Today’s economic climate for small businesses is by no means an easy one. Credit lines and bank loans have all but dried up as the recession continues to take its toll on existing businesses that are struggling to stay afloat. Financing a business start-up has become a difficult prospect these days, making crucial the decisions you make about the future of your business or that concept that you’d like to see developed. But if you’ve resolved to fashion yourself as an entrepreneur in 2010, be sure to gather the facts, opinions, and realistic assessments from those whose mission it is to provide educational support, mentoring and counsel to the small business community. In Kalamazoo County, small businesses can work with non-profit organizations like SCORE and the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center to strengthen their existing enterprises, while those who are seeking information about starting a business may attend free or low cost workshops that cover the business planning basics. And don’t forget to do your research here at the library by accessing our Small Business Collection, comprised of books, periodicals, reference materials, and databases. Here are some helpful links:
SCORE Kalamazoo Chapter
Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center
Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce
Michigan Business One Stop
Calling Kalamazoo home, Lloyd and the Fellas formed in February 2009. At its concert on December 16, the band performed its own compositions plus a handful of shape note songs from the Sacred Harp tradition. This is music to really listen to – thoughtful lyrics combined with skillful acoustic instrumentation. Lloyd and the Fellas has a promising future and we look forward to hearing more from these talented musicians.
Lloyd and the Fellas
Linda Mah’s December 9 column in the Gazette highlighted the Nurse Family Partnership (NFP). This is an intensive home-intervention program that supports young, vulnerable, first time mom’s and their babies from pregnancy through the child’s second birthday. I’m proud to say Kalamazoo Public Library is a stakeholder in this valuable program.
NFP is federally funded but requires a local/MI match, and for months the future of Kalamazoo County’s NFP has been in jeopardy. Thanks to some money released from a reserve held by Kalamazoo County and a grant from the Kellogg Foundation, the NFP is secure for another year. Through the library’s Ready to Read early childhood literacy program, we provide books for the nearly 200 babies and moms served by the NFP. The NFP nurses deliver the books and promote family reading during their frequent home visits. Thanks to the Nurse Family Partnership and its dedicated staff, KPL has found another important way to extend its reach into the community.
We’re glad to have this opportunity to help young mothers get started reading aloud to their children early and often!
As an added service to our patrons, the Reference Desk at Central Library now has headphones and flash drives available for purchase.
Headphones are available for sale to the public at a cost of $2.75 each. The Reference Desk also has 256MB flash drives available at a cost of just $5.00 per drive.
A “public” flash drive is available at the desk for assisting with temporary storage or transfer issues, but this will give our patrons the option of purchasing a drive for their personal use at a reasonable price.
Around this time every year, I receive several phone calls from frustrated patrons, requesting information about laws related to the removal of snow from city sidewalks. And each year, I pull out the city ordinances to read from the law's text. Usually at this point, the patron continues to argue that homeowners, business owners, and the occupants of homes and apartments are in violation of the law for not shoveling the obstructing precipitation. And each year, I try my hardest to explain to the patron that just because a law is on the books, doesn't necessarily mean that it will be enforced in all cases.
Many ordinances are just that, difficult to enforce and so it is the obligation of the citizenry to make sure that they are following the law so that their fellow citizens, many of whom have disabilities or are elderly, are able to access cleared away sidewalks. For those who are caught and cited, there are penalties. How many of us while driving are shocked and angered to find persons walking in the street, many of whom would surely find the comforts and safety of the sidewalk more appealing if more of their fellow citizens made an effort in complying with the ordinance. Of course, there are those who will stubbornly choose to endanger both drivers and themselves by walking in the street during inclement weather regardless of the sidewalk's condition or the sturdiness of their footwear. As far as I know, stubbornness has yet to be outlawed. The City of Kalamazoo's snow removal laws are 33-18, 33-19 and 33-20 and can be read here.
Kevin tells us that workers plan to install the RFID equipment on Tuesday, December 1st, assuming that all goes according to plan. The equipment being used is being custom designed, so additional installation time may be necessary.
Staff training will begin this week with hopes that we can make self checkout available to patrons next week. Staff members will be available to help patrons with the self-check as needed.
Note: Workers encountered a small snafu on Tuesday while installing the kiosk. Hopefully, it will be up and running by Wednesday and available for patrons to begin using next week.
Self Checkout Kiosk
During the week of November 23, the barricades will again be erected so workers can begin installing the Checkout Kiosk. The kiosk will be located in the tiled area in front of the circulation desk. Once the kiosk is built and operational patrons will be able to check out their own materials at one of the three stations!
You may also have noticed a temporary circulation desk located under the stairs. Soon the circulation staff will begin moving into the space to make sure there are no interruptions to service. We will also be moving patron holds out from behind the desk, so you can retrieve them yourself. All of these changes are happening to not only take advantage of new technologies, but to also find efficiencies and save money.
The changes are coming quickly, so check back often to find out what else KPL is doing to improve service.
Renovation at Central Library
Nostalgia, recession-induced frugality, and a desire to have more control over what goes into food are reasons why many cooks are trying homemade versions of their favorite condiments.
Julie Stanley, owner of Food Dance Café, demonstrated how easy it is to make your own ketchup, ranch dressing, chutney and butterscotch sauce. All four were made in less than one hour without causing a load of dirty dishes.
All of these condiments are made with ingredients readily found at the supermarket. And, while many ketchup recipes call for long, slow cooking of tomatoes, Julie showed us a shortcut involving canned tomato paste.
And what about taste? We sampled these creations and confirmed that homemade does indeed taste better. For instance, there’s no comparison between ranch dressing from a bottle and one you whisk up from scratch with sour cream, buttermilk and fresh herbs.
Download and print Julie’s recipes from the program PDF
Use the season’s cooler weather and longer nights to rediscover the kitchen. Homemade foods make special gifts or memorable accents to any family gathering. For some ideas, browse KPL’s vast collection of cookery books.
