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APRIL 16, 2011
The Future of Libraries
One question I am often asked is - will libraries continue to exist in the future? With everything on the Internet, who needs libraries? Tonight's   "Random Acts of Culture and Purposeful Acts of Community" event at the Monterey Public Library thoughtfully, joyfully and loudly provided me with one very clear answer.

Imagine over 100 people gathering in a light-filled, evening hushed public library - but not to use computers, check out books or ask informational questions. Instead, these community members were here to enjoy cultural arts and events in celebration of National Library Week and National Volunteer Week - together. 

Beautiful harp music by Amy Krupski filled the air when the doors first opened. Then, two heart-felt songs by "Four on the Floor" barbershop singers led the way for an inventive and hilarious improv session by the "Mirth-o-Matics".  Noted young adult author Anne Ylvisaker was signing authographs for the release of her newest book - The Luck of the Buttons - as award-winning storyteller (and Library staff member) Dina Stansbury entertained and delighted in the Community Room. 

Poet Patrice Vecchione provided collage and poetry-writing encouragement to a focused group, while MC Lars wrapped up the evening with a rhythm-propelled set of "post-punk laptop rap". Early teens to 80 year-olds were singing and swaying to the beat of "Mr Raven" and "The iGeneration" - and cheering wildly as MC Lars gave a shout-out to "public libraries", "government funding" for public good and "education".

Every one of these local performers shared the unique ways they turned words, music, literature, information and learning into works of performance and art. They made visible the often solitary act of creativity - and in doing so - invited all of us present into a larger creative community. And attendees young and old reveled in the joy of that created community.

This, I saw tonight, is one of the futures of public libraries. A community center that not only strives to educate all, but to delight and inspire in concrete ways. A creativity lab, where experiences are developed and shared.  With community members of all ages.  In a community space that welcomes all.

Laughing, singing, talking, even dancing together is a tremendous antidote to "Bowling Alone" - creating new synapses in the brain, strengthening social connections, tapping into our own inner performer/artist/creator.  Children in storytimes experience this every week. And, in the vision of libraries for the future that I witnessed tonight, people from their second to eighth decades did too. 

Thanks to Library staff members Jeanne McCombs and Karen Brown, and the Friends of the Monterey Public Library, for creating and supporting Saturday night's "Random Acts of Culture and Purposeful Acts of Community."  It was an awesome evening!

posted by Kim BB

Categories: Director's BlogIn the Know

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JANUARY 1, 2011
Happy New Year!
New Year's Day brought sunshine and showers to Monterey today.  And the promise of another year of reading, learning and inspiring new readers and learners of all ages at the Monterey Public Library. 

"A library is a hopeful thing" I thought as I visited the Gresham branch of the Multnomah County Library system in Oregon last week. I had the rare, and delightful, opportunity to visit this nearly new and well-used community place as a customer, a patron, a doting auntie with her two voracious reader nieces. How proud I was to see my sister's daughters know the place as though it were their own. They visited "their" shelves, carefully chose from old favorites and enticing new titles and then expertly swiped their cards and checked out via automated machines.

I could see my sister and myself, as young eager readers in the last century, moving through a basement room with the confidence that familiarity and feeling welcome bring. My sister loved Curious George - "my monkey" as she called the books held in her toddler arms. And I found competence and courage in biographies of Florence Nightingale and Eleanor Roosevelt, and the lovely lilting language of Robert Frost and Edna Saint Vincent Millay. Libraries helped build the foundation for growing up, and into our rapidly changing selves.

I know that still holds true. As do the hundreds of library customers who pour through our doors every open day. (And even wait outside on closed days, such as today, leaning against the wall with an open book, in rapt absorption, pages turning with an easy cadence. Ma'am - I'm so sorry today was a holiday - and I hope you'll visit again on Monday when we're open again.) And the many library donors who send gifts of $25 to $500 or more to help buy more books and materials, support summer reading programs and laptop computers, or just keep the library running and the doors open. We are more grateful than words can tell for your support!

My heart lifts when I think of another year of reading, learning, and hope for our Monterey community. 162 years of library service - now that's something to look forward to in 2011.

See you in the Library!



posted by Kim BB

Categories: Director's BlogIn the Know

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DECEMBER 18, 2010
Reading weather
Rainy days and a list of errands half a mile long invariably make me think about a cozy afghan, steaming cup of tea (with honey and lemon) and a good, absorbing book.  Funny though, sunny days with yard work and errands also make me long for a good, absorbing book - only with a cozy reading spot in the shade and a tall glass of homemade sweet-tart lemonade. As the bumper sticker says "I'd rather be reading..."

