Submitted by Director Lawrence Ostrowski on December 21, 2016
As if the torrent of fake news appearing on Facebook, Google and other “trusted” sites for factually correct information weren’t bad enough, the library and the literary world is increasingly dealing with the problem of “fake reviews.” Once upon a time before the internet getting a published book review was the goal of every author. A positive review in a periodical was the ticket to being successful in the publishing world. But along came the internet and Amazon and the world of reviewing was turned upside down. Now anyone could post a review of a title on Amazon. And millions of people did including many people who have never read or seen the book title they “reviewed.” A cottage industry popped up companies who supply positive, multi-starred reviews for publications. Being that Amazon and others use those reviews in a formula to promote titles with x number of positive reviews, fake reviews pose a real problem. Certain book titles are promoted and published based upon flawed data. As if it wasn’t hard enough for a struggling author to convince a publisher to print his or her title, they now have to produce x number of positive reviews to get the title promoted. Hopefully the publishing industry will address this situation before it gets worse.
Books vs. e-books, Batman vs. Superman, which is better?
Submitted by Larry Ostrowski on 8-5-16
Readers of fiction titles today face a dilemma much like the followers forced to choose between the two classic comic book heroes. Who is better Batman or Superman? Batman is a human, one of us. Superman is the stranger from another planet. Batman has all kinds of cool gadgets. Superman has super powers. Batman is smart and clever. Superman can read a library of books in a minute. Batman is human but Superman is crippled by kryptonite. And on and on it goes.
Turning to books vs. e-books, you have the look, smell, feel and sensory experience of a book vs. the adventurousness of reading from a portable electronic screen. The printed word is easy on the eyes with proper lighting vs. the high level of screen luminance. A book will, in normal conditions, last decades the e-book lasts as long as the battery functions. A person can hold a hand full of books in their arms, an e-book reader can hold a thousand titles in the palm of their hand. Studies indicate book readers retain more than e-book readers. And on and on it goes
The more things change, the more…
Submitted by Director Larry Ostrowski on March 21, 2016
A couple of months ago I posted how the takeover of print publishing by electronic publishing hadn’t gone as planned and print publishing is likely to increase for a second year in a row. Another interesting piece of data has also surfaced just as we are now re-assessing the impact of E-books in the publishing and library world. It seems that e-readers are as likely as print readers to purchase and download but not read a title as print readers are to acquire but never crack open that book cover. At Book Expo America last April one of the leading e-book publishers found that 60% of their titles were downloaded but never read by purchasers. The patron who checks out an impossible number of books to read on home decorating or travel to Europe is legendary in the library world. Data indicates that genre readers are the most likely to read what they download while general fiction and non-fiction have the lowest completion rates. I’m inclined to believe the completion rates for genre over general fiction and non-fiction is probably the same for print titles. But at least with print titles you have the possibility of at least occasionally visually seeing that book you bought or checked-out as opposed to the out of sight out of mind e-book title.
eBooks, not quite what they seemed
Submitted by Director Larry Ostrowski on February 17, 2016
The hype of the eBook has been alive and well in the library world for well over 10 years, with early incarnations being nothing more than portable readers which the owner downloaded books that were on compact discs onto a device. The advent of the Kindle by Amazon in 2007 changed the playing field with readers being able to download titles to their device from an online connection. Barnes & Noble followed quickly behind Amazon with its own device the Nook, and the war was on. Growth of the market as the first decade of the twentieth ended had futurists predicting the end of print by 2015. But a funny thing happened on the way to that death. The people who were predicted to never buy another hard print title have challenged the predictors by purchasing near equal numbers of hard-bound and electronic titles. And amazingly there turns out to be millions of readers who are simply not captivated with the electronic book and our quite happy to continue to purchase paper copies of titles.
Hopefully the market will allow readers to ultimately decide on the issue of preference and it not be decided by corporate types. Being an eighties A/V librarian I can’t help but cringe remembering the great collections I built up only to discard them when a new format became available.
I read it, saw it, on the Internet, it must be true
Submitted by Director, Larry Ostrowski on January 1, 2016
It’s been over twenty years that we’ve been hearing that phrase or something like it and sad to report we can probably expect to be hearing it for the next twenty plus years. The fact is that, depending on the topic or subject the Google search is going to bring up in the matter of less than a second, hundreds of thousands if not millions of hits many purporting statements or data that is totally false and/or misleading. The issue now isn’t so much that false information, lies and hoaxes are on the Internet as much as it is the speed and sophistication with which they can appear. Verification of just not print data but image and video makes the process even more difficult. Images can easily be cleverly manipulated and the latest viral video on YouTube can be a scape, i.e. an old video that is downloaded and then re-uploaded by someone who fraudulently claims to be an eyewitness to an event or asserts the video is of a new event. This wouldn’t be so onerous if one could sense that a relatively quick retraction, rebuttal or correction would have some affect but our current environment “damage control” is basically too late to be much help. For those with no scruples the ability to falsify the truth especially visually convincing pictures and video has made this indeed the best and worst of times in the information age.
Prolong the life of a king
Submitted by Director Larry Ostrowski on December 16, 2015
Anyone wanting to purchase a feel-good, no brainer gift for an early elementary or pre-school child need only go on line or visit the nearest book store to offer your monies to support the King. And who is the King? He’s none other than the King of Rhyme, the Master of Mayhem, and the Children’s Champion, Dr. Seuss. The Grinch may have stolen Christmas, but the Doctor has certainly stolen the hearts and minds of children everywhere for the past fifty plus years. And just like no “earthly” author will ever out sell the Bible, it’s pretty much inconceivable that any author will ever catch and past the Doctor in the world of bestselling children’s books. His second place rival, J.K. Rowling is 50,000,000 copies behind and fading.
What makes his position as the now and forever King of Kids is that like so much of life, he was just in the right place at the right time. At the height of the Why Johnny Can’t Read crisis in America, during the 1950s, Theodor Geisel, then a successful, but little known cartoonist and children’s author, took up the challenge from the Houghton-Mifflin publishing house to create an imaginative and creative title using only the 348 words identified as being needed to know by first graders. The result was the 1957 title, Cat in the Hat. And just like every Baby Boomer listed to the Beatles, every Baby Boomer read Dr. Seuss books. The Doctor is joined at the hip to the largest generation who in turn passed on their nostalgic youth identity to the next generation and on and on.
Past Being Present
Submitted by Director Larry Ostrowski on November 16, 2015
During my first week of work at the Erie Public Library in 1970 as a just turned sixteen Reference Department shelver, I discovered in the dimly-lit basement stacks Sports Illustrated Magazine dating back to the first issue, August 16, 1954 featuring Roger Bannister on the cover. He had broken the 4:00 mile barrier the week before. Over the better part of the next two years I spent almost all my break, lunch hour and free time at the library in that basement stack reading one issue after another beginning with that August 1954 publication and continuing until I reached the current issues. Except for being an interesting bit of personal trivia to share as a contestant on Jeopardy, it’s noteworthy to highlight my persistence in completing a personal goal, but also speaks to the quality and depth of writing and journalism that goes into a Sports Illustrated issue. I share this also because it was recently announced that Sports Illustrated offices were moving and the library was closing. While I love technology as much as the next librarian, I know that in my heart of hearts nothing can replace the sense of the past being present in those stacks.
Another one bites the dust
Submitted by Director Lawrence Ostrowski on October 21, 2015
A few years back I noted on this blog that Britannica, the last company that the still printed a hardbound copy of a set of encyclopedias had stopped print publication and gone digital. The first of this month librarians across the world got notification that OCLC, the company that produced catalog cards had printed its last set of cards. For us “old school” librarians from the ‘70s and ‘80s that fact does bring back memories of a time long past. While it’s been thirty-plus years since I’ve looked up an item in a card catalog, the thought that there isn’t some library, somewhere that is still resisting the digital revolution is unsettling. Beginning my professional career in a time when only a handful of large library systems had something resembling a computer catalog, it’s hard to believe that author, title and subject cards wouldn’t be cheaper for small libraries somewhere to organize their collections.
The daily or weekly filing of catalog cards was one of the tasks that defined you as a librarian or at least library worker. Doing the job accurately was crucial. In an age before spell check a misfiled card could start a run of cards out of alphabetical order. And there was also a myriad of rules relating to added entries besides the main subject card, cross references and the list goes on and on. A library worker who was fast, accurate and efficient filing cards was worth their weight in gold as no one knew a book was in the library collection until those cards were filed. And the day after the library went on-line with its public catalog those staff were obsolete. Very sad.
