From the Director

Library news and happenings.

“Reading Is Not Optional”

A recent study from the University of London found that children who read for pleasure are likely to do significantly better in school than their peers. Children who read for pleasure made more progress in math, vocabulary, and spelling than those who rarely read.

Are these results surprising? Not to educators and librarians. It is the reason for our close partnership with Kalamazoo Public Schools.

For the third year, all KPS first graders will visit a KPL location twice in the fall and then again in the spring. Northglade first graders visited the Powell Branch in the Douglass Community Center to launch this year’s visits. Each student received a KPL card, checked out a book, and heard a story. In a few weeks they will visit again to learn how to return a book and select another one. In the spring, we will celebrate a year of first grade reading and promote summer reading games.

For the first time, there are two new components to our partnership with KPS. All KPS students will be eligible for a one year KPL library card that will permit them to check out three books at a time. With full information from their parent or guardian, it can be converted to a full, unlimited access KPL card.

Second is our evolving very close relationship with Northglade. We are undertaking a two year project to determine if a close relationship between a school and a public library improves student achievement. We think it will! We expect every student and staff in the school will have and use their KPL card, that there will be visits back and forth with Powell Branch staff frequently at Northglade and students of various grades visiting the branch, and a library presence at all Northglade events.

As Walter Dean Myers, the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and recent visitor to KPL says, “reading is not optional” if you are going to be successful in school and life. We are working on that with our partners at KPS.

We’ll report periodically on our progress.

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“Reading Is Not Optional”
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Banned Books Week 2013

It is Banned Books Week, the national book community’s annual celebration of the freedom to read. We join with libraries, bookstores, and publishers across the country in drawing attention to censorship.

Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a surge in challenges to books in schools, bookstores, and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since the launch. In 2012, the most challenged title was Captain Underpants series for children; second was The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.

Many books long considered American classics have also been challenged and sometimes banned over the years. You might be surprised by some of the familiar titles.

We will extend our celebration into next week and on Tuesday, October 1, host our traditional readings with the ACLU. As in past years, local celebrity readers will read passages from titles that have been challenged.

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

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Banned Books Week
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Show ‘Em Your Card

It’s September, back-to-school, library card sign-up month.

Once again, we join libraries across the country in reminding parents and caregivers that a library card is the most important school supply of all.

Your KPL card provides access to print books, ebooks, online homework help, and research tools and resources.
We are pleased local businesses and organizations are partnering with us to offer an incentive just for showing your KPL card during September. If you don’t already have a card, here is a further incentive.

Click here for the entire list and information on signing up for a KPL card.

See you at the library or at one of our partners.

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Library Card Signup Month
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Book Bargains

As I have often written, we have very good friends, The Friends of KPL.

Their annual Fall-Bag-of-Books Sale is Saturday, September 14, from 9 am – 3:30 pm in the auditorium on the third floor at Central Library.

As in past years, all books are just 10¢ each OR a grocery size bag full for $2.00. Buy a bag there or bring your own. The bookstore on the lower level will also be open.

And while you are at the sale, pick up a membership brochure and consider joining. They would welcome having you as a member as a further way to show your support for the library.

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Friends Fall Bag-of-Books Sale
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Checkout Area Changes

Although it is not the beginning of a new year, back-to-school still seems like the beginning of a new year to me. With this “new year” we are making some changes at the circulation area of Central Library.

The Circulation Desk will transition to a Customer Service Desk. We’ll handle library card registrations and account questions or problems at that desk. Staff will be at the checkout kiosk to help library users check out materials there.

There is a change at the checkout kiosks. We have eliminated locked cases for DVDs and CDs so the checkout process for those items is much easier….no more unlockers.

We hope this change will allow us to provide better customer service as we respond to the increase in circulation and the decrease in tax revenues.

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Service Desk Changes
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Little Free Library

As you have been out and about in Kalamazoo, you may have noticed an increasingly number of “little free libraries,” essentially an oversized mailbox or birdhouse with books to share.

The idea started in 2009 with a simple concept—take a book, return a book.

It is now estimated there are between 6,000 and 7,000 little free libraries across 36 countries and at least 1,650,000 books have been donated and borrowed.

