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Reader's Roundtable

Mark your calendar for the next "Reader's Roundtable" on January 20 at 7p.m. at Central Library. We will be discussing Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder. Treats will be provided.

In February we will be talking about The Known World by Edward Jones and then in March will be discussing A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. All discussions are held at the Central Library at 7p.m.

Classics Revisited on January 15th will be reading Robinson Crusoe.

Come join us in sharing literature with others.



Mountains beyond mountains

Libraries in tough economic times

Librarians know that libraries are even busier in tough economic times. It is obvious in the number of patrons through our doors, the number and types of reference questions asked, the wait to use public computers, attendance at our programs, and, of course, an increase in circulation of books and AV items. Unfortunately that increase in the need for our services and in usage is often coupled with tighter budgets and an increase in costs. Nevertheless, libraries rise to the challenge.

We were pleased to see a national news story on this very topic….increase in usage, tighter budgets for libraries.

Libraries offer free relief from tough times (MSNBC)

Usage at KPL mirrors this national trend. So far, for our year which just began on July 1, our circulation of all materials across all our locations is up 10%. This reflects an increase of 6% for print materials, 23% for nonprint materials. Our reference questions are up 9%, patron assistance of all types up 22%. Our equipment use, primarily of public computers, is up a staggering 54%.

Most of our FREE computer classes are filled and attendance at our programs for adults, teens, children, and families has increased.

Come visit soon!  I’m confident we will have a book, an AV item, a program, a class, a computer that will help you in one way or another during these challenging economic times.


MSNBC Report: Libraries offer free relief from tough times

Despite the frigid temps, Holiday Hop was HUGE!

Over 650 people attended our annual Holiday Hop celebration on December 5th. This event is part of the December Art Hop sponsored by the Arts Council of Kalamazoo. This year over 50 local authors including Bonnie Jo CampbellNic BishopWendy Anderson Halperin and William Decker, who signed books and talked to participants. Many of our great local poets read from their works in the Children's Room. The Van Deusen Room was transformed into a Christmas Bazaar as KPL staff, friends and family displayed and sold their art. The evening was complete with music provided by the Ken Morgan Jazz Trio.

Check out these photos and see what you missed!


The Red Sea Pedestrians @ KPL!

Local favorites, The Red Sea Pedestrians performed their unique brand of high-energy, neo-Klezmer music to a diverse crowd of over 140 on December 10th. The band played a mixture of songs from their most recent release A Lesson in Cartography as well as some new songs including "Carnival Bells," about the old amusement park at Woods Lake. One of the best parts of the show was the amazing energy between the band and the audience. There were many instances of spontaneous dancing, clapping, and cheering during the set. It was an amazing evening of FREE music.

Check out these videos and photos from the show.


Red Sea Pedestrians

Prime Time at Alma Powell

After six weeks of reading, singing, acting and storytelling this season’s Prime Time ended with a musical blast!

Prime Time is the Alma Powell branch Monday night Family Reading Program for children ages 6 to 10. The program ran for 6 weeks. After dinner educators Ruth Heinig and Robin Nott led a book discussion. We heard stories, kids told stories, Ruth and Robin provided puppet shows and we had weekly sing-a-longs. Babysitting was provided for children under six.

We are all looking forward to the spring session of Prime Time!



Powell Branch Library

Biography Resource Center

The Biography Resource Center, a biographical database available to KPL patrons, has added new content.

A one-stop resource for more than 440,000 comprehensive narrative biographies of more than 340,000 people from around the world and throughout history and across all reference and journal disciplines. The intuitive interface makes accessing the comprehensive reference and journal content — easy and delivers viable results instantly.

To further enhance Biography Resource Center, the company has announced the launch of the Lives & Perspectives Collection. This optional new module offers more than 160,000 biographies drawn from a range of highly respected academic reference titles such as American Men & Women of Science, Governments of the World, Encyclopedia of African-American Culture & History and the Dartmouth Medal-winning Encyclopaedia Judaica.

