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Saturday, April 15, 2017

New Year, New Series: Teen & Adult Graphic Novels

Continuing to follow up on New Year, New Series today with teen and adult pickings. A few of theses are a little newer to trade paperback print, so getting further into the series may take a while, unless you feel like buying single issues.

Saga by Brian K. Vaughn
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Take Romeo and Juliet. Except change the part where they die in three days, they instead have a child, and they also happen to be soldiers in a war between their two species and have a cross-bred love-child along the way. And that's the simplified version. I've never not enjoyed a Brian K. Vaughn book. This is definitely some of his best and the addition of a single artist for the whole series is a plus. We currently carry the first 7 volumes of it, which is all the trade paperbacks that exist in print.








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Dungeon by Joann Sfar

Dungeon is a little bit of a mixed bag. The only reason its in our adult section is because of some artwork that would be a little too much. Originally a french graphic novel, this might not have been an issue. It can be a bit silly but it very much reads like a D&D campaign gone off the rails. There's an overall tone of childhood imagination like when playing cops and robbers, you would have gotten shot because you are all of a sudden bulletproof or something. At 16 volumes though, its sure to keep you occupied for a long moment.


Revival by Tim Seeley

I may have written about Revival before, but it probably bears repeating. It's a dark rural noir in the same vein as Fargo, focusing on the interweavings of a small Wisconsin town. Though thats where the similarities end, as the dead are no longer dead and no one understands why. Recently deceased individuals find themselves alive and whole and are not coping with it well. Meanwhile Officer Dana Cypress has to cope with her Sheriff father, CDC love interest, and recently deceased sister that none were aware had actually died. And then the ghosts appear. 







Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughn

This was one of about the four Brian K. Vaughn titles I had that I might use for this list. Any fans of Stranger Things, I would recommend this book to. It carries a lot of 70s/80s cultural vibe and then skews the entirety of it into almost nonsensical sci-fi wanderings. As neon as you could want it to be and has a nice foreshadowing of what future culture might evolve into, if not also just forming a farce around an Apple-centric civilization.







Monday, March 27, 2017

Tax Captures and the Library

Last week I shared some information about how the proposed federal budget would affect the Portland District Library, and this week, I'm going to focus on something a little closer to home--property taxes!  

Interestingly enough, when I tried to find some generic clip art to jazz up this post, all the art related to taxes was extremely negative . . . depictions of depressed people being pickpocketed by Uncle Sam or shaken upside-down with cash falling from their pockets.  Which only goes to show that nobody likes taxes.  We don't like talking about them, and we don't like paying them.  

But for once, I have something positive to say about property taxes (and the politicians who create them).  When the Ionia County libraries passed our millage renewal this past August, you may have noticed a section of the ballot mentioning that the City of Portland DDA was entitled to a portion of the money we collected.  This is called a tax capture, because they capture part of the taxes that a group levies.  At the time of our millage renewal, a library could only opt-out of giving money to a DDA--or Downtown Development Authority--when the DDA was forming.  Here in Portland, that was decades ago . . . years before we even had an operational millage.  

However, in January of this year, the governor signed PA 505-510, which allows libraries to opt out of the DDA tax capture if any one of the following exists:
  • The DDA extends its financial plan or changes its borders
  • The millage is passed after the bill was signed
  • The DDA does not have any outstanding debt
 Because the Portland DDA just finished paying off the renovation of City Hall, the library is allowed to opt out of the tax capture beginning in December of 2017.  This will give us somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000 extra dollars, which we can use to better serve our patrons.

Of course, I want to be clear about the fact that I don't have anything against the Portland DDA.  I am, after all, a member of their board.  All my time at the library is spent trying to make Portland an even better place for all the people who live here, and one way to do that is to improve the areas that get the most use.  So I don't want to say that the DDA shouldn't be funded.  I'm just so grateful for the support that the voters of Portland showed to the library this past summer, and I'm overjoyed to be able to say that 100% of the property taxes collected from the millage will now come to the library.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Federal Budget and Your Library

There have been a few things happening on a governmental level that affect the funding of the Portland District Library.  Because it's sometimes difficult to translate what's being said in bills and budgets, I figured I'd write a couple posts to explain the two items that will impact us the most.

Today I'll focus on the President's budget blueprint, which was released last week amid much fanfare.  I'm sure you've heard a lot about the National Endowment for the Arts, PBS, and other agencies and programs that are potentially on the chopping block.  One agency that tends to get lost in the shuffle is the Institute of Museum and Library Services, or IMLS as we library folk tend to call it.  As USA Today reports, the IMLS provides $231 million to the nation's 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums.  They distribute this money to the state libraries, which in turn use it to fund programs and services that benefit local public libraries throughout the state.  Great.  That all makes sense, but what does this mean to you?

Well, the lion's share of the IMLS money received by the Library of Michigan goes to the Michigan eLibrary (or MeL), a virtual library available anytime, anywhere to all Michigan residents. As you can probably tell by the name, the Michigan eLibrary includes MeLCat, and the MeL databases.  In other words, the mechanism by which you can have books and movies that we don't own in Portland sent from more than 400 libraries across the state will disappear if the IMLS is eliminated.  So far this year, our patrons have borrowed an average of 261 items per month from other libraries, so we are getting a lot of use from this service.  Hopefully our representatives in Congress will understand how important ILMS funding is to the people of Portland and will fight its elimination.