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.
May 1, 1996 - Robert Heapes Long Expedition
Consider yourself invited to an unusual and sophisticated foray into Colorado history.
On Saturday, May 18, 1996, thanks in part to a grant from the Colorado Endowment for the Humanities, the Douglas Public Library District will sponsor a multi-media event entitled "The 1820 Stephen Long Expedition." The time and location: 7 p.m., Kirk Hall (at the Douglas County Fairgrounds in Castle Rock).
The presentation is the work of Robert Heapes. A Douglas County resident, Heapes is a multi-talented man. He an historian, author, photographer, and gardener. He and his wife Anette spent some time retracing the historic Long Expedition of 1820, which happened to come through Douglas County.
Stephen Long, you may know, gave his name to "Longs Peak." Three members of his expedition (Edwin James, J. Verplank, and Z. Wilson) were also the first to scale Pikes Peak. (Zebulon Pike tried, but failed, when he "discovered" the mountain in 1806.)
Further to his credit, Long was responsible for the identification of many botanical specimens, among them the blue columbine. Like Zebulon Pike before him, Long reported that the area we call Colorado was uninhabitable. For almost 40 years, this kept a lot of white people away from the "Great American Desert." I have no idea whether Long intended this or not.
I've talked to Robert Heapes on several occasions. The story of how he got interested in all this in the first place is a librarian's delight. In brief: one thing tends to lead to another. A Master Gardener, he got interested in the history of some of the plants he worked with. This got him hooked on the story of frontier explorers. Combined with his interest in natural photography and some grant money from the Colorado Endowment for the Humanities (for another presentation in Denver last year), this impressive final production was just a matter of time.
Heapes is a careful researcher with a passion for both independent verification and for organization. He has stood where Stephen Long has stood. He has a private library that would make a professional cataloger proud. Beyond that, he's an engaging story-teller.
So if you're just the least bit curious about how this country looked 176 years ago, please consider attending this unique event.
Incidentally, the presentation is part of National Historic Preservation Week (May 12-19). Admission is free, but all are encouraged to bring a pot-luck dessert to share. If you have any questions, call the Douglas Public Library District's Local History Collection at 688-4875.