From the Director
Library news and happenings.
The annual conference of the Michigan Library Association (MLA) was held here in Kalamazoo a week ago. The facilities at the Radisson, downtown restaurants, and ease of finding their way around seemed to work well, at least from the perspective of those who mentioned it to me. Many walked down the street to the library; I hope some visited and shopped in our Friends Bookstore too.
The conference sessions were arranged by tracks. Most of the ones I attended were on the “ask the expert” track and focused on library millages, tax captures, legislative lobbying, employment issues. More fun than those though, was one presented by our Youth Services staff on “Won’t You Be My Neighbor – Getting Volunteers from the Community Involved in Storytimes.”
As expected, there were sessions and conversations about ebooks, technology opportunities and challenges, personal property tax threats.
It was a worthwhile conference. I came away with confirmation that KPL is a strong player in the state library scene but there is always something new to learn from others, that funding threats are a real concern but we are stronger when our voices are combined, and that reading and books are still our brand but the delivery is changing quickly.
Thanks MLA and downtown Kalamazoo for hosting a good conference.
Michigan Library Association
The proposal to eliminate personal property tax in our state has been well covered in the media. Most of the articles or opinion pieces have not mentioned however, that personal property tax is a critical source of local library funding.
If personal property tax is eliminated and not fully replaced, KPL will lose about $1.2 million or about 10% of our revenue. Some Michigan public libraries depend on this tax for up to 50% of their funding.
KPL has not yet determined the exact reductions we would make to accommodate a revenue loss of this magnitude. Certainly we would reduce staffing, programming, and materials purchases but we would likely also be forced to eliminate entire services, reduce hours, and perhaps close branches.
The library community is advocating to “replace, don’t erase” the personal property tax. If it is eliminated, it needs to be fully replaced by a guaranteed, stable source of funding for all libraries.
Please ask your legislators to fully replace the personal property tax, consider writing a letter to the editor, and share this library threat with other in our community.
Contact your Michigan Representative | Contact your Senator
Replace Don't Erase
The Historical Society of Michigan presented its 2011 State History Awards at their recent 137th annual meeting and conference. I’m pleased to report that KPL won the award in the “newsletters and websites” category for the local history section of our website “All About Kalamazoo History.”
The announcement described the 600 interconnected web pages covering more than 20 categories with basic as well as detailed information. It was cited as “an invaluable resource for researchers ranging from middle school students competing in history day to genealogists.”
Of course we are pleased to receive this recognition but even more importantly, we are pleased and hopeful that the announcement of this award and the accompanying publicity, will prompt even more use of the resources our staff has created.
I congratulate and thank our local history and website staff for their work and foresight in developing the local history section of the KPL website. I’m confident you will find something of interest there even if you don’t consider yourself a genealogist or a local history enthusiast.
2011 State History Award
We will be celebrating the 30th annual Banned Books Week (BBW) with Art Hop and a Read Out on Friday evening, October 7, from 5 to 8 pm.
BBW celebrates the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. It draws attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the country.
Again, as in recent years, we are partnering with the local chapter of the ACLU to sponsor an art contest inspired by one of the six books most frequently challenged or banned. The submissions will be on display during Art Hop. The winner will be announced at the event and later posted on the KPL and ACLU websites.
In addition to the art, the Read Out will focus on read aloud passages from challenged or banned books. You might be surprised at some of them: Shel Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic, Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, to name a few.
Many authors whose books have been challenged are participating in Read Outs around the country. Authors as well as readers are raising awareness of book censorship by posting videos on YouTube of themselves reading from their favorite banned books.
Celebrate and appreciate your freedom to read whatever you want to read!
Banned Books Art Contest
Our state legislature is considering the elimination of personal property tax (PPT), a tax paid by businesses on industrial equipment. PPT is a critical source of funding for municipalities and public libraries.
The average public library receives 11% of its revenue from PPT, some libraries as much as 30%. KPL is at the average with about 11% of our revenue from PPT.
The decline over the past few years in property taxable values has reduced library budgets, including ours. As library users know, we eliminated bookmobile service, reduced hours at branches and law library, reduced staff by about 10%, and cut expenditures in most all budget categories.
If PPT is eliminated, it must be totally replaced by a guaranteed, stable source of funding if library services are to continue at even near their current level. Without a replacement, we will be forced to consider a further reduction in hours, closing branches, reducing or eliminating programming, reducing staff.
Library use is soaring. We had record breaking circulation of library materials during our summer reading games and strong program attendance. Our public computers are full during most open hours and library visits have increased.
The Michigan Library Association is lobbying on behalf of libraries. They are reminding our legislators the PPT is a critical source of funding for public libraries and if it is eliminated, it needs to be replaced. I urge you to contact your legislator too.