Books go to War!
Submitted by Director Larry Ostrowski on August 12, 2015
Imagine the excitement of hearing that Thorndike Press was publishing a book about books. Me too. Being an old school Librarian, raised in the pre-electronic, pre-Internet era, the idea of being entertained and enlightened about book publishing, even in time of war, I thought would be a stretch. Much to my surprise however, Molly Guptill Manning’s When Books Went to War, the stories that that helped us win World War II, recalls a time when reading and the free access of books was expressed as a value that people were willing to die for.
The evolution of getting books to the troops via book donation drives to the publication of separate Armed Services Edition of selected titles in paperback, 4x5, stapled with laminated covers turns out to be rather interesting reading. Also interesting was the fact that stuck in a foxhole on the front line with three options while there, praying, worrying, reading, that reading turned out to be a very practical way for many G.I.s to pass the time.
You can’t help but come away from this book without a sense that one of the reasons this group is considered the Greatest Generation is because this generation under the stress of war became a nation of readers who made education, schools and learning important in the 1950s and beyond.
Submitted by Larry Ostrowski on 6/29/15
Throughout any given day at the library I observe that more than have our 16 public computers are in use. And it has been that way since we more than doubled or number of computers back in 2011. During that same time we have heard the day of the desktop is over and everyone does everything on their mobile devices.
It’s a bit like what we heard in the library world in the 1990’s when the Internet became a part of the fabric of life. With "everything” available on the Internet there would be no need to ever go to or contact a library. Well, somewhere along the way it hasn’t quite worked out like that, and book circulation keeps rising and access to library online offerings continue to grow each year. And believe it or not, people, especially children prefer to attend live and interactive programs with others and not watch a story time on a computer screen.
While mobile devices for verbal communication, texting, and getting directions to the nearest McDonalds, it’s not so great for researching and writing that 5-page biology report or watching that blockbuster movie. What the latest data is discovering is that while mobile access is increasing, access via desktops is not declining and may actually be increasing. It appears that rather than ones persons piece of the pie increasing at the expense of another, it’s seems to be a case that the overall pie is just getting bigger.
I know at the library I don’t expect to reduce our number of public computers any time soon.
Submitted by Director Larry Ostrowski on April 21, 2015
Once every decade or so the book publishing world has been hit with the release of a title that literally has everyone talking about it and wanting to read. Ten years ago everyone was talking about the DaVinci Code by Dan Brown or the Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. Going back in time there was the Late, Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey, Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book, Watership Down by Richard Adams and Bridges of Madison County by Robert Waller.
Coming this July 14th will be the publication of Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee. This, of course is the same Harper Lee who wrote To Kill a Mockingbird which was published in 1960 and has sold over 40 million copies plus has been read by millions of high school students over the past forty plus years.
This will be a rather unique publishing event for a number of reasons. First off, it will be the first sure-fire mega bestseller to come out in this age of audio books, downloadables, ebooks and print. It will be interesting to see just how many people who read or bought To Kill a Mockingbird in hardcopy will do so again.Secondly, rather than being a sequel this is supposedly a retelling of the original story by the main character as an adult rather than a child.
The closest thing the publishing world has had to this situation was the publishing of Scarlett, a sequel to Gone With the Wind by Alexandra Ripley with the approval of the Margaret Mitchell estate. Revisiting characters of Scarlett and Rhett and Ashley decades later did not go well. It will be very interesting to see what kind of response readers have to Harper Lee’s first telling of the story.
Let’s celebrate Banned Brains Week
Submitted by Larry Ostrowski, September 26, 2014
The 3rd week of September has, since 1982, been designated by the American Library Association as Banned Books Week. Each year libraries across the country have programs and displays focused around print titles that have been "banned” by some school board, community group, individual, or government. As with most library issues this one has to be viewed with the caveat "prior to the Internet.” Before the Internet the idea of actually prohibiting someone from reading and having access to a particular in a library or community was indeed possible. For many library and history buffs the stories behind famously banned books like Huckleberry Finn, The Origin of Species, Ulysses, etc., as well as the Nazi book burnings, and the struggles to get bibles behind the Iron Curtain make for inspiring as well as interesting reading.The idea that holding a particular printed work in one’s hands could be the difference between life and death is hard to imagine in 2014. Today with just a few key strokes or taps on a phone one can be reading a title that could have been a death sentence in Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia or Red China.Today the issue facing libraries is not so much about banning books and opposed to having "age appropriate” materials located in the library collections for young people of varying maturity levels. In an era when millions of parents have no objection to having their young children exposed to obscenity, sex and violence on cable TV and in the movies making sure a child doesn’t pick up a "bad” book is almost laughable. Maybe by the time the 3rd week of September rolls around in 2015 we can stop discussing banning books and start discussing the banning of websites. That should be fun.
Libraries on Fire
Submitted by Larry Ostrowski, August 25, 2014
In April of 2003, many people in the library world were shocked and incensed at seeing vandals and looters burning and destroying the National Library of Iraq in Baghdad at the close of the second Iraq War. It seemed inconceivable that in this information age where people are no longer in the dark regarding the value and irreplaceability of items of antiquity that individuals could smash and burn such priceless items without a second thought. Great libraries in Europe were destroyed when caught in the crossfire of armed conflict during World War II and mostly recently during the Bosnia-Herzegovinawar. But for the most part the burning of a library has been the result of an accident or natural disaster. The one glaring exception though is the burning of the Library of Congress by the British army during the War of 1812. August 25, 2014 marks the 200 anniversary of the intentional destruction of our nation’s library by the most civilized country in the world at that time. Fortunately for our country Thomas Jefferson, had a personal library relatively equal in size and scope to replace what had be burned and offered it to Congress. Today however not even Bill Gates with all his billions could amass a collection of the size and scope contained in today’s Library of Congress.
Change you may not be able to afford
Submitted by Larry Ostrowski, May 28, 2014
A major change in the world of the Internet may be coming in the very near future to libraries, businesses and homes across the country. The FCC is considering changes in it’s rules and regulations regarding content providers to the Internet like Google, Facebook, Netflix, bloggers, the online home business, etc. and Internet service providers like Comcast, Verizon and the like. It’s a rather complicated issue but the bottom line is that we could be seeing the development of a two-tiered Internet, a fast lane for those people and companies willing to pay more and the slow lane which would include everyone else.
While over the years I have become really annoyed with congestion on the Internet due to connectivity and bandwidth issues, and I have only sympathy for those in service areas with only dialup access, I’m not buying that the two tier approach is the best approach in the long run. Currently upgrades by service providers to the network in terms of more fiber or greater bandwidth benefit everyone on the net. I’m pretty certain that if there is added revenue to be made by servicing one group over another on the net, it’s going to be the group paying more that sees improvements and upgrades to it’s network. The internet service providers want the Googles and Facebooks to pay for system improvements and upgrades and the Googles and Facebooks want premium service in return.
You will certainly be hearing much more about this issue from the news media in the months ahead as politicians weigh in on it during the upcoming elections. In public libraryland it would be great if the FCC was looking into the rules and regulations regarding issues like online scamming, identity theft, and cyberbullying but there’s no money to be trying to solve these issues.
National Library Week, Really?
Submitted by Library Director Larry Ostrowski on April 9, 2014
Since 1958 the first full week of April has been designated National Library Week by the American Library Association and noted by thousands of public, school and academic libraries across the country. Established during a time when librarians and book publishers were alarmed at the increase in time people were listening to record albums and the radio as well as watching television and attending movies, the idea was to establish a nationwide PR effort to promote the joys and enrichment of reading provided by the library. I can’t imagine what those folks would think of today’s competition for a person’s reading time. Anyway, the upshot of this effort over the years has been to try increase awareness by libraries offering special programs during that week, and articles in local papers about libraries. Nationally there have been radio and television spots, often featuring movie stars, famous athletes and the like promoting reading and visiting your library. Each year a committee of the American Library Association comes up with a theme or slogan for the week. Listed below are some of the more interesting and clever ones that have come up over the years, including one "Be All That You Can be. Read” which was stolen by the U.S. Army and used throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s. Are these national week programs successful in getting the word out and increasing awareness? It’s hard to say. I guess I’ll just have to ask the folks I see gardening out in their yards working if they have been inspired by National Gardening Week efforts, also celebrated the second full week of April.