Start exploring unique profiles of notable individuals in history, science, religion, government and more at your KPL online resources and Biography Topic Guide. 


Biography Topic Guide



The glowfriends are a bright spot!

A stripped down line-up of the favorite local band, glowfriends, entertained a large crowd of music loving fans to an acoustic set on November 19th. The band is not used to the "non-electric, interact with the audience between songs format," but overcame their fears to deliver a fabulous show. Mark, April and Holly shared a bit of not only their music and the stories behind the songs, but also what makes music touch the souls of those who listen.

Check out exclusive videos from the show.


A Farewell to Fair-Weather

Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee

What an event! The 8th annual Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee, a fundraiser for Ready to Read, was held this week. The fun and funds raised just keep growing. Over $35,000 was raised at this year's event...a new record!

It's the vision of Ready to Read that all children in Kalamazoo County arrive at kindergarten prepared for learning. Research shows that children who are read to regularly start school with an advantage. Ready to Read encourages families to enjoy books together and enables children to have their own books. This wild and crazy spelling bee raises serious money for the program.

Borgess ProMed Pediatrics won first place in the lighthearted spelling competition followed by the Kalamazoo Gazette and WMU. Best costumes, most creative cheer, and most enthusiastic team were also recognized.

Ann delivering the winner’s basket to the Borgess ProMed team

Delivering the winner’s basket to the Borgess ProMed team  

Catch the event on cable access OR, better yet, come next year. And in the meantime, keep reading to all the children in your life.

Spelling Bee play dates on Kalamazoo Community Access Center channels:

  • Friday November 21, 2008 - 7 pm channel 95
  • Saturday November 22, 2008 - 2 pm channel 95
  • Wednesday November 26, 2008 - 8 pm channel 95
  • Thursday November 27, 2008 - 9 pm channel 95
  • Thursday November 27, 2008 - 1 pm channel 95
  • Friday November 28, 2008 - 1 pm channel 95


Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee

Ron Kitchens @ KPL

Local author Ron Kitchens discussed his book, Community Capitalism: Lessons from Kalamazoo and Beyond, November 6th at the Central Library. Ron, who is Chief Executive Officer of Southwest Michigan First, shared the remarkable economic history of Kalamazoo and explained how the community is innovatively investing in the resources for long-term economic success.

Engaging and informative, he shared numerous examples and answered the audience's many questions. Ron's can-do attitude and positive outlook for the economic future of Kalamazoo speaks volumes about his commitment to Kalamazoo. If you missed Ron's program, check out his book in the KPL catalog and take a look at the Southwest Michigan First Life Science Fund, a key factor in the economic development of early stage life science career opportunities in the Kalamazoo community!



Community Capitalism

Kadir Nelson in Kalamazoo

Author and illustrator Kadir Nelson was in Kalamazoo last week for a couple of days. While here, he visited with students at Woods Lake Elementary and at the Kalamazoo County Juvenile Home. He talked with the kids about the importance of doing something that you love, saying that everyone has to have a job but that you should make sure that you find a job where you can do what you love every day. He also showed the kids at Woods Lake how drawing is made up of shapes . . . he even created a unique portrait of their principal, Mr. Hawkins! At the Juvenile Home, Nelson talked with students about the idea that "beauty denies negativity" and how he has chosen positive ways to deal with the anger that he has had in his life.

Besides the school visits, Mr. Nelson spoke to an audience at Eastwood Branch Library and was the keynote speaker at the Mary Calletto Rife Children's Literature Seminar on Friday. Throughout all of his presentations, Kadir Nelson focused on the importance of education as the constant in achieving goals. Every days he uses not only his artistic skills, but also the research skills he learned in high school to create the beautiful (and accurate) paintings that illustrate his books.

If you missed Kadir Nelson's visit, take a look at his books in the library's collection.



