From the Director
Library news and happenings.
Library directors from around the state gathered last week in Grand Rapids for the twice a year summit called by the Michigan Library Association. The theme was Redefining Michigan Libraries for the 21st Century.
The first of two keynote speakers outlined national trends in population, jobs, and talent that are driving economic prosperity. It was a sobering message for Michigan and not encouraging in the short term. He stressed the long term solution is a college educated workforce to compete in the global, knowledge-based economy.
The second speaker, a librarian futurist, addressed the trends in how information is being accessed and used, and the importance of libraries adjusting to these new realities.
After these two presentations, we met in small groups to address related topics, then reported out to the larger group.
Most all libraries report budget reductions, quite substantial cuts for some. As a profession, we are retaining our core values of patron-focused service as we work to expand our relevancy in the knowledge-based society and the move from print to digital.
These are challenging times, but the energy and commitment in this room of library directors was encouraging and heartening.
Redefining Michigan Libraries for the 21st Century
Two weeks ago, I wrote about the funding threats to public libraries in the governor’s proposed 2011-2012 budget: the potential reduction in state aid by 40%; threats to other funding streams, particularly personal property tax and renaissance zone reimbursements; and matching funds for Michigan eLibrary.
Michigan eLibrary which includes MeL databases and the popular MeLCat interlibrary loan service, are both threatened. Michigan is not meeting its “maintenance of effort” requirement to receive the federal funds which partially fund MeL. We have received two waivers, a third is not guaranteed. In addition, because of the magnitude of potential funding cuts to public libraries, many may need to pull out of MelCat, even if it is continued. Some of us will just not have the money to continue to offer MeLCat service.
Those who support public libraries and the continuation of services, are urged to contact their state representative and state senator. Ask them to hold state aid to libraries harmless at last year’s level; reimburse libraries for renaissance zone tax credits; and do not eliminate the personal property tax without a revenue neutral replacement.
The Michigan Library Association (MLA) is launching a campaign to protect Michigan libraries; information is on their website. photo: Lawrence Technological University Library
Michigan Libraries for the Future
The governor’s proposed 2011-2012 budget reduces state aid to libraries by 40%.
In addition to the potential reduction in state aid, other funding sources for public libraries are also threatened: renaissance zone reimbursements, tax capture of dedicated library millages, elimination of personal property taxes, federal funds.
The Michigan eLibrary databases and MeLCat, the popular and heavily used interlibrary loan system, are funded through a combination of state and federal money. The amount proposed in the governor’s budget is not sufficient to maintain these services at their current level and the entire system could collapse.
The Michigan Library Association (MLA) is advocating for libraries on behalf of our patrons. MLA’s news release(pdf) provides some additional insight to the implications of such a reduction in funding.
Of course these are challenging financial times for our state. Contact your state representative or senator to voice your opinion on library funding as well as other statewide issues. photo: East Lansing Public Library
Perfect Storm of Library Cuts Takes Libraries Back 50 Years
Job seekers have long used the library’s resources in their job search. Many employers accept only online applications – we have public computers, some with resume writing software. Many employers require computer skills – we offer basic classes.
Of course we also have print and online resources – materials on resumes and cover letters, preparing for a job interview, test preparation guides, career planning, switching careers to name just a few.
Now we have a new resource to add – job postings for positions in nonprofits.
The ONEplace@kpl is our nonprofit management support center. One of its many services is a list of jobs available in nonprofit organizations in the area. They are updated weekly.
KPL position vacancies are listed here as well and a recent new hire at the library first learned of the job through the ONEplace. How’s that for a success story!
If you are looking for a job, here is another resource to check periodically to determine what is available that might match your skills and interests.
Nonprofit Employment Opportunities
The numbers are in and MeLCat, our state-wide resource-sharing system, had a recordbreaking year with over one million requests.
KPL patrons continue to use this popular, do-it-yourself interlibrary loan service. KPL cardholders can place their own request at the MeLCat website and within a few days it will be delivered to KPL for them to pick-up. The system is well balanced and we loan about as many items as we borrow.
This statewide service is funded as part the Michigan eLibrary project of the Library of Michigan. Librarians continue to express strong support for this service. Those I have talked to advocate for continued MeLCat funding over direct state aid to public libraries, if a choice needs to be made. Funding for all library services that are state-wide depend upon the priorities for our state budget.
Resource-sharing within Michigan is alive and well. We hope it will continue.
A recently released national study, How Libraries Stack Up: 2010, details how public libraries are delivering millions of dollars in resources and support to meet community needs. A few interesting conclusions:
- Nearly 12,000 public libraries provide free wireless internet access, more than Starbucks, Barnes & Nobel or Borders. KPL provides free wifi at all locations.
- 10,800 public libraries offer meeting rooms; every day 225,000 people use them. We have meeting rooms available for public use.