Installation of the kiosk across from the circulation desk at central is behind schedule. There are several reasons, but a major one is a delay in approval of the shop drawings because of a reconsideration of the aluminum corner detail. Once that was settled, shop drawings were completed and approved, and the corner element ordered only to find it is out of stock; it’s typically available and in stock, we were told.
We had built in about six weeks of “overlap”, that is, time when we would have the checkout kiosk up and running AND the current circ desk still in operation. We will shorten that time to one to two weeks and still be close to the target completion date of the end of December.
We have decided to take down the wooden partitions in the meantime and they are being taken down this morning. We had previously planned for the first floor desk staffing to end tomorrow, Oct 31, expecting the checkout units would be in place. We will hold to that timing and the first floor desk will be removed next week; we just have a delay on the checkout units.
With the wooden partitions down but the kiosk not yet in place, there are some electrical plates on the floor where the kiosk will be that could become a trip hazard in the meantime. To avoid that happening, we’ll move some furniture there. This means you may see some furniture, plants, whatever, sitting there that looks a bit out of place. We’ll do our best to prevent a trip hazard and make it look at least OK! That seems better than bright orange cones for several weeks!
Central Library Renovation
Anyone who has been around the West Michigan blues and festival scene during the past decade is certainly no stranger to the award-winning Blue Moon Blues Band. In one incarnation or another, these folks have been part of the Kalamazoo Blues Festival and WRKR’s wintertime blues series at the State Theatre for years, sharing local and regional stages with the likes of Bernard Allison, Smokin' Joe Kubec, Son Seals, Hubert Sumlin, Lonnie Brooks, Jimmy Johnson… the list goes on and on. Blue Moon was also awarded a WYCE radio “Jammie” for best local blues album debut.
But last Wednesday’s performance at Central Library – show number seventeen in KPL’s ongoing Live Music series – was a unique chapter in this versatile band’s history. With equipment stripped to the bare essentials – share n’ hi-hat, acoustic guitars, piano and all, Blue Moon gave the crowd of sixty or so a chance to hear some band favorites, unique covers and homegrown originals in a more intimate than usual setting. For many of us, this was also the first opportunity to witness the band with its new lead vocalist, Bryan Michael Fischer. What a treat! These guys have grown from an adequate cover band into a true performance powerhouse. WMUK’s Mark Sahlgren (Grass Roots) summed the show up in one word… “Wow!”
Highlights included some rippin’ cover tunes like “Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie” (Clarence Smith), “My Babe” (Willie Dixon), “Bring It On Home To Me” (Sam Cooke), and a blistering version of B.B. King’s “The Thrill Is Gone.” The show also featured several band originals, including public debut of the brand new, somewhat Santana-esque “Heart Has Turned to Stone” - a very cool tune. And of course, they dedicated “Miss Ann” to our library director!
“Thanks so much and please tell everyone at the library that we were honored to perform there and we had an awesome time!” – Bill LaValley, Blue Moon Blues Band
Check out Blue Moon CDs from the KPL catalog, and visit the band’s MySpace page for some recent pix and tasty song samples. Be sure to catch the band’s final performance (sniff...) on November 14 at Bell’s Eccentric Café.
And… there’s plenty more music coming at KPL, too… don’t miss a special performance by Stacey Earle & Mark Stuart on November 1st, and be sure to visit (and bookmark) KPL’s music page for highlights of past shows and more terrific upcoming performances.
Blue Moon Blues Band
Those who packed Van Deusen Room were very privileged to hear David Small discuss the story and process behind his National Book Award nominated graphic memoir, Stitches, in a world premiere event on September 10, 2009.
The interview was set-up to resemble the popular television show Inside the Actor’s Studio, which provided David with a casual atmosphere to discuss Stitches. He answered a variety of questions about his life growing up in 1950’s Detroit with a family that could hardly be described as tightly knit.
The presentation also included some fabulous animated videos of the books, shots of sketches, and panel by panel storyboards. David was candid about both the physical and emotional wounds which took years to finally stitch together into a memoir that will touch many lives.
A second David Small visit is being planned for 2010, so please check the website often for more details.
David Small’s Presentation
Listen to David Small’s presentation (44:52)
Download David Small’s presentation as a podcast (MP3 audio file)
Watch David’s complete presentation in the series of videos below.
The tile path from Central Library’s front door now extends all the way to the winding stair leading to the second floor.
Over the coming two weeks, workers will pull wire for power and data lines, install the new checkout kiosk and the 3M Library Systems’ selfcheck equipment. Patrons may be able to use the new check out service by early November.
Want to try out this new service before then? Visit Oshtemo Branch Library or use the checkout kiosk in Central Library’s Children’s Room.
Beginning October 5, we will be making improvements to the Circulation Desk area at Central to take advantage of the new RFID technology and most importantly to better serve you.
The first step is to install new tiles to the spiral staircase. Currently the tile simply ends (think Shel Silverstein) but upon completion it will lead directly to the bottom step. This move paves the way for the Checkout Kiosk, which will allow patrons to check out their own materials.
If you have a question, do not hesitate to contact me.
Central Library renovation
Storytime with Mr. Steve & Friends started off with a bang with special guest Professor Code from Western Michigan University's School of Music.
Professor Code shared four different instruments with us: the Swedish nyckelharpa (keyed fiddle), the Norwegian hardingfele (Harding fiddle), the Norwegian seljefløyta (willow flute) and the munnharpa (mouth harp).
Bean Bag Balance Record!
He also broke our bean bag balance record, balancing 13 bean bags on his head while counting in Norwegian!
Join us for books, rhymes, crafts, parachute games, and a surprise special guest at the next Storytime with Mr. Steve & Friends on Monday, October 26 at 6:30 pm at the Central Library.
Storytime with Mr. Steve & Friends
By the time autumn arrives, many gardens are looking a bit spent and shabby. Gardeners themselves may feel a bit spent and shabby, too, but now’s the time to muster energy and prepare for next year’s growing season.
Bruce Shultz, a long-time gardener and volunteer with Fair Food Matters, spoke at Oshtemo on Sept. 14 sharing tips for how to put the garden to bed. At this time of year, we should clean up debris from annual plants, but leave parts from perennials in place. Add amendments to the soil — compost, fertilizers, leaves, lime or the like — so these nutrients have time to settle in over the winter. Autumn is the time to plant cover crops or relocate bulbs and spring flowering perennials. Pruning, too, can be accomplished now.