Kadir Nelson @ KPL

Before KPL...There Were 'The Ladies'

Years before the establishment of the Kalamazoo Public Library, another organization loaned books to residents for a membership fee of just $1.00, and contrary to its name, it loaned to men as well as women. For this and many other reasons the Ladies Library Association in Kalamazoo holds an important place in the history of our community and of women’s clubs in general. On November 12th KPL hosted a program highlighting the group’s history and its amazing landmark building as part of the “This Old Building” series. Dr. Sharon Carlson, director of the archives at Western Michigan University, engaged a fascinated audience with little known facts about the Ladies Library and a slide show which included many wonderful historic photos.

On February 4th the “This Old Building” series will continue with another local landmark, the Kalamazoo State Hospital Water Tower, to be presented by Kalamazoo’s historic preservation coordinator, Sharon Ferraro.

Watch Dr. Carlson's complete presentation...


Ladies Library Association

The Corn Fed Girls @ KPL

Local bluegrass/folk group The Corn Fed Girls played to a packed house of music fans on October 22nd. The band's acoustic set was filled with songs mostly from their 2006 release Cornstar which features the vocal talents of all the "Girls."

The multigenerational crowd was treated to one of the best shows ever at KPL! Young and old danced, stomped, and sang along with one of the shining starts of the Kalamazoo folk scene.

If you missed the show check out some exclusive pix below, or watch the entire show.



Corn Fed Girls


The Michigan Library Association annual conference was held in Kalamazoo at the Radisson Hotel in late October, the first time since the early 1980's. We were pleased to have our colleagues in town for a wide range of programs, author appearances, vendor exhibits, and general networking with each other. 

KPL was especially pleased to host the all-conference reception at the Central Library. Just like gatherings at home, we worked hard to get the library looking great! Recarpeting of Central Library was finished, some chairs were reupholstered, displays of new materials were refreshed, and our Facilities Management staff did an extra thorough cleaning. All of this was in the works, but having a deadline to be ready for the reception gave us a "due date!"

Well, I thought the library did look great... a compliment to our staff, but more importantly, to our community. Over 400 MLA members from around the state attended. Our board president, Valerie Wright, and I, along with the MLA officials, greeted attendees. KPL staff were in departments to give tours and explain our services, and games from our Teen Services activities were set up in the auditorium.

It was a good party! Comments from our colleagues around the state were all complimentary.... many about our building, but also about the wide range of services we offer, many of which are a model for other libraries.



MLA Reception @ KPL

Parks, KPL, and Trout

Patrons were treated to a history of Kalamazoo city parks at a program on October 15 presented by John Urschel, City of Kalamazoo records and information manager. Urschel used the resources of the city archives to write the book City of Kalamazoo Parks, and shared some of his vast knowledge on the topic with a fascinated audience. Little known park facts were revealed, including a surprising connection between Bronson Park and the Library. According to city records, 100 trout that lived in the park’s fountain in 1902 “wintered” in KPL’s basement. For more information on Kalamazoo parks check out City of Kalamazoo Parks, our website, and the local history collection.


City of Kalamazoo Parks

Sizer spins the vinyl and reads from B.P.M.!

Last week graphic novelist Paul Sizer of Kalamazoo, debuted his new book B.P.M. to both fans of comics and music. Paul spoke on his love of dance/electronic music which inspired him to create this new graphic novel based on a struggling D.J. in New York City. Author visits from Sizer always have a strong multi-media presence and as expected Paul did not disappoint! Instead of a straight reading from the book, Paul showed the audience pages from the book as he read with music in the background. In addition, Paul described the process of not only writing and drawing the book, but also how he worked with the printer to create his first full colored graphic novel. The event ended with the first author visit ever at KPL that included a beat-mixing demo!




Let's Go to the Library!