Popular National Library Week Themes and Slogans
Open your mind. Read
Be all that you can be. Read.
A word to the wise. Library.
Kids who read succeed.
Libraries change lives.
Something for everyone @ your library
Lives change @ your library
White Lake Children Win Again
Submitted by Library Director Larry Ostrowski on March 4, 2014
The Friends of the White Lake Township Library recently held their 6th Annual Mini-Golf Fundraiser in the library on a frigid and cold Sunday afternoon. It was very heartwarming to see close to 250 people attend the event, which annually provides funds for items like Early Learning Literacy computers and software and Leap Frog learning kits for the Children’s department. It’s great to be able to provide one of those "value-added” items without having to do so at the cost the basics like picture books, beginning readers and materials to support school assignments. Equally great has been the support for the event by businesses, organizations and individuals in the greater White Lake community. We all know its one thing to give to a one-time event or activity and it’s totally something else to give to an event or program year after year. I can’t tell you how uplifting it is to encounter people, businesses and groups annually willing to support the library in a very tangible way. During my five years here I’ve shared our successful event with other directors in the greater Detroit area and many question whether their community would support such an event on an annual basis. While I can’t say "yes” or "no” regarding their community, all I can say is that it’s been great discovering that the folks in White Lake do.
Back when I worked at the Toledo Library
submitted by Director Larry Ostrowski on February 5, 2014
Back when I worked at the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library in the late seventies we were one of three libraries in the state of Ohio that operated a tool-lending library. It was open for only a few hours a day, three or four days a week and was located in one of the older sections of town. I worked there only a couple times, filling in for the regular staff and was totally out of my element. It was one thing for me to help someone with finding the correct electrical diagram for a ’63 Chevy in a car repair manual and something totally different to try to show someone how to properly operate a paint sprayer or a variable speed router. The folks who frequented the library really appreciated the "helpful-hardware librarian” at the branch. Sadly, over time for-profit lending businesses won the day and libraries phased out their operations.
I share this only because in a few communities around the country kitchen tool-lending libraries have popped up in recent years. None are affiliated with a public library but I have to believe it’s only a matter of time until it happens. Grain mills, pressure cookers, food dehydrators, blenders and various unique kitchen utensils featured on various Food Network shows are infrequently needed but often prohibitively expensive to purchase. Borrowing such items for those rare occasions they are needed makes perfect sense. While I don’t see the White Lake Township Library with space to house and maintain a collection of blenders and pressure cookers, I certainly can see some of our neighboring communities with larger facilities able to accommodate such a collection. I just hope the overdue charges for a pressure cooker or food dehydrator aren’t more than a dollar a day.
Budget cuts in the Ancient World
Submitted by Director Larry Ostrowski on November 7, 2013
"Popular” history likes to symbolize the decline of Western civilization and the beginning the Dark Ages with the "burning” of the Great Library of Alexandria in Egypt as a sign that the flame of knowledge and wisdom of the world was going dim. As with most popular myths this one has some truth to it, but the reality is a whole lot less exciting and interesting.
The Great Library of Alexandria owes its establishment to the Ptolemy dynasty that came to rule in Egypt after Alexander the Great’s conquest. The Ptolemy rulers opted to try to rival wealth and learning in Greece with the building of a library that not only housed hundreds of thousands of scrolls but attracted hundreds of scholars who lived and worked in the library. With relative peace in the Mediterranean the Pharaohs were able to continue to grow and expand the library building as well as the collection. The conquest of Egypt by the Romans sadly marked the slow decline of the library. A number of fires are recorded to have occurred in Alexandria beginning with Julius Caesar’s sack of the city in 40 A.D. None of these fires however, damaged the library or the collection in any significant manner. What did begin happening was the slow and steady decline in monies from the government as funds were directed to the rulers in Rome. With the decline in support, scholars and researchers moved on other areas in the Roman Empire where collections were supported. The final blow to the library came with the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity. Many of the "pagan” scrolls were weeded out of the collection to be replaced by Judeo-Christian writings and literature.
The library basically died, not from a major fire or invasion but by a thousand little cuts in support over centuries that left it a shell of its former self. A sad reality of the current economic times is that many great libraries around the world are also experiencing this slow descent into irrelevance.
Cutting Edge Libraries?
Submitted by Director Larry Ostrowski on September 18, 2013
This past week a couple of public libraries made the newswire for opening buildings that are very unique in nature. In Stockholm, Sweden the TioTretton library is open to children between the ages of 10 and 13 only. No parents, no nine year olds, no teachers, no fourteen year olds. While our library world talks about the uniqueness of this age group between children and teens, this is the first public library to seek to cater to this age group exclusively. As you would expect, the library has various forms of soft furniture and hammock-like units for reading and studying, and there are "third adult” types (i.e. librarians) who are neither parents nor teachers who inhabit the library. But besides books and media and board games the library also contains a kitchen for kids to concoct various foods and a sewing area to create various costumes. This Library is definitely not a "boring” place for a 10 to 13 year old.
In Bexar County, south of San Antonio, Texas, they got national news attention for opening the first "bookless” public library. The 4,000 square foot facility consists of a service test, an area for story time, a meeting room and row after row of computers. Behind the desk are the Kindles, Nooks, iPads and tablets that patrons checkout after downloading their titles.
It’s not easy to be anonymous anymore
Submitted by Director Larry Ostrowski on August 22, 2013
Once upon a time in the book publishing world is was quite possible for a writer to create not just fictional characters but also a fictional author who created them. During my library career of selecting works of fiction the most famous author who was "outed” as writing under a pseudonym was horror writer Stephen King. During the seventies and eighties he wrote a number of short novels under the name Richard Bachman that sold moderately well. This past July however, arguably the most popular writer in the world, J.K. Rowling tried the pseudonym trick only to be "outed” after just three months. Writing under the name Robert Galbraith, a supposed former military police investigator, the writing, according to critics, was just "too good” for a first time novelist. In this age of computers it was possible for computer linguistic geeks to find significant similarities between Galbraith’s "The Cuckoo’s Calling” and Rowling’s "The Casual Vacancy” and the last Harry Potter novel. And in this age of social networking and Facebook it is much more difficult to invent a person of thin air and not be found out. Both King and Rowling published under pseudonyms in an effort to discover if their titles sold based upon the quality of their writing as opposed to just their name being on the cover. The quickness that Rowling was discovered just further highlights the inability of someone once in the public eye to re-invent themselves these days.
Libraries and book publishers: a marriage in crisis
Submitted by Director Larry Ostrowski on July 17, 2013
Along came the downloadable digital age for print content and the rules changed in the relationship. Libraries are now purchasing something from the publishers that has no shipping and processing costs, never wears out, takes up no space in the library, is never checked out and not returned by the patron and possibly the patron may even pirate a copy of the publication for himself. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that digital content is like the Stepford wife for the library husband. For book publishers the Stepford relationship is a road to ruin and indeed some publishers have "walked out” of the marriage by refusing to sell to libraries or charging two to three times the cost they charge their customers.
Can this marriage be saved? At this point in time libraries and book publishers really need a good marriage counselor that can insure publisher's rights to content ownership and still allow libraries to permit access to content.
Reading on the Internet
Submitted by Director Larry Ostrowski on June 24, 2013
This past January, Newsweek magazine ceased printing and joined the world of online magazines. As the magazine was reported to be losing millions of dollars in print I’m certain the folks at the top are happy that the bleeding has stopped and they will continue on joining the vast world of online publications. One thing however they need to be aware of is that a significant number of people who read the print copy won’t be "reading” the online version even though they subscribe online. Why? Because some research is showing that people don’t "read” online. An article in online daily news magazine Slate entitled "You Won’t Finish This Article” has some scary findings to share. They highlight that for every 161 people who open or land on an article, 61 or 38% will "bounce off” having basically read nothing. Another 5% will leave at the point of needing to hit the scroll button, which means the reader is only a paragraph or two into the article. The article goes into detail concerning the attrition rate of readers the longer the article is. It isn’t a pretty picture for any serious journalist whose articles run for a number of pages. And where with a print copy a person might flip through the article, especially if there are accompanying pictures, and start reading mid-way or at the end of the article, online reading is vertical. I’m happy for the journalists who still have jobs at Newsweek, but if they think because of web "hits” that anywhere near that number are actually "reading” their articles, is wishful thinking.
