From the Director

Library news and happenings.

Get Job and Career Support Here!

In a previous blog posting, I wrote about the new “Job and Career Support” information on our website. Now I want to highlight one of the new resources, “Job and Career Accelerator” available through our website and available to Michigan residents through the Library of Michigan MeL resources.

The accelerator provides software tutorials, GED preparation, workplace skills improvement, occupation practice tests, and skill building for adults. Information is provided on over 1,000 jobs with local and national job postings and advice on resumes and interviewing.

“One stop” seems like an overused term, but this database really can be a first stop, at least, to improve job skills and begin the job search. The practice tests are a particularly useful resource. New ones are added, most recently electrical, plumbing, air traffic control, and military aviation.

This database is available 24/7 from the library or anywhere you have internet access BUT you must first register at any library in Michigan and create an account with a user ID and password... first time at a library, then log in from anywhere.

If you are looking for a job, considering a career change, or want to update your skills, start here.

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Job and Career Accelerator
job-and-career-accelerator-160
http://0-jca.learnatest.com.elibrary.mel.org/lel/index.cfm
AnnR

Remembering the Tornado

For those of us who were in Kalamazoo when the tornado hit downtown in 1980, it is hard to believe it has been 31 years – at least it is hard for me.

When it hit downtown, I was with other library staff at a meeting of the Friends of KPL in the auditorium of the 1959 library building. I remember hearing the sirens, I remember most of the attendees just dismissing it, and I remember one of the Friends saying something like “I grew up in Kansas, I know this could be serious, I’m leaving.” With that comment, we all followed her and went to the basement to join staff and patrons who were gathering here.

I guess it was only a few minutes until the sirens stopped. We all emerged from the basement and saw the devastation as we looked out from the adult reading area of the library – cars parked along South Street with the windows blown out, trees down in Bronson Park and across the streets, curtains flapping and papers blowing out of the shattered windows of the Comerica Building.

The library closed shortly thereafter. It wasn’t until I got home and watched the news that I realized the devastation along the path to downtown AND the further damage downtown.

With this tornado in our memory and all the recent ones south of us, I think we have all learned to take the warnings seriously and move promptly to a safer place.

Our local history staff has compiled photos and video, along with an essay, about the tornado. It will bring back memories to those who were here, interesting Kalamazoo history for those who were not.

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TWISTER! The 1980 Tornado
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/local-history/general/tornado.aspx
AnnR

Redefining Libraries

Library directors from around the state gathered last week in Grand Rapids for the twice a year summit called by the Michigan Library Association. The theme was Redefining Michigan Libraries for the 21st Century.

The first of two keynote speakers outlined national trends in population, jobs, and talent that are driving economic prosperity. It was a sobering message for Michigan and not encouraging in the short term. He stressed the long term solution is a college educated workforce to compete in the global, knowledge-based economy.

The second speaker, a librarian futurist, addressed the trends in how information is being accessed and used, and the importance of libraries adjusting to these new realities.

After these two presentations, we met in small groups to address related topics, then reported out to the larger group.

Most all libraries report budget reductions, quite substantial cuts for some. As a profession, we are retaining our core values of patron-focused service as we work to expand our relevancy in the knowledge-based society and the move from print to digital.

These are challenging times, but the energy and commitment in this room of library directors was encouraging and heartening.

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Redefining Michigan Libraries for the 21st Century
michigan-library-association-2011-logo-160
http://www.mla.lib.mi.us/files/11%20MLA%20Dir%20Summ%20Agenda%204-6-11%20V2%20DC.pdf
AnnR

Funding Threats Continued

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the funding threats to public libraries in the governor’s proposed 2011-2012 budget: the potential reduction in state aid by 40%; threats to other funding streams, particularly personal property tax and renaissance zone reimbursements; and matching funds for Michigan eLibrary.

Michigan eLibrary which includes MeL databases and the popular MeLCat interlibrary loan service, are both threatened. Michigan is not meeting its “maintenance of effort” requirement to receive the federal funds which partially fund MeL. We have received two waivers, a third is not guaranteed. In addition, because of the magnitude of potential funding cuts to public libraries, many may need to pull out of MelCat, even if it is continued. Some of us will just not have the money to continue to offer MeLCat service.

Those who support public libraries and the continuation of services, are urged to contact their state representative and state senator. Ask them to hold state aid to libraries harmless at last year’s level; reimburse libraries for renaissance zone tax credits; and do not eliminate the personal property tax without a revenue neutral replacement.

The Michigan Library Association (MLA) is launching a campaign to protect Michigan libraries; information is on their website. photo: Lawrence Technological University Library

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Michigan Libraries for the Future
save-michigan-libraries-160
http://www.milibrariesforthefuture.org/
AnnR

Library Funding Threats

The governor’s proposed 2011-2012 budget reduces state aid to libraries by 40%.

In addition to the potential reduction in state aid, other funding sources for public libraries are also threatened: renaissance zone reimbursements, tax capture of dedicated library millages, elimination of personal property taxes, federal funds.

The Michigan eLibrary databases and MeLCat, the popular and heavily used interlibrary loan system, are funded through a combination of state and federal money. The amount proposed in the governor’s budget is not sufficient to maintain these services at their current level and the entire system could collapse.

The Michigan Library Association (MLA) is advocating for libraries on behalf of our patrons. MLA’s news release(pdf) provides some additional insight to the implications of such a reduction in funding.