Last month I attended the grand opening of the spectacular, newly renovated YWCA in downtown Kalamazoo. While touring the building, I heard from the director of the YWCA's Children's Center that the preschool group loves walking to the public library for story time visits every month. Sometimes they even walk to the Kalamazoo Transportation Center and ride a bus to a neighborhood branch library. The children ride free!

Visits from preschool centers like the YWCA and the Learning Village and Head Start classrooms don't show up on the library's kid's events calendar, so you may not realize how many young children experience the library in this way. Each month during the school year, 25 - 35 preschool groups (450 - 500 children) visit one of KPL's five libraries for a story time tailored to their age level. They listen to stories, sing, dance, do a craft and make friends with their local librarians. Field trips to the library are just one of many ways KPL connects children and books at an early age!


Preschool Storytimes

Ride the Roller Coaster at KPL!

Lately I've been hearing financial advisor, Dave Ramsey, say “hang on and ride the roller coaster”.  KPL can help you ride that financial roller coaster with a few of our online resources.  Morningstar, is an investment source where you can check for the latest information on stocks and mutual funds. (formerly Weiss Ratings) evaluates quarterly the financial strength of more than 13,000 institutions, including life, health, and annuity insurers, property and casualty insurers, banks, and savings and loans, plus tracking the risk-adjusted performance of over 20,000 mutual funds and more than 6,000 stocks.   KPL’s Investment Topic Guide also has some great book selections and websites to aid you in making informed financial decisions.  
These and more online resources are just a click away with your library card.


 Investment Topic Guide

Beauchamp thrills the hometown crowd!

The fourth concert in our year-long concert series on September 17th featured Kalamazoo's own singer-songwriter Michael Beauchamp. Along with bassist Ian Gorman and mandolin player Brandon Foote, Michael played many of the songs from his 2008 CD My Northern VoicesThe standout tune for me was Gamble/Drink All My Money which Michael himself described as a "local favorite." Beauchamp has a great voice which changes with the music and mood of  the song he is performing to create a most excellent sound.

Check out the video clips from the concert!

The show on October 22nd is not to be missed. Another local act, The Corn Fed Girls will be performing beginning at 7:00 pm. Check out their newest release Cornstar from the library to prepare yourself for the show.


Michael Beauchamp - My Northern Voices

Read Banned Books!

Harry Potter, Huckleberry Finn, The Catcher in the Rye, and To Kill a Mockingbird - these are just a few of the thousands of books that have been banned in the U.S.A.

As an American citizen, you have the right to decide for yourself what to read, listen to or view. Since 1982, libraries, booksellers, and publishers have reminded us not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted during Banned Books Week, the last week of September each year, from September 27–October 4 in 2008. Learn more on MySpace and Facebook. The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan will Celebrate Free Speech with an event on September 30, 7:00 pm, at the First Baptist Church in Kalamazoo.

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom received a total of 420 challenges last year. A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.  According to Judith F. Krug, director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom, the number of challenges reflects only incidents reported, and for each reported, four or five remain unreported.

Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell’s award-winning And Tango Makes Three, about two male penguins parenting an egg from a mixed-sex penguin couple, again tops the list of most challenged books by parents and administrators, due to the issues of homosexuality. Off the list this year are two books by author Toni Morrison. The Bluest Eye and Beloved, both challenged for sexual content and offensive language.

A new video from the American Library Association:

Challenged Books

The 10 Most Challenged Books of 2007 reflect a range of themes, and consist of the following titles:

Challenged Authors

The most frequently challenged authors of 2007 include:



Banned Books

A Longer Growing Season

For many of us, the growing season runs somewhere around mid May to mid September – not a very long time at all. Experienced and passionate gardeners such Bruce Schultz know how add more time to the growing season. In fact, Bruce is busy all year with some aspect of gardening, planning, feeding, harvesting, and preparing the bed for next season.

