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From the Director

Happy National Library Week to You!

This is National Library Week, April 12 – 18. We join with libraries, schools, bookstores, and publishers in celebrating this week to highlight the value of libraries. This year’s theme is “Unlimited Possibilities @ Your Library.”

National Library Week

In the mid 1950s, research showed that Americans were spending less time with books and more time with radios, TV, and musical instruments. Concerned we were reading less, publishers formed a National Book Committee. In 1957, they developed a plan for National Library Week. The first celebration was held in 1958 with the theme “wake up and read.” The celebration continues.

Each day of the week now has a focus. Tuesday is National Library Workers Day. Thursday is Celebrate Teen Literature Day, a designation aimed at raising awareness among the general public that today’s teen literature is a vibrant, growing genre with much to offer today’s teens as well as adults. A relatively new aspect of the week is Library Snapshot Day. We’ll be taking photos all day Wednesday to show “a day in the life of the library.” Look for photos on our website and Instagram.

Celebrate National Library Week with us and visit one of our five locations or through our website. Much has changed in society and in libraries since the first celebration, but we still provide a wealth of information and a wide variety of services with staff to help.


Interesting Info About Reading

I caught up with some professional journals over the holidays and am just sharing a few interesting items I read:

  • January 24 has been designated National Readathon Day. The idea is to read from noon to 4 PM that day to celebrate literacy and raise funds for a program that provides books to underserved communities. Although I don’t know of an organized readathon around here, reading all Saturday afternoon sounds good to me. Count me in.
  • I am a fan of Abraham Lincoln and have read many books about him and the Civil War. (I even have a cup and saucer that is a replica of the White House dishes during his time and have casts of his hands on my mantle.) There is a vast amount of literature about him; he is only surpassed by Jesus and William Shakespeare.
  • Have you heard the phrase “reading insecurity?” One article defined it as “the subjective experience of thinking that you’re not getting as much from reading as you used to.” It is linked to reading on screens - set aside an hour to read on your tablet and end up scrolling through Facebook instead. The logical cure would seem to be reading a print book instead.
  • Related to screen reading – several studies suggest that people skim and scan for information on the internet and don’t start at the beginning and read to the end.
  • Should we be worried about ereading? One study showed that students who read a short story in print could better reconstruct the plot than those who read it on a screen.

Well, there is a study that will “prove” almost anything. I’m always interested in a new book about Lincoln in print or eformat. I read both.


Year End Donations

There is a new day designation, at least new to me……December 2 has been designated “Giving Tuesday.” This has a nice ring as opposed to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

This is the time of year when we all receive many requests for donations from a wide variety of local, regional, and national organizations.

The library does not conduct an annual fundraising campaign nor send out a solicitation request. Our only fundraiser is our annual Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee to raise funds to buy books for distribution through our Ready to Read program.

Of course donations to the library are always welcome and greatly appreciated. There is a link on our website - look for “Support the Library” at the bottom of any page.

A donation can be designated for a specific collection, such as large print or children’s; a location, such as your neighborhood branch; or a service such as Local History, Teens, or Ready to Read. Undesignated gifts are directed where they are needed most.

We appreciate if you think of the library when you are considering your year-end giving.

Good Reading

 I’m behind – I just read that October was National Reading Group Month. Oh well.

We are pleased to offer many services for readers, including book groups, in support of our priority of “reading, viewing, and listening for pleasure.”

Our primary service for book groups is Book Club in a Bag: ten copies of the same book in one easy-to-carry bag, along with a reading group guide. We have a substantial list of titles and are always open to suggestions of new titles to add.

The new books lists and Staff Picks on our website are good reading suggestions for book groups or individuals. Our staff are sharing their favorites of 2014 with new lists being added frequently.

And finally, we hope the recently rearranged rotunda at Central and the new displays will make browsing new titles easier. Of course good reads aren’t just new books; browse the stacks too or ask our staff for suggestions.


We Have Good Friends!

This week, October 19 – 25 is National Friends of Libraries Week.

KPL is pleased to celebrate our good friends, the Friends of KPL. They are major contributors to our library’s success through their community advocacy for the library and their donation of about $50,000 annually to enhance our programs and services.

In their advocacy role, they were the primary funders of our very successful spring millage campaign and, of course, they helped us get the word out about the vote and the library services it supports.
Their annual donation comes from the revenue from the bookstore, located on the lower level of Central Library. They sell “gently used books, very gently priced” that have been donated or have been withdrawn from the library collection.

Their 2013-14 donation funded our summer reading activities, supported the Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee, and provided an enhancement to many programs: Global Reading Challenge, Reading Together, Youth Literature Seminar. They thanked the library staff with years of service recognition and honored retirees.