Of course these are challenging financial times for our state. Contact your state representative or senator to voice your opinion on library funding as well as other statewide issues. photo: East Lansing Public Library

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Perfect Storm of Library Cuts Takes Libraries Back 50 Years
libraries-fuel-the-economy-160
http://www.mla.lib.mi.us/node/1333
AnnR

Looking for a Job?

Job seekers have long used the library’s resources in their job search. Many employers accept only online applications – we have public computers, some with resume writing software. Many employers require computer skills – we offer basic classes.

Of course we also have print and online resources – materials on resumes and cover letters, preparing for a job interview, test preparation guides, career planning, switching careers to name just a few.

Now we have a new resource to add – job postings for positions in nonprofits.

The ONEplace@kpl is our nonprofit management support center. One of its many services is a list of jobs available in nonprofit organizations in the area. They are updated weekly.

KPL position vacancies are listed here as well and a recent new hire at the library first learned of the job through the ONEplace. How’s that for a success story!

If you are looking for a job, here is another resource to check periodically to determine what is available that might match your skills and interests.

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Nonprofit Employment Opportunities
one-place-job-search-160
/ONEplace/employment/
AnnR

A Good Year for MeLCat

The numbers are in and MeLCat, our state-wide resource-sharing system, had a recordbreaking year with over one million requests.

KPL patrons continue to use this popular, do-it-yourself interlibrary loan service. KPL cardholders can place their own request at the MeLCat website and within a few days it will be delivered to KPL for them to pick-up. The system is well balanced and we loan about as many items as we borrow.

This statewide service is funded as part the Michigan eLibrary project of the Library of Michigan. Librarians continue to express strong support for this service. Those I have talked to advocate for continued MeLCat funding over direct state aid to public libraries, if a choice needs to be made. Funding for all library services that are state-wide depend upon the priorities for our state budget.

Resource-sharing within Michigan is alive and well. We hope it will continue.

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MeLCat
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/melcat/
AnnR

Fun Library Facts!

A recently released national study, How Libraries Stack Up: 2010, details how public libraries are delivering millions of dollars in resources and support to meet community needs. A few interesting conclusions:

  • Nearly 12,000 public libraries provide free wireless internet access, more than Starbucks, Barnes & Nobel or Borders. KPL provides free wifi at all locations.
  • 10,800 public libraries offer meeting rooms; every day 225,000 people use them. We have meeting rooms available for public use.
  • There were 1.4 billion library visits last year as compared to 1.3 billion movie attendance and 218 million U.S sporting event attendance. KPL counted 866,268 visitors last year.
  • Every day, Americans borrow 2.1 million DVDs from libraries. Netflix has us beat there, but many libraries, including KPL do not charge for DVD use. What a bargain!
  • U.S public libraries circulate as many materials each day as FedEx ships package worldwide.
  • And finally, 2/3’s of Americans have a library card; for many young people, it is the first card in their wallet.

Statistics like these are fun, but they don’t tell the whole story, of course. Come visit soon – use our wifi, attend a program or event in our meeting rooms, check out a DVD or a book or just sit and relax with a popular magazine in our reading areas.

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How Libraries Stack Up: 2010
how-libraries-stack-up-160
http://www.oclc.org/reports/stackup/default.htm
AnnR

Library Gifts Yield Tax Benefits

As the year ends, many organizations solicit donations for a wide range of good and worthy causes, some of them here in our community, some nationally or even internationally.

Kalamazoo Public Library does not conduct an annual fund raising campaign nor send solicitation requests but, of course, we always welcome and greatly appreciate gifts from grateful patrons.

The State of Michigan encourages donations to public libraries by offering a tax credit. If you itemize deductions, you can claim a 50% of your gift (up to $200 for an individual or $400 for a couple) to a Michigan public library as a credit on your state taxes. That means that giving $200 / $400 to KPL can save you $100 / $200 in state taxes... a good deal!

You may designate your donation for a specific collection, such as large print or children’s books; a location, such as your neighborhood branch; or a service, such as Ready to Read, Reading Together, or teen programming. The library directs undesignated gifts where they are most needed.

Thank you for thinking of the library as you consider year-end giving.

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Support the Library
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/support/
AnnR

Networking With Others

Several KPL staff members attended the last week’s annual state conference of the Michigan Library Association. Much of the conference was programs, many led by library staff sharing their experiences and successes with each other. Two KPL library staff presented programs: “Re-Imagining the Circulation Experience” about the redesign of the first floor circulation area at Central Library and “Not Everything Requires a PowerPoint!” with advice on instruction within the library setting. Both were well attended with good feedback from participants.

In addition to the more formal programs, there were many opportunities for informal networking. I talked with directors from other libraries similar to KPL and heard about their budget challenges, an increasing emphasis on early childhood literacy, heavy use of AV materials most everywhere, concern over state funding, and uncertainty about the role of ebooks within libraries and their impact on print.

The theme of the conference was “Yes we can!,” an attitude shared by everyone I happened to talk to. We all acknowledge the challenges facing our state and libraries of all types, but we remain determined to listen to our communities and response with the services most needed and wanted. Many libraries, including KPL, have undertaken strategic planning to set priorities that response to community needs.

I’m glad I’m in a profession in which folks share freely and learn from each other. We aren’t in competition with each other.

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Michigan Library Association
mla-conference-2010-160
http://www.mla.lib.mi.us/
AnnR