Bruce Schultz, a board member of Fair Food Matters, was the featured speaker for "Sleep Tight, Sweet Garden" at Oshtemo on September 26. We learned how to extend the growing season, such as using row covers and cold frames. One of the most interesting techniques he shared was how to use microclimates to your advantage. Here's one way: Plant a sun-loving climber such as cucumber on a vertical trellis and use the shady area behind the trellis for sun-sensitive veggies such as lettuce and spinach.

Schultz, a board member of Fair Food Matters, is involved with the organization's Growing Matters Garden, an urban educational gardening program that provides hands-on opportunities for youth.

Summer may be over, but it’s not too soon to be thinking about next year’s harvest. Take a look at these resources from KPL.


Bruce Schultz

The Allure of Michigan's Past

Did you know that mussel farming was once a major endeavor in Michigan? And that this farming was not for culinary purposes, but to sell the shells for the production of buttons? This little known and interesting fact, along with many others, was presented by the author Larry Massie on September 23rd at the Central library and is laid out in detail in his new book The Allure of Michigan’s Past. Mr. Massie has devoted his career as a writer, which now spans 19 titles, to celebrating our state’s rich heritage and to listen to him talk of Michigan's past is to hear his passion for the subject loud and clear.


The Allure of Michigan's Past
Larry Massie's+past{TI}&library=BRANCHES&language=ANY&format=ANY&item_type=ANY&location=ANY&match_on=KEYWORD&item_1cat=ANY&item_2cat=ANY&sort_by=-PBYR

Henderson Castle

Mention “The Castle” to almost anyone in Kalamazoo and they immediately know you are talking about the magnificent home at the top of the West Main Street hill. KPL resumed its “This Old Building” series on September 15th with a program on this treasured Kalamazoo landmark, presented by Henderson Castle owner Laura Livingstone-McNelis.

The audience was treated to a display of Henderson artifacts, a history of the Henderson family and the amazing home that they built, and a photo tour of the castle and its grounds.

Read more about the history of Henderson Castle and the Henderson-Ames Company

Visit the library's Flickr photostream to see more photos of this event.

Don’t miss the next “This Old Building” program on November 12 – The Ladies Library Association.


Henderson Castle
Henderson Castle Program

Edible Forest Gardens

What if you could design a garden of edibles requiring less toil and fewer resources, one that isn’t as susceptible to attack from marauding pests? Dave Jacke says you can do this if you use a forest ecosystem as the model design for your garden. An edible forest garden it’s called, a peaceable kingdom in your own back yard. Learn more about this and meet author Dave Jacke when he visits KPL on Sept. 11 at 6:30 p.m. After Jacke's discussion, he will sell and sign copies of his book Edible Forest Gardens.

Back to School Time

…will soon mean homework time too.

We offer Live Homework Help online every day from 4:00 to 10:00 pm, from real tutors, real people! The service offers free tutoring in math, science, social studies, and English for students in grades 4 – 12. Students log in with their KPL library card number. Links are available in the KidsTweens and Teens sections of our website.

En Espanol is also available.

There are other Homework Helpers on our website too (see our Topic Guides), plus Homework Websites in the teen section.


Live Homework Help

September is Eat Local Month

Say, where’d you get that tomato? I hope you grew it with your own hands, or purchased from a local hardworking farmer.

It's been said that the dazzling diversity of fresh produce and food products in southwest Michigan is unsurpassed by any other region in the Midwest. That's an appetizing thought.

This month the partners of Eat Local, Kalamazoo are highlighting the delicious, economic, and social benefits of eating close to home with a whole month’s worth of activities. 

Kalamazoo Public Library is a partner in Eat Local, Kalamazoo and we’ll be hosting a few tasty programs ourselves:


The Eat Local Challenge Kick-Off & The Eat Local Experience
6:30 PM  Thursday, September 4, Central
Begin the month with taste-testing local food prepared by local chefs. Enjoy a conversation regarding the challenges, solutions and experiences of eating locally.

