From the Director

Library news and happenings.

Fun Library Facts!

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

Post Vacation Reading

Usually I do advance or pre vacation reading, particularly if my husband and I are traveling to a new area. We look through travel books for interesting sites at the destination and places to visit enroute. We often plan the route based on museums, historic sites, art galleries to visit along the way.

Last fall we took a big-for-us vacation: Santa Fe, New Mexico. We did our usual review of travel and history books in advance and made a plan to visit the many museums and art galleries in Santa Fe as well as Taos, various national parks and natural sites in the greater Santa Fe area. One day we went to Bandelier National Monument and nearby Los Alamos.

At Los Alamos we toured the science and history museums for an overview of the fascinating story of this once secret city, the scientists and their families, and the work of the weapons laboratory that developed the atomic bomb. I came home and wanted to read more about the human side of this city and project, not the technical details of the scientific research. I found the perfect book in our collection: 109 East Palace by Jennet Conant.

The book is loosely framed around Dorothy McKibbin, a young widow hired by Robert Oppenheimer, the civilian director of Los Alamos, to run the Santa Fe office. She greeted arrivals who, incredibly enough didn’t know exactly where they were going or what they would be working on, dealt with the numerous challenges of their daily lives, and became the gatekeeper between the hidden world of Los Alamos and the outside world.

The focus is on the day-to-day experiences of those who worked there during the stress of World War II and the rush to develop the bomb to end the war. Some technical details add to the understanding but don’t overpower the human side of this story. Especially interesting was the discussion among those involved of how the development and use of the bomb would change the post war world.

Even though I knew the outcome, of course, this book was still a page turner for me.


109 East Palace by Jennet Conant

Congratulations, Nancy

Generally the national “Librarian of the Year” is not well known outside of the library community and their home state, but this year’s winner, Nancy Pearl, is the exception.

Nancy is often referred to as the “rock star of librarians”! While at Seattle Public Library, she wondered what would happen if everyone read and talked about the same book. The program was so successful that it has been offered at libraries across the country with local variations. KPL’s Reading Together is our version, still going strong as we begin our 9th year.

Nancy can be heard on NPR, Weekday, where she reviews books. She also teaches library school students, does workshops for library staff around the country, presents public programs on the joys of books and reading, has written a series of Book Lust books and, most importantly, is a strong, national advocate for libraries and reading. And this is all from a woman who is “retired”!

I am especially proud that Nancy is a good friend of KPL’s. She visited several years ago and did a workshop on services to readers for KPL staff and a public program, still talked about among those avid readers who attended. Her visit here prompted her to add a “warning” to her workshop for librarians – be aware – patrons may think they’re read the most recent one in a mystery series but they may not have, so don’t give away any secrets! Whenever I see her at conferences, we reminisce about the conversation that led to this warning!

Congratulations, Nancy, on this well deserved recognition and thanks for your efforts on behalf of all libraries and booklovers.

Nancy Pearl at KPL 2006

Nancy Pearl at Kalamazoo Public Library, January 2006


Nancy Pearl

A New eReader, Perhaps?

A study released in the fall found that one in ten Americans use an ereader of some type and one in ten would likely get one in the next six months. If that study is accurate, that means many of us received or bought ourselves an ereader recently, perhaps over the holidays.

Reading used to be simple. Check out a book from the library, buy a new or used one at your favorite bookstore, borrow one from a friend, and just read it! Although those are still options, there are now many more with a variety of ereaders and devices with multiple uses.

We have just revised the ebooks section of our website. Thousands of ebook titles are available through the digital download center. We also have links to resources about various reading devices, and if you don’t have an ereader, you can borrow one at the Central Library.

Some studies have found that those who use ereaders read more. Personally, I’m not there yet – I still prefer the traditional book, but we offer both.

Come visit soon, either through our website or at any branch or the Central Library.


eBooks and Sony Readers®

2010 Favorites

It’s that time of year that most every publication I pick up seems to have a “Best of the Year” list of one type or another. The ones I am most drawn to, not surprisingly, are those of best books.

I want to immediately start checking off the ones I have read and add the others to my “list-of-books-to-read-sometime.”

Most lists of best books of the year are from those published during the past year; mine is of books I have read that year, not necessarily those published.

It’s hard to decide, but here is my list:




Many staff have shared their favorite books, movies, and music from 2010 on our website under “Best of 2010” and we share routinely on our blogs in these same categories.

What were you favorite books of the year OR what do you think of mine? I’d appreciate hearing what you read and enjoyed.

Best wishes for the new year – good times, good health, good friends, and, of course good books!


Let the Great World Spin