But before I get there, I'll have to get through my to-do list, and make sure I've stocked up on some good reads for the season. And to do that - a trip to the Library is now top of the list. Maybe I'll even pick up a couple of last-minute gifts for book-loving friends - scarves, notecards, t-shirts - or the wonderful "Shades and Stories of Monterey" DVD, or a City employee cookbook - even re-usable shopping bags that say LIBRARY or READING in multiple languages, 

Luckily, the Monterey Public Library will be open much of the next two holiday weeks for your book-gathering or shopping pleasure. We're open Monday the 20th through Thursday the 23rd - closed Friday the 24th through Monday the 27th - and then open again Tuesday the 28th through Friday the 31st.  

See you at the Library!


posted by Kim BB

Categories: Director's BlogIn the Know

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DECEMBER 7, 2010
A Little Help from our Friends? No - a Lot!
Three cheers for the Monterey Public Library Friends! Formed in 2000, this group of dues-paying library supporters has raised over a quarter of a million dollars over the past ten years to support Monterey Public Library collections, programs and services.  

And they've made this happen with the help of every person who's purchased a membership, bought a used book at their daily, monthly or annual sale, attended their annual Wine and Chocolate Tasting (Friday, February 18, 2011 - tickets already on sale at the Library) or Home Tour (May 15, 2011 - mark your calendars), as well as generous business sponsors and community groups. 

Last weekend's giant book sale raised over $4,000, and "recycled" over 100 boxes of donated and discarded books to eager book buyers of all ages. A great start to the next quarter million dollars the Friends will be raising in years to come. We are thankful for our hardworking and creative Friends of the Monterey Public Library -  tremendous fund- and friend-raisers!

posted by Kim BB

Categories: Director's BlogIn the Know

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JULY 25, 2010
Best of Times, Worst of Times
With a nod to to Charles Dickens, at the Monterey Public Library we are once again celebrating wonderful events and opportunities - and preparing for the loss of services that our community has enjoyed for decades.

Today was the last Sunday that the lights and computers were switched on, the books were straightened and shelved, the doors were unlocked and welcoming staff helped hundreds of customers during four open hours.  Seven-day-a-week service has been a tradition at Monterey Public Library for over thirty years, and we very much regret closing this day for our community (an average of 500 visits made per Sunday).

Due to the loss of one-time funding from the City (which kept Sunday hours open last fiscal year), and pending layoffs of three valued library staff members, the Library will be operating with reduced open hours beginning August 1.

Our new schedule will be closed Sundays, open Monday through Wednesday 12 noon to 8 p.m. and open Thursday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Storytimes will move to Thursday mornings, and Saturday open hours will be increased from four to eight.  

We hope the added hours on Saturday will help those who can only visit the Library on the weekend.  We know there are many of you - and we especially realized that during the Library's Summer Reading Program that just ended last week.

What a summer it was! Over 11,000 (yes, that's right - over eleven thousand!) books were read by Monterey Public Library's young readers; over 350 children, teens and adults celebrated at a high-spirited beach party for the End of Summer Reading last Wednesday.

And supporting all those young readers are the tireless Friends of the Monterey Public Library, who were out in full-force at this past weekend's Author's Event at the Barnyard to help raise money for the Monterey, Carmel, Pacific Grove and County libraries.  There were over 40 authors, colorful books, warm personalities and local celebrities in attendance - along with hundreds of booklovers.  

Their efforts have already raised hundreds and hundreds of dollars this month - at the City's 4th of July Lawn Party, monthly book sale, through a Borders Express benefit shopping weekend - and all the proceeds go to buy more books and materials.  Three cheers for our Friends!

So, although it was with sadness that I left the Library at 5 p.m. closing tonight - along with the energetic Sunday staff team - Dina, Inga, Joslyn, Mariann, Elliot, Jodee (look for a blog post from these folks soon), it was also with hope - that we can wait out these difficult times together, keep seeking innovative ways of delivering services to our community, raising funds and revenues - and maybe, someday, opening the doors on Sunday once again.

posted by Kim BB

Categories: Director's BlogIn the Know

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JUNE 17, 2010
Six Days a Week

For many years, the Monterey Public Library, a department of the City of Monterey, has provided a seven-day a week schedule of services and programs for people of all ages. For the past year, thanks to citywide contributions, these programs and services have continued. In August of 2010, this will change.

