From the Director

Test Prep / Career Help

I often use this blog to promote our services and events. It has been a while since I have called attention to one of my favorite services and one that amazes patrons when I happen to mention it:  Learning Express Library.

Learning Express Library is a database of online classes and video tutorials available to public libraries through the Library of Michigan. It has several components: Job and Career Accelerator; Computer Skills; Adult Learning Center; Career Center; High School Equivalency; College Prep.

If you are preparing to take an exam for a job, college, or even graduate school there is a good chance a practice test is available. If you are considering a career choice or change, there is some good info here. Want to brush up on your computer or math skills or business writing before a job interview? This is the place.

Many folks look to Google for everything. You won’t find the type of learning, practice tests, and career information through Google you will find here. Even if you don’t need it now, we all know family or friends who might find it useful. Help me spread the word about this state-provided service.


Proposition 1 - Personal Property Tax

Many governmental agencies, professional organizations, and businesses are urging a “yes” vote on Proposal 1 on August 5. This week the library board followed the lead of others and passed a resolution of support.

This proposal accomplishes two major goals without raising taxes:

  • Provides a tax cut for small businesses by ending the personal property tax they are required to pay
  • Creates a stable, reliable funding system for such services as police, fire, roads, libraries, and other community services as a replacement for personal property tax revenues

Many organizations and media outlets have published FAQ’s, impact statements, and informational bulletins.  Here is a link to the one complied by the Michigan Library Association.

The library community is hopeful this proposal will pass and eliminate some of the funding uncertainty for libraries.  


Thank You Voters!

….for the renewal of our millage on Tuesday. We are grateful for this strong confirmation of the services we are offering and the priorities we have set with community input.

Thanks to the Citizens Committee for KPL, the Friends of the Kalamazoo Public Library, our board and staff, but most importantly to the voters for this vote of support.

Come visit soon!

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Millage Renewal Approved
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/support/millage.aspx

More Books for My Reading List

I like book lists... “best of” and favorites from reviewers, friends, and our staff. I always add more titles to my “list of books-to-read-sometime.”

Here is another one: 2014 Michigan Notable Books

This list is announced each year by the Library of Michigan. The twenty books focusing on the state, notable residents, and events in our state’s history are selected by a committee of folks from libraries, bookstores and related organizations.

I’ve read a few of these books and have added a few more to my list.

2014 Michigan Notable Books:

  • Beyond Pontiac’s Shadow: Michilimackinac and the Anglo-Indian War of 1763 by Keith R. Widder (Michigan State University Press)
  • The Bird: The Life and Legacy of Mark Fidrych by Doug Wilson (Thomas Dunne Books)
  • Birth Marks by Jim Daniels (BOA Editions Ltd.)
  • Bluffton: My Summers with Buster by Matt Phelan (Candlewick Press)
  • Bootstrapper: From Broke to Badass on a Northern Farm by Mardi Jo Link, (Alfred A. Knopf)
  • The Colored Car by Jean Alicia Elster (Wayne State University Press)
  • Detroit: Race Riots, Racial Conflicts and Efforts to Bridge the Racial Divide by Joe T. Darden and Richard W. Thomas (Michigan State University Press)
  • Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff (The Penguin Press)
  • The Great Lake Sturgeon Edited by Nancy Auer and Dave Dempsey (Michigan State University Press)
  • I Invented the Modern Age: The Rise of Henry Ford by Richard Snow (Scribner)
  • In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods by Matt Bell (Soho Press)
  • November’s Fury: The Deadly Great Lakes Hurricane of 1913 by Michael Schumacher (University of Minnesota Press)
  • Poetry in… Michigan… in Poetry – Edited by William Olsen and Jack Ridl (New Issues Poetry & Prose)
  • The River Swimmer by Jim Harrison (Grove Press)
  • Something That Feels Like Truth by Donald Lystra (Northern Illinois University Press)
  • Sweetie-licious Pies: Eat Pie, Love Life by Linda Hundt, Photography by Clarissa Westmeyer (Guilford)
  • Taken Alive: The Sight’s Rock and Roll Tour Diary by Eddie Baranek, Edited and Forward by Brian Smith (Hiros Rise Music)
  • Tear–Down: Memoir of a Vanishing City by Gordon Young (University of California Press)
  • Tuesdays With Todd and Brad Reed: A Michigan Tribute by Brad Reed and Todd Reed (Todd & Brad Reed Photography)
  • The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works Edited by Ron Riekki (Wayne State University Press)

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2014 Michigan Notable Books
michigan-notable-books-logo-160
http://www.michigan.gov/libraryofmichigan/0,2351,7-160-54574_39583---,00.html

Back to School

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.

