Staff Picks: Books

Staff-recommended reading from the KPL catalog.

Happy Belated National Reading Group Month

I just realized October was National Reading Group Month as declared by the Women’s National Book Association. They first started this designation in 2007. They endorse reading groups at a time when there is much talk about the decline of the book and reading.

I’m in two book groups – a traditional one in which we all read the same book and talk about it and a second one with library colleagues in which we share whatever we are reading as a way to learn about titles we wouldn’t have time for or be inclined to read ourselves.

The library supports reading groups through our Book Club in a Bag service and recently convened a Book Club Soiree to share titles that inspired good discussion. Many such titles can be found on our website. We are also working on a list of staff reading, viewing, and listening favorites for the year and will post those near year end. Stay tuned!

The sponsoring organization for this national celebration, the Women’s National Book Association, has chosen 12 novels and one memoir as their “great group reads” for this year. They have the list on their website too.

Maybe next year I’ll remember this October designation within the month, but if not, oh well!

Come visit soon. I’m sure we have titles that will work well for your book group or for you alone. Our librarians are available to offer suggestions too.


National Reading Group Month

We Celebrate Our Very Good Friends!

This week, October 17–23, 2010, is the fifth annual National Friends of Libraries Week. The celebration offers libraries an opportunity to thank their Friends and encourage membership as a way to show support for the library.

We have more than “friends” at KPL—we have very good “friends”, officially known as The Friends of Kalamazoo Public Library. They celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2009.

KPL’s Friends manage and operate the Friends Bookstore on the lower level of the Central Library where they sell “gently used books, very gently priced”. Most books are $2 or less!

The work of many volunteers who sort, price, and sell the books results in an annual gift of $50,000-$60,000 from the Friends to the library. In recent years, their gift has funded KPL’s summer reading games for all ages and helped support Ready to Read, Reading Together, and other programs.

Anyone can join the Friends as a way to support KPL. Although there are volunteer opportunities, it is not a requirement of membership!

Come visit the Friends Bookstore at the Central Library, join the Friends, help support KPL. And, of course, thank the very good Friends of Kalamazoo Public Library for their financial support and advocacy.

Enjoy your special week, Friends!


Happy 138th Birthday!

This week, Tuesday, October 12, Kalamazoo Public Library celebrates its 138th birthday!

We opened to the general public on October 12, 1872, not too long after the Civil War, with 2,800 books. The basis for this collection was 123 volumes given to the local school district in 1860. We continued to be a school district public library and governed by the school board until 1990 when citizens voted to form an independent district library with its own board of trustees.

An essay outlining KPL’s development from these humble beginnings to being named National Library of the Year 2002 is on our website, along with a photo gallery from 1893 onward.


Those of us to whom the library is currently entrusted, are well aware of our long history. Those who came before us made solid decisions, adapted library services to changing times. We strive to do likewise—continue the solid foundation on which KPL has been built but recognize that patron needs and expectations have changed too. We need to be relevant to our times, just as our predecessors were to theirs.

Come visit soon. We’ll have something that is relevant to you.


Kalamazoo Public Library History

Freedom to Read Whatever You Want

We just concluded our annual celebration of “Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read.

Booksellers, publishers, and libraries co-sponsor this event to highlight the benefits and importance of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted banning of books from libraries or schools, across the country.

Once again, we partnered with the local branch of the ACLU and held a banned books reading and art contest during Art Hop last week. Artists were invited to create original art inspired by one of five frequently challenged or banned books.

The winners:

  • Adult : Sandy Olsen (Illustration for: “To Kill a Mockingbird” - pictured above)
  • Honorable mention: Ann Marks
  • Student: Marissa Morgan
  • Honorable mention: Katy Munn
  • People’s choice adult: Beverly Fitzpatrick
  • People’s choice student: Destine Price

Congratulations to these winners and thanks to all the artists who participated, both for their submissions but also for helping to call attention to the importance of our First Amendment rights and the freedom to read. 

Exercise your freedom – come visit soon and read whatever you want to read! Don’t take that freedom for granted.


Illustration for: “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Sandy Olson
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