Last summer the Council approved a shared effort by the Neighborhood Improvement Program (NIP) Fund and employee groups to maintain funding for specific city programs, including the Library’s California History Room, Youth Services and Sunday open hours. Thanks to their effort, the community was spared a substantial reduction in library services; story times, local history research and over 30,000 Sunday visits to the Library were continued.

However, this one-time money is ending, and the City’s economic situation has worsened. The cost for continuing all city services at the level they are now continues to rise, while funding declines, affected by decreasing local revenues, unexpected State takeaways, and increasing employee costs. The City’s budget gap for this year and next is $5 million, and growing.

At their meeting, this Tuesday, the City Council approved a budget that includes citywide cuts, from police to planning to building maintenance to the Library. Several Library employees will face layoffs. The Library will be implementing service reductions in the coming months; I expect that by late summer the Library will be closed one day a week with additional reductions in library hours likely. A reduced open hours schedule will be presented to the Library Board at the June 23 meeting at the Library.

These are extraordinarily difficult and challenging times for communities, with no immediate or easy solution in sight. Some residents have suggested a TOT tax increase for November’s ballot, others have recommended further cutting employees, costs and benefits. For the upcoming year, all but one City employee group has agreed to salary concessions; services will be reduced and some employees will be lost.

At the Library - even with fewer open days and hours - we will continue to provide lifelong learning, skilled and service-focused staff, a welcoming community place - inspiration, delight and education for all. For the long-term, the Library Board, Friends and staff are working to enhance city funding and strengthen community investment in the Library through increased giving and endowment building.

We are determined to sustain California’s first public library, and its legacy of literacy, through the next 161 years.

I look forward to receiving your comments, questions and suggestions - via this blog, my email at buiburto@ci,monterey.ca.us or my work phone (831) 646-5601.

posted by Kim BB

Categories: Director's BlogIn the Know

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JUNE 10, 2010
Mom - I petted a python!
At the Monterey Public Library?  

Our Summer Reading Kick-off party started the week off with a SPLASH as hundreds of kids, teens and adults braved the heat last Saturday to sign up for summer reading, watercolor paint, enjoy musical performers, learn about water conservation and chat with a pirate.  And the Friends of the Library monthly book sale added to the fun.

Sunday was much more sedate, with a lovely fundraising tea in a historic Monterey garden, catered by the talented Friends to raise money for the Ruth Vreeland Fund - and more folklore materials and programs for kids and adults in the Library.  Amy Krupski provided wafting harp music; just perfect for finger sandwiches and tea sipped from delicate china cups. Over $3,000 was raised in memory of dear Ruth.

Tuesday night the tireless Friends sponsored an author's reading for a crowd of over 50 writers, poets and community members.  Phyllis Theroux's new book, The Journal Keeper, enthralled the audience; her voice brought her words to life and touched her listeners.

And on to Thursday - "Tree Frog Treks" made their way to the La Mesa Bookmobile stop and the Library Community Room. That's where the large and lovely banana-colored python made its appearance, along with other exotic and sleepy-eyed reptiles, delighting scores of kids young and old.

You never know what adventure might await you - in the lines of a book, the lilt of a song, the quiet of a cozy reading nook - or the aargggh of a pirate, the smile of a friend, the smooth stretch of a scaled python - at the Library!

posted by Kim BB

Category: Director's Blog

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MARCH 7, 2010
Springing forward
At the Monterey Public Library, we are living through the challenges that the current recession creates - a $50,000 cut to the collections budget, an aging, leaking building used by an average of 1,100 people a day, and furloughs (and therefore fewer staff some days). In these difficult times, now, more than ever, we are always looking at ways to meet challenges creatively.

During this past budget reduction year, staff from all areas of the Library - Reference/Teen, Youth, California History Room, Support Services, Administration and our terrific Facility Attendant - have been thinking, planning and envisioning together to make the best use of shrinking dollars, limited space and increased demand for services and programs.  We have been re-imagining our approach to public service, re-looking at what our collections should be, and how we can better work together as a team.

Phase one has been nearly completed in our main magazine area. We have increased natural light and air flow, developed new seating areas for students, laptop computer users and quiet readers, and improved the vibrancy and attractiveness of our magazine display despite reduced spending.