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Think College
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/teens/think-college/

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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http://kalamazoolittlefreelibraries.com/

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
legal-help-160
http://www.MichiganLegalHelp.com

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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/about/

All Things Local History

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.

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All About Kalamazoo History
local-history-logo-160
http://www.kpl.gov/local-history/all-about-kalamazoo/

Library Use Across the State

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.

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About the Library
kpl-2013-03-02-031-160
/about/ 

We want to hear from you!

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.

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Online Survey
online-help-160
https://wmichcas.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_9QNAGnNGoUTtZeB

Bed Bugs

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.

Bed Bug Information »

News Release »

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Bed Bugs
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/guides/bed-bugs/

E-Reading vs. Print Reading

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.

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eBooks
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/ebooks/

Michigan Notable Books

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.

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Michigan Notable Books
michigan-notable-book-logo-160
http://www.michigan.gov/notablebooks

State Recognition for Customer Service

I’m pleased to share some good news… KPL was one of three libraries in the state to be recognized for excellence in customer service by our state librarian at last week’s state conference in Detroit.

Hopkins District Library joined us in receiving “Citations of Excellence.” A middle school library in the Howell Public Schools won the “State Librarian’s Excellence Award.”

Our recognition was based on our Customer Service Plan set in 2007 and sustained by a staff committee that continues to define, measure, recognize, and reward staff for excellence in customer service. We most recently revised our plan to include a “Code of Service” that outlines and defines the level of service expected from our staff.

An important dimension of our customer service is our collaboration and partnership with other community organizations, especially Kalamazoo Public Schools. All KPS first graders visit a KPL location three times during the year, “First Saturday @ KPL” encourages families to make library visits part of their weekend routine, and “Lift Up Through Literacy” includes education and literacy initiatives for families.

We are honored to be recognized for this state honor.

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State Librarian's Excellence Award
2012-citation-of-excellence-160
http://www.kpl.gov/news/default.aspx?id=15032389324&blogid=1844

Happy Birthday, MeL

The Michigan eLibrary, known as MeL, just celebrated its 20th birthday.

MeL was launched in 1992, just as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was funding computers for libraries and internet became affordable through the e-rate program. MeL provided the content.

MeL’s centerpiece is a collection of databases that support homework, small business, job searches, and general informational inquiries. There are now over 1,000,000 full-text article retrievals each year.

MeLCat, the state wide catalog for interlibrary loan, includes the holdings of 415 participating libraries. Each year, there are also over 1,000,000 requests for materials to be shared statewide, by sending the item to a user’s home library or by sending the user to the home library of the item, if it cannot be loaned.

Our statewide system is considered a model of efficiency in the tech world. MeL users consider it a model of the good use of federal money to benefit library services.

Happy 20th birthday to MeL from the 140 year old KPL! It’s a month of library birthdays.

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Michigan eLibrary (MeL)
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/melcat/

Moving to an E-World

A recent library publication included some statistics to show “its’s an ‘e’ world”. Some of them seemed worth sharing:

• 2,267,233,742 - Internet users worldwide

• 644,275,754 – number of websites as of March 2012

• 47,097 – magazines, newspapers, newsletters, TV/radio transcripts around the world that offer online full text, up from about 5,500 in 2000

• 112 – number of e-mails sent and received each day by the typical user

• 183% - increase in public library e-book collections in the past year

Of course KPL’s holdings reflect this shift to an ‘e’ world also. These statistics are from our annual report to the Library of Michigan submitted earlier this year:

• 1,352 – downloadable audio items

• 4,184 – e-books available

• 16 – database subscriptions

Most of our holdings are still in “physical units”: print books, DVDs, CDs, but we are increasingly moving to the ‘e’ world also.

Come visit soon – through our website for e-resources or any of our buildings.

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eBooks
numbers-2012-160
/ebooks/

Congratulations, Bobbe!

