Staff Picks: Books

Staff-recommended reading from the KPL catalog.

Congressman Upton helps Ready to Read

Last Friday morning, Congressman Fred Upton honored the library with a visit to the Family Heath Center to see our Ready to Read program in action. He surprised a group of young children in the pediatric waiting area by offering to read aloud to them. Although they were a little shy in beginning, it wasn’t long before he had the kids gathered around him, listening intently and participating in the stories. I was really impressed by his natural rapport with children.

Following the impromptu story time, Congressman Upton presented every child with a gift book. “Now, I want all parents to cover their ears” he instructed the adults in the room. When he proceeded to tell the children to ask their parents to share the book with them at home, they all eagerly agreed.

To conclude his visit, Congress Upton chatted with staff in the Pediatric Department and W.I.C. Program about their involvement in Ready to Read. Family Health Center pediatricians discuss early literacy development and distribute gift books to families at well-child exams between birth and five years of age. W.I.C. nutritionists also recommend early reading experiences to client families and present Ready to Read gift books to families. “Reading is so important” Congressman Upton said. “I’m a big supporter of this program.”

The Family Heath Center is just one of thirty-eight community sites that partner with the library to promote early childhood literacy through Ready to Read’s Rx Reading program component.

View more photos of Congressman Upton's visit on the KPL Flickr photostream.


Congressman Upton helps Ready to Read


You may have noticed work stations in the aisles and wondered what was going on.

Those are “conversion” stations and we are adding RFID tags to all our materials…. books and AV items. These tags have been called “the new barcode” and combine materials identification and security. We will soon get new security gates for the entrance / exit area and different “work pads” at the circulation desk which will allow a stack of materials to be checked out all at one time, rather than one-by-one.

Early in 2009, we plan to add a self checkout option for patrons who prefer the do-it-yourself route. We’ll then replace our current circulation desk and information desk with a combined one to provide better service to our patrons.



New Look for the Library

Can you believe the renovated and expanded central library opened ten years ago? Time goes fast. If you use the central library regularly though, you’ve noticed our worn carpet AND hopefully now seen our fresh, new look.

First we replaced the worn carpet on the two main staircases with tile. It will last a lifetime and be easier to maintain. Then we started replacing the carpet throughout the building. The second and third floors and adult areas on the first floor are completed. The lower level is in process and the final area on the first floor….the children’s room….will be done in September after the completion of summer reading, our high traffic time of year there. By late September / early October we will have new carpet throughout the central library.  Stop in; I’m confident you will like it as much as we do!

We’ll take a break from carpeting, then turn attention to our four branches later in the year.


New Carpet

Making Summer Last

Diana Fair

It was only a few decades ago that summertime didn’t mean leisurely days by the lake. For many families, summer meant work -- a time to harvest and process fruit and vegetables for the winter to come. Commercially canned products were simply too expensive.

Judging by the crowd at our program on Aug. 19, there’s a renewed interest in food preserving. The enthusiasm could be due to the economic downtown, an increased concern for food safety or a desire to eat more locally grown foods.

At our program on Aug. 19, we heard about the basics of canning and freezing from Diana Fair of the St. Joseph County Extension office. Diana brought in a cart laden with canning tools, from funnels to pressure canners, and told us how to use them. One important thing I learned is that with water bath canning, acidity is your friend. Acidity prevents the formation of harmful bacteria. That's why it's critical to add a bit of lemon juice to each jar of tomatoes.

We also learned about Kalamazoo’s Community Kitchen project from Lucy Bland of Fair Food Matters. Right now there’s a mobile, licensed kitchen out at the Kalamazoo County Fairgrounds that can be rented to prepare foods for sale at festivals or other public events. It also can be used as an incubator for food-based businesses. Perhaps someone has a delicious idea for preserving zucchini?

Indeed, opening a jar of home-canned tomatoes in the middle of a January freeze is a special kind of pleasure. For recipe ideas and canning guidelines, check out KPL’s books on canning and preserving, most of which can be found under Dewey 641.4.


The sweet sounds of Rachael Davis entrance KPL!

Rachael Davis grew up in a musical family and the over 100 who attended her free concert at KPL on Tuesday night got to experience what it may have been like growing up in the Davis home. In classic "storyteller" fashion she told the tales behind each of her songs with the amazing guitarist Jesse Lee Mason from the band Millish. Rachael's dislike of Atlanta was definitely apparent in the song "Atlanta's Burning" and her love for her grandmother was obvious in "Lela May," the song which won her the 2003 Telluride Bluegrass Festival Troubadour contest. Many in the audience could hardly contain their emotions when she sang the lullaby written for her 11 month old son Virgil. It was another exceptional show at KPL!