Edible Forest Gardens, Meet Dave Jacke
6:30 PM Thursday September 11, Central
Dave Jacke designs diverse, high-yield gardens mimicking natural ecosystems and forges mutually beneficial relationships. 

The Burgeoning Green Economy
6:30 PM Wednesday September 24, Central
Join Tim Young of Food for Thought and learn about the economic benefits of developing a business that helps sustain and preserve our natural world.

Sleep Tight, Sweet Garden
12:30 PM Friday September 26, Oshtemo
Experts from Fair Food Matters will offer advice on how to put your garden to bed for the winter.

These are just a few of the events scheduled for September. See the whole bountiful calendar by visiting Fair Food Matters.

Eat Local, Kalamazoo! is a coalition comprised of Fair Food Matters, Bronson Hospital, Kalamazoo College, Food Dance, People’s Food Co-Op, Southwest Michigan Community Harvest Fest, Kalamazoo Public Library and Water Street Coffee Joint.


Eat Local Month


Congressman Upton helps Ready to Read

Last Friday morning, Congressman Fred Upton honored the library with a visit to the Family Heath Center to see our Ready to Read program in action. He surprised a group of young children in the pediatric waiting area by offering to read aloud to them. Although they were a little shy in beginning, it wasn’t long before he had the kids gathered around him, listening intently and participating in the stories. I was really impressed by his natural rapport with children.

Following the impromptu story time, Congressman Upton presented every child with a gift book. “Now, I want all parents to cover their ears” he instructed the adults in the room. When he proceeded to tell the children to ask their parents to share the book with them at home, they all eagerly agreed.

To conclude his visit, Congress Upton chatted with staff in the Pediatric Department and W.I.C. Program about their involvement in Ready to Read. Family Health Center pediatricians discuss early literacy development and distribute gift books to families at well-child exams between birth and five years of age. W.I.C. nutritionists also recommend early reading experiences to client families and present Ready to Read gift books to families. “Reading is so important” Congressman Upton said. “I’m a big supporter of this program.”

The Family Heath Center is just one of thirty-eight community sites that partner with the library to promote early childhood literacy through Ready to Read’s Rx Reading program component.

View more photos of Congressman Upton's visit on the KPL Flickr photostream.


Congressman Upton helps Ready to Read


You may have noticed work stations in the aisles and wondered what was going on.

Those are “conversion” stations and we are adding RFID tags to all our materials…. books and AV items. These tags have been called “the new barcode” and combine materials identification and security. We will soon get new security gates for the entrance / exit area and different “work pads” at the circulation desk which will allow a stack of materials to be checked out all at one time, rather than one-by-one.

Early in 2009, we plan to add a self checkout option for patrons who prefer the do-it-yourself route. We’ll then replace our current circulation desk and information desk with a combined one to provide better service to our patrons.



New Look for the Library

Can you believe the renovated and expanded central library opened ten years ago? Time goes fast. If you use the central library regularly though, you’ve noticed our worn carpet AND hopefully now seen our fresh, new look.

First we replaced the worn carpet on the two main staircases with tile. It will last a lifetime and be easier to maintain. Then we started replacing the carpet throughout the building. The second and third floors and adult areas on the first floor are completed. The lower level is in process and the final area on the first floor….the children’s room….will be done in September after the completion of summer reading, our high traffic time of year there. By late September / early October we will have new carpet throughout the central library.  Stop in; I’m confident you will like it as much as we do!

We’ll take a break from carpeting, then turn attention to our four branches later in the year.


New Carpet

Making Summer Last

Diana Fair

It was only a few decades ago that summertime didn’t mean leisurely days by the lake. For many families, summer meant work -- a time to harvest and process fruit and vegetables for the winter to come. Commercially canned products were simply too expensive.

Judging by the crowd at our program on Aug. 19, there’s a renewed interest in food preserving. The enthusiasm could be due to the economic downtown, an increased concern for food safety or a desire to eat more locally grown foods.