Keeping up with the Jones
Submitted by Library Director, Larry Ostrowski on May 9, 2013
I remember at some point in the nineteen seventies one of my parent’s neighbors had a backyard gas grill installed. I believe within about two years it seemed everyone in the neighborhood had a backyard gas grill. And prior to the explosion of backyard gas grills I have only the vaguest of memories of neighbors doing any kind of outdoor grilling.
First annual Family Safety Day/Bike-a-Thon?
Submitted by Director Larry Ostrowski on April 14, 2013
This May 11th we are looking to possibly add another event into our annual cycle of events and programs which the library and the Friends of the Library participate in. The Huron Valley Optimist Club has for a number of years conducted a Family Safety Day program in the spring at Lakeland High School. The focus has been on bike safety along with child protection and fire safety. This year the Optimists agreed to move their activities to Hawley Park, located beside the library, and the library, with the Friends of the Library offering additional children’s activities focusing on biking.
Getting out on your bike after a long winter like this past one is one of the ways to state that spring is finally here. We are hoping that in the future a family safety and bike-a-thon program will become an annual library program marking the beginning of spring.
The Year In Review
submitted by Library Director Larry Ostrowski on March 7, 2013
At a couple of libraries I worked at prior to arriving in White Lake around this time of the year we would be placing in our pamphlet racks or stacking on our Circulation or Reference Desks an annual report document for the previous year. While certainly not making any library user's must-read list the annual report did help put the past year in perspective and help recall the many programs and activities that make the library the "heart of the community.”
For the White Lake Township Library, the year 2012 will always be remember as the year we got "Geeked.”Joining in with a large number of other public libraries in the Detroit metro area the library began a pretty much year-long PR effort to find out "What do you Geek?” The walls in the adult computer area featured dozens of photos of patrons, staff, Friends of the Library, Library Board members and others proudly proclaiming what the "Geeked.” Two, five by three poster boards in the computer area provided written comments by library users stating what they "Geeked.”White Lake Residents "geeked” everything from Batman to Quickbooks to Irish dancing to Justin Bieber and everything in between. The black "What do you Geek?” T-shirts were popular with the staff and the Friends of the Library group sold a number of them to patrons.
The major event in early 2012 was the Friend's annual mini-golf event held on the first Sunday in March. The event raised funds for the purchase of various furnishings for the Children's area.Attendance at the event rose again for the fourth year in a row and at one point in the afternoon over eighty people was on the course playing. Hosts of programs build around the Great Michigan Read selection, Arc of Justice by Kevin Boyle were well attended as was a program for upper elementary children on the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. The Friends of the Library and staff participated in the White Lake Community Egg Hunt at the Fisk Farm with crafts and activities. The library also took on the role of solicitor and collector of items for the White Lake Township Time Capsule to be buried in 2013.
The Summer Reading program was again a major success as was the annual Concert in the Park which featured the musical trio Cats and the Fiddler. 2012 was the first year that patrons could register online to attend programs and events. Behind the scenes in the summer the library upgraded Its internet service to a faster fiber-optic platform. The library also completed the re-carpeting project begun in 2011, with the carpeting of the staff areas. A silent auction of used furnishings replaced in 2011 was also conducted.
The fall saw the library and Friends again involved in the annual Fisk Farm Festival as well as the annual White Lake Community Tree Lighting. The library conducted a very successful first time Local Author Fair.The November general election saw Rich McGlew, Jennifer Schulz, Glenn Rossow and Joe Fennell re-elected to the library board and Liz Smith and Pam Collins joining them to fill the six board positions.
Statistically, 2012 was a banner year for the library. In all the major categories used to measure library service the library surpassed the figures of 2011. More people visited the library than ever before (90,821), checking out more items (217,308), asking more questions (23,342), and logging more sessions on the public internet computers (29,263) than ever before. While other libraries in the area have seen their numbers flatten out or decline, the numbers for the White Lake Township Library continue to rise.
The White Lake Township Library Board, Staff and Friends look forward to developing a strategic plan in 2013 to continue to offer quality services and programs to the citizens of White Lake for years to come.
Fines- The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Submitted by Library Director Larry Ostrowski on January 22, 2013
Beginning February 1st the library will be charging a dollar a day fine for overdue NEW DVDs and instituting a limit of five new DVDs that a patron may have checked out at any one time. In my four plus years as director here this is the first time that we gotten on the revenue-generating/patron-restrictive highway regarding our materials here at the library. For me it's been a point of pride to share that our policies have been focused around the concept of not restricting the number of items a borrower may want to check out and at the same time charging a low enough fine that should they not return the items in timely manner they won't have to take out a loan to regain their borrowing privileges. And for the most part the vast majority of borrowers return items on time and those that do return items late pay the $.10 a day fine.
However, nothing stays the same forever and in the case of our NEW DVD collection the growing sophistication of our borrowers with the latest technology has created a situation where some patrons are reserving literally all NEW DVDs and, combined with our low fine structure keeping those items out long past the one week loan period.The goal of the library is to have the items borrowers want to get them to them in a timely manner and in this case we are falling short in the timely manner. The policy changes beginning on February 1st will hopefully speed up the turnaround time that any individual keeps out a NEW DVD as well as the number of NEW DVDs any one person can have checked out.
As I stated earlier,I've been very proud of the fact that we have not gone the money-making, material restricting route with our policies but I do believe in this case we can better serve all the patrons in White Lake with a policy that strongly encourages timely borrowing of our NEW DVD items.
Thanks for Voting!
Submitted by Library Director, Larry Ostrowski on November 21, 2012
One storyline from the fallout of the recent presidential election was the sense that voters voted for the candidate that was going to give them the most "gifts.” In that context, I am happy to report that voters voting for the White Lake Township Library in a recent nationwide Lego promotion secured for our library a wonderful "gift.”
Earlier this year, LEGO DUPLO and the Association for Library Services To Children (ALSC) joined hands to celebrate and support local libraries in the Read! Build! Play! project. Library patrons across the nation were asked to "vote” for their library to be one of 200 libraries to receive a special LEGO toolkit. Amazingly the White Lake Township Library got more votes than other libraries around the country, many of whom serve communities 2,3,4 times our size. And as political candidates know, it’s all a matter of getting out the vote, and in this case White Lake out-voted much bigger communities.
The special LEGO DUPLO Read! Build! Play! Toolkit is chock full of cutting edge, early literacy programming that combines preschool books with a versatile collection of DUPLO bricks. We will have the items out on display in our Children’s department shortly.
Our monthly LEGO club attendees also will greatly benefit from the added bricks for their unique theme-based creations.
Thanks again for voting for the White Lake Township Library.
Death of Genre
Submitted by Library Director, Larry Ostrowski on October 12, 2012
In our little library world one of the constant in-house topics of discussion among staff who are on the front lines recommending and selecting books for the library's collection is what, if any, "genre” sticker to attach to the spine of a fiction book.Nothing makes a librarian on a service desk (like myself) happier than when a patron approaches the desk and expresses an interest in reading Mysteries or Christian Fiction and you can tell them books in that genre have an identifiable sticker on the spine. While a "good” librarian who provides reader's advisory can usually recommend a handful of titles in just about every genre, the reality is that we all have our own areas of reading interest and being able to alert patrons to titles in the collection in the genre of their interest is a big help.
I share this little insight only because one of the "founding fathers” of genre fiction is slowly going the way of the dinosaur. Long before Fantasy broke out from under the category of Science Fiction and Suspense splintered off from Mystery, the choices for librarians in the realm of sticker selection for a title were Science Fiction, Mysteries, Romance, and Westerns, or none for the general fiction collection. Sadly the Western reader has more or less ridden off into the sunset and while titles are still being published that are classed in that genre, compared to other genres, the Western has pretty much sunk to the bottom of readership. Some book stores have eliminated it completely as a subject category and file the titles in with the general fiction collection. Unless another Zane Gray or Louis L'Amour surfaces to revive interest in this uniquely American genre I'm afraid the Western sticker sheet is going to be collecting dust in our back workroom.
The Death of the Book Cover
Submitted by Library Director, Larry Ostrowski on August 30, 2012
The idiomatic phrase, "never judge a book by its cover,” and other similar variations have found their way into conversation for close to 100 years. But, for better or worse, I think the life that that particular statement may be coming to an end as we move further and further along in the digital highway.
