For 3 years, it ran in the Greeley Tribune. Since then, it has run in various subsidiaries of the Douglas County News Press. I still have most of my columns in digital format.
For many years, I only gave myself one rule: try to work the word "library" into every piece. My intent was to think in public about just what librarianship means at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st.
There have been many advantages for me. I found that putting library plans out in front of the public, and getting feedback about them, helped me make better decisions. Sometimes, I found that it was very difficult for me to describe those plans or policies -- the kind of thing that makes me realize that they might not be good ideas after all. The weekly discipline of explaining my profession to the public keeps me more mindful, more honest. It also has provided steady visibility for the library and its issues.
January 3, 1996 - Nicky Mead
The December 30,1995 News Press carried a story about the death of Genevieve Mead. To her Douglas County friends, she was Nicky. As one of her long-time associates put it, "Genevieve was for checks and legal papers."
But when she left Douglas County for Denver, she introduced herself as Genevieve. When I met her in 1992 -- and was immediately captivated by her resolutely cheerful and gracious persona -- she called herself Genevieve. So she will remain for me.
Back in 1966, when the population of the county was about 5,000 people, it was Nicky who started talking about the need for a library in Douglas County. There were, as is always the case, many other people involved.
But it was Nicky who formed the Douglas County Friends of the Library. Membership cost $1 -- and in 6 weeks, 143 people anted up.
It was Nicky who organized the first public meeting to discuss school library bookmobile service and organize a library planning board.
It was Nicky who served as the first President of the new Douglas County Friends of the Library.
It was Nicky who solicited and received written support from the elementary schools toward the goal of a county library system.
It was Nicky who served on the Douglas County Library Planning Commission, and organized the Douglas County Public Library Development Fund.
It was Nicky who lobbied County Commissioners for the first $5,000 of county money to start and maintain a public library in Douglas County.
That's all in one year, folks.
In 1967, she organized the Douglas County History Roundtable. It was attended by 350 people. Many of the local historical societies sprang from this meeting.
The same year, she was appointed to the first Board of Trustees of the new library system. Shortly thereafter, she accepted a letter of commitment from Mr. and Mrs. Philip S. Miller for a donation of $25,000 for a new library building. (Nicky's son, Jay, recalls that in the heady weeks after this commitment, his mother lettered his lunch sack with the word "Miller!" instead of his own name.)
In 1968, the new Douglas County Library won the prestigious, national 23rd Annual John Cotton Dana Publicity Award "for winning community support for establishment of county library service in a sparsely populated area."
In 1969, Nicky served as President of the Board of Trustees, and helped organize "Douglas County on Parade." This home tour fundraiser was featured in most front-range newspapers, and became the premier social event of the county.
In 1972, she was honored for outstanding contributions by the Douglas County Friends of the Library, and completed her term on the Board of Trustees.
After this, Nicky and her four children left for Denver, where she worked at the Virginia Village Branch of the Denver Public Library. There, as Genevieve, she served as beloved colleague and mentor to many, many librarians. She also provided warm, intelligent service to tens of thousands of library patrons. Genevieve was the first to propose the now-thriving DPL docent program.
In 1994, the Douglas Public Library District and the Denver Public Library jointly nominated Genevieve Mead for the Colorado Library Association's Lifetime Achievement Award. She won. I had the honor of accompanying her to the stage, where some 600 librarians gave her a standing ovation and thunderous applause. She had earned it.
That's one of my special memories of Genevieve. The other was back in 1992, when the Douglas Public Library District invited her to a Local History celebration. Genevieve and I literally danced in the stacks, which I had always wanted to do, and she certainly deserved.
All of this, of course, is just one facet of a lovely and lively woman's very complex life. But like Mr. Miller, who also died in 1995, Genevieve Mead's contribution to library development in Douglas County was both extraordinary and absolutely pivotal.
She was greatly loved, even by those of us who knew her for a short time. My biggest regret is that I couldn't have known her longer.
The family has requested that memorials be sent to the Genevieve Nichols Mead Memorial Fund, c/o Denver Public Library, Development Department, 10 West 10th Avenue Parkway, Denver CO 80204. Gifts may be designated for either the Denver Public Library Children's Collection or the Philip S. Miller Library.