We have very good friends; they would welcome you as member and as a bookstore patron.
Thank you, good FRIENDS OF KPL, and happy Friends week.

Library Satisfaction & Use

Earlier this summer, a Harris Poll was conducted nationally to determine the level of library satisfaction and use of public libraries.  Here are a few interesting results:

  • 66% of adults are extremely or very satisfied with their public library, a 7% increase from the 2008 survey
  • Parents are more likely than those without children to be extremely or very satisfied
  • 64% of Americans have a library card, down from 68% in the 2008 survey
  • Women are more likely than men to have a library card:  71% vs 57%
  • Higher levels of education coincide with higher likelihood of having a library card; those with a high school education or less are the least likely to have a card
  • 89% of adults believe it is important for children to have their own library card
  • Eight out of ten adults with library cards have used the library in the past year; 18% visit every other week or more
  • The top reason for visiting their library is to borrow a book (56%), borrow a DVD (24%), or borrow / use digital content (15%)
  • Men are more likely to borrow CDs than women (12% vs 7%), to use reference materials (also 12% vs 7%), and to check email (14% vs 5%)
  • 89% feel the public library is a valuable education resource; 65% believe the library is an entertainment resource

None of these results are particularly surprising to me. Based on what I hear from our patrons and the results of our millage vote in May, I am guessing our percentage of adults extremely or very satisfied might be higher than this national poll. I’d also guess that the other findings are in line with those of our patrons.

I hope you are using KPL services, both online and at our five locations. If you haven’t been here in a while, come visit soon.


Read Whatever You Choose

We are joining with libraries, bookstores, and publishers across the country to affirm the freedom to read during Banned Books Week, Sept. 21 – 27.

You may be surprised to learn there are hundreds of reported attempts to remove materials from libraries and schools for content deemed by some as inappropriate, controversial or even dangerous. This year the spotlight is on graphic novels which are often the target for censors.  Two graphic novels appear on the Top 10 List of Most Frequently Challenged Books compiled by the Intellectual Freedom Office of the American Library Association:  Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series at #1 and Jeff Smith’s series Bone at #10.

Banned Books Week is to remind us of the importance of preventing censorship and ensuring everyone’s freedom to read any book they choose.

As in recent years, we will celebrate the week during Art Hop on Friday evening, October 3, with our partner the SW Michigan Branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. Local celebrities will read from frequently challenged books.

Join us for this program and exercise your right to read whatever you choose.

Bargains with your Library Card

Libraries promote library cards as the “most powerful card in your wallet.” For the month of September, your KPL card has even more power…. the power for discounts at some popular restaurants and retailers.

September is Library Card Sign-Up Month across the country. In celebration, many Kalamazoo merchants are offering discounts for showing your library card. The ever-growing list is on our website.

Have your KPL library card in hand, visit these local businesses, and enjoy a discount.

Thanks to these restaurants and retailers for partnering with us to promote library card month.

This Week @ KPL

This has been a busy week with three particularly big or important events, each one quite special.

On Monday night was the final challenge in this year’s Global Reading Challenge and a celebration of the 20th year of this battle of the books program for 4th and 5th graders. And what a gathering…..200+ family, friends, and siblings to watch kids answer increasingly hard questions about one of ten books. What a celebration of reading! Congratulations to the Prairie Ridge team, the Crazy Cougars, who answered the most questions correctly.

On Wednesday we hosted folks from the national Family Place Libraries grant team. They came to review our progress at the end of the first year of this three year grant. We proudly showed off our new Story Place, shared the success of our first two 1,2,3 Play With Me workshops, and described all of our services to preschoolers. In exchange, we were given Family Place banners to display at our two Family Place Library sites, Central and Oshtemo.

Also on Wednesday, the Friends of KPL conducted their annual meeting over lunch at the Ladies Library Association. New officers were elected, a budget was adopted, and we thanked them for their generous gift of $50,000+ which funded all of summer reading games among other library programs and services.

We have many events and programs, of course, but these were three special ones. A big week at KPL.


Family Place Libraries

Libraries vs. Apple Pie

A report on The State of America’s Libraries was recently released by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project. There are some interesting and affirming statistics and commentary for public library use.

To share a few:

• 95% of respondents said public libraries are important because they promote literacy and a love of reading while 94% said having a public library improves the quality of life in a community

• More than half have used a public library within the past year

• 72% consider they live in what is considered a “library household”

• 70% report that a child from their household has visited a public library in the past year. Of course we are always working hard to increase that number

• And a fun one:

“….public libraries not only rank more highly in the American psyche than Congress, journalists, and President Obama, but they also trump baseball and apple pie. Public Libraries are more beloved than apple pie.”

We hope you too value public libraries – come visit soon.


The State of America's Libraries