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.
November 20, 1996 - Tellabration '96
About 12 years ago I did a poetry workshop for a K-6 private school. First I got to talk to the kindergartners, then the first graders, and so on up to the 12 year olds.
My approach was pretty basic. I started off by asking, "How many of you had a dream last night?" My next question was, "Who taught you how to dream?"
My point was that imaginative storytelling is hardwired into the brain. It's the primary way we make sense of the universe. It's as fundamental a part our being, as necessary to our health, as breathing.
This is literally true. People deprived of the Rapid Eye Movement period of sleep (during which dreaming takes place) for as short a period as a week begin hallucinating, become paranoid, and often turn violent. We need to dream.
I hoped that by pointing to this innate talent, I might be able to get a few kids to realize that the hard part of poetry (starting!) was in fact utterly natural. They had it within them, they didn't have to be taught it, so let fly! On the other hand, the form of the thing could take as much polish and study as they were willing to give it.
But what bemused me most was the effect of age. When I asked the kindergarten class, "Who had a dream last night?" almost every hand went up. They not only remembered that they had dreamed, they most enthusiastically wanted to tell me the details.
Grade by grade, the percentage of hands dropped by about 10-15 percent. By the time I got to 6th grade, either nobody remembered their dreams, or they were in no mood to discuss them.
Then and now, I find that unspeakably sad. Night after night, all over the world, humans are falling asleep and creating complex and fascinating universes, richly textured, laden with profundity and humor. Then -- poof! -- they wake up. Gone.
But if you're looking to promote a little dreaming and storytelling in your waking hours, there's good news. In celebration of an annual event called "Tellabration! '96" the library will be bringing in a fellow named Mike Gilbert. Gilbert is a "Storymaker" who uses audience suggestions to weave funny tales. His first appearance will be during Starlighting activities in Castle Rock (Saturday, November 23). Gilbert will appear from 3:30 - 4:15 p.m. at the Masonic Hall, top floor.
At 7 p.m. on the same day, he will be at our Parker Library at 7 p.m.
At our Highlands Ranch Library, at 11 a.m., also on the 23rd of November, Pam Faro will be our professional storyteller. Ms. Faro uses musical instruments to supplement her family-oriented storytelling.
Since you know you're going to be telling stories in your sleep anyhow, why not take the whole family out to dream a little together?