Beginning around the turn of twentieth century and continuing to the present, publishers have hired graphic artists to take the book jacket and transformed it into a billboard shouting "READ ME!! READ ME!!” It's been the printed words calling card. Recently visiting an historical library whose collection was made up of mostly publications printed before 1900, it really struck me how visually unmoved I was toward opening any particular title. While not judging the book by its cover, the lack of anything to draw me into opening it made it easy to be distracted into moving on to something of more visual appeal.
Working in bookstore in the nineties I couldn't help but notice that the long-haired, muscle-model Fabio appeared on an endless number of romance novels. I don't know if his portrait matched the hero's in the book but I do know that his bare-chested appearance on a book cover guaranteed sales. I know for myself and many others the cover illustration has been part of our reading experience. The image we had of Nancy Drew or Encyclopedia Brown or Conan the Barbarian was already fixed in our minds before we read the first page.
Looking at list of titles of books I've read over the will jog my memory banks to some degree to the experience of reading any particular title. But seeing the cover of Stephen King's Cujo, or Frederick Forsyth's Odessa File, or Vincent Bugliosi's Helter Skelter, and I'm transported for a short time back the place and time I read those titles and feelings and images come to mind of things long past. The book cover and the book itself are linked together in my mind.
Summer Reading Highlights
Submitted by Library Director, Larry Ostrowski on July 19, 2012
As many of you know, June, July and August are quite often the busiest time of the year at a public library. This is of course, because of the various programs and activities that revolve around the concept of a summer reading club or program. Initially for children, libraries now also conduct programs and events for teens and adults and the idea of a club has pretty much disappeared.
Believe it or not there is a history of summer reading programs that dates back to the turn of the twentieth century. The idea back then was for the library to produce a list of best books for children to read that summer and those children that read all the books on the list got a certificate. Another component of summer reading back then was the idea that during the summer librarians would go out to playgrounds and other areas where children gathered and tell stories and share books with them.
Over the years the programs at various libraries have claimed to prevent "summer slide” (reading ability loss) and decrease juvenile delinquency. On the flip side, the programs have been criticized for creating "too much” competition within children to win contests and prizes for reading which they should be doing for the sheer joy of it.
The idea of prizes and rewards as a component of summer reading has often been a hotly debated subject in library circles, and while some offer only certificates and reading record sheets the vast majority offer some kind of toy, pencil, gift certificate or coupon for reading X number of books. Believe it or not, one library I worked at in the early eighties children read books in order to earn minutes on a computer to play games like Tic-Tac-Toe.
Today most public libraries develop their summer reading programs and activities around a theme developed by a group of children's librarians and specialists in each state.This allows smaller libraries to have access to professional produced reading records, posters, etc. at a greatly reduced cost.
All in all it's a great time to be working at a public library!
Return of Oprah’s Book Club
Submitted by Larry Ostrowski on June 10, 2012
Condensed below are portions of the press release we folks in the library world got concerning the return, after two years, of book titles selected and promoted by Oprah Winfrey. The titles will be promoted on OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, where she hosts a weekly show called "Oprah's Next Chapter” that airs on Sunday nights. She is expected to make a number of selections each year.
Her first pick, she has chosen "Wild,” by Cheryl Strayed, a nonfiction retelling of the author's epic hike of the Pacific Crest Trail that was published in March by Knopf.
"I love this book,” Ms. Winfrey writes in the July issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, which will highlight the new book club on its cover and feature an interview with Ms. Strayed. "I want to shout it from the mountaintop. I want to shout it from the Web. In fact, I love this book so much and want to talk about it so much, I knew I had to reinvent my book club.”
While calling the new version Oprah's Book Club 2.0, Ms. Winfrey will resuscitate many of the familiar markers of its first incarnation, including the sticker on the jacket of print books that proudly designates the title as sanctioned by Ms. Winfrey.
But in a nod to the millions of readers who have abandoned print books for e-books, Ms. Winfrey has updated the club with digital and social-media elements. The e-book versions of the selected book, for instance, will include margin notes from Ms. Winfrey highlighting her favorite passages.
Before she stopped selecting books altogether in 2010, Ms. Winfrey had picked 65 books since 1996, a mix of contemporary and classic works. For many years, a book's selection as an Oprah-sanctioned title translated into instantly skyrocketing sales of more than a million copies, extraordinary numbers for any title.
Her greatest influence remained in plucking new books from the pile, often lifting a little-known author like Jacquelyn Mitchard or Anita Shreve to household-name status. When Ms. Winfrey halted her daytime talk show last year, book publicists mourned the loss of what was easily the most desirable platform to promote an author.
Oprah titles have pretty much always been ones I could easily recommend to folks wanting a good insightful and rewarding book to read and I believe I can say without qualification that the library world is pleased and excited to see her again recommending titles.
Turning the Page
Submitted by Larry Ostrowski on May 3, 2012
Turning the page
For many of us in the public library world the month of May is page turning time. The winter/spring programs are coming to a close as well as activities and events that revolve around the school year calendar.
Here at the White Lake Township Library it's been a great first four months of 2012, with our Friends 4th Annual Mini-Golf event being a rousing success, and the library hosting a very well-attended and received group of programs focusing around the Great Michigan Read selection, the Arc of Justice by Kevin Boyle. In addition the library helped hundreds of patrons this spring in joining the ebook revolution with assistance and programs on the various devices and practices necessary to download titles. The library was also a key participant at the annual Easter Eggstravanga held at the Fisk Farm for over 500 children plus adults.
During the last week of April we put the finishing touches to the renovations and upgrades to the facility started last August with some minor recarpeting, lighting upgrades and replacement of various tables and chairs.
Be on the lookout for our Summer newsletter highlighting our Summer Reading Program for Children. In addition there will be a variety of programs and activities for adults and teens, including a Reading Program for those age groups to participate in.
Calling it quits
Submitted by Larry Ostrowski on March 22, 2012
After 244 years, Encyclopedia Britannica is going out of print.
For those of us who consider ourselves "library-lifers” we grew up viewing the Encyclopedia Britannica as the gold standard of encyclopedias. In the pre-digital days it was always near or at the top of every librarian's must have list of reference resources. Compared to World Book, Collier's, Americana, etc., I always thought of the Britannica as the New York Yankees of encyclopedias. In the post-World War II golden age of the ‘50s and ‘60s having a set in your home was a middle class status symbol displaying your cultural refinement. The Cleavers of "Leave it to Beaver” had a set on display in the family den. The depth of their articles and the quality of writing, often by recognized experts in their particular field, made it seem worth the higher price compared to other encyclopedic sets. I can remember public and private school librarians always excited about receiving our older edition when a new one arrived at the public library because the quality more than made up for the lack of currency. In the age of Wikipedia and the Internet it is hard to believe that there was once a time when reference sources weren't constantly being updated and revised.
Moving forward Britannica will live online in cyber space, serving the school curriculum needs of educational providers.
The days however of flipping through a volume and coming across some topic you hadn't ever thought much about and basically "discovering” it are at an end.
My two minutes on eReaders
Submitted by Larry Ostrowski on Febuary 6, 2012
My 2 minutes on eReaders
Try as I might I can't keep from being a bit conflicted over the current evolution of eReaders and their impact on public libraries.
On the one hand I can see the advantages of being able to carry around and have access to a building full of books 24/7. And with each newer version there are more options like adjustable font size, highlighting and other customizable features. The reality of being able to offer more "copies” of a title that take up zero shelf space in my building also gets my vote. And finally there is, of course, the "cool factor” of being part of the digital revolution generation that is growing up in a paperless environment.
On the other hand in this conflict, I like being able to answer the question, "Do you have this title?” and not have to worry that it's a title by a publisher who does not permit electronic access to their titles. Also by physically handing them a book I do not have to ask them what reading device they own, as well as what version, and do they have access to a computer to download the title, and because of limitations, how many electronic titles do they currently have "checked out.” And when I hand that printed book to them I don't need to assist them in navigating through various buttons and touch screens to "read” their book.
Currently I would be more of advocate for ebooks in this debate regarding eReaders verses print were it not for the issue availability. Its seems like everyone who has a friend or family member they know who is a library user bought them a Kindle or Nook for Christmas as gift and now they are coming to the library wanting to read the new and popular titles they usually read in print on their new gift.Sadly, they are not only finding them "checked-out” electronically, but that they actually will get to read new or popular titles more quickly if they placed a hold on a print copy. The whole question of libraries "owning” electronic copies of a title is still up in the air and publishers are very unhappy with the current way libraries acquire electronic copies of their titles and major changes are sure to come. One person summed it up by saying, "It's like buying a new car for a trip only to realize that there are no roads to your destination, so you have to go by horseback.Eventually a road will be built but it just isn't there quite yet.