Bobbe Luce, the director of ONEplace@KPL, our nonprofit management support center, was honored last week as one of five 2012 YWCA Women of Achievement. Congratulations on this well deserved recognition, Bobbe.

Bobbe joined the KPL staff about 3 ½ years ago to establish this resource center with the goal of “developing and operating a nonprofit management support center designed to address the capacity-building needs of the nonprofit organizations in Kalamazoo County.” Although part of the library organizational structure, the service is funded by local foundations, primarily the Kalamazoo Community Foundation and the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation.

100% of survey responses from nonprofits who have participated in educational programs or networking opportunities, used the resources on the website, checked out materials from the collection, or received one-on-one assistance rate the service as “very satisfying” or “excellent.” Clearly this service is meeting a community need.

On behalf of the library, thank you, Bobbe, for leading this community service.

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Bobbe Luce
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/staff/bobbe-luce.aspx

Good Films Coming This Week!

This is the week of the 9th annual Teen Filmmaker Festival; Sunday, February 26, 2:30 pm at Rave Motion Pictures in downtown Kalamazoo.

As in years past, we put out the call for teen-produced and directed films by Michigan teens from 13—18 years old. Films from the finalists will be shown at this special event, open to movie fans of all ages.

Prizes will be awarded for best film, best animation, best experimental film, best documentary, best short film, best technical merit, best music video, and judges’ choice; the people’s choice award will be chosen by the audience.

If past years are any indication, there will be a wide variety of creative films with interesting technical effects, some funny, some serious. I expect to once again be amazed by what these teens have produced.

Although the festival is free, tickets are needed. The Rave will be distributing tickets on a first-come, first served basis on Sunday, the day of the festival, beginning at 11 am when they open.

See you there.

teen-filmmaker-fest-2011-598.jpg

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Teen Filmmaker Festival
teen-filmmaker-fest-2012-logo-160
http://www.kpl.gov/teens/filmmakerfest/

Happy Birthday to MeLCat!

Last week I wrote about our recent birthday party to celebrate the 115th anniversary of Children’s Services at KPL. I also wrote that 2012 is a milestone year for many of our services with more celebrations ahead.

Well, I didn’t have in mind that January 10 was the 7th birthday for MeLCat, our statewide shared catalog and the basis for interlibrary loan. Each month we borrow about 1,300 items for our patrons from other libraries AND we loan about the same number to other libraries across the state. A delivery service moves the items within days to wherever they are needed, then back to the home library.

Patrons can place their own holds and be notified when the item is ready to be picked up at their home library. If we don’t have what you need, it may be available through MeLCat.

Happy 7th birthday MeLCat!

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MeLCat
mel-org-logo-160
/melcat/

Personal Property Tax: A Critical Source of Library Funding

Several weeks ago, I wrote about library funding threats with the proposal to eliminate personal property tax. The issue continues to receive media attention across the state but most of the coverage does not mention that personal property tax (PPT) is a critical source of local library funding.

The legislature will take up this issue in January. The library community is committed to informing our legislators and our patrons of the importance of this revenue source and what it would mean if it was eliminated and not replaced.

Personal property tax is a tax paid by businesses, not individuals or homeowners. It is based on the tangible or physical assets of a business such as office furniture, computers, industrial machinery and equipment, copy and fax machines. It is not a tax on land and buildings.

About 10%, $1.2 million, of our revenue is from personal property tax. If PPT was eliminated and not replaced by a guaranteed, stable funding source for libraries, KPL would be forced to make significant reductions in our programs and services, in addition to those we have already made. We would further reduce services hours at all locations, eliminate adult programming and reduce youth programming, have fewer public computers , buy fewer new materials…..basically all services would be reduced, with some eliminated.

KPL, like most libraries, is increasingly busy. Our circulation is up 31% in the first six months of the year; computer use, patron assistance, attendance at events – all up.

The library community is advocating “replace, don’t erase” the personal property tax. If eliminated, it needs to be replaced. Our board of trustees has adopted a resolution supporting that approach.

Please ask your state representative or senator to fully replace the tax, consider writing a letter to the editor, and share this library threat with others.

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Replace Don't Erase
replace-dont-erase-160
http://www.mml.org/advocacy/replace-dont-erase/index.html

Year-End Donations

It is the time of year when we all received many solicitations for a wide range of good and worthy causes.

