Staff Picks: Books

Staff-recommended reading from the KPL catalog.

Spread the Joy of Reading

A few days ago, I wrote about the revival in fiction reading. Those of us who read a lot, have a responsibility to spread the joy!

Read in public... when you are alone in a coffee shop, read on the bus, read in the waiting room. If it is a book you own, loan or give it to someone else; give a book as a giftRead with your communityRead to your kids.

Recommend books you like to others. To those who read a lot, it is easy to forget that folks who don’t read as much don’t know what to choose. Tell others what you are reading and what you have particularly enjoyed. Join a discussion. Make booklists; real readers share their passion with others.

Come visit soon….we have lots of good books and while you are at the central library, visit the Friends of the Library used bookstore on the lower level.


Staff Picks

Fiction Reading Revival

A just-released report from the National Endowment for the Arts reports a reversal of the decline in fiction reading. For the first time since 1982, the percentage of adults 18 and older who said they had read a novel, short story, play, or poem in the previous twelve months increased AND the most dramatic increase was among 18-24 year olds. Since this is the group who grew up on the Harry Potter novels, it’s not surprising, BUT certainly reassuring. (I count my 22 year old son solidly in that group; Harry Potter made him a leisure reader.)

The national print media has had several articles about this study and reading in general. Author Ann Patchett, writing in the Wall Street Journal, says it well: “I am a firm believer in the fact that it isn’t so much what you read, it’s that you read.  Reading fiction not only develops our imagination and creativity, it gives us the skills to be alone.  It gives us the ability to feel empathy for people we’ve never met, living lives we couldn’t possibly experience for ourselves, because the book puts us inside the character’s skin.”

All fiction readers would agree with her!

Come visit soon and find a fiction book for these cold winter evenings.  Browse our new adult fiction, skim the Hot Picks shelves, stroll the fiction aisles.  We have a lot of good ones!


New Fiction

Library Resources Aid Job Search

About every other day, it seems, there is a story in the national media, print or broadcast, about library use in these challenging economic times. I appreciate that family, friends, and patrons call them to my attention.

This past week, a Wall Street Journal article entitled “Folks are Flocking to the Library, A Cozy Place to Look for a Job” described the surge in library business from job seekers. That is our experience here at KPL too. Computer use is up over 50% in the past several months. Some of that use is from patrons working on their resume, completing online job applications, and reading job ads. Most of our computer classes are filled; our free wifi is getting more use too. 

Come visit soon, whether you are a job seeker, a student, or looking for leisure reading or viewing.


Job Search

READ posters are gaining national attention

Many public libraries have READ posters, pictures of local celebrities holding their favorite book. One of the READ posters from the Skokie (IL) Public Library is now getting some national attention: Barack Obama holding Doris Kearns Goodwin’s A Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

Of course this book is now getting a lot of media attention and has been a model for Obama’s cabinet selections. I wonder how seriously Obama was pondering a presidential run and thinking of following Lincoln’s model for cabinet selections when he chose this book and posed for their READ poster.

KPL’s READ posters don’t have anyone as widely known as Skokie’s but nevertheless we have some engaging READ posters of Kalamazoo folks. Look for them on the sides of our delivery van, in ads in the Kalamazoo GazetteExcelsior (Dr. Michael Rice),  Encore (Bobby Hopewell), other local publications (Newcomers magazineKSO program bookCivic Theatre program bookWMU Theatre book) and of course on our website. They are also displayed from time to time in our buildings.

Come visit soon…. centralbranchesbookmobile, or through our website.


Barack Obama READ Poster

Genealogy at KPL

Yesterday’s Kalamazoo Gazette (January 14) had an article about KPL patron Renee Johnson’s passion for genealogy, inspired by her attendance at one of our genealogy lock-ins several years ago. In the article Renee explains what she has uncovered using many of our online and print resources. To learn more specifics about our wide array of genealogy materials and related public programs, click on “Genealogy” on our homepage.

And back to Renee... if you read the winter issue of our newsletter, LINK, you might have seen Renee in the “your stories” article. Along with her story, there are several others from our patrons AND, we’d love to hear your story too. Go to to read the story of some of our patrons and to add your story to our collection...


Your Stories

Libraries in tough economic times

Librarians know that libraries are even busier in tough economic times. It is obvious in the number of patrons through our doors, the number and types of reference questions asked, the wait to use public computers, attendance at our programs, and, of course, an increase in circulation of books and AV items. Unfortunately that increase in the need for our services and in usage is often coupled with tighter budgets and an increase in costs. Nevertheless, libraries rise to the challenge.

We were pleased to see a national news story on this very topic….increase in usage, tighter budgets for libraries.

Libraries offer free relief from tough times (MSNBC)

Usage at KPL mirrors this national trend. So far, for our year which just began on July 1, our circulation of all materials across all our locations is up 10%. This reflects an increase of 6% for print materials, 23% for nonprint materials. Our reference questions are up 9%, patron assistance of all types up 22%. Our equipment use, primarily of public computers, is up a staggering 54%.

Most of our FREE computer classes are filled and attendance at our programs for adults, teens, children, and families has increased.

Come visit soon!  I’m confident we will have a book, an AV item, a program, a class, a computer that will help you in one way or another during these challenging economic times.


MSNBC Report: Libraries offer free relief from tough times
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