But Shultz also encouraged us to think about gardening year-round, not as an activity between Memorial Day and Labor Day. “Why put the garden to bed at all?” he asked.
Extend the growing season with protection. Row covers, cold frames, tunnels, cloches and straw can give you an early start in spring and fend off autumn frosts. Another way to extend the growing season is to bring it indoors. Shultz starts his garden by planting seeds and letting them get a good start under grow lights. He’s out planting peas in March as soon as the soil is soft. When the weather turns cool, in comes the large potted rosemary shrub. And, they may be old-fashioned, but they definitely work: root cellars. They store produce at a cool but not freezing temperature.
To read more about gardening year round, check out these books by Eliot Coleman.
Bruce Shultz, Fair Food Matters volunteer
As a law librarian, I’m always on the lookout for information sources (both print and online) that a lay person can read and understand without having to have a law degree. It can often be a challenge to impart complex legal concepts to the general public. Law library staff relies heavily on referring library users to our extensive collection of free bookmarks, brochures and booklets, many of which are available on racks next to the law library's entrance. We try to put the information in your hands so that you can empower yourself with the knowledge that can inform your actions and decisions. Some of our most popular handouts include: Peace of Mind, Tenants and Landlords: A Practical Guide, Kalamazoo County's Friend of the Court Handbook, Small Claims Court, and many others that span a wide range of legal topics.
Come and visit the Alma Powell Branch and view our newest art acquisition Sudan: land of blood. During our June Art Hop we greatly appreciated the Sudan: Land of Blood along with many other extraordinary paintings in Fred Zemlick’s exhibition. At the closing of his June and July showing Fred Zemlick honored our branch by presenting this gift of art to the library.
We are hoping that many people from the Powell community will stop in and tell us what the Sudan: land of blood says to them. What is its message? What does it symbolize?
The Powell Branch would like to thank Fred Zemlick for showing his work in our Barnabee Gallery and giving us this valued piece of art for our branch. Fred’s next showing will be at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Portage. And in October he will be at the new Midtown Gallery on the Mall.
Sudan: Land of Blood
Michael Zadoorian grew up in a suburb of the Motor City, so it makes sense that the characters in his new novel The Leisure Seeker travel on a classic American road, Route 66. This novel is easily one of the best love stories I have read in years. John and Ella are taking one last trip in their “recreational sarcophagus” before their serious medical conditions overtake them. John has Alzheimer’s and Ella is riddled with cancer, but that does not stop them from going to pay homage to the “Mouse” in Anaheim.
On July 22nd, Zadoorian visited KPL to provide the background to this hilarious and touching novel. It gave all who attended insight on how true love can survive sickness, roadside diners, and lack of air-conditioning in Texas.
The Leisure Seeker
A crowed of some 93 would-be chicken owners flocked to the library on August 3 to learn about the care and feeding of urban hens, and the laws and ordinances governing such practices.
The guest stars — five hens of various breeds — were charming and tolerant.
Co-sponsored by Fair Food Matters, the program featured Lori Evesque who shared her experiences in raising chickens from downy chicks to egg-laying adulthood.
Not all communities are chicken-friendly, said attorney Suzanne Klein who explained that statutes and ordinances vary according to where you live. Curious whether your community allows chickens in the yard? Pay a visit to KPL’s Law Library.
If you’d like to read more about raising chickens, here are two selections to check out:
Keeping Chickens: The Essential Guide to Enjoying and Getting the Best from Chickens by J.C. Jeremy Hobson and How to Raise Chickens: Everything You Need to Know by Christine Heinrichs.
Fair Food Matters
In some libraries across the country you will still find what is commonly known as a “Listening Room.” These rooms were usually equipped with technology to play the music in the library’s collection. On July 15th the Van Deusen Room turned into a huge “Listening Room,” but instead of listening to something on LP or CD patrons were treated to the sweet sounds of Mark Duval and Two-Track Mind. The super intimate setting allowed concert-goers the chance to absorb the touching and powerful lyrics of Kalamazoo singer-songwriter Duval. The band comprised of Traci Seuss (vocals, guitar), Bill Caskey (bass), and Cori Summers (violin) were tight and entrancing. How often do you get to experience an amazing live show in such a great atmosphere?
Mark Duval, Two-Track Mind
http://www.catalog.kpl.gov/uhtbin/cgisirsi/x/0/0/5?searchdata1=Two-Track Mind%7BTI%7D+AND+Mark Duval%7BAU%7D
Writing effectively is a struggle for many of us, but in the end it can (and should) be an incredibly satisfying experience. On July 1st, Jo Wiley led a creative writing workshop at the Oshtemo Branch Library, exploring “a variety of creative writing genres.” Participants were invited to bring along their creative ideas and ask questions about the writing process and publishing.
With more than a dozen participants registered, the program was highly successful. Here are a few follow-up notes from the program facilitator that shed light on the scope of the workshop...
“After a general discussion about why we, in particular, write and then, in general, why writers write, I introduced the participants to the concept of poetry’s ‘abiding image,’” said Ms. Wiley, “and they did a multi-stepped exercise resulting in them establishing an ‘abiding image’ for themselves. Using their responses to the exercise, I then introduced development strategies for poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction. I offered them the option of developing a poem at home and mailing it to me for feedback, if they’d like.”
A full-time instructor at Western Michigan University’s Haworth College of Business, Jo Wiley was the recipient of the 2009 Community Literary Award for Adult Poetry, an annual competition sponsored by the Kalamazoo Gazette, Kalamazoo Public Library and Portage District Library.
“With poetry,” she added, “we talked a lot about language and structure; fiction we reviewed the ‘seven basic plots,’ and then creative nonfiction we talked mostly about the differences between CNF and fiction and when and why writers chose one over the other. I ended the workshop with some information and discussion on ‘the writer's life’ and publishing.”