Phase two will begin Monday with a reduction in the reference shelving and reference collection. Most reference questions today are answered with online sources, many fewer with books from our print collection. Most reference books will be moved to the adult nonfiction area - either made circulating so they can be checked out or shelved together in the broad shelving near the side windows. Signage and staff will be ready to help point the way to our new reference areas.

Phase three will take place in early May. A shared single service point will be developed from the current reference desk area, to encompass reference, youth, circulation/accounts and teen assistance.  This larger service area will allow reference/teen, youth and circulation/accounts staff members to work more closely together to provide the very best customer service possible.  We will have one main area from which staff assistance can be sought. And a welcoming, coordinated, well-trained and supportive library staff team working together to answer your questions and meet your needs.

We have more ideas on the horizon - and even more creativity, talent and energy to be unleashed from the staff to further transform our building, collections and service.  So, as we move through the last weeks of winter, we prepare to "spring forward" to better serve our entire community - even in these challenging times.


 


posted by Kim BB

Categories: Director's BlogIn the Know

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SEPTEMBER 19, 2009
Missing May...and Marion, Mr. Pape, Martha...and others

One of my favorite "true deep down" books is Missing May, a young reader's chapter book by Cynthia Rylant.  It's the story of twelve year old Summer, her Aunt May and Uncle Ob, who take her in when she is sent from relative to relative as though she was someone's "homework assignment".  Summer is made welcome and able to recognize and connect with the "lesson in love"  she has buried inside since the loss of her mother.

The books begin with May's death; Summer's memories light up the story, along with the pain of death and grief.  I thought of that book at the end of these past couple weeks that brought news of the loss of three area residents who each graced the Monterey Public Library with their presence.

One of the most important ways a public library serves its community is as a shared community space; a place for people old, young and in-between to gather, learn and seek respite, information and inspiration.  We welcome all, and encourage an ongoing relationship through all our services - programs for all ages, checking out and returning hundreds of thousands of books and other library materials per year and answering a multitude of questions every day.

Over the weeks and months of working at a public library, we come to know the Library's regular customers - by name, by reading preference, through their stories, joys and woes.  And when a familiar face isn't seen for a while, we can only wait to hear whether he or she will return.  Sometimes, we never know.  And sometimes, we read a familiar name in the newspaper obituaries, or hear from another customer, and know sadness.  

Marion S. Wilson's jaunty cap and beaming smile were a familiar sight over the years at the Library. We still expect her bright presence through the door, or on the phone.  Mr. Joe Pape, a Bookmobile customer at Park Lane, graciously posed for photos used on the Library's new Bookmobile, debuting last December.  His kind face is memorialized as the Bookmobile travels to parks, schools and neighborhoods, continuing the "door to door" service that he so appreciated.  

And for 17 years Martha Draper, former Assistant Librarian and Director of Public Relations for the Library, helped promote the Library's many services to the community.  She worked from 1961 to 1978, and laid the groundwork for the outstanding public relations program we have today.

As I write these words my mind is filled with faces and voices no longer here - customers, Board and Friends members, staff.  All are missed, and all have helped make the Library - and our city - a warmer, more colorful and vibrant shared place. For these everyday "lessons in love" and in community at the Library, I am truly grateful.

 

 

 

 

posted by Kim BB

Categories: Director's BlogIn the Know

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AUGUST 27, 2009
If July was a roller coaster...

 ...with the uncertainty of the Library's possible budget cuts and then the relief of saved staff positions, Sunday open hours and public services - well,  August has seemed like the slowing glide and the resting place before the start of another ride.

In some ways this month has been less busy in the Library since the suspension of laptop lending and Interlibrary Loan (ILL) services.  Staff are working on bringing ten new laptops online and ready for use; we are planning to have them back for customer in-Library checkouts before the end of September.   And staff are making good progress in our study of what it might take to return a sustainable ILL program for the Library.  We don't yet know when that study will be completed; stay tuned.

In other ways this month our busyness is noticeably increasing - especially after school lets out at Monterey High and Colton Middle (just across and up the street). Every year we welcome hundreds of teens through our doors, set aside the Community Room as their special "Chill Time" on early release afternoons, and actively work to support their academic needs, provide opportunities to learn and grow through community service and appreciate their energy and enthusiasm.

