From the Director
Library news and happenings.
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
September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month as declared by the American Library Association. It is the logical time of year for libraries to remind parents that a library card is the most important school supply of all.
For the first time this fall, all 1st grade classes from the Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS) will visit one of our locations. They will visit twice in the fall, and hopefully, once in the spring. Classes will visit the nearest KPL location; some will walk, some will come on school buses.
On their first visit, we will have library cards ready for all students who do not currently have one. They will hear a story from a librarian, find a book to take home, and check it out on their very own card. A few weeks later they will come again to return the book and check out another. The hope is the third visit will be with their family and will establish a routine for regular family visits.
The spring visit will be to sign-up for summer reading.
We are excited to have over 1,100 1st graders visit one of our four branches or Central Library. KPL and KPS are partnering to make this happen – it takes a lot of coordination as we work together to emphasize the importance of reading and regular family library visits.
The Smartest Card
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
Most every day, week, and month has some designation. September 8 is International Literacy Day, a designation with particular relevance to libraries and to Kalamazoo.
Of course libraries care deeply about literacy – that’s a given. Our community does too with the recent announcement of The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo, as well as The Kalamazoo Promise, Communities in Schools of Kalamazoo, The Kalamazoo Literacy Council, and the emphasis this year in the Kalamazoo Public Schools on reading and writing.
International Literacy Day has been designated by the United Nations to raise awareness of and concern for literacy issues in the world with particular emphasis on the importance of literacy for a healthy society. The UN estimates that one in five adults worldwide cannot read and two-thirds are women.
September 8 will be a good day to pause and appreciate that you can read, but also to consider how you can get involved and truly make a difference. Communities in Schools and Kalamazoo Literacy Council both are in need of volunteer tutors.
International Literacy Day