With a primary interest in creative nonfiction, the same group plans to meet later in the month to focus on essay writing.
Nashville based, Michigan born singer-songwriter, Joe Nolan performed outside under Central's portico to a large crowd of music fans on June 5th. The event was part of the Art Hop and kicked off our huge slate of events to entertain everyone during the hot summer months. Many of the hundreds of people strolling around town stopped to listen to Joe's unique style which is a blend of Bob Dylan and Tom Waits. In addition to his performing his own material, Nolan randomly read from some books he brought to the concert. The outdoor show was very successful and proved to be a most excellent start to the music being featured at KPL during the summer!
A capacity crowd arrived early to see Shout Sister Shout on June 17. It’s easy to understand why. Rachael Davis’ silky and sultry voice combined with the rich arrangements and excellent musicianship of Steppin’ In It made for a concert no one wanted to end.
Shout Sister Shout was formed in 2006 by the band Steppin' In It and the singer Rachael Davis, all of whom are well known in the folk scene and who have played double-bills on many occasions. It was their mutual love for old instruments, old radio and old-time jazz that led to Shout Sister Shout (named for a song by Sister Rosetta Sharpe).
This marked the one-year anniversary of concerts at KPL. We kicked off the series in 2008 with Steppin’ In It; Rachael (with Jesse Lee Mason) followed soon after in August, and we're glad to welcome all of them back. Take a look at recordings from previous concerts in our monthly series. You'll also find a great collection of photos from the KPL show on the official Shout Sister Shout website!
Rachael Davis with Shout Sister Shout
For most of us, using the KPL catalog is pretty simple- go to the catalog page, enter in some text to search for, and away you go. In most cases, that's good enough. But what if you wanted a more powerful way to search? What if you were surfing your favorite non-KPL website and saw an author's name or a book title and wanted to look it up in the KPL catalog right now? Well, now you can, thanks to the LibX extension for Firefox and Internet Explorer. LibX is an open-source extension that adds a toolbar or right-click menu to your browser which you can use to search any selected text directly in the library catalog. You can also search for keywords in other sites such as Google, Wikipedia, or Dictionary.com, and you can even look up selected books in the MelCat database and find titles held at other Michigan libraries! LibX also adds a search option to popular sites like Amazon that let you see if KPL has a book before you buy, or find a title linked from the New York Times Book Review. While the LibX extension isn't written by KPL staff and we can't guarantee that it won't conflict with your browser or other installed extensions, we've tested it with Firefox and IE and it works great. See for yourself! Just head to the LibX KPL Edition page and click the "Install" link located halfway down for your particular browser.
LibX KPL Edition
A large, enthusiastic crowd gathered to learn the basics of preserving food on June 22. Mike Rowe, director of Food, Nutrition and Retail Services at Bronson Hospital, discussed equipment, procedures and safety considerations.
Home preserving yields delicious results, gives the cook more confidence in knowing where the food came from, and — if done in large quantities — can be more economical than store-bought.
Home preserving also can be the center of beloved family traditions. Co-presenter Heidi Butler spent her childhood learning how to can and freeze. Two things her family wouldn’t be without: home canned tomato soup and applesauce, the preparation of which continues to involve multiple generations. Labor Day is spent making tomato soup.
“We’ve been doing it forever,” Butler says. “It’s just something I know will happen.” Her young daughter now is involved and is learning how to select good fruit.
Summer’s harvests have just begun. Why not save some a bit of summer for next winter? Take a look at KPL’s book collection for recipes and instructions. And here are a couple websites: National Center for Home Food Preservation and MSU Extension.
Preserving Food 101
Jerry Garcia said the trouble started with comics. Author David Hajdu, who visited KPL on June 4, quoted the late Grateful Dead guitarist who claimed rock and roll culture — a romanticizing and escalation of violence, a cynicism toward authority and formal institutions, governments, schools — shouldn’t be blamed on Elvis. No, it went back further, to the 1940s, in the pages of comic books.
Not just any comic books, but a pulpy breed with a mean streak that turned the notion of comic book hero inside out. Not only were these books filled with violence, but the protagonist often was a perpetrator of it. Readers had voracious appetites for these stories, which crossed boundaries of gender and class. In those days, some 60 to 100 million comic books were sold each week. Reading comic books and trading them with friends was the most popular form of entertainment.
As this new breed of comics came to the forefront, kids seemed to change and parents took notice, Hajdu said. Then came “the clash” and the comics controversy was caught up in the larger Post-War “red scare.” The details of these times are captured in Hajdu’s book The Ten Cent Plague: The Great Comics Scare and How it Changed America.
Listed on many of 2008’s “best books” lists, The Ten Cent Plague is the third book for David Hajdu, music critic for The New Republic and a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Hajdu says he is drawn to untold stories.
The untold story in Hajdu’s first book Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn, was about the composer and arranger of jazz who worked with Duke Ellington for some 30 years. You may think “Ellington” when you hear “Take the ‘A’ Train,” but you should also think “Billy Strayhorn.” Strayhorn was pure genius, but the glory went to Ellington.
After compiling this history of jazz musicians in Harlem and Paris, Hajdu went on to explore another facet of American music: the folk scene of early 1960s Greenwich Village. Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Fariña and Richard Fariña dishes on these musicians and their contributions and examines how Dylan became Dylan.
Check out Hajdu’s books, all of which are in KPL’s collections, and read his music columns in The New Republic.
The Ten Cent Plague: The Great Comics Scare and How it Changed America
On May 13, the Michigan based world, jazz, Celtic, band Millish performed for fans of in KPL's 12th consecutive free concert. The guys are all award-winning musicians and it definitely showed as they skillfully entertained the audience with tracks from their first self-titled CD.
Millish's unique style of music gives the listener a sense of traveling in a place where the best sounds of music throughout the world all merges together.
Check out out the video to see what I am talking about!
In a recent issue of Book Links (May 2009), Dean Schneider, in an article titled "Reading in an Electronic Age", said the following: "Books are what draw kids to reading in the first place, and they need to have uninterrupted space in their lives to enjoy reading for fun. As summer approaches, there's no better way to promote the all-important connection between kids and books."
