dad’s Guide to Childcare
1,000 Books Before Kindergarten is an exciting new program at Kalamazoo Public Library for all children from birth to entering Kindergarten. It's super simple, self paced, and provides a way for your child to earn a prize for every 50 books you read aloud to her and then a gift and certificate of completion when you reach 1,000 books. More important, since reading aloud to your child is the best way to prepare for kindergarten, 1,000 Before Kindergarten is a way for you to do just that - read lots of books with your child!
A parent asked me if the books she reads to her child for 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten need to be library books. They do not. While Kalamazoo Public Library certainly has many thousands of books we can all share together with our preschool aged children, you might find yourself reading a book aloud to your child that you found at the Friends bookstore or that was passed along to you or purchased elsewhere. Of course this is just great! And the way you read the books is also completely up to you. Some books are made to be sung to your child. Other books benefit from the animal sounds you supply. There is a whole world of fun to be had reading to our children.
It's easy to sign up at the any KPL location. Learn more about 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten at KPL and continue down the road to Kindergarten. And if you're in the mood for a fun read aloud that will help you think ahead to Springtime, check out 999 Frogs Wake Up.
999 Frogs and 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten!
The newly renovated Children's Room is open and ready for you to explore! There are many exciting new features including a parenting section, folk and fairy tales highlighted in the Alice in Wonderland Room, and more display space for new Fiction, new Non-fiction, and new Picture Books.
The Story Place has room for Lego at the Library, story time programs, and more. I hope you'll take time to come in and see the new Children's Room over the holiday break.
Come See the New Children's Room!
We've been busy renovating the Children's Room. Now there's a brand new Story Place! Soon there will be a new shelving layout and an exciting new Fairy Tale room that continues to feature Conrad Kaufman's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland themed murals and Jamie Rife's "Tall Small Alice" stained glass installation that so many have enjoyed over the years. The Children's Room will be closed Monday, December 16th, through Wednesday, December 18th, in order to change the way the room is arranged. The new Story Place will remain open for Toddler Storytime on the morning of Tuesday, December 17th. When Children's Room reopens on Thursday, December 19th, we hope you'll find an exciting new layout.
We're in the brand new Story Place this morning,
We're reading stories and we're having fun,
We're glad you came to Story Time this morning,
I hope that you will want to sing along!
Children's Room Changes
The Local History Room has had to close up for a couple of days while we get organized into our expanded space. Things are quite a mess right now, but soon we’ll be enjoying more room and a great new layout.
Our collection isn’t accessible at the moment, but don’t forget that all the genealogy databases can be accessed from any of the computers in the Central Library and the branches, and there are many wonderful local history and genealogy books available in the circulating collection.
History Room Renovation
Octy, who speaks with musical notes, not words as you and I do, wanted to let you know that the surgery was successful. Like Adele, John Mayer, and others lately, it was an issue with the vocal cords. Octy was overdoing it and was having a difficult time speaking and singing in tune. You might be glad to know that Octy's voice is recovering nicely. Octy would love to hear from you, especially with messages of “speedy recovery” or “best wishes”. Feel free to drop Octy a line via the mailbox in Children’s Room (see picture) or through the USPS addressed to “Octy” care of: Children’s Room, Kalamazoo Public Library, 315 S Rose St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007.
Speedy Recovery, Octy!
If you’ve been on the second floor of Central Library recently, you’ve seen some signs of renovation. Soon, some of that work will move to the first floor Children’s Room. Yes, we’ll soon see some changes that will support our new emphasis as a Family Place Library. That designation will align us with over 300 libraries in 23 states which have made a commitment to serving families with children from birth to age 5. Here’s the website: http://www.familyplacelibraries.org/.
What makes a Family Place Library special? Here are the core components:
- Strong collections of materials (books, music, toys) for babies, toddlers, parents and caregivers.
- The Parent-Child Workshop, which is a 5-week program for toddlers and parents, which emphasizes the importance of play and the importance of parents as a child’s first teachers.
- Coalition-building with community organizations to develop programs and services that meet local needs.
- Outreach to new and non-traditional library users, especially parents and very young children.
- Developmentally-appropriate programming for very young children and their parents.
- Library staff trained in family support, child development, parent education, and best practices.
Here at KPL, we’re just getting started on implementing Family Place Libraries. One of the most exciting projects is expanding the space in Children’s Room at Central Library so that we have more room to play! Soon, you’ll see a brand-new Activity Room open, the Story Room will lose one of its walls, and some things will be re-arranged. We’re excited about this time of growth and hope that you’ll be a part of our development as a Family Place Library!
Family Place Libraries
The next time you visit the second floor, you may think to yourself that things are not exactly the way you left them. It’s not your imagination; we have started to move things around in anticipation of renovating the Clarence L. Miller Family Local History Room. At this point the changes are minor, but we hope you will enjoy a lot more wonderful sunlight as we remove the shelving that once defined the eastern edge of the Local History Room. This also allows us to immediately serve patrons in this area from one desk, rather than two. We expect to start truly kicking up dust near the end of August.
Speaking of dust, on the first floor you may hear some construction noises coming from the staff areas. In preparation for the expansion of the Children’s Room, we are moving things around and consolidating spaces. Advances in technology and process improvements have helped use less space to circulate more materials. This frees up some square footage adjacent to the Children’s Room, which can be annexed to provide more activity space for children. So those noises you hear will become a fun new space in just a few months. Stay tuned.
The Association for Library Services for Children maintains a great web resource for families: the cleverly-named Great Websites for Kids. The folks at ALSC are always watching for terrific resources for this list; recently, they added ten new sites. Aimed at kids up to age 14, there are also some very good sites aimed at parents and caregivers.
Using links like these, which are all vetted by the American Library Association, is one way for parents to sort through the immensity of the internet in search of quality sites for kids. Take a look at some of these and let us know what you think.