Last Year for Michigan tax credit
Submitted by Larry Ostrowski on December 15, 2011
Hardly a day goes by at the library without someone stopping by the library to donate good condition books, DVDs and CDs. Occasionally we also have individuals making monetary contributions to the library.Aside from being delighted to receive the items or monies, we make it a point to mention to the donor the fact that we are more than willing to provide a receipt acknowledging their donation should they choose to claim a tax credit on their federal and state tax forms. Beginning January 1 of 2012, however, that tax credit can only be claimed on an individual's federal tax form. The State of Michigan will no longer offer tax credits for your donations to public libraries and other charitable institutions.I know for many of you this change will not impact on your giving or donation of materials to the library but should you be considering end-of-year monetary contributions for 2011 tax returns please note that those donations need to be postmarked by December 31st or dropped off at the library by close of business on December 30th.
As the year comes to a close I would once again like to thank the many of you who have contributed to and supported our various activities and programs over the past twelve months. The Mini Golf Event, the Eggstravaganza, the Summer Reading Celebration, the Great Pumpkin Hunt and the Community Tree Lighting along with the many other weekly activities and programs are only possible as a result of your support that goes beyond tax dollars. In 2012 we envision again offering these as well as other programs in our efforts to make White Lake Township Library a community jewel.
Back in Business!
Submitted by Larry Ostrowski on September 27, 2011
This past August will go down as one of the strangest times in my forty years of working in public libraries. Never in all those years of continuous library work had I ever been at one that was closed for more than a few days. When we renovated or expanded a facility within the larger library systems we still had another location open to provide service for our borrowers. Other libraries were moved into a strip-mall storefront or operated out of the library's meeting room during the remodeling projects.
During the sharing time at the August Highland Business Association meeting it was so odd to state that "the library is closed” for the first time in my life. It got a good laugh but it seemed strange to be saying it.
Indeed the strangest part of the month was the absence of you borrowers and users of the library. I missed our daily interactions. My internal bio-clock kept going off at 10 o'clock every morning saying the library is open for business, yet you weren't there. Something didn't seem right when returning from lunch on a Monday and not seeing any cars parked around the library. Not hearing the occasional sounds and footsteps of children in the building was strangely un-nerving. So much of the background noise of "life” in the library was missing.
It's great to be back in business and I personally appreciate the number of positive comments I've received from those of you who have "returned” to the library after a brief exodus to our surrounding library communities. Please feel free to contact me anytime and "Thanks” for bringing back life into the library.
Submitted by Larry Ostrowski on August 29, 2011
Our End of Summer Reading Party for children who had reached their goal was an event with multiple activities and was only possible though the sponsorship of Oakland County Parks, Huron Valley Optimists and Meijer of White Lake.
Moving the book stack ranges exposed untrodden carpet and it was visually alarming what ten years of foot traffic can do to a carpet. Re-carpeting with carpet squares will allow us to address wear and fade issues without replacing the entire carpet.
Thanks again for your patience during this time and hope to be open and serving you shortly.
Submitted by Larry Ostrowski on July 1, 2011
These next four weeks of July are annually the busiest time of the year: programs and activities at the library as well as the borrowing of materials. With the library closing in August for painting, re-carpetining, and repositioning of the collection, the weeks ahead should even busier than in 2010. Children and teens participating in the summer reading program are going great guns and the end of summer reading party will again have multiple mobile recreational units from Oakland County Parks and Recreation. An added perk for participation in our summer program this year is a chance to win one of two bicycles, courtesy of Township Supervisor Greg Baroni and his wife, Marilyn.
For the first time in my three summers here, we have a family program tie-in to White Lake’s signature event of the year, Quake on the Lake. "Racer Bob” Dabrowski will be at the library on Wednesday evening, July 13th with his hydroplane boat to share his experiences in this exciting sport. Be sure to bring your camera for photos of the kids in the driver’s seat! It’s also a great way to find out what goes on during the Quake weekend and the other activities besides the boat racing. This year for instance, the Quake will be featuring a family-friendly concert for children by Verve Pipe on Saturday afternoon, July 16th.
My personal interest in the American Civil War is being accommodated as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the conflict with a summer concert in the park featuring the 5thMichigan Regiment Band on Monday night, July 18th. The musicians play a variety of popular tunes from the 1860s in period uniforms and using replica instruments.
During these weeks leading up to our closure please feel free to contact us by phone, email, or in person regarding returning materials, placing holds, picking up materials on hold, or other library questions. We look forward to reopening in September with an improved library!
submitted by Larry Ostrowski on June 6, 2011
During these days of government budget tightening so much of what has been reported about libraries in general has been less than positive. In our Detroit metro area one city public library (Romulus) closed and has since reopened but only as a shell of its former self in terms hours and services available. Another city library (Garden City) is closing June 24th, and another city library (Troy) that was scheduled to close on April 30th, got a reprieve to stay open until a special election is held on August 2nd to determine its fate.
Lost in the reporting on the state budget and the various cutbacks and reductions for 2012, was the fact that the folks in Lansing did seem to “get it” regarding how libraries have worked together for years to share and pool resources and save the taxpayer money. After an initial proposal from the governor to cut state aid to libraries by 40%, the legislators voted to continue to provide state aid to libraries at basically the same level as they did in the 2011 budget. For White Lake residents this means we will still be able to provide access to online electronic databases that cover a wide variety of subjects. More importantly, this means that the delivery system which brings materials to White Lake residents from libraries in the greater Detroit area will continue to operate in 2012. Given the size of our library and its collection, it is crucial that we have the ability to secure materials from other libraries to meet White Lake resident’s needs.
On another totally unrelated topic, I hope many of you have received our summer newsletter informing you of our “Library” home improvements that will be occurring during the month of August. I’ve received a number of positive comments from residents happy that we are keeping the facility fresh and attractive but a number have also wondered about the length of the time we will be closed. In a “money is no expense scenario” we would have movers come in, box up the entire collection, dis-assemble all the shelving and have everything stored in a semi-trailer or two. The painters and carpet workers could do their tasks in three or four days and then the movers would re-assemble the shelving and unbox the materials. In an effort to spent our monies wisely we have worked out a plan with the various parties involved to do a kind-of “musical chairs” with materials and shelving moving out one area for carpeting and repainting and different shelving and materials moved back into the finished area. All told there are seven elements to the project that, when completed, has the children and young adult collections relocated to the lower level and the adult non-fiction collection and public computers moved to the first floor. Located outside my office are drawings showing our current layout and drawings of the library upon re-opening in September. Should you have any questions or concerns about the project please feel free to stop in or contact me at 248-698-4942, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
State Budget for Library Collaboration at Risk
Submitted by Larry Ostrowski on April 19, 2011.
During the most recent battle in our U.S. Congress to pass a federal budget and keep the government running, I'm guessing that many of you, like me, were upset that they were focusing all this time and energy arguing and debating over programs that cost taxpayers $.25 a year and not addressing programs costing dollars a day to the taxpayer. If nothing else you had to come away from all the talk impressed by the importance politicians placed on programs of so minor financial impact to the taxpayer.
Sitting in my office at the library, I can't help but wish, in a twisted way, that state aid to libraries here in Michigan could capture the importance in politician's minds as financially insignificant programs do in Washington. Totally under the radar in the budget discussions in Lansing is the proposal to cut state aid to libraries 40% after just cutting it 40% two years ago. State aid to libraries very much mirrors those programs in Washington costing the taxpayer $.25 a year. And bang for the governmental buck the taxpayer benefits, as state aid to libraries has promoted consolidation and collaboration between libraries around the state. At a time when everyone is now talking about the importance of multi-governmental cooperation, libraries in Michigan have been doing it for decades.
Every day we receive a hundred plus items from libraries around Detroit and the state via a delivery system that exists because of state aid. We can offer access to a number of electronic databases with information not available via any Google search because of state aid contracts for statewide sharing between libraries. Both of these services are seriously at risk of disappearing over next two years, if proposed cuts are implemented. The reality will, quite literally, be returning libraries back to 70s.