And just around the corner - the season's first Literary Circle book discussion (of Babbit by Sinclair Lewis) on Monday the 31st of August at 7 p.m. in the Community Room.  And a new year of preschool, toddler and school-aged programs (starting the morning of Tuesday September 1st with toddler and preschool story times) that will take young listeners and their families "Around the World".

So join us as we jump back on board, and gear up for another ride through this fall's eventful season at the Library!

 

posted by Kim BB

Categories: Director's BlogIn the Know

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JUNE 28, 2009
End of an Era

When tonight's closing gong sounded at 5 p.m., at the Monterey Public Library, and the last customer left the building, I had a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. Sunday open hours are cut under the Library's reduced budget for the next operating year (July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010).  For the first time in over 30 years the doors will be closed and the Library dark on Sundays, beginning next Sunday, July 5.

 

My recommendation to close Sundays was made with great reluctance and regret. Although customer surveys showed that the majority of  people who responded were least likely to use the Library Sunday afternoons, many also said that they thought others might need Sunday hours. In fact, many also said that Library hours should be increased, not cut!  

 

When the City Council approved additional funds for the Library at their June 24 meeting, the California History Room program and the Youth Services program were restored to their current level - one staff member was restored to full-time and one was reinstated to the current level of 30 hours per week.  This removed two of eight Library staff positions from the reduction or elimination list.  I am very grateful. for the Council's decision during these difficult economic times.

 

However, the Library's approved budget cut is likely to mean that three Library staff members will be laid off and lose their jobs, two full-time staff members will be cut back to half-time, and one vacant full-time position will be eliminated.  That's a loss of 160 hours of regular staff time every week.  And it is truly painful for me to say that the Library cannot maintain a seven-day-a-week, three double-shift day open schedule with this reduced level of staffing, and still retain a minimally acceptable level of services such as ILL, collections processing, retrieval and re-shelving, "Stories for Adults" and other adult cultural programming on the remaining open days.

 

The Council has asked that the cost for restoring Sunday hours be brought back at a future meeting in July.  The Library Board will be sending that information to the Council for their consideration.  The amount that the Board will recommend will be based on their knowledge of the complexity and interdependency of library operations, their belief in the importance of the public library to the life of a community and their commitment to excellence in library services for today - and tomorrow.

 

The staff and I have heard from so many of you - letters, emails, phone calls and in person conversations.  Now, more than ever, the staff and I are very grateful for your words of encouragement and support, and we thank you.  Despite these difficult and uncertain times, we are all still dedicated to working together towards the Library IDEA - the Library inspiring, delighting and educating all.  

 

 

posted by Kim BB

Categories: Director's BlogIn the Know

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MAY 27, 2009
Library service - and upcoming changes

As the Library Director at Monterey Public Library, I am privileged to experience the direct and positive ways a public library can answer questions, meet needs and change lives. I see firsthand that library usage keeps rising, across the nation and within the City of Monterey, in response to difficult economic times and even more difficult personal and family choices.

What we are living though is unprecedented - severe financial distress that affects our lives, schools, work, families, neighbors and community. Access to information, skilled assistance, shared resources and creativity - these are more important than ever. And available to all at the library - in books, databases, magazines, CDs and DVDs, through public-use computers and laptops and in the person of friendly, knowledgeable staff here to serve.

During these times, when library use is up and community needs are greater than ever, it is with a heavy heart that I share news of upcoming changes to library services. These are the first effects of the City of Monterey's $7.4 million budget shortfall, and the potential cut of 1/5 of the Library's budget. There will most likely be many others.

Beginning on July 1, 2009, the Monterey Public Library will be open 6-days per week only - closed on Sundays. This will be the first time in over 30-years that the Library will not have a 7-day-per week open schedule. The first closed Sunday will July 5. The lobby book return will be open, and website services will still be available at www.monterey.org/library.

Also beginning July 1, 2009, overdue fines will go up for books and other materials not returned or renewed by the due date. Youth and teen items will be charged 25 cents per day, and adult items charged 50 cents per day.We know this increase in fines may be difficult for some - during the month of June we will be promoting  the many ways to avoid late charges - renew an item (in person, over the phone during open hours, by automated telephone renewal or online 24/7), or receive a courtesy notice via email several days before your items are due (make sure we have your correct email in your account).  

As June becomes July, and we begin working with a reduced budget, we'll be making other changes and reductions in service. We'll do our best to get the word out to all our customers and visitors as soon as we know - we'll post the most current information on our website as it becomes available. And please keep sharing your comments, concerns and ideas as we move forward into the future. I continue to welcome your input.