Kalamazoo Public Schools encourages its elementary students to read twenty (20) minutes EACH day of their summer vacation. As librarians, we, as well as educators, can point to any number of studies that indicate the fact that a child who doesn't read much or at all over a long vacation actually "forgets" how to read and has to re-learn the skill in the fall. So, Kalamazoo Public Library, in cooperation with the schools, has incorporated the "twenty (20) minutes a day" into its summer reading program for children entering grades 1-4 this fall.
Built around the theme, "Be Creative @Your Library", the Kalamazoo Public Library is offering reading games for people of all ages, beginning on June 11th. Check the library's website (www.kpl.gov/kids) for more information, or give us a call at 553-7804.
Kids Summer Reading Game
On April 29 the Alma Powell Branch Library held a triple anniversary celebration! At our Open House we celebrated three anniversaries; the 40th anniversary of the Alma Powell Library Branch. This branch was named after Alma Harrod Powell in 1969 because of her devoted dedication to teaching and education. We also celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Alma Powell Library Branch being in the Douglass Community Association building. This branch moved into this building in 1984. And last, but not least, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of our Barnabee Gallery. In 1989 the Barnabee Gallery was organized and named by Dr. Walden Baskerville. He contacted and scheduled exhibits with the schools to display the children’s artwork in the Barnabee Gallery.
Our Open House included fantastic food, music and the presentation of a plaque honoring Walden Baskerville.
We could not have been more pleased with our turnout or the delight this recognition brought. The branch saw many familiar faces there to honor Walden and to celebrate this anniversary year with the Alma Powell Library Branch.
The Alma Powell Library Branch would like to thank The Friends of the Library and The Dulcets Club for helping us to make this library’s triple anniversary celebration so extraordinary.
Powell Branch Library
Who Hit John? systematically smacked everyone in attendance with their rawkus style of blugrass and old-time country swing at the library on April 29th. The boys entertained a crowd of well over 100 fans at the 11th consecutive concert in the popular concert series. The acts get better each month and this show did not disappoint. It was a night to celebrate not only a great local musical act, but also a community coming together to enjoy fun music. Who Hit John? is an awesome representation of the vibrant music scene in Kalamazoo!
Who Hit John?
One of the first principles you learn in theatre is to trust your partner. It’s also a required ingredient for two writers collaborating. Just ask Arnold Johnston and Deborah Ann Percy, the husband and wife team whose book of one-act plays has just been published. Duets is a collection is six short plays, “providing a view of the human heart in the tender war of love.”
Johnston and Percy write these plays together. Often one will start and hand off to the other. Absolute trust in your partner is required, they said.
These short plays are snippets of couples caught in the act of life. Johnston and Percy begin with the everyday: waiting for a client to appear, arguing over marriage counseling, climbing a monument. When two people know each other well, multiple conversations are carried on in just one sentence and the dialog reflects that intimacy of communication. As the issues of here and now are bandied about, there’s always a subtext or two. Johnston and Percy layer all that witty situational banter with the deeper issues confronted in relationships — agreements, confessions, trespasses, questions.
We hosted the authors at KPL on May 6 for a reading and book signing. Give a listen as they read from “A Pet of Temperance.”
Duets: Love Is Strange
As a key contributor to civic and cultural life here in our town, Kalamazoo Public Library participates in a variety of collaborations and joint-ventures. One of our lesser-known partnerships is with WGVU public television and other organizations engaged in the Fetzer Institute’s “Campaign for Love and Forgiveness.” Through community events and public TV programming, the campaign encourages conversation and contemplation about how love and forgiveness can effect change in individuals and society. For our part, KPL has hosted well-received film showings and conversations about forgiveness.
Yesterday, I learned from the campaign leaders that May 1, among other distinctions, is Global Love Day! In the spirit of international harmony, I’m happy to share this amazing video from the “Playing for Change: Song Around the World” project.
Roger Ridley, a Santa Monica street musician, "Playing for Change"
TV Turnoff Week is April 20th through the 26th. If you’re looking for alternatives to watching TV, playing video games, or otherwise engaging in screen media - there’s a lot to choose from here at Kalamazoo Public Library.
Tune in to real live fun right here in your community. And if you’re not looking for alternatives to screen media, Kalamazoo Public Library has lots of movies and video games as well as internet access and even downloadable DVD quality programming from MyLibraryDV. These services and more are available just like always and they’re always free of charge.
TV Turnoff Week
Mark Sahlgren treated us to a wonderful concert on March 11, including a display of his collection of vintage Gibson guitars. Mark was joined by two beautiful singers: his Grassroots co-host Lorrain Caron, and his daughter Darcy Willis, of Cornfed Girls.
When we were planning Reading Together activities, we wanted to be sure that there was a concert of music with a Southern accent. One cannot form a complete picture of Rick Bragg’s rural South without a soundtrack. After all, there is a reason they call it country music.
The South’s relative isolation allowed cultural traditions of its settlers to remain alive. What did immigrants bring with them? Maybe a fiddle or guitar — or maybe only words and melodies remembered and rehearsed and handed down. That’s a challenge in any case, but for instrumental music, even more so. How did the fiddler avoid mixing up one waltz with another? The guitar accompanist likely learned chord changes without ever knowing what guitar tablature looked like. (There was little formal training except perhaps at the hand of the Baptist preacher’s wife who also taught piano lessons and made sure every girl learned how accompany hymns.)
And that guitar might have been a cheaply made instrument bought from a Sears Roebuck catalog, or Montgomery Ward. On such instruments, the strings were so far from the fretboard that the new musician had to endure a painful ordeal until thick callouses were developed on the fingertips. Most people hadn’t played finely made expensive instruments and thus no one knew it could be better. Life was hard. Why wouldn’t there be a trial to achieve moments of pleasure?
Many of the songs from the South are about hardship. You can’t think about hardships without also thinking about faith and religion. In Chapter 9 of All Over But the Shoutin’, Rick Bragg recalls the influence of religion and retells some of his churchgoing experiences. He titles that chapter On the Wings of a Great Speckled Bird. That line is from what may be one of the greatest songs of country music, “The Great Speckled Bird.”