The library does not conduct an annual fundraising campaign nor send out a solicitation request but, of course, donations are always welcome and greatly appreciated.

Unfortunately, from our perspective, charitable contributions to nonprofits, like the library, were eliminated in Michigan’s tax reforms for 2012. That means this year, 2011, is the last year your cash donation to the library could earn up to a 50% Michigan tax credit.

Currently, a maximum gift of $400 to the library by a married couple filing jointly earns a Michigan tax credit of $200. With the similar federal deduction, the actual cost of that $400 gift is just $76.

A donation to the library can be designated for a specific collection, such as large print or children’s; a location such as your neighborhood branch; or a service such as Ready to Read, Reading Together, adult programming. Undesignated gifts are directed where they are needed most.

We appreciate if you think of the library when you are considering your year-end giving, keeping in mind the change in the tax laws for next year.

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Support the Library
December-31-160
/support/financial-gifts/

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.

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American Education Week
american-education-week-2011-160
http://www.nea.org/aew

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.

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Michigan Library Association
2011-mla-logo-160
http://www.mla.lib.mi.us/events

Library Funding Threat Continues

The proposal to eliminate personal property tax in our state has been well covered in the media. Most of the articles or opinion pieces have not mentioned however, that personal property tax is a critical source of local library funding.

If personal property tax is eliminated and not fully replaced, KPL will lose about $1.2 million or about 10% of our revenue. Some Michigan public libraries depend on this tax for up to 50% of their funding.

KPL has not yet determined the exact reductions we would make to accommodate a revenue loss of this magnitude. Certainly we would reduce staffing, programming, and materials purchases but we would likely also be forced to eliminate entire services, reduce hours, and perhaps close branches.

The library community is advocating to “replace, don’t erase” the personal property tax. If it is eliminated, it needs to be fully replaced by a guaranteed, stable source of funding for all libraries.

Please ask your legislators to fully replace the personal property tax, consider writing a letter to the editor, and share this library threat with other in our community.

Contact your Michigan Representative | Contact your Senator

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Replace Don't Erase
replace-dont-erase-160
http://www.mml.org/advocacy/replace-dont-erase/index.html

2011 State History Award

The Historical Society of Michigan presented its 2011 State History Awards at their recent 137th annual meeting and conference. I’m pleased to report that KPL won the award in the “newsletters and websites” category for the local history section of our website “All About Kalamazoo History.”

The announcement described the 600 interconnected web pages covering more than 20 categories with basic as well as detailed information. It was cited as “an invaluable resource for researchers ranging from middle school students competing in history day to genealogists.”

Of course we are pleased to receive this recognition but even more importantly, we are pleased and hopeful that the announcement of this award and the accompanying publicity, will prompt even more use of the resources our staff has created.

I congratulate and thank our local history and website staff for their work and foresight in developing the local history section of the KPL website. I’m confident you will find something of interest there even if you don’t consider yourself a genealogist or a local history enthusiast.

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2011 State History Award
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/local-history/all-about-kalamazoo/2011-state-history-award.aspx

Banned Books

We will be celebrating the 30th annual Banned Books Week (BBW) with Art Hop and a Read Out on Friday evening, October 7, from 5 to 8 pm.

BBW celebrates the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. It draws attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the country.

Again, as in recent years, we are partnering with the local chapter of the ACLU to sponsor an art contest inspired by one of the six books most frequently challenged or banned. The submissions will be on display during Art Hop. The winner will be announced at the event and later posted on the KPL and ACLU websites.

In addition to the art, the Read Out will focus on read aloud passages from challenged or banned books. You might be surprised at some of them: Shel Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic, Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, to name a few.

Many authors whose books have been challenged are participating in Read Outs around the country. Authors as well as readers are raising awareness of book censorship by posting videos on YouTube of themselves reading from their favorite banned books.

Celebrate and appreciate your freedom to read whatever you want to read!

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Banned Books Art Contest
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/events/art-contest.aspx

Funding Threats

Our state legislature is considering the elimination of personal property tax (PPT), a tax paid by businesses on industrial equipment. PPT is a critical source of funding for municipalities and public libraries.