At our program on Aug. 19, we heard about the basics of canning and freezing from Diana Fair of the St. Joseph County Extension office. Diana brought in a cart laden with canning tools, from funnels to pressure canners, and told us how to use them. One important thing I learned is that with water bath canning, acidity is your friend. Acidity prevents the formation of harmful bacteria. That's why it's critical to add a bit of lemon juice to each jar of tomatoes.

We also learned about Kalamazoo’s Community Kitchen project from Lucy Bland of Fair Food Matters. Right now there’s a mobile, licensed kitchen out at the Kalamazoo County Fairgrounds that can be rented to prepare foods for sale at festivals or other public events. It also can be used as an incubator for food-based businesses. Perhaps someone has a delicious idea for preserving zucchini?

Indeed, opening a jar of home-canned tomatoes in the middle of a January freeze is a special kind of pleasure. For recipe ideas and canning guidelines, check out KPL’s books on canning and preserving, most of which can be found under Dewey 641.4.

The sweet sounds of Rachael Davis entrance KPL!

Rachael Davis grew up in a musical family and the over 100 who attended her free concert at KPL on Tuesday night got to experience what it may have been like growing up in the Davis home. In classic "storyteller" fashion she told the tales behind each of her songs with the amazing guitarist Jesse Lee Mason from the band Millish. Rachael's dislike of Atlanta was definitely apparent in the song "Atlanta's Burning" and her love for her grandmother was obvious in "Lela May," the song which won her the 2003 Telluride Bluegrass Festival Troubadour contest. Many in the audience could hardly contain their emotions when she sang the lullaby written for her 11 month old son Virgil. It was another exceptional show at KPL!

Don't miss Michael Beauchamp on September 17th.

See more of John Lacko's photos of Rachel's performance on KPL's Flickr photostream.

As promised, here are several video clips from her performance - enjoy!


Rachel Davis @ KPL

Our Favorite Dewey is 641.5

Last night, a group of us gathered to discuss our favorite Dewey decimal category – the cookery books at 641.5. Folks like us keep cookbooks on the nightstand. And what ardent fans they were, too. Two patrons confessed to cookbook collections well into the hundreds and growing. Several brought their most beloved books for show and tell. All agreed that it’s becoming ever more difficult to organize and manage the influx of recipes from a new variety of sources: magazines, e-mail, web sites.

KPL director Ann Rohrbaugh provided the details that fans love:  how cookbooks have changed over the years and how she goes about selecting which one to acquire for the library. If cookbooks have increased in price, she said, it’s likely due to the addition of color photography. There are narrower subject categories than ever before – not just ethnic cuisine, but books devoted to such subjects as number of ingredients, kitchen appliances, weight loss, disease, celebrities and celebrity chefs.

Along with the ever-growing population of cookbooks are two emerging related genres. Food memoirs are biographical and categorized the 921s (My Life in France by Julia Child comes to mind). Food fiction, such as Like Water for Chocolate or Chili con Corpses, will be shelved by author's last name.

While KPL’s collection of cookery books is vast, it’s a mere drop compared to the some 24,000 cookbooks published each year. Ann uses book reviews and a dash of intuition to make selections which includes award winners and other highly praised titles. And if there's something we don't have, we'd love to hear your suggestion. For those times when you're in the mood to watch instead of read, KPL also offers cookery videos in DVD and VHS formats.

Last night's program was a tasty discussion that whetted our appetites. Some headed to a restaurant for dinner. I went home and baked a batch of scones


Cookery category in KPL catalog

Meet the Grantmaker

One of the best ways for your nonprofit organization to form healthy and sustained relationships with potential grantmakers is to seek out appropriate funders by focused research as well as communicating either directly by phone or by letters of inquiry. In order to eliminate wasted time in the research process, nonprofits should concentrate on forming relationships with appropriate funders that both share the nonprofit’s mission and that fund the kinds of program activities, services, and causes that the organization is directly involved in. This sort of searching for grantmakers can be performed here at the library with the help of foundation directories, online database searching and helpful research tips from library staff.