Kim Bui-Burton

posted by Kim BB

Categories: Director's BlogIn the Know

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FEBRUARY 2, 2009
Groundhog Day and Budget Shadows

It's been a few weeks since my last posting. I had high hopes for New Year's Day, and then Tet, or Vietnamese New Year. Since both have come and gone Groundhog Day seems the next best bet.

And no, I haven't been hibernating deep in the book stacks in the back of the Library. Or even in the pile of magazines and paperbacks that grows by my side of the bed. Although I will admit to choosing a couple of great mystery books, and a chair in the sunshine this past weekend, over my laptop and the blank page of this blog.

And yet, what better time to be visiting with each of you, gentle readers (as Miss Manners likes to say), then this pivotal time in the life span of public libraries, and of Monterey Public Library?

I can't remember when libraries have been so much in the news - from USA Today to the Wall Street Journal to the San Jose Mercury News. From KION-TV to NBC News to the Salinas Californian. And the common thread through all is the paradox that public library use is rapidly growing while public library funding is quickly declining. 

Because public libraries are supported by public monies - whether from tourism or sales or property taxes or State funds - when those monies are reduced - because fewer people are taking vacations or eating out in restaurants or buying cars or buying houses or even working - funding for public services, such as libraries, is reduced. 

With reduced funding comes difficult choices. More people are using the library to survive difficult economic times - checking out more books and other items, going online to hunt for jobs or connect with family and friends, receiving homework help and story time support, sharing one newspaper subscription or bestseller among many.  

How do we decide - as a staff, city and community - what services we can afford to continue and which we can no longer maintain?  Every service we provide at the Monterey Public Library has a core group of customers, for whom that service is important and expected.  I deeply wish we could continue our current services, as is, to all. 

In the coming weeks and months, as the economic downturn plays out, I will be working with Library and city staff and the Library Board to develop our best thinking for the future.  I hope I will hear from as many of you as possible - via the Library or City Manager's blog, online or in-house suggestions, through future survey responses or community meetings.

Your thoughts, ideas, questions and suggestions will be critical to helping imagine the future of the Monterey Public Library. I look forward to hearing from YOU. Thank you!

posted by Kim BB

Categories: Director's BlogIn the Know

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NOVEMBER 3, 2008
Read. Think. Vote.

There are three different ways from which I choose to drive to and from work each day.  Stopping by the bank in the early a.m. today caused me to drive the street less traveled by - at least by me most mornings.  Heading down the hill to the last stoplight before turning on Pacific Street I saw three simple words headlining two sets of windows:

Read. Think. Vote.

A beautiful statement for this time of year - election time - that always makes me feel emotional about being an American.  And a public librarian.  As the bookmark says "Public libraries are both a symbol and a cornerstone of true democracy."  As is voting in free and open elections.

So exercise your right to read, think and vote.  And whatever the way each of us decides (via mail-in ballot or in the privacy of a voting booth), whatever the outcome unfolding when we head to sleep Tuesday night, I choose to hope that, despite our different paths, we will all arrive together, indivisible, when we wake up on the morning of November 5, 2008.

 

 

 

posted by Kim BB

Categories: Director's BlogIn the Know

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OCTOBER 20, 2008
MOFDOF

Watching the sun set in streaks of pink and orange, I decided that today was My Official First Day of Fall. (MOFDOF)  

The early morning air was crisp, so I pulled on a thick woolen sweater.  The front lobby floor into the Library was strewn with crunchy leaves, swirled in from the browning London Plane trees that line the brick sidewalks.  The first Library customer exited with a voter registration form in hand; today was the last day to register for this November's election and he didn't want to miss "this historic moment". (And how pleased I was to hear national radio news stations throughout the day name"your public library" as the place to pick up a registration form.)

And, the librarians are back! Every year around this time the Internet Librarian conference happens just down the street from the Monterey Public Library. Sidewalks fill with energetic information professionals, conversations range from coffee-to-go to 2.0, and some of the smartest, most engaged and service-oriented folks you might ever hope to meet are dreaming, thinking and planning out loud - together - to improve library services in schools, businesses and communities.  

Of course, I may be a bit biased :)  And yet, you, too, might have felt something special in the air as these 21st century librarians walked through the fallen leaves past the plaque proclaiming Monterey Public Library as California's first public library, founded 159 years ago.  Trees green, brown and green again, generations succeed each other - and the idea of a library - the vision of inspiring, delighting and educating all - continues to thrive.