The average public library receives 11% of its revenue from PPT, some libraries as much as 30%. KPL is at the average with about 11% of our revenue from PPT.

The decline over the past few years in property taxable values has reduced library budgets, including ours. As library users know, we eliminated bookmobile service, reduced hours at branches and law library, reduced staff by about 10%, and cut expenditures in most all budget categories.

If PPT is eliminated, it must be totally replaced by a guaranteed, stable source of funding if library services are to continue at even near their current level. Without a replacement, we will be forced to consider a further reduction in hours, closing branches, reducing or eliminating programming, reducing staff.

Library use is soaring. We had record breaking circulation of library materials during our summer reading games and strong program attendance. Our public computers are full during most open hours and library visits have increased.

The Michigan Library Association is lobbying on behalf of libraries. They are reminding our legislators the PPT is a critical source of funding for public libraries and if it is eliminated, it needs to be replaced. I urge you to contact your legislator too.

Contact your Michigan Representative | Contact your Senator

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Replace Don't Erase
replace-dont-erase-160
http://www.mml.org/advocacy/replace-dont-erase/index.html

Publishing Pace

It has long been the rule of thumb within the publishing industry that the hardcover edition of a book was released first, followed by a large print edition and audio version, then a paperback edition about a year or so later, depending upon the pace of sales for the hardcover. That’s changing.

The first change I noticed was the release of the large print and audio versions soon after the hardcover. Now the ebook version is in the mix too. The ebook is released with the hardcover and sometimes before the hardcover OR sometimes just an ebook and no hardcover.

There is now an urgency to release the paperback sooner, following the model of Hollywood which has shortened the time between the theatrical release of a film and the DVD release. Publishers now watch each title’s sales quite closely to determine the best time to release the paperback and continue the momentum of the title. That could be just a few months to more than a year.

The entire publishing cycle is faster. Hardcovers have less time to prove themselves; ebooks sales are strongest at initial publication and do not spike again with the paperback release.

We purchase popular titles in all of these formats, some simultaneously, some staggered as they are released. In addition to various formats, we also purchase for special collections such as Hot Picks and Book Club in a Bag.

Come visit soon – I hope we have the title you want in the format you prefer.

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Books
stack-of-books-160
/books/

4th of July Thoughts

There are a few times during the year when it seems logical to pause and consider the role of public libraries – National Library Week and Banned Books Week come immediately to mind but the 4th of July is another one as we think about our country’s history. The public library is an American invention. Early European libraries were subscription based. Supposedly it was the citizens of Peterborough, NH, who introduced the radial concept of a truly public library in 1833. By the 1870’s, eleven states had 188 public libraries, including Michigan and Kalamazoo with the establishment of KPL in 1872.

Fast forward to today. Nationally 2/3’s of the population carry library cards, about half visit a public library at least once a year.

Business is strong for public libraries, including KPL. During economic hard times people turn to the public library to borrow books, DVDs, attend programs, and use computers for job searching. Library use is increasing as funding decreases. KPL has had record breaking use this past year; as we begin our new year on July 1, our primary source of revenue, local property tax, is reduced.

Come visit soon. We continue to offer a wide range of materials and array of programs and have a staff ready to help you.

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The History of the Library 
july-4th-graphic-160
http://www.history-magazine.com/libraries.html

State Funding for Libraries

With the approval of the state budget last week, appropriations for library support, including MeL, the Michigan eLibrary, are now in place.

State aid to public libraries remains about the same as does support for the Library of Michigan - the same, that is, as last year, but reduced substantially over the past several years.

The best news for library patrons is that funding for MeL will continue. We expect a similar array of databases for the next three years, October 2011 through September 2014, as has been offered, including continuation of the recently added Job and Career Accelerator.

Funding for MeLCat, the interlibrary loan system, is also now in place. KPL patrons borrow about 1,500 items per month through this system; KPL loans just as many to patrons of other libraries across the state. I’m pleased this popular, well-used service will continue.

Thanks to patrons who contacted their legislators to advocate for library funding.

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MeLCat
mel-org-logo-160
/melcat/

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

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
1980-tornado-amy-j-11-160
/local-history/general/tornado.aspx

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.