Of course these won’t replace libraries, but they are a nice companion. More information is on their website www.littlefreelibrary.org. Local information is available at kalamazoolittlefreelibraries.com or through a link on our website.

Feel free to take a book, leave a book if you pass one on your walk or drive.

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Little Free Libraries
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Get to Know Your Family

Every month and week has multiple designations. July has been “Family Reunion Month.”

Family reunions are often the outgrowth or the motivation for searching your family history or genealogy. Family history begins with one’s self and works back from generation to generation. Genealogy is more complicated and begins with the immigrant ancestor and works forward through the generations.

Our Local History Room has resources, databases, and workshops to help you start a family history or make progress on your genealogy. We are an affiliate of FamilySearch which provides access to billons of birth, marriage, death, census, land, and court records from over 130 countries. There are also many other digital and print resources as well as occasional workshops.

Visit the Local History section of our website as a good starting point as well as just to browse interesting essays about Kalamazoo and southwest Michigan. There’s lots more there than genealogy information.

And enjoy your family reunion if there is one in your summer plans.

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Genealogy
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Help With Legal Matters

As most library users know, the Kalamazoo County Law Library is located on the lower level of Central Library next to the Friends Bookstore. We aren’t lawyers, but we have knowledgeable staff there to help. There is now another legal resource for Michigan residents: www.MichiganLegalHelp.com

The Michigan Legal Help website helps people handle simple civil legal problems without a lawyer. It contains articles about specific areas of the law and toolkits to help you represent yourself in court. Some forms are available and can be completed automatically online once you answer a few simple questions about the issue.

The website is not to be a substitute for a lawyer and does not cover all areas of the law. The self-help areas include family, protection from abuse, housing, consumer, expungement, and public benefits issues.

It is funded by the Michigan State Bar Foundation, Legal Services of South Central Michigan, and the Legal Services Corporation.

It might be a good first step as you deal with a legal matter in one of these areas.

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Michigan Legal Help
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ALA Conference Take-Aways

I’ve just returned from Chicago where I attended the annual conference of the American Library Association. It’s a big conference – about 15,000 attendees including staff, vendors, trustees, Friends, library supporters. There are always more programs, more authors talks, more vendors demos than anyone can possibly attend and some of the best insights and new ideas come from casual conversation with other attendees.

As I begin to process all I heard and saw, here are a few observations:

  • The software market for libraries is ever-growing. At every conference there are vendors with new or upgraded readers advisory, statistics, meeting room management, staff training software.
  • Librarians still love authors and books. The author sessions were full and the publisher booths on the exhibits floor were crowded.
  • We like author autographs, even in uncorrected proofs of books not yet published.
  • We like to recognize good books with prizes. A new award, “The Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction” were awarded to Richard Ford’s novel Canada and the nonfiction to Timothy Egan’s book Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis.
  • There is a major emphasis on the role of libraries in summer activities for kids with “interest driven learning.”

Attending a conference is re-energizing. Those of us who attended from KPL will share our experiences across the library. We returned with good ideas but also a renewed perspective that we are “on the right track” and an appreciation for our community support.

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ALA 2013 Conference Program
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What You Told Us

Earlier this year, a survey about library use was sent to a random sample of 2,000 residents within our service area. A very similar survey was also posted on our website. Responses to both formats were similar.

Here’s some of what you told us:

  • Most respondents use the library once or twice a month
  • Most use us to check out books, movies, or music – computer use is the next most frequently used service
  • If we had to reduce hours, most favor closing the teen area during the school day
  • Closing a branch is the least desirable reduction if our revenues are reduced substantially
  • Providing children with good books, movies, and music is considered our most important goal
  • If we are able to add additional goals, expanding homework help would be the most desired
  • About 1/3 of respondents wish we had more ebooks available for loan; we wish more popular titles were available to libraries
  • Another 1/3 of respondents told us they are not interested in checking out ebooks
  • Most are neutral or undecided about having their photos on their library card – we’ve dropped that idea
  • More than 2/3 would definitely vote to renew our millage to maintain the current services

Thank you for responding to our survey – we value your input and opinions.

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Survey Results
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