Painfully, I can remember working in a library like our one here in White Lake where it seemed every third or fourth title a patron wanted was not in our library and the best advice I could offer was for them to get in their car and make a 20, 40, or 60 mile round trip to a library that had the item. Similarly, we had only the basic reference resources so that any kind of seriously in-depth question could only be answered it the patron visited a much larger public or university library. It's hard to see driving 20, 40, or 60 miles to secure an item with gas at $4.00 a gallon is a savings to the taxpayer versus supporting a delivery system that costs the taxpayer collectively $.25 a year.
I could, of course, go on a further rant about how individuals are addressing their own budget shortfalls by accessing libraries to their need for a wide variety of materials and resources they can no longer afford.
Stay tuned for further developments.
New stimulus grant computers at your Library!
submitted by Larry Ostrowski on March 24, 2011
For many months we have been talking about our Federal stimulus grant and the imminent arrival of new computers and printers for use in the library. On February 22nd that finally became a reality. For many of our “regular” library computer users it has meant an end to constantly being frustrated by the obsolete operating systems we had on our computers and printers that frequently crashed or froze up.
With the addition of more computers with internet access we have also been able to increase the time allowed on a workstation to a total of two and one-half hours per day. This has been especially helpful for people who use our computers to find employment. In fact, these new computers mean more access to the Internet for you and your family and provide a foundation for economic growth and job creation.
While we have had a number of positive comments about the additional computers, we have had some patrons express surprise at seeing triple the number of terminals outside our quiet study room in the lower level of the Library. In this time of tight government budgets, I believe it's important for everyone to know that these new computers are courtesy of a successful federal broadband stimulus grant. The grant was submitted by Michigan State University to improve internet access throughout the state and in select public libraries. The Friends of the White Lake Township Library also contributed the additional funds that were needed to show local support for the grant. Were it not for the grant we would still be limping along with our obsolete units and replacing only the ones that can no longer be updated and/or repaired. Check out the new computers on your next visit to the Library!
A BIG Mini-Golf Thank you!
Submitted by Larry Ostrowski on March 9, 2011
A big THANKS to all those who sponsored, contributed, or attended our 3RD Annual Mini-Golf Event, on Sunday, March 6th. We had a steady stream of golfers on the course from noon until the last foursome finished up at 4:15. The course continues to grow in challenges and hole number one located on the Motor City Party Bus provided unique design issues to overcome. Pictures on our Facebook page can attest to the fun and enjoyment players had on the course.
Besides our tee and green sponsors a number of local businesses as well as individuals contributed items for a Silent Auction on the day of the event. With over 50 items to bid on, we've put the items on display in our Reading area and extended the time to bid on the items to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 26th. Due stop in as there are great deals to be had on a number of unique items.
Due to the generous support of our event we will be ordering LeapFrog early learning materials to place in our collection in the very near future. LeapFrog materials can really make reading come alive and support a child's first efforts at becoming literate. Thanks again for assisting our efforts to encourage the love of reading in the children of White Lake.
3rd Annual Mini-Golf Event promises Excitement
Submitted by Larry Ostrowski on February 17, 2011
It won't be business as usual at the library on the weekend of March 5th and 6th. For the better part of 48 hours the library will be an eighteen hole mini-golf course for the enjoyment of teens and families and in conjunction with the Friends of the Library's efforts to provide materials in support of early learning in White Lake. The library will close at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 5th and will open for golfing at 6 p.m. for middle school students. On Sunday golfing for families is from noon to 4 p.m., with the course closing and re-opening at 5 p.m. for area church Youth Groups and Home Schooling students.
This annual event has enabled the library to secure Early Learning Literacy Computer Stations these past two years and this year's efforts are directed toward purchasing LeapFrog early learning materials. Once again a number of local businesses and organizations have come forward to support the event by sponsoring greens and tees as well as providing items for a Silent Auction during the event.
On Sunday afternoon the Motor City Party Bus will be the site of the first hole on the course and new for this year will be two motorized windmills to challenge golfers. Members of the Friends of the Library and me are hoping many of you will partake of this unique library experience which allows us to further serve the children of White Lake.
Getting the Word Out
Posted by: Larry Ostrowski on November 17, 2010
Coming to White Lake in May of 2008, I strangely faced a challenge I had never had before regarding promoting and sharing the library's message: no local daily newspaper. The smallest community I worked in had 11,000 residents and a newspaper which was printed five days a week. Practically anything we did in the way of programs or activities made the paper. In the larger communities there was a bit more competition with other libraries for print space but if we were doing something of value and interest we could usually get coverage.
I've gotten very positive comments from patrons when they receive our newsletter that comes out every four months but it focuses primarily upon upcoming events. Reporting on past events as well as the library's involvement in activities in White Lake or with neighboring libraries just hasn't been possible. We have mentioned and reported on them on our library's web page as well as our Face book and Twitter pages but one has to be online specifically looking for the White Lake Township Library to hear or read about these things.
Recently an online source for local news called Patch.com has debuted which I hope can fulfill the void of not having a local print publication. I read the Oakland Press and the Detroit Free Press daily always scanning for any White Lakes news as well as the weekly Spinal Column, but being a relative newbie here it's rare to see anything in print about White Lake that isn't hard news. So far I've been pleasantly surprised with the articles Brooke Meier, the editor and her staff has written about people and events in White Lake. Brooke interviewed some of the teens who attended our Harry Potter After Hours gathering on Friday, November 12th, and it was great to not only read and hear some White Lake teens share their interest in the books and movies, but to know that folks who might not be visitors to our web site would discover some of the things we're doing. We, at the library will be doing all we can to promote this source for local White Lake news and events and you will also spread the word and share ideas and information about all things White Lake.
Really giving thanks
Posted by: Larry Ostrowski on October 7, 2010
While Thanksgiving is still six weeks away, I've already been in a giving thanks mood for quite some time. Hardly a day goes by without news of a public library in the metro area reducing hours of operation, furloughing or cutting staff, decreasing the amount of money to acquire new materials, or eliminating programming budgets for children and adults. The list of cost saving actions area libraries are preparing to take filled six pages. I know I would have contributed several cutbacks to the list if not for the overwhelming community support and passage of our millage in August.
Thanks to the voters in White Lake we will be able to maintain our current hours of operation; sustain the budget for new books, CDs and DVDs; and keep offering programs and classes for adults, teens and children. I'm especially thankful for being able to assure our Teen Librarian, Julie Saunders, that she'll be able to continue developing the teen program and collection. Also during the next year the staff and library board will be evaluating the library's design and layout to determine the most effective and efficient use of our physical library space.
Over the next two months the library and the Friends of the White Lake Township Library will be involved in three White Lake community events:
- October 9th - 1st Annual Great Pumpkin Hunt at Indian Springs Metro Park
- October 17th - Fall Harvest Fest at the Community Garden next to Cavalry Lutheran on M-59
- December 1st - White Lake Community Tree Lighting at the Village Lakes Shopping Center
Due to the support for our library millage we will still be a vital and active presence in the life of the White Lake community. Thanks again!!
Thank you for the support! Library Millage passes, 63% yes to 37% no
Posted by: Larry Ostrowski on August 4, 2010
On the behalf of the White Lake Township Library Board of Trustees and the staff at the library, I would like to express my heart felt thanks to the White Lake community for their overwhelming support of the millage request (Yes- 63%, No- 37%) to sustain the current level of library operations. At the time the decision was made in early 2010 to seek a millage increase in the face of declining tax revenue, I had grave concerns that there would not be support for the current level of library services until the community had to live for a year(s) with the pain of cuts in materials, services and staff cuts.
Since arriving in mid-2008, I've also had many residents remark about the value and the importance they place regarding the Library in White Lake, but I had no evidence if that support translated into millage support. Seeing the turnout and the results of the August vote truly makes me proud to be a resident of White Lake. Rest assured that the board, the staff and I will continue to strive to make the Library a real community treasure for current and future generations.
Larry Ostrowski, Director, White Lake Township Library
The Future of the White Lake Township Library ?????
