From the Director

Library news and happenings.

Best of the Year

As year-end approaches, almost every publication has its “best of” list. Lists of best books, movies, and music, at least in some editor’s or reviewer’s opinion, are especially popular. When I see such list of books, I immediately want to begin checking off those I have read and adding those I haven’t read and sound good to my “list of books to read sometime.”

Some lists are divided by genre….travel , romance, historical fiction, mysteries….and on and on. Library staff are working on our lists to share. We are dividing ours by format: books, movies, and music to match our strategic priority of “reading, viewing, and listening for pleasure.” We want to share with you what we liked, no matter what the reviewers or critics might have said about the title.

Our lists are due December 5 so look for our “best of the year” shortly thereafter on our website. In the meantime, you can review our favorites from past years. When you see our lists, please share yours on one of our blogs.

I hope it has been a good year of reading, viewing, and listening for pleasure for you. As always, I’ve added more titles to my list than I read ; it gets longer each year. I need more reading time in 2012!


Best Of 2011

Spelling for Books

The 11th annual Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee was another night of fun and successful fundraising for our Ready to Read program.

Many folks with serious day-time responsibilities put on outlandish costumes and brightly colored wigs and acted “wild and wacky,” as we say, all for a good cause - to raise money to purchase books to give to at-risk children in Kalamazoo County.

Teams of eight adults – two courageous spellers and six outrageous cheerleaders – provided the fun. The spellers competed in two 60-second rounds of face paced spelling – some easy words, some definitely not easy! Their six cheerleaders inspired their spellers and entertained the audience with a 2-3 minute cheer.

And the winners are….

BUT the real winners are the kids who will get the books, often the very first book of their own. About $24,000 was raised at the Spelling Bee. That will buy a lot of books.

You can watch the fun on Public Media Network, Channel 95:

  • Monday, November 21, 7 pm
  • Wednesday, November 23, 9 pm
  • Sunday, November 27, 2 pm

We know how to have fun for a good cause!!



Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee

American Education Week

As I have often written, each day and week has some special designation, many relevant to libraries. This week, November 13–19, is the 90th anniversary of “American Education Week.”

The goal of this designated week is to “inform the public of the accomplishments and needs of schools and to secure the cooperation and support of the public in meeting those needs.”

KPL is particularly proud of our relationship with Kalamazoo Public Schools. As I previously wrote in this blog and in our newsletter LINK, all KPS first graders recently visited one of our libraries and were given their own library card. We are now in the midst of their second visit to return the books they checked out and hopefully to begin a pattern of regular library visits.

We are now preparing for the “Global Reading Challenge,” a battle of the books type program for fourth and fifth graders; we just concluded this year’s “Youth Literature Seminar” focusing on teen literature; and, of course, we have many resources for students at all grade levels, both in print and online.

We applaud our colleagues in education and join them in supporting student learning and achievement.


American Education Week

Conference Take-aways

The annual conference of the Michigan Library Association (MLA) was held here in Kalamazoo a week ago. The facilities at the Radisson, downtown restaurants, and ease of finding their way around seemed to work well, at least from the perspective of those who mentioned it to me. Many walked down the street to the library; I hope some visited and shopped in our Friends Bookstore too.

The conference sessions were arranged by tracks. Most of the ones I attended were on the “ask the expert” track and focused on library millages, tax captures, legislative lobbying, employment issues. More fun than those though, was one presented by our Youth Services staff on “Won’t You Be My Neighbor – Getting Volunteers from the Community Involved in Storytimes.”

As expected, there were sessions and conversations about ebooks, technology opportunities and challenges, personal property tax threats.

It was a worthwhile conference. I came away with confirmation that KPL is a strong player in the state library scene but there is always something new to learn from others, that funding threats are a real concern but we are stronger when our voices are combined, and that reading and books are still our brand but the delivery is changing quickly.

Thanks MLA and downtown Kalamazoo for hosting a good conference.


Michigan Library Association