Determine if a particular foundation is the right match for your nonprofit by inquiring about their funding emphases and their organizational mission and role within the philanthropic community. Our Meet the Grantmaker program on October 21st will give those who work for 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations the opportunity to learn about the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation from an insider’s perspective. Engage in a discussion about the philanthropic activities of this well known, local foundation, what sort of programs they fund and how to establish strong relationships with local funders. Call the nonprofit librarian at 553-7844 to register for this program or to obtain more information.


Nonprofit Resources

The Beauty of an Ugly Tomato

Julie Stanley

At last night's program, Julie Stanley held up a massive and misshapen tomato declaring that it tastes better than the uniform and pretty variety that’s been bred for looks and long shelf life. Julie Stanley knows her veggies. As owner and executive chef of Food Dance Café (now in its 15th year), she’s been a proponent of farmers and local foods for decades. You won't catch her serving winter tomatoes. "Why would you want your food to taste bad?" she said.

Julie Stanley

Julie shared tips for spotting the good stuff at a farmers market, and caring for those precious goods when we get home. “Ask questions,” she urged. Farmers will readily talk about their produce. Beware of vivid yellow squash (tough skin) and oversized zucchini (bitter). Corn, she says, should be firm, cold and even slightly wet – clues that the farmer kept it chilled overnight. If the blueberries don’t have a frosty cast, they’ve been handled too much. And don’t even think about keeping those fragile raspberries for more than a day.

Photos: Marti Fritz

Resucitate Recitation?

John Rybicki

At his reading here yesterday, John Rybicki recited several poems from memory. And that got me to thinking about 8th grade when Mrs. Garrett made all of us learn and recite from memory her favorite poem, The House by the Side of the Road. Do students do that these days? Can you recite a poem from memory?

Photo: Lisa Williams

KPL Open to All

At the July 21, 2008 Kalamazoo City Commission meeting, there was abundant citizen comment regarding a proposed ordinance designed to address security issues at the Kalamazoo Transportation Center. Commissioners approved the ordinance, but prior to voting, they heard dozens of people speak—for and against the measure.

One opponent urged commissioners to think about the challenges and barriers facing some of the people who would be affected by the ordinance’s time restrictions. He commented that for people without permanent housing, there aren’t a lot of options in our town. At “the library,” for example, “their time is limited.” This comment prompted me to clarify a couple of the library’s policies.

As long as visitors are using the library—reading, studying, using library materials or facilities or engaging in library-related activities—and abide by the library’s rules of conduct, there is no time restriction. Two hours of computer use is provided for patrons with a valid library card during any 24-hour period. Individuals without permanent addresses will be issued a free, renewable one-month card if they present a letter from a social service agency stating that he/she is in contact with that agency and resides in Kalamazoo. The library has long-standing, cooperative relationships with agencies such as Ministry with Community, the Kalamazoo Gospel MissionHousing Resources, Inc. etc. We do our best to provide a welcoming environment for all citizens.

Web 2.0

Admittedly, the term "Web 2.0" is overused and perhaps more often than not, misunderstood - as if it implies some form of "new and improved" (read different) version of something that most of us struggle to understand as it is. In reality, Web 2.0 is simply a catchphrase for new technologies and gadgets that add to the social side of the web - things like blogs, podcasts, webcasts, videocasts, social bookmarking, and on and on.

Need to catch up a little? Here's an interesting video that was put together by a Kansas State University professor of cultural anthropology, attempting to sum up Web 2.0 in just under five minutes.


On Friday, July 11th, Jennifer Cornell, KPL's technology trainer, will delve into the world of sharing and organizing on the web with a special educational event called Web 2.0 Topics - Blogging. Don't miss this unique one-off session!