What a beautiful thought I am thinking,
Concerning a great speckled bird.
Remember her name is recorded,
On the pages of God’s Holy Word.
The words of this gospel song are attributed to Rev Guy Smith. Recorded in 1936 by Roy Acuff, the song is about remaining righteous amidst the trials of life. The phrase “great speckled bird” comes from a Bible passage, Jer 12:8-9. (For more about the meaning of the song, here’s an interesting discussion.)
I know people have ridiculed country music because of its bounty of songs about hardship, particularly drinking and infidelity. I guess there’s a reason for the stereotypes. Likker, relationships and religion were not insignificant themes.
And that’s why “The Great Speckled Bird” is so emblematic of country music. The irony is that its melody is shared by a song from the 1920s, “I Am Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes.” The same melody was later used in the 1952 country hit “The Wild Side of Life,” sung by Hank Thompson (about a wife that strays) and the loud retort from Kitty Wells: “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky-Tonk Angels.”
Mark Sahlgren's Gibson guitars
KPL’s new evening Baby Storytime program is a great way to come together with other parents and caregivers and their babies to share songs, rhymes, books and bounces. Children’s author Mem Fox writes about the value of songs and rhymes in Reading Magic: "Experts in literacy and child development have discovered that if children know eight nursery rhymes by heart by the time they're four years old, they're usually among the best readers by the time they're eight." That’s a good enough reason to practice songs and rhymes with your baby. Another good reason is that it’s fun. We had a great time at the most recent session of Baby Storytime for Guys. Though the program is primarily designed for pre-walking babies and their caregivers, there are always babies on the edge of walking or beyond. And because it’s a drop-in program (no registration required), we welcome older children who want to play along with stuffed animals as their babies. It’s fun for the older kids to bounce their own animal babies and to practice songs and rhymes that, by now, may be fun and familiar. Despite the name, Baby Storytime for Guys is open to moms and other female caregivers, too. If you’re expecting, now is a great time to meet other parents and caregivers, learn some new songs and rhymes or reacquaint yourself with old favorites, and find out what KPL has to offer you and your new little person. Stop by KPL’s Central branch on Wednesday evenings at 6:30 pm for Baby Storytime for Guys. And take a look at the rest of KPL’s storytime programs for babies, toddlers, preschool aged kids, and the whole family.
Baby Storytime for Guys
On Thursday, April 2nd KPL welcomed Pietra Rivoli, author of The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy, to the Central library for a fascinating discussion of her book and the complex issues related to the global economy. Dr. Rivoli’s book does just as its title suggests, it follows a t-shirt, chosen Rivoli says because of its ubiquity and, as she put it on Thursday, because “we all, everyone in this room, has more t-shirts than they know what to do with”, from cotton fields in Texas, across the globe to a textile factory in China, back to the United States to be sold to Rivoli from a discount bin and eventually and surprisingly to Tanzania. Dr. Rivoli’s talk was as engaging and as interesting as her book and encompassed free trade agreements, labor conditions worldwide, environmental impacts and basically all sides of the global economy argument and really much more. Pietra Rivoli was in Kalamazoo to speak at Kalamazoo College as part of the Kalamazoo College Business Guild 2009 Conference and our friends at K were kind enough to consider a public appearance by Dr. Rivoli and thought of the library as a good venue for such an event. A newly updated edition of Travels of a T-Shirt has just come out in paperback, and even if you previously enjoyed the book you will find the updated information well worth a second read.
Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy
Local music legend and co-host of WMUK's Grassroots program, Mark Sahlgren, helped celebrate Reading Together by performing music inspired by the Rick Bragg memoirs. Sahlgren was joined by Grassroots co-host Lorraine Caron (Duffield/Caron Project) and daughter Darcy Wilkin (Corn Fed Girls) in a set that featured a wide range of folk, country and Americana.
In addition to the great music, Sahlgren shared with the audience a stage filled with Gibson guitars, including several specifically crafted during the Depression which ties directly to the Bragg books. After hearing the sweet sounds of Caron, Wilkin, and Sahlgren the audience was encouraged to sing along to the final song!
Last night I enjoyed a warm discussion of Rick Bragg’s books led by my co-workers Joanna Lundberg and Ruth Wilson. Nearly everyone who came had read all three books. One reader said, “I finished the first book and was so glad there were two more.”
If you haven’t attended a discussion and would like to share your thoughts about the books, you can fill out a reply postcard. If you didn’t get one of these cards when you purchased or borrowed your book, stop by your library or bookstore and fill one out.
Here is a sampling of what some of our readers have written:
"It was interesting reading, told in a way that held your interest. Also telling of the possibilities one can achieve if one really wants to – a certain amount of good fortune does help."
"Fascinating story. Great author. Anxious to read the rest of the trilogy."
—A member of the Y Read Book Group/Kalamazoo County Family YMCA
"Excellent. Easy to read. Draws you in to the family, setting, society."
"I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of Rick’s remembering his childhood, learning of his father. Great writing, without degrading it by profanity, etc."
"Delicious. I was so taken with it that I bought a copy for a friend who is in cancer treatment. He, too, is a newspaper “guy” and grew up in Maryland mountains, one of 9 children. The book also made me understand the feelings of people in the community in which I grew up in East Tennessee."
—A reader in Richland
"It was an excellent book. At first I thought it was another memoir written by another journalist writing about growing up in hard times. It was much more than that. I cried when he won the Pulitzer and how he and everyone else congratulated his mother. It was very moving. The book was very honest and made me look back at my own childhood."
—A reader in Schoolcraft
"Loved the descriptive humor of personalities in Southern vernacular. Appreciated the honest examination of character encased in wit."
—A reader in Kalamazoo
"So much feeling it was hard to put down. I’m the middle of three sons and have relatives in Georgia, so the pages came alive."