Contact your Michigan Representative | Contact your Senator
Replace Don't Erase
It has long been the rule of thumb within the publishing industry that the hardcover edition of a book was released first, followed by a large print edition and audio version, then a paperback edition about a year or so later, depending upon the pace of sales for the hardcover. That’s changing.
The first change I noticed was the release of the large print and audio versions soon after the hardcover. Now the ebook version is in the mix too. The ebook is released with the hardcover and sometimes before the hardcover OR sometimes just an ebook and no hardcover.
There is now an urgency to release the paperback sooner, following the model of Hollywood which has shortened the time between the theatrical release of a film and the DVD release. Publishers now watch each title’s sales quite closely to determine the best time to release the paperback and continue the momentum of the title. That could be just a few months to more than a year.
The entire publishing cycle is faster. Hardcovers have less time to prove themselves; ebooks sales are strongest at initial publication and do not spike again with the paperback release.
We purchase popular titles in all of these formats, some simultaneously, some staggered as they are released. In addition to various formats, we also purchase for special collections such as Hot Picks and Book Club in a Bag.
Come visit soon – I hope we have the title you want in the format you prefer.
There are a few times during the year when it seems logical to pause and consider the role of public libraries – National Library Week and Banned Books Week come immediately to mind but the 4th of July is another one as we think about our country’s history. The public library is an American invention. Early European libraries were subscription based. Supposedly it was the citizens of Peterborough, NH, who introduced the radial concept of a truly public library in 1833. By the 1870’s, eleven states had 188 public libraries, including Michigan and Kalamazoo with the establishment of KPL in 1872.
Fast forward to today. Nationally 2/3’s of the population carry library cards, about half visit a public library at least once a year.
Business is strong for public libraries, including KPL. During economic hard times people turn to the public library to borrow books, DVDs, attend programs, and use computers for job searching. Library use is increasing as funding decreases. KPL has had record breaking use this past year; as we begin our new year on July 1, our primary source of revenue, local property tax, is reduced.
Come visit soon. We continue to offer a wide range of materials and array of programs and have a staff ready to help you.
The History of the Library
With the approval of the state budget last week, appropriations for library support, including MeL, the Michigan eLibrary, are now in place.
State aid to public libraries remains about the same as does support for the Library of Michigan - the same, that is, as last year, but reduced substantially over the past several years.
The best news for library patrons is that funding for MeL will continue. We expect a similar array of databases for the next three years, October 2011 through September 2014, as has been offered, including continuation of the recently added Job and Career Accelerator.
Funding for MeLCat, the interlibrary loan system, is also now in place. KPL patrons borrow about 1,500 items per month through this system; KPL loans just as many to patrons of other libraries across the state. I’m pleased this popular, well-used service will continue.
Thanks to patrons who contacted their legislators to advocate for library funding.
In a previous blog posting, I wrote about the new “Job and Career Support” information on our website. Now I want to highlight one of the new resources, “Job and Career Accelerator” available through our website and available to Michigan residents through the Library of Michigan MeL resources.
The accelerator provides software tutorials, GED preparation, workplace skills improvement, occupation practice tests, and skill building for adults. Information is provided on over 1,000 jobs with local and national job postings and advice on resumes and interviewing.
“One stop” seems like an overused term, but this database really can be a first stop, at least, to improve job skills and begin the job search. The practice tests are a particularly useful resource. New ones are added, most recently electrical, plumbing, air traffic control, and military aviation.
This database is available 24/7 from the library or anywhere you have internet access BUT you must first register at any library in Michigan and create an account with a user ID and password... first time at a library, then log in from anywhere.
If you are looking for a job, considering a career change, or want to update your skills, start here.
Job and Career Accelerator
For those of us who were in Kalamazoo when the tornado hit downtown in 1980, it is hard to believe it has been 31 years – at least it is hard for me.
When it hit downtown, I was with other library staff at a meeting of the Friends of KPL in the auditorium of the 1959 library building. I remember hearing the sirens, I remember most of the attendees just dismissing it, and I remember one of the Friends saying something like “I grew up in Kansas, I know this could be serious, I’m leaving.” With that comment, we all followed her and went to the basement to join staff and patrons who were gathering here.
I guess it was only a few minutes until the sirens stopped. We all emerged from the basement and saw the devastation as we looked out from the adult reading area of the library – cars parked along South Street with the windows blown out, trees down in Bronson Park and across the streets, curtains flapping and papers blowing out of the shattered windows of the Comerica Building.
The library closed shortly thereafter. It wasn’t until I got home and watched the news that I realized the devastation along the path to downtown AND the further damage downtown.
With this tornado in our memory and all the recent ones south of us, I think we have all learned to take the warnings seriously and move promptly to a safer place.
Our local history staff has compiled photos and video, along with an essay, about the tornado. It will bring back memories to those who were here, interesting Kalamazoo history for those who were not.
TWISTER! The 1980 Tornado