From the Director
Library news and happenings.
We’ve had a good summer beginning with our summer reading kick-off during June Jubilee through strong participation in our summer reading games, good attendance at programs, and several days of recordbreaking circulation. Now it is back-to-school time.
We’ve gathered many online databases for early elementary through college on our website. They range from eLibrary Elementary to Gale Virtual Reference Library which provides access to reference materials on business, history, science, environment and more. Some of these resources require a KPL library card to access.
Also in the back-to-school mode, we will offer three sessions of new program Think College. Representatives from KRESA, along with our staff, will share information on preparing for college and show several test preparation resources.
Our buildings are available for studying, some locations have small study rooms for group work or tutoring. And, of course, we have staff to assist and lots of printed materials to checkout or use at the library.
I hope back-to-school went smoothly at your home.
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.
Little Free Libraries
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.
Michigan Legal Help
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.
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
The Library of Michigan recently released state wide data about public libraries, compiled from the annual reports we all submit.
Here’s some of the information I found particularly interesting or compelling:
- Michigan residents visited their public libraries over 56 million times; KPL estimates about 800,000 visits to our five locations.
- Patrons borrowed over 89,000,000 items from public libraries across the state; our circulation was 1,682,620.
- Circulation per capita is flat across the state from the previous year: 9.0.
- Over 5 million Michigan residents hold library cards; we have about 80,000 cardholders.
- 415 libraries are participating MeLCat libraries; we loan to other libraries and borrow for our patrons about an equal number of items.
- Michigan public libraries provide 11,229 computers used 13.3 million times by the public; KPL’s 100 public computers logged 184,811 sessions.
- 98% of operating income for Michigan public libraries is from the local community; we rank 32nd in state funding at just $0.91 of state money per capita.
- Children’s program attendance remains strong at most libraries; adult program attendance has declined.
- And not surprisingly, book collections have decreased over the past five years while AV, e-book, and audiobook collections have increased. Despite the decrease in book collections, they remain by far the dominant item in public library collections.
Come visit soon – at one of our five locations or via our website. We’re counting for next year’s state report.
About the Library
Last month the Kercher Center at WMU sent out a survey on behalf of the library. It was mailed to 2,000 randomly selected residents in our service area. If you didn’t get one in the mail, now you have an opportunity to express your opinion online.
Responses to the survey will help us plan for the next few years. We are interested in how you rank our current services, suggestions you might have for new services in place of current ones, and what you would reduce or eliminate if we have a major reduction in revenues.
I hope you will take 10 minutes or so to complete this survey. We want to hear from library users.
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.
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.
The awards and “best of” season continues in the entertainment and publishing fields. The Library of Michigan just announced the “2013 Michigan Notable Books.”
This designation began in 1991. Each year 20 books published during the previous year are featured. The books are about, or set in Michigan or the Great Lakes region, or are written by a native or resident of our state. Fiction and nonfiction titles with a wide appeal on an array of topics are selected.
In the news release announcing this year’s choices, our state librarian, Nancy Robertson, wrote that “this program successfully shines the spotlight on the number of talented writers and illustrators we have in Michigan; these books help tell Michigan’s story.”
By coincidence, I happened to be reading Detroit City Is the Place to Be, one of this year’s selections. I’ve also added several titles to my ever-growing list of books I’d like to read.
I hope your reading year is off to a good start; mine is.
Michigan Notable Books