—A reader in Kalamazoo
—Three readers from Kalamazoo
Reading Together Book Discussion
Everyone at Storytime with Mr. Steve & Friends last night experienced quite a treat. Alphorn players clad in lederhosen kept appearing from all over the mountains and valleys of the Van Deusen Room. Once they found their sheep, they gathered together to play a couple of songs for us on these traditional Swiss instruments that the shepherds use to signal to their friends and call their sheep and cattle. John (Johann) Griffith led us in a song about cuckoo birds and the coming of Spring, with the alphorns supplying some cuckoo bird sounds.
We practiced stomping in puddles while I read The Rain Stomper by Addie Boswell and found out what happened to Millie the cow who likes to hide and scare the mail carrier in Millie Waits for the Mail by Alexander Steffensmeier.
After some dancing, we pretended to hike up the Alps (with the help of a cable car halfway through) to a beautiful mountain meadow and lake where we all found alphorns to play.
We finished the evening with some parachute games and then making kites since this weekend kicks off National Kite Month.
Join us for the next Storytime with Mr. Steve & Friends on Thursday, May 14 at 6:30 pm.
Also, don't miss "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" performed by the Kalamazoo Junior Dance Company on Tuesday, April 21 at 6:30 pm.
See you soon.
The Alma Powell Branch would like to thank Sid (the Rock) Ellis for a fun-filled family puppet show.
Sid shared humorous stories about Anansi the spider, the king of the jungle, a hippo, an elephant and other jungle creatures. The adults and kids of all ages enjoyed Sid’s performance.
Thanks Sid, for a great show!
Visit the KPL Flickr photostream for more photos of this and other library events.
Sid (the Rock) Ellis
Once again the library participated in the quarterly extended Art Hops sponsored by the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo. The featured artist was Eana Agopian who was on the 1st Level to display and discuss her mixed media style of art. The Kalamazoo Mandolin and Guitar Orchestra entertained a large crowd of fans in the rotunda area on the 2nd Level. Finally in the Van Deusen Room on the 3rd Level, singer-songwriter Jess Yoakum performed her beautifully crafted folk songs on both guitar and piano.
Almost 500 attended the event, but even if you missed it you can check out the video below. Don't miss our next Art Hop event on June 5th.
Hearing a great writer read their own work can be something very special, and Francine Prose’s reading at the Kalamazoo Public Library on March 12th certainly qualifies. Prose who was in Kalamazoo as part of the Spring 2009 Gwen Frostic Reading Series, read to large crowd at the Central Library through a partnership with Western Michigan Universities Creative Writing Program.
A National Book Award finalist and multiple award-winning, novel, short-story and nonfiction writer, Prose’s ability as a writer is without question. But to hear her read a newly completed short story, Prose admitted to finishing the story only a week earlier, about a jeweler in Nazi Germany and his weird and fascinating encounter with a cross-dressing, morphine addicted Hermann Göring, Nazi leader and commander of the Luftwaffe (German Air Force), in her own voice and with the intended pace was truly special.
The story was strange, satirical, haunting and contained such a well constructed plot twist that it nearly gave every one of the 100 people in the audience whiplash. What a treat it was to hear Francine Prose read and what an honor it was for the Kalamazoo Public Library to host her.
Francine Prose at the Kalamazoo Public Library
The civil rights movement was a time of intense conflict, but also a time of great courage. On February 23, we were privileged to host a program about the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Rides.
We hosted two Mississippi natives for the program. Miller Green, now living in Chicago, was arrested in a Jackson bus station. Eric Etheridge is an author whose book is Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders.
Late in 1960, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling outlawed segregation in interstate bus terminals. On May 4, 1961, there were 13 people who made the first Freedom Ride to test the compliance of bus stations with the ruling. This, and subsequent rides, encountered increasingly violent resistance. Though there were Freedom Rides across the South, the campaign’s primary focus became Jackson, Mississippi. More than 300 Riders were arrested there, photographed, and convicted of breach of peace.
In 2004, journalist Eric Etheridge, a Mississippi native, ran across the mug shots of some 328 Freedom Riders arrested in Jackson. Etheridge decided to publish the photographs and, where possible, include new photos and stories of the Riders.
Green shared stories of his arrest on July 6, 1961 at the Trailways terminal in Jackson, and his harrowing experiences in jail. After his release, Green worked on voter registration and civil rights issues in Mississippi, and moved to Chicago where he has lived since 1963.
He also talked about his childhood friend, Bobby Joe, a white boy. Miller and Bobby Joe were the only children in their Yazoo City neighborhood, and played together constantly. “We were in each other’s houses, eating at each other’s tables, together all the time,” he said. One day, when the boys were around 6 years old, Bobby Joe’s mother received an anonymous letter criticizing the parents for allowing the boys to play together. At this point, both families agreed it would be too dangerous to let them continue playing.
From that point on, the boys would stand across from each other, on opposite sites of the street, and talk. Each boy would play alone, imagining the other was with him. “It left a scar,” Miller said, putting his hand on his chest.
See also: Authors@Google: Eric Etheridge, June 24, 2008
Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders
This month’s surprise guest for Storytime with Mr. Steve & Friends was Lisa Williams, Reading Together coordinator at the Kalamazoo Public Library. She shared her piano playing talents, leading us in story songs that my mom used to play when I was a child.
The kids danced like fairies in a forest, stomped around like giants, and looked for cozy places to hibernate, pretending they were bears just like I used to do in my living room along with my brothers and sisters.
Ms. Lisa also proved adept at balancing bean bags on her head, but fell one short of tying Ms. Waneta’s record of 12 set last month.
In addition to the dancing, I read
We sang songs and once again broke out the giant parachute. This time we pretended that we were looking for a bear as we circled with the parachute, crossing a river on stepping stones and hiking around mountains. Finally, imagining the parachute was a cave, all the kids scampered like bears under the chute.
For our craft time, everyone got to decorate a set of fairy wings to take home for more imaginative play until we meet again on Tuesday, March 24 at 6:30 pm at the Central Library.