Happy learning, happy reading/viewing/listening/sharing, happy Fall!

 

 

posted by Kim BB

Categories: Director's BlogIn the Know

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JUNE 14, 2008
"Just because they like YouTube doesn't mean they're abandoning the library..."
This librarian's foggy Saturday morning was brightened considerably after reading the just-released results of a national survey of 1,000 teens, tweens and parents and their reading habits.

The 2008 Kids and Family Reading Report, from Scholastic Publishing and the Yankelovich research firm, described some of the ways young people's use of the Internet reinforces interest in reading those solid, handheld reading devices known as books.

This study of kids ages 9-17 found that young people who are high frequency Internet users are more likely to read books for fun - every day. More than half of the kids surveyed say they read a book printed on paper at least two to three times a week. More than two-thirds surveyed use the Internet to connect with other readers, learn about the author and about what other readers think of the book they're reading.

The title of this blog post came from a Tech Notebook article in the Saturday, June 14 San Jose Mercury News - "Books, Web can co-exist in kids' world". Any visit to the Monterey Public Library, especially during after-school hours, will show this is true. You'll see teens and tweens on the Internet, sliding books back into the returns slot and making use of the self-checks. And talking about what they're reading - with each other, online and with library staff.

The solitary joys of reading a book combined with access to seemingly unlimited information and online conversations that leap geography and time - all encouraging signs of not just co-existence, but flourishing! With apologies to Timbuk 3, after reading this report, I feel that "The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades".

posted by Kim BB

Categories: Director's BlogIn the Know

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APRIL 8, 2008
Every one counts at the Library!
Lime green sheets at the Library’s service desks? Staff members busily noting each interaction with a tally mark? One way of ensuring that you count at the Monterey Public Library. During the seven days before National Library Week we are capturing a "snapshot" of customer use by tallying each question asked at one of the Library’s service points (in person, on the phone or electronically) or on the Bookmobile.

At the Library, we keep track of all kinds of numbers (but not titles or personally identified requests) so we can measure what we do. We report library activity each month to the five-member Library Board (City of Monterey representatives who are the policymakers for the Library), quarterly to the State Library, and every year to each of you through the Library’s Annual Report.

The Library seems busier and busier - and our numbers show it. In February 2008, in spite of being closed four days for lighting, plumbing and building upgrades and staff training, almost 28,000 visits were made to the Library and Bookmobile. An average of 1,100 visits a day. And 39,834 items were checked out – almost a 10% irease from last February!

Of course, the Library’s story can’t be read from just the numbers. We add the joy of a storytime toddler, clutching a favorite board book. A college student’s quiet absorption while reading email from home on a checked out library laptop. The gleam in an 80-year-old’s eyes as he shares a great title, plucked from the "Think Big" large print reading display.

We include the hush in the Community Room when the storyteller pauses, and 90 people wait, suspended, to hear what comes next. Slow and steady progress on sounding out syllables by a learner and literacy tutor meeting weekly in the Library. The "Thank you. I had a wonderful session - my tutor really helped me notice the little details," from a high school student after a free Live Homework Help online tutoring session. The hundreds of intangible ways, every day, you report back to us how we’re doing.

YOU count at the Monterey Public Library. And this week we remind ourselves of that fact by tallying the times we are privileged to serve YOU.

posted by Kim BB

Categories: Director's BlogIn the Know

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JANUARY 6, 2008
A new year began...
in Monterey with a crisp and star-filled New Year's Eve over our community's First Night celebration, followed by great gusts of wind, driving rain and towering white-capped seas by the end of last week.

Our apologies to those who ventured out last Friday afternoon to visit the Library and found it closed. And those who tried to visit online and found our PALS catalog down. Library services were interrupted because of repeated power outages, concerns for customer and safety and the loss of the city's network. We hated to go dark. And were delighted to be back up and running on Saturday.

If you stopped by, you may have noticed a larger crowd than usual in the Community Room. The Friends of the Library were holding their annual BIG booksale; well-attended as usual by book buyers of all ages, interested in all types of books and reading/listening/ viewing "stuff". All the funds raised by the Friends at their booksales (a smaller version is held the first Saturday of the month in front of the Library from 1 pm to 4pm) go to purchase new library "stuff" for our community. Hooray for our Friends!

