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
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
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.
As you may have heard or read, KPL had a bed bug “experience” this week. I’ll say I learned more about bed bugs than I ever knew before and perhaps than I wanted to know, but I’m proud of how quickly we were able to respond.
We’ve put some information on our website that you might find helpful and I’m linking to the news release we sent to the media outlining the situation and the actions we took.
Do you consider the environmental impact when choosing a print or e-book format?
I admit, I’ve only thought very briefly about this question and it doesn’t enter into my decision to read a book in print or digital format. My decision is based primarily on availability.
I recently came across a short article on this very topic. It gave me pause. The author considered the trees used to make paper, chlorine bleach to dye the paper, use of recycled paper, amount of ink, energy needed to produce the ink, lifespan of a typical e-reader, and carbon emissions from production and use of an e-reader.
Bottom line conclusion from the author: an e-reader is the more environmentally responsible choice for those who read more than 23 books per year.
Now that you know this, will it make a difference in the format you choose?
Last week’s blog was about e-reading vs print reading. I wrote that e-book choices through libraries are limited because many publishers do not allow libraries to purchase or license digital copies to loan to cardholders. This limit has become a freedom to read concern for libraries.
E-books are here to stay; it is possible that in the future new books may be published only in digital format. When that happens, an e-reader, a credit card, and disposable income will be necessary to read a book unless all major publishers are willing to sell or license a title to public libraries.
Currently several major publishers refuse to sell or license e-books to public libraries. Others make them available at a very high price or impose heavy restrictions on their use. Consequently the selection of e-books available for loan is limited.
Librarians and library organizations are pressing publishers to change their practices. Some pilot programs are underway as publishers and libraries strive to develop mutually acceptable models.
We need the help of readers to voice their concern about preserving the freedom to read. You can support this effort by contacting state and federal elected officials. Make them aware of the e-book lending challenges and encourage them to press publishers to work with libraries.
Preserving the freedom to read is worth fighting for.
E-books for Libraries: Freedom to Read
A recently released Pew Research Center study reports 23% of Americans, ages 16 and older, have read an e-book in the past year, up from 16% the year before. Those who read a print book dropped from 72% to 67%. Overall book readers, no matter the format, remained about the same at about 75% of the population.
Not surprisingly, there has also been an increase in ownership of e-book reading devices; 25% of those 16 and older own a tablet computer, 19% an e-book reading device.
Also not surprisingly, e-book borrowing from public libraries has increased too….from 3% last year to 5% this year.
Here at KPL we have had a whooping increase in e-book circulation: 3,593 in 2010 / 11 to 17,369 in 2011/12. That’s an increase of 383%!
The titles available to download through our website have increased substantially too. We purchase copies of popular titles just for KPL cardholders in addition to those available through the Midwest Collaborative for Library Services. Nevertheless, the choices are limited because many publishers do not allow libraries to purchase digital copies to loan to cardholders.
The American Library Association is challenging publishers to include libraries in their service model. So far, most publishers are not willing to do so.
We are getting ready to offer several new services in 2013.
Details are yet to be worked out, but we will add Freegal Music to our services within the next month or two. With a KPL card, library users will have access to millions of songs from 10,000+ labels, including all Sony Music labels. From an easy-to-use website, users will be able to download mp3 files that can be played on any device, including iPods. Watch for an announcement soon.
We will also be adding Rocket Languages, an online language learning program. If your new year’s resolutions include learning a new language, this is for you! Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Japanese, Italian, Hindi, German, French, Chinese, Arabic, and American Sign Language are here for the learning. Again, details will be announced soon.
And we are thrilled to have been awarded a grant to become a Family Place Library, a national model and designation that builds on the knowledge that good health, early learning, parental involvement, and supportive communities play a critical role in young children’s growth and development. Several of us will attend a training institute in the spring with the expectation we will launch this new initiative later in 2013.
We’re looking forward to the new year with these new services. Details to follow over the next few months.
Best wishes for the new year.