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.
June 12, 1996 - Highlands Ranch Authors Day and CALL for Volunteers
I can tell you about a place that welcomes everybody, a place where once you walk through the door, you need never be alone again, a place where you can also find the most profound solitude. I can tell you about a place that sometimes leads to glory.
If you have ever read this column before, you'll have an idea what I'm talking about -- not just the public library (surprise!), but the larger world of literature.
What do I mean by "larger world?" I mean the opportunity to live lives that are very like yours, or very different, all through the vicarious reality of fiction. I mean the opportunity to earn the equivalent of -- nay, something superior to -- a college degree in any subject in the world, or in some subject that no college yet has taught, simply by giving diligent consideration to non-fiction in its many forms.
And if you're diligent enough, one day you may even find yourself moving from the status of "appreciator" to "contributor," from reader to writer. That's one kind of the "glory" I was talking about.
Speaking of writers, I'd like to extend an invitation. This is a call to all published writers who live or work in northwestern Douglas County. "Northwestern Douglas County" includes anything north of Castle Rock, and west of I-25. At our Highlands Ranch Library, we will soon be hosting an event to honor our local authors. We've already done one such event in Parker, and we have yet to do one for Castle Rock.
There are a surprising number of published authors in Douglas County. It seems to me that I meet one almost every week. Their subjects range from medical advice for families to historical romance. As librarians, we are tremendously grateful to them. (No books, no business.)
If YOU are a published author living or working in northwest Douglas County, or if you know of one, please give Cindy Murphy, our Public Relations Manager, a call at 841-6942. But now it's time for a confession. I began this week's piece by talking about a place where everyone is welcome. But there is one sort of Douglas County resident that does not feel welcome in a library -- the person who cannot read.
I've mentioned this before: in every generation, a steady percentage of people pass through or drop out of our educational system without ever learning to read. Let's talk about what it means to be "functionally illiterate." You can't make sense of newspaper headlines, you can't read the instructions on your medicine, you can't fill out a job form, you are truly ashamed (even though the odds are good it was the original instructional method that was the problem, not you), you are anxious that you'll be found out by a boss, a colleague, or a grandchild.
But the truth is, anyone can learn to read. It takes about 20 hours of focused instruction, followed up with practice. And the best way to get this instruction is one-on-one tutoring.
And here's my second pitch: Douglas County needs literacy tutors. The Center for Adult Learning and Literacy (CALL) needs help. They have 10 students who are waiting for tutors. Seven of them are English as a Second Language students: 5 in Highlands Ranch, 1 in Parker, and 1 in Castle Rock. Three students are working on their G.E.D.'s.
I should mention that as a tutor, you will receive all the training you need to be successful. Tutors, of course, are volunteers. The usual commitment is just one to two hours a week, usually spent in the comfortable surroundings of the public library.
I've worked as a tutor myself. The current program director, Susan Cook, tutors 6 students -- you'll find her a ready and knowledgeable resource.
The literacy program is aptly named: please CALL today. The number is 841-8615.