- There were 1.4 billion library visits last year as compared to 1.3 billion movie attendance and 218 million U.S sporting event attendance. KPL counted 866,268 visitors last year.
- Every day, Americans borrow 2.1 million DVDs from libraries. Netflix has us beat there, but many libraries, including KPL do not charge for DVD use. What a bargain!
- U.S public libraries circulate as many materials each day as FedEx ships package worldwide.
- And finally, 2/3’s of Americans have a library card; for many young people, it is the first card in their wallet.
Statistics like these are fun, but they don’t tell the whole story, of course. Come visit soon – use our wifi, attend a program or event in our meeting rooms, check out a DVD or a book or just sit and relax with a popular magazine in our reading areas.
How Libraries Stack Up: 2010
As the year ends, many organizations solicit donations for a wide range of good and worthy causes, some of them here in our community, some nationally or even internationally.
Kalamazoo Public Library does not conduct an annual fund raising campaign nor send solicitation requests but, of course, we always welcome and greatly appreciate gifts from grateful patrons.
The State of Michigan encourages donations to public libraries by offering a tax credit. If you itemize deductions, you can claim a 50% of your gift (up to $200 for an individual or $400 for a couple) to a Michigan public library as a credit on your state taxes. That means that giving $200 / $400 to KPL can save you $100 / $200 in state taxes... a good deal!
You may designate your donation for a specific collection, such as large print or children’s books; a location, such as your neighborhood branch; or a service, such as Ready to Read, Reading Together, or teen programming. The library directs undesignated gifts where they are most needed.
Thank you for thinking of the library as you consider year-end giving.
Support the Library
Several KPL staff members attended the last week’s annual state conference of the Michigan Library Association. Much of the conference was programs, many led by library staff sharing their experiences and successes with each other. Two KPL library staff presented programs: “Re-Imagining the Circulation Experience” about the redesign of the first floor circulation area at Central Library and “Not Everything Requires a PowerPoint!” with advice on instruction within the library setting. Both were well attended with good feedback from participants.
In addition to the more formal programs, there were many opportunities for informal networking. I talked with directors from other libraries similar to KPL and heard about their budget challenges, an increasing emphasis on early childhood literacy, heavy use of AV materials most everywhere, concern over state funding, and uncertainty about the role of ebooks within libraries and their impact on print.
The theme of the conference was “Yes we can!,” an attitude shared by everyone I happened to talk to. We all acknowledge the challenges facing our state and libraries of all types, but we remain determined to listen to our communities and response with the services most needed and wanted. Many libraries, including KPL, have undertaken strategic planning to set priorities that response to community needs.
I’m glad I’m in a profession in which folks share freely and learn from each other. We aren’t in competition with each other.
Michigan Library Association
The Library of Michigan has just released the 2009 edition of Michigan Public Libraries Data Digest, a compilation of activity in our state’s public libraries. The data is pulled from the annual reports we all submit to the state and covers fiscal year 2008/2009.
The digest includes a brief five year comparison between 2003 and 2008. Numbers / usage is up in all areas: items available, hours open to the public, programs offered, use of computers. This growth, during a time of reduced budgets for many public libraries, is encouraging. Many libraries, including KPL, have reduced hours, tightened materials budgets, and reexamined programming.
In other interesting, fun statistics:
- Michigan public libraries hold over 35 million books, almost four for every resident.
- Each resident checks out an average of over 8 items per year.
- Public libraries entertained and educated over 2.5 million people with our programs.
- We received 52.7 million visitors, double the number of visitors to our state parks.
- Combined, Michigan public libraries encompass more than 5 times the size of Ford Field Football Stadium!
Come visit soon – check out “your” four books, attend a program, use a computer, ask a question.
Michigan Public Libraries Data Digest
The annual report, The State of America’s Libraries, was released last week, National Library Week, by the American Library Association.
Its findings and conclusions confirm what KPL and most public libraries are experiencing and discussing at our conferences, on email lists, and wherever library staff gather: Americans are turning to their libraries in ever increasing numbers for all types of resources but at the same time funding from all sources is decreasing.
The report addresses public, school and academic libraries; technology; construction and renovation; social networking; legislation; outreach; copyright.
The many statistics confirm that overall use of public libraries is up 23% at over 16,600 locations across the country. Libraries are being turned to in increasing numbers for access to employment resources, continuing education, government services, and the more traditional ones of free access to books, magazines, CDs, DVDs.
The report refers to a “perfect storm of growing demand and shrinking resources”. Half of the states have reduced funding to libraries; a majority of states report a decrease of 5 – 10% in local funding to public libraries. Not surprisingly, many have reduced staff, hours, services.
KPL is not immune; we also expect a decrease in local revenues for next year. As reported previously on our blogs and in LINK, we have made a variety of reductions and are in the midst of strategic planning to determine our priorities and the goals to support those priorities for the next several years. We’ll continue to share the outcomes of that process on our website and in our publications over the coming months.
State Of America's Libraries Report 2010