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 22, 1996 - Long Range Planning Effort
Over the next several months, the library will be working on its long range plan. Our planning period is 5 years; a span that will sweep the library into the 21st century.
So far, our long range planning process has involved three basic approaches.
First, the Douglas Public Library District Board of Trustees has assembled a planning committee. Serving on it are board members Bob McLaughlin (of Parker) and Steve Roper (of Highlands Ranch). The committee also includes Denny Hill, whose number-crunching skills and demographic projections have served the school district so well. We are also pleased to have J. Tom Graham, publisher of the News-Press, who brings a freshness of insight to Douglas County, and a good deal of seasoned business experience. Another member of our team is Alvaro Pisoni, who recently has put a great deal of work into the master plan for the Parker's downtown, and brings an international sensibility to our discussions. Finally, we have Kim Wolz, a long-time citizen member of the Douglas County Planning Commission, and a big time library user, a woman of experience and penetrating insight. I serve as facilitator for the group.
Second, we have established several staff committees, chaired not by our managers, but by our front line staff. Our intent here is to make sure we capture the direct, service-point perspective in our planning. These committees include "Looking Around" (a survey and statistical review committee), Automation (to look at trends and costs for technology), Collections (to look at how we acquire materials, and what formats of materials should be phased in or out), New Services (to identify useful and appropriate new library functions), and Personnel (to consider not only our whole compensation package, but to look at staff training needs, organizational structures, and so on).
Third, I've worked up a document detailing what kinds of things I see in our immediate future. Among other things, I've proposed a new service model (contrasted with the old "organization chart") and tried to predict some of the key trends that will affect the library environment.
I know that there are hordes of people out there "visioning" and the like. It could be that you have been involved in such efforts yourself, and as a result, cast a cynical eye on such doings.
But I humbly submit that the library is different. The last time we worked up a plan, we stuck to it. In fact, we exceeded it. We're not just compiling nicely formatted documents to be shelved and forgotten. We're trying to pull together the best thoughts of our best minds to hammer out a solid action plan through the year 2001.
I'll be reporting on the results of our efforts over the next few months. The point of this week's column is to remind you that you, O Gentle Reader, are also part of the library's braintrust. You are the source of some of our very best ideas, and the final judge of their worth.
So if there's some burning issue that has been bothering you about the library, or some wonderful idea that we need to know about, don't hesitate to let us know.
Stop in and talk to us about it. Give either your local branch, or me, a call (I'm at 688-8752). If you have e-mail, try me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Too, be prepared for a library survey. We haven't worked out, yet, whether it will be by telephone, by mail, or even door to door. And you may not hear from us until fall. We're still working on which questions are the most important.
But if we do contact you, we hope you'll be willing to talk to us.