From the Director
Library news and happenings.
Kalamazoo beer has been in the news lately…. Bell’s, several new breweries and brewpubs opening, and most recently, the campaign to vote for Kalamazoo to be designated “Beer City USA.” We are worthy of that designation; we have a beer history. Read about “The Brew from Kalamazoo” on our website and enjoy the photos as well.
And, did you know we also have a distillery history? Read about “Luke’s Best” as one of the first products to bring national attention to Kalamazoo.
On a totally different topic, May 13 is the anniversary of the 1980 tornado. Those of us who were here 33 years ago, remember it well. I was at a meeting of the Friends of KPL when the sirens went off and we all moved to the basement storage area. What a sight when we emerged. We have a video as well as a map, description, and links to other information on our website.
And while you are reading about beer, whiskey, and a tornado, scroll through the other topics on the local history section of our website. We live in a city with a rich, fascinating history.
All About Kalamazoo History
I have often written here about the Friends of KPL... how they fund all our summer reading games and programs, help us bring the Reading Together author to town, provide door prizes for First Saturday @ KPL, help us with the cost of Link, provide funding so we can participate in the quarterly Art Hops, and I could go on and on.
I have also written here about their bookstore on the lower level of the Central Library and their special booksales (next one is Saturday, June 8) and have encouraged library supporters to become members of the Friends.
Now I am writing to ask you to “like” our Friends on Facebook and repost to your Facebook friends. One of their recent posts was listing several particularly interesting titles for sale in the bookstore. It was a good teaser for the wide array of books donated to them and available in the bookstore.
We like our Friends and hope you will too.
Friends of Kalamazoo Public Library on Facebook
Booklovers, including many librarians of course, are celebrating World Book Night on Tuesday, April 23. Held in the US, UK, and Ireland, the aim is to promote the value of reading, books, libraries, and bookstores by distributing free books all across the country. About 25,000 volunteer booklovers will be personally handing out specially printed copies of books to light or non-readers and to those without the means or access to books. The titles chosen for distribution are contemporary or classic titles that appeal to a wide range of new readers. They are diverse in subject matter, age level, gender, as well as ethnic and geographical considerations.
The day is chosen to celebrate the International Day of the Book as well as Shakespeare’s birthday.
There are about 2,000 World Book Night host locations, including KPL and several area bookstores. About 25 volunteers signed up through KPL, selected their title, and picked up about 20 copies of the book last week. They will distribute the books around town on Tuesday evening….watch for them if you are out and about.
World Book Night
I have often written here about weekly and monthly designations / celebrations. Well, now it is our turn. This is National Library Week.
We join with libraries, schools, bookstores, and publishers in celebrating this week to highlight the value of libraries. This year’s theme is “Communities Matter @ Your Library” with Caroline Kennedy, a strong advocate for reading, literacy, and libraries, as the honorary chair of this year’s celebration.
We know you value library services: circulation of all materials in up 9% over this time last year, computer use at all locations is strong, and visits to our website have increased about 14%.
You’ve told us through a recent survey, from your comments to staff at service desks, and in casual conversations around town, that you recognize and appreciate the library’s role in the community.
We appreciate your support and welcome your comments.
Celebrate National Library Week with us and come visit soon.
National Library Week
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