Book

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

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/

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

Book

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

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/

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
mel-org-logo-160
/melcat/

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

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/

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/

Statewide Library Statistics

The Library of Michigan has just released the 2009 edition of Michigan Public Libraries Data Digest, a compilation of activity in our state’s public libraries. The data is pulled from the annual reports we all submit to the state and covers fiscal year 2008/2009.

The digest includes a brief five year comparison between 2003 and 2008. Numbers / usage is up in all areas: items available, hours open to the public, programs offered, use of computers. This growth, during a time of reduced budgets for many public libraries, is encouraging. Many libraries, including KPL, have reduced hours, tightened materials budgets, and reexamined programming.

In other interesting, fun statistics:

  • Michigan public libraries hold over 35 million books, almost four for every resident.
  • Each resident checks out an average of over 8 items per year.
  • Public libraries entertained and educated over 2.5 million people with our programs.
  • We received 52.7 million visitors, double the number of visitors to our state parks.
  • Combined, Michigan public libraries encompass more than 5 times the size of Ford Field Football Stadium!

Come visit soon – check out “your” four books, attend a program, use a computer, ask a question.

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Michigan Public Libraries Data Digest
lm-2009-data-digest-160
http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mde/lm_2009_DataDigest_325316_7.pdf

The State of America’s Libraries

The annual report, The State of America’s Libraries, was released last week, National Library Week, by the American Library Association.

Its findings and conclusions confirm what KPL and most public libraries are experiencing and discussing at our conferences, on email lists, and wherever library staff gather: Americans are turning to their libraries in ever increasing numbers for all types of resources but at the same time funding from all sources is decreasing.

The report addresses public, school and academic libraries; technology; construction and renovation; social networking; legislation; outreach; copyright.

The many statistics confirm that overall use of public libraries is up 23% at over 16,600 locations across the country. Libraries are being turned to in increasing numbers for access to employment resources, continuing education, government services, and the more traditional ones of free access to books, magazines, CDs, DVDs.

The report refers to a “perfect storm of growing demand and shrinking resources”. Half of the states have reduced funding to libraries; a majority of states report a decrease of 5 – 10% in local funding to public libraries. Not surprisingly, many have reduced staff, hours, services.

KPL is not immune; we also expect a decrease in local revenues for next year. As reported previously on our blogs and in LINK, we have made a variety of reductions and are in the midst of strategic planning to determine our priorities and the goals to support those priorities for the next several years. We’ll continue to share the outcomes of that process on our website and in our publications over the coming months.

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State Of America's Libraries Report 2010
state-of-americas-libraries-160
http://www.ala.org/ala/newspresscenter/mediapresscenter/americaslibraries/index.cfm

Vote for Obama @ K-Central!

We join all the others throughout the community in urging you to vote in the Commencement Challenge to have President Obama as Kalamazoo Central’s commencement speaker.

K-Central is one of six finalists in the nation, the only one in Michigan, selected to compete. View the three-minute student-produced video and vote by 11:59 PM on Thursday, April 29, to narrow the field from six contestants to three. President Obama will choose the winner.

(Kalamazoo Gazette photo, John A. Lacko)

Watch as White House staff notify the six finalists.

More information about the Commencement Challenge is available on the White House website, and today’s post by Education Secretary Arne Duncan on the White House blog.

Vote Kalamazoo!

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Vote Kalamazoo!
vote-for-kalamazoo-central-160
http://www.votekalamazoo.com/

Networking With Other Libraries

About twice a year, several directors from class 6 public libraries, those serving a population over 100,000, get together and talk informally. This informal group currently includes six public library directors from the southern and central areas of Michigan. Some of us have been in our positions or libraries for years and years, others of us are relatively new. We exchange topics in advance and all come prepared to share ideas and advice with each other.

We met last week. Not surprisingly, the first topic we all wanted to talk about was the decline in local revenue we are all experiencing, and how each library is adapting services and staffing. Other topics included the decrease in funding for the Library of Michigan and how it will impact public library patrons, strategic planning being undertaken by several of us, community collaborations, increasing emphasis on self-services for patrons.

Although we are all in the same “business,” many of our services and community emphases are quite different. We have much to learn from each other, much to share. I always return from these gathering with some new ideas to consider for KPL. For me, this is networking at it finest!

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Networking; Strategic Planning
networking-opportunities-160
/strategic-planning/