From the Director
Library news and happenings.
I’m always on the lookout for articles or essays about reading, books, libraries; I often use them as the basis for this blog. I just came across one in which the author makes the case that reading novels sharpens business skills.
His point is that reading fiction leads to understanding people better; fiction presents a range of circumstances, interactions, and characters that one is likely to meet in the real world and enhances the ability to empathize with others. He quotes from a study that concluded fiction readers scored better at interpreting facial expressions and social cues than those who read mostly nonfiction.
Hmmm…..or is it that those who are already more socially adept read more fiction? In any case, I agree with the conclusion that “it would be an oversimplification to say that having more fiction readers on Wall Street would have prevented the financial crisis.”
I’m just going to continue to read whatever catches my attention, fiction and nonfiction, and not try to analyze my choices.
Just read…..come visit soon.
Most librarians like to read, compile, and share book lists. We seek them out, we check off the ones we’ve read, and add still more titles to our ever growing list of books we want to read.
Of course there are many annual lists and best of lists in all different categories, but there are also subject lists that are timely. I want to share two that are vastly different but both timely.
The young adult division of the American Library Association has compiled a list of basketball books to support March Madness. There are some good suggestions to help extend the college basketball season.
To mark the ten year anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq, The Washington Post has compiled its list: “10 Years of the Iraq War: 10 Great Books.” They write that “like all wars, this one has produced a library of great books.”
Do you have any to add to either list?
The Final Four
March is “Literacy Month.” The focus is to celebrate the love of reading among children and to promote literacy as a fundamental skill for success in school and in life.
Libraries, schools, and bookstores are celebrating with a variety of activities and events to encourage reading.
We have many resources on our website: new books, staff picks, tips for parents and caregivers in using books with their children. We offer many programs: Ready to Read, First Saturday @ KPL, storytimes, and even a book club for children and their adults called Bookworms. There is a printable calendar of all our youth programs for your refrigerator door and, of course, we have lots of books to check out.
We celebrate literacy year-round but we are glad to call extra attention to it in March.
I hope you are sharing your enjoyment of reading with the children around you. Bring them to the library, read together.
I recently read an article by what I would call a “power reader.” He reads at least two hours per day, at least 100 books a year and often twice that many. Not surprisingly, he reads in all the obvious places: home, trains, planes, buses, public parks, as well as the not so obvious: during concerts and plays, waiting for people to emerge from comas, during a medical treatment. He reads mostly fiction.
He writes that he has figured out why he reads so much: he wants to be somewhere else. He considers his real world to be reasonably satisfactory but the world conjured up by books is a better one. He reads to escape to a more exciting, more rewarding world.
I read a lot too, but not that much. I read more fiction than nonfiction, but still a fair amount of nonfiction. As I think about it, I agree that fiction reading is often to escape to a different world, though I’m not so sure it is always more exciting or rewarding. My nonfiction reading seems to be more about an interest in a different time, place, or person, not necessarily that I want to be there….I want to know about it though.
Beyond that, I’m not going to overly analyze why I read. I just know I enjoy it. Why do you read?
The Library of Michigan recently released state wide data about public libraries, compiled from the annual reports we all submit.
Here’s some of the information I found particularly interesting or compelling:
- Michigan residents visited their public libraries over 56 million times; KPL estimates about 800,000 visits to our five locations.
- Patrons borrowed over 89,000,000 items from public libraries across the state; our circulation was 1,682,620.
- Circulation per capita is flat across the state from the previous year: 9.0.
- Over 5 million Michigan residents hold library cards; we have about 80,000 cardholders.
- 415 libraries are participating MeLCat libraries; we loan to other libraries and borrow for our patrons about an equal number of items.
- Michigan public libraries provide 11,229 computers used 13.3 million times by the public; KPL’s 100 public computers logged 184,811 sessions.
- 98% of operating income for Michigan public libraries is from the local community; we rank 32nd in state funding at just $0.91 of state money per capita.
- Children’s program attendance remains strong at most libraries; adult program attendance has declined.
- And not surprisingly, book collections have decreased over the past five years while AV, e-book, and audiobook collections have increased. Despite the decrease in book collections, they remain by far the dominant item in public library collections.
Come visit soon – at one of our five locations or via our website. We’re counting for next year’s state report.
About the Library
I’m guessing when you visit our website, you go to one or two areas….perhaps the catalog, the calendar of events, maybe our databases. You know what you are looking for and you head there.
I want to call your attention to several new features or services available on our website with the hope you will explore them as well as your favorites.
New blogs are posted to our website several times each week, new materials being added to our collection are highlighted, new services are often featured in the rotating pictures. Visit often.
Kalamazoo Public Library website
Last month the Kercher Center at WMU sent out a survey on behalf of the library. It was mailed to 2,000 randomly selected residents in our service area. If you didn’t get one in the mail, now you have an opportunity to express your opinion online.
Responses to the survey will help us plan for the next few years. We are interested in how you rank our current services, suggestions you might have for new services in place of current ones, and what you would reduce or eliminate if we have a major reduction in revenues.
I hope you will take 10 minutes or so to complete this survey. We want to hear from library users.
As you may have heard or read, KPL had a bed bug “experience” this week. I’ll say I learned more about bed bugs than I ever knew before and perhaps than I wanted to know, but I’m proud of how quickly we were able to respond.
We’ve put some information on our website that you might find helpful and I’m linking to the news release we sent to the media outlining the situation and the actions we took.
Do you consider the environmental impact when choosing a print or e-book format?
I admit, I’ve only thought very briefly about this question and it doesn’t enter into my decision to read a book in print or digital format. My decision is based primarily on availability.
I recently came across a short article on this very topic. It gave me pause. The author considered the trees used to make paper, chlorine bleach to dye the paper, use of recycled paper, amount of ink, energy needed to produce the ink, lifespan of a typical e-reader, and carbon emissions from production and use of an e-reader.
Bottom line conclusion from the author: an e-reader is the more environmentally responsible choice for those who read more than 23 books per year.
Now that you know this, will it make a difference in the format you choose?
Last week’s blog was about e-reading vs print reading. I wrote that e-book choices through libraries are limited because many publishers do not allow libraries to purchase or license digital copies to loan to cardholders. This limit has become a freedom to read concern for libraries.
E-books are here to stay; it is possible that in the future new books may be published only in digital format. When that happens, an e-reader, a credit card, and disposable income will be necessary to read a book unless all major publishers are willing to sell or license a title to public libraries.
Currently several major publishers refuse to sell or license e-books to public libraries. Others make them available at a very high price or impose heavy restrictions on their use. Consequently the selection of e-books available for loan is limited.
Librarians and library organizations are pressing publishers to change their practices. Some pilot programs are underway as publishers and libraries strive to develop mutually acceptable models.
We need the help of readers to voice their concern about preserving the freedom to read. You can support this effort by contacting state and federal elected officials. Make them aware of the e-book lending challenges and encourage them to press publishers to work with libraries.
Preserving the freedom to read is worth fighting for.
E-books for Libraries: Freedom to Read