Still looking for New Year's Resolutions? The US News and World Report online journal of December 20, 2007 highlights "50 Ways to Improve Your Life in 2008". And under "Your Mind: Quick Picks" I was overjoyed to see "Get (and Use) a Library Card" and "Make Your Favorite Blogs Come to You".

So keep that library card well-exercised (or add it to your wallet or key chain if you haven't been library-carded yet) and invite our Library blog into your RSS reader. And Happy New Year's Reading!

posted by Kim BB

Categories: Director's BlogIn the Know

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AUGUST 22, 2007
Back to school...and the Library!

It's almost September, and Monterey area schools are back in session.  Library staff are once again welcoming familiar students and new library customers after school - a chance to reconnect with growing members of our local community - some of whom we've known since they were bouncing and singing at storytime.

Studies have shown that students who visit the Library after school tend to be more successful during school time. The research help we offer, the free access to Live Homework help online tutoring and online resources, the books and other materials we check out, and the encouragement we provide all contribute to that success. I only wish more teens knew the vast universe of treasures we are eager to share.

And as we welcome and encourage young people as Library customers we are also reaching future library users - and supporters - so libraries can prosper and grow.  The most avid readers I know have fond memories of their local libraries - and their positive experiences as children and teens with libraries and library staff. 

We have also learned the importance of caring adults in young people's lives, from stories shared by teachers, parents and the young people themselves. As we balance the needs of all library users we've learned that a friendly greeting, a smile, remembering a name, respectful and clear communication can improve the shared library experience for all ages. And help build and strengthen our community.

posted by Kim BB

Categories: Director's BlogIn the Know

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JULY 20, 2007
Wow! What a week...

I'm writing this on the tale end of Friday night after an event-filled week at the Monterey Public Library.

From our weekly Tuesday storytimes for toddlers and preschoolers to a gala evening of wine and chocolate tasting sponsored by the Friends of the LIbrary to tonight's triumphant "Harry Potter Trivia Contest III" - whew, what a week!

Thursday evening's fundraiser for the Library featured delectable chocolate treats from many generous business sponsors, delightful music by Library staff members Kyle and Glenn, a chocolate cookie contest. And a library filled with almost two hundred community members feasting, catching up with their neighbors, enjoying good times.  As someone told me last night - "Besides books, this Library holds the heart of our city - and shares it with everyone." 

Tonight's Harry Potter Trivia contest brought together over two hundred kids, teens and adults - all good-humored and very knowledgable fans of the J.K. Rowling series.  Three teams of contestants, divided by age, took the stage.  It was disparate group in many ways - and yet all were united by a love for the Harry Potter series - and possibly a need to fill the hours before tonight's midnight release!

The "Harry phenomenon" leaps across 63 languages and over 4 million books in eager readers' hands.  No book has been as anxiously awaited as this last one - in my lifetime as a reader.  And yet, it will be with very mixed emotions that I finally open the cover tomorrow morning, and dive inside.

I can't wait to find out what has become of Harry, Ron, Hermione and all those familiar friends. And yet, I know it will be our last new journey together - and I don't want to close the cover on that magical world.  I will slow as I read through the chapters, savoring and delaying every page. 

And I will cherish the hush that will rise around the world tomorrow - the peaceful sound of pages turning, indrawn breath - the quiet of millions of readers travelling together. One last time.

Happy reading!

 

posted by Kim BB

Categories: Director's BlogHarry Potter

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APRIL 27, 2007
33 years!
If you stopped by the Monterey Public Library staff room this afternoon, you might be lucky enough to share some celebratory cake and ice cream with Joe Johnson, reference librarian at the Library for 33 years today.

That means Joe first began work in Monterey during the last century - and millennium! (Not to worry, Joe - I did too :)

A lot has changed in the library world in the past three decades. Nowadays Joe spends more time with online databases then clipping files, with print stations and personal computers than mimeograph machines and reviewing movies on DVD instead of reel-to-reel.

And yet, a lot hasn't changed. For over thirty years Joe has been a welcoming presence at the reference desk, an expert guide through the sometimes confusing, unreliable and seemingly endless universe of information and a supportive and valued colleague.

Thank you Joe for your years of service, and your commitment to the Library - informing, inspiring, delighting and educating all - the Library IDEA! And Happy Thirty-three from all of us.

posted by Kim BB

Categories: Director's BlogIn the Know

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