Posted by: Larry Ostrowski on July 16, 2010
On June 26th I attended the grand opening of the new Novi Public Library. The new library has been built on vacant land that was located next to the old Novi library. The old Novi library has been demolished and the site is currently being turned into a parking lot for patrons at the new facility. Arriving late in the afternoon, I lucked out into getting the complete, behind-the-scenes tour, courtesy of Director Julie Farkas. It was hard not to ooh and awe over all the many features of the building, the furnishings and the latest technological capabilities. (Got to catch the end of the U.S. vs. Ghana World Cup Soccer game at one of the many ceiling mounted large televisions located in the lounge seating areas on both floors of the building.) Since unofficially opening the previous Monday, the number of patrons visiting the building each day was nearly double the door count from the old facility and the pride with which a number of the patrons I talked to was inspiring.
Driving back home to White Lake it was rather hard for me to reconcile how one community could be opening the doors to a new, state-of-the-art facility, while the situation in White Lake and many of the surrounding libraries is one if worrying about just keeping the doors open. It's hard to believe that just last summer our state representative, Eileen Kowall presented the library with a State Proclamation recognizing the quality of library service we had finally achieved. Moving forward and without the income from the proposed millage, the library will not meet minimum state standards for a library serving a community of our size.
I final somewhat disturbing observation I had about libraries came when I accompanied a group of teens from our area on a mission trip to the town of Monessen, Pennsylvania near the West Virginia border south of Pittsburgh. During some free-time from our work emptying, cleaning, painting and repairing apartments in a federal housing project, I made a point of visiting the public library in the town. The library was built in 1959 for a community of 20,000, and which now numbers 8,000. The library had a photo history of the library on the end panels of the shelving and it was so sad to see visually a key element of the community gradually drift into obsolescence. I expected to see a building in need of great repair and I wasn't disappointed but I wasn't prepared for a library with a VHS collection that dwarfs it's DVD one, a computer lab with monster-sized monitors and a new book shelf with mostly romance paperbacks and titles like the DaVinci Code (copyright 2003). I fear some libraries, because of the current economic situation in the Detroit area may be heading down this path. I'm putting my money on the residents of White Lake not to be one of those communities whose Library is going that way.
My thoughts about the August 3, 2010 Library Millage request
Posted by: Larry Ostrowski on May 2, 2010
Have you ever had the experience of paying a hefty car repair bill and being told your vehicle checks out fine only to have, a short time later, another costly item surface that needs repair? That's kind of how I feel about the funding situation for the White Lake Township Library since moving to White Lake in May of 2008.
Few people, including the members of the Library Board and myself, had any idea of the economic changes that would begin in the summer of 2008. The resulting decrease in tax revenue was unexpected and is significant. Currently I'm sitting in my office looking at charts, graphs and projections for library revenue that in 2008, I would have assumed I was holding upside down. Sadly, I'm not.
I wish I could say “I got us into this mess, and I'll get us out of it.” But I can't. The Library Board, the Friends, the staff and myself have been as pro-active as we can: applying for grants, fundraising via the establishment of a Mini-Golf Tournament, increasing the frequency of book sales, and partnering with local organizations and governmental units to share program costs. Behind the scenes, we were one of the first libraries or governmental units in Oakland County to freeze salaries in mid-2008. Staff members who receive health benefits have had to increase their contributions 2 years in a row. We have limited the substitute staff to cover vacant service desks due to vacation or illness. Book and materials budgets have been reduced.
These efforts will not be enough to ensure having the needed funds to provide basic, quality library service. Andrew Carnegie, benefactor of American libraries, knew this long ago when he offered to build and furnish a wonderful, state of the art library building ONLY if the community committed public funds for the staffing and maintenance of the building and the development of the collection.
This August the residents of White Lake will be presented with the choice of deciding how vital a role the public library will play in the educational, technological, and life-long learning experiences it provides for the current and future citizens of White Lake by voting for a millage that will offset the now known reductions that will be realized in future years' funding for the library.
During this time leading up to the August primary election, PLEASE call, email, or stop in the library if you have any questions regarding why a millage has been placed on the ballot. Providing information is what we do.
Thank you for supporting the 2nd Annual Mini Golf Fundraiser
Posted by: Larry Ostrowski on March 17, 2010
Attendance at this year’s event was again a success and up 30% over 2009! In fact we had one 7year-old boy who had coerced his mom to bring him to the library at 10:45 a.m. so he could be the first one to tee off! Personally, it was so heart-warming and uplifting to see mom, dad and the kids all together at one time in the library enjoying an activity. And while they weren’t reading, most folks were easily distracted into perusing the shelves and examining materials as they waited to tee off.
Saturday night’s “Teens Only” time was also a success and we will be exploring how we might increase the number of schools participating and perhaps also including church youth groups. A number of parents of teen attending commented how great it was to have fun, safe event for their teenagers to gather and socialize.
In addition to our wonderful sponsors (noted on our home page) a number of businesses and individuals contributed items and services for a Silent Auction. As we received a number of truly great items for auction, we’ve placed them in the Adult Reading area and will accept bids until the end of March.
Once again, THANKS from the Friends, Library Board, the staff and myself for making this event such a success!!
March Mini-Golf Madness - Friends of the Library Funraiser!
Posted by: Larry Ostrowski on February 13, 2010
The White Lake Township Library will be the place to be for families on the afternoon of Sunday, March 7th, as the Friends of Library conduct the 2nd Annual Mini-Golf Event. Besides the eighteen holes of golf, there will be refreshments, and a greatly increased number of Silent Auction items from local businesses for individuals to bid.
The library will be closing at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 6th, so that the library “greens keepers” can construct the course on the two floors of the library. At 6 p.m. the course will be open to middle school students and at 8 p.m. the course will be turned over to high school students.
The goal of last year's event was to purchase two Early Learning Literacy Computer Stations for pre-school and early elementary children. We succeeded in raising enough funds to purchase one station, so our goal again is to raise funds to purchase a second unit. Hopefully we can exceed that goal so that we can address the funding cuts to the purchase of children's books as well as programs for this year's Summer Reading program. Participation in the Summer Reading program has increased from 800 to over 1000 children in just the past two years. Sadly, we had to cut the children's book budget by 20% and programming budget by 50%. We are hoping that support for our golfing event will allow us to acknowledge and reward the children of White Lake for their efforts to develop a lifelong love of reading. Any support or contribution you can make to assist in making this event a success would be greatly appreciated.
See you on the links March 7th!!!
Despite Record Usage - Budget Reductions necessary for 2010
posted by Larry Ostrowski on 12/9/09
Due to reduced funding from property tax revenues and state aid, it is necessary to make some painful reductions in hours and services. Beginning January 1, 2010, our hours of operation on Monday through Thursday will be one hour shorter, opening at 10 a.m. and closing at 8 p.m. In addition, the budget for books and magazines has been reduced by 18.5% and the monies for programs by 50%. Behind the scenes, other budget tightening measures have been taken, such as filling a vacant full-time position with two part-time positions as well as freezing staff salaries for the second year in a row. The irony in taking such actions is that we have every reason to believe even more people will be visiting the library, requesting more materials and services in 2010. During these troubling and challenging times ahead the Library Board, staff and myself hope we can count on your understanding and support as we head into decidedly uncharted waters.
White Lake Township Library Receives Library of Michigan Cetification for Meeting 'Essential Level' of Quality Services
Posted by: Denise Stefanick on November 2, 2009
"We are proud that the White Lake Township Library has done such good work in providing services deemed ‘essential’ by the Library of Michigan," said White Lake Township Library board president Jennifer Schulz. "By focusing efforts on these key areas, our library has shown a strong commitment to customer service."
QSAC has defined "essential services" – the basics of all library service – as relatively low-cost standards that every library can and should achieve. They are helpful guidelines to libraries just starting out, while providing important review for more established institutions. Essential standards are described as "those which should be achieved first because of their fundamental importance."
"Two years in the making, QSAC represents the work of more than 100 library directors, trustees and staff members who together created measures of quality for our state’s public libraries," said State Librarian Nancy Robertson. "The staff of the White Lake Township Library is to be commended for achieving a vital milestone in library service."
QSAC was made possible by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through LSTA funding. The Institute of Museum and Library Services, an independent Federal grant-making agency dedicated to creating and sustaining a nation of learners by helping libraries and museums serve their communities, supports the White Lake Township Library.
For more information about the Quality Services Audit Checklist, visit http://www.michigan.gov/qsac.
Welcome to our new website!
Posted by Denise Stefanick on October 30, 2009
Our redesigned website has a new look and feel, and is easy to browse and navigate. In addition to standard links to the catalog, programs, services, collections and electronic resources there are links to new information formats such as an event calendar, photo album, library blog, and dynamic new teen pages called the Teen Pac.