Storytime with Mr. Steve and Friends
Through the years of researching my family history, I discovered that many of my ancestors fought in the Civil War. There is currently a pictorial display at the Oshtemo Branch Library of African/American Civil War Veterans along with books on African/ American history. I’m the part-time teen librarian at Oshtemo. My four great-grand- fathers and five great-great uncles are in the display, along with information about Michigan’s 1st Colored Infantry, later called the 102nd United States Colored Infantry.
The display also includes information about the “Battle of Honey Hill” that took place on November 30, 1864, in support of General William T. Sherman’s march to the sea in South Carolina. My great-grandfather John Conner, his brother William Frank Conner, who was the sergeant of his troop, and their two brother-in-laws, Himebrick Tyler and Joseph Seaton fought bravely in this battle.
African Americans in the Civil War
250 preschoolers and over 100 of their parents, teachers, and caregivers enjoyed our most recent Music & Make Believe programs. Music & Make Believe is a collaboration between the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra and the Kalamazoo Public Library where children 4-6 years old come to hear a story read, accompanied by a string quartet. In our latest sessions, the book was Berlioz the Bear by Jan Brett so all the children made bear hats to take home.
Music & Make Believe is one of my favorite programs we do here at the library and I am so happy to be part of something that gives children a chance to experience top quality live music for free. We schedule Music & Make Believe programs twice a year: in the Fall around September or October and in the Winter around February or March. These are programs you need to register for so keep your eyes open for the next set of programs. It's really an opportunity you shouldn't miss.
Berlioz the Bear
There was a lot of excitement last Thursday night at Storytime with Mr. Steve & Friends. Not only did Ms. Waneta (you might know her from the Bookmobile or the Oshtemo Branch children's room) dazzle our largest crowd yet with her accordion playing, inspiring us to turn half the Van Deusen Room into a make believe ice skating rink, but she also smashed the Great Bean Bag Balance record.
Strangely, up until Ms. Waneta's record setting night, all of my visiting friends have faltered when I added the ninth bean bag to the pile on their heads. Ms. Waneta calmly balanced 12 bean bags, even taking a risk and asking me what the record was while she was already balancing 8 bean bags on her head. The vibrations from just the slightest movement of the mouth can topple a bid for a record, but Ms. Waneta had no problem.
All the families that gathered that night enjoyed readings of:
We also played some games with our giant, colorful parachute and created some streamer hoops for dancing. After creating the streamer hoops, many of my friends enjoyed dancing to the Putumayo Kids presents Reggae Playground CD by Johnny Dread.
Storytime with Mr. Steve & Friends is for kids of all ages and no registration is required. So join us on Wednesday, February 25 at 6:30 pm at the Central Library for our next program. You never know who will show up and what records will be broken.
Storytime with Mr. Steve & Friends
Over 80 people braved teperatures in the single digits to gather in the Van Deusen Room on January 14th to enjoy some smoking hot Dixieland jazz from the Greater Kalamazoo Dixieland Society Jazz Band. The five-piece band treated those in attendance to over an hour of traditional New Orleans Dixieland interspersed with information about the historical tunes. It was truly an entertaining evening that ended with the horn section parading around the room during "The Saints Go Marching In." It was another amazing show in KPL's monthly concert series.
The next show will featured critically acclaimed singer-songwriter, Peter Mulvey, on February 18th at 7:00 pm. Don't miss the artist Rolling Stone called "A voice lush and hushed that occasionally sinks into a whisper... surrealistic beauty."
Over 50 citizens gathered in the Van Deusen Room to watch the swearing in of the 44th President, Barack Obama. President Obama's speech challenged all Americans to take responsibility in creating solutions to the problems we face as a people and nation. The Kalamazoo Public Library, an institution that champions freedoms, was proud to share this historic moment with our patrons.
View the complete inauguration and address here
The Alma Powell branch would like to say a hearty “Thank you” to our patrons who helped make our December programs great! Many kids from the Boys and Girls Club joined us and others to make gift boxes and decorate cookies.
On December 17th we had a blast decoupaging sparkling gift boxes some to give away and some to keep. It was amazing to see the personalities that came out on boxes full of eyes and lips and floral arrangements. What is decoupage? “Decoupage comes from the French word decouper, meaning to cut out.”
On December 23rd we had lots of fun decorating holiday cookies. We made all kinds of gooey cookies. Some made chocolate on top of chocolate cookies. Some made vanilla crème with sprinkles. Now we are off to a new year with lots of plans for winter fun!
Decoupage @ Powell
Last month the library staff voted for a book that touched them and Polar Express won. Now it is your chance to tell us what was your favorite book title of 2008? Ballots may be found at the Central Library or online at http://www.kpl.gov/books/favorites2008.aspx. Results will be posted in February.
Last week the downtown library hosted a show by the Aerial Angels for the third year in a row and the crowds keep getting bigger and bigger as over 500 people enjoyed the incredible acrobatic skills of the Angels in this one of a kind venue.
I met some members of the Aerial Angels in Bronson Park about four years ago as we were wrapping up our Ready to Read sponsored Party in the Park. They were starting to attach ropes and other things to the trees to practice their acrobatic skills which caught my attention.
As children's programming librarian, I was curious and I must have looked most curious to them, too, since I was still in costume as the character from the classic children's book, Caps for Sale, balancing a stack of 17 hats on my head. I think it took a few minutes before we took each other seriously.
I found out the Aerial Angels are a group of female acrobats that perform all over the world and just happen to be based in Kalamazoo. I know they perform all over the world, because in the process of booking them the last three years, I have sent emails to Dubai, Singapore, Australia, and Alaska. They were performing in Barcelona just ten days before the show at KPL this year. Having a show during winter break at the libary works out great for everyone.
The Angels enjoy having a show close to home during the holidays, the library enjoys having the crowds arrive for the program and then stay to take advantage of the other great materials the library offers, and Kalamazoo Public Library patrons like to have something so unique and exciting to do during the break. After the first year they performed, the Angels also mentioned how great it was to perform in a space where people were at their eye level and even above them, instead of just being down below them.
We hope to have the Aerial Angels back again in the library next winter break, so if you have never made it to one of their shows at the library, don't miss this spectacular event next year.