Don't miss Michael Beauchamp on September 17th.

See more of John Lacko's photos of Rachel's performance on KPL's Flickr photostream.

As promised, here are several video clips from her performance - enjoy!


Rachel Davis @ KPL
Kevin King

Our Favorite Dewey is 641.5

Last night, a group of us gathered to discuss our favorite Dewey decimal category – the cookery books at 641.5. Folks like us keep cookbooks on the nightstand. And what ardent fans they were, too. Two patrons confessed to cookbook collections well into the hundreds and growing. Several brought their most beloved books for show and tell. All agreed that it’s becoming ever more difficult to organize and manage the influx of recipes from a new variety of sources: magazines, e-mail, web sites.

KPL director Ann Rohrbaugh provided the details that fans love:  how cookbooks have changed over the years and how she goes about selecting which one to acquire for the library. If cookbooks have increased in price, she said, it’s likely due to the addition of color photography. There are narrower subject categories than ever before – not just ethnic cuisine, but books devoted to such subjects as number of ingredients, kitchen appliances, weight loss, disease, celebrities and celebrity chefs.

Along with the ever-growing population of cookbooks are two emerging related genres. Food memoirs are biographical and categorized the 921s (My Life in France by Julia Child comes to mind). Food fiction, such as Like Water for Chocolate or Chili con Corpses, will be shelved by author's last name.

While KPL’s collection of cookery books is vast, it’s a mere drop compared to the some 24,000 cookbooks published each year. Ann uses book reviews and a dash of intuition to make selections which includes award winners and other highly praised titles. And if there's something we don't have, we'd love to hear your suggestion. For those times when you're in the mood to watch instead of read, KPL also offers cookery videos in DVD and VHS formats.

Last night's program was a tasty discussion that whetted our appetites. Some headed to a restaurant for dinner. I went home and baked a batch of scones


Cookery category in KPL catalog

Meet the Grantmaker

One of the best ways for your nonprofit organization to form healthy and sustained relationships with potential grantmakers is to seek out appropriate funders by focused research as well as communicating either directly by phone or by letters of inquiry. In order to eliminate wasted time in the research process, nonprofits should concentrate on forming relationships with appropriate funders that both share the nonprofit’s mission and that fund the kinds of program activities, services, and causes that the organization is directly involved in. This sort of searching for grantmakers can be performed here at the library with the help of foundation directories, online database searching and helpful research tips from library staff.

Determine if a particular foundation is the right match for your nonprofit by inquiring about their funding emphases and their organizational mission and role within the philanthropic community. Our Meet the Grantmaker program on October 21st will give those who work for 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations the opportunity to learn about the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation from an insider’s perspective. Engage in a discussion about the philanthropic activities of this well known, local foundation, what sort of programs they fund and how to establish strong relationships with local funders. Call the nonprofit librarian at 553-7844 to register for this program or to obtain more information.


Nonprofit Resources

The Beauty of an Ugly Tomato

Julie Stanley

At last night's program, Julie Stanley held up a massive and misshapen tomato declaring that it tastes better than the uniform and pretty variety that’s been bred for looks and long shelf life. Julie Stanley knows her veggies. As owner and executive chef of Food Dance Café (now in its 15th year), she’s been a proponent of farmers and local foods for decades. You won't catch her serving winter tomatoes. "Why would you want your food to taste bad?" she said.

Julie Stanley

Julie shared tips for spotting the good stuff at a farmers market, and caring for those precious goods when we get home. “Ask questions,” she urged. Farmers will readily talk about their produce. Beware of vivid yellow squash (tough skin) and oversized zucchini (bitter). Corn, she says, should be firm, cold and even slightly wet – clues that the farmer kept it chilled overnight. If the blueberries don’t have a frosty cast, they’ve been handled too much. And don’t even think about keeping those fragile raspberries for more than a day.

Photos: Marti Fritz

Resucitate Recitation?

John Rybicki

At his reading here yesterday, John Rybicki recited several poems from memory. And that got me to thinking about 8th grade when Mrs. Garrett made all of us learn and recite from memory her favorite poem, The House by the Side of the Road. Do students do that these days? Can you recite a poem from memory?

Photo: Lisa Williams
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