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.
February 26, 1997 - Nicky Mead and More
I talked to a fellow recently who told me he once attended a funeral and a wedding on the same day. He said it left him feeling ... odd. I think I understand.
Saturday, February 22, I attended the dedication of the Genevieve Nichols Mead Community Room, at the beautiful new Virginia Village Branch of the Denver Public Library.
Genevieve, known to her many Douglas County friends as "Nicky," was the mother of our Douglas County libraries, founded exactly 30 years ago. A little over 20 years ago, she moved to Denver, where she worked for the Denver Public Library and became an vital part of the Virginia Village neighborhood.
The lovely community room, funded by over $15,000 of local contributions, was standing room only. The Denver School of Arts String Ensemble played quietly in the adjacent children's room. One of the speakers was Laura Christensen, President of the Denver Public Library Commission, who praised Genevieve's spirit of service.
Next, Susan Casey of the Denver City Council spoke about how a childhood meeting with a librarian was her first encounter with a professional woman in a managerial role. She spoke movingly about how many lives Genevieve may have inspired, how many young women for whom she was a life-altering role model.
I spoke briefly about her contribution to Douglas County's library system. I also expressed the hope that the people who will use the new community room in Virginia Village will continue Genevieveís tradition of bringing people together around a common cause, of working cheerfully and persistently to build a better community.
Finally, her son, Jay Mead, spoke on behalf of Genevieve's family. I suppose it's not surprising that such an extraordinary woman had such intelligent, articulate, and gracious children.
That same night, I attended a second community event. But this one, frankly, was much sillier. It was part of Parker's Celebration of Literature: a light-hearted murder mystery. This occasion, one of several events sponsored by the Parker Cultural Commission, was sold out. I heard that 110 people were in attendance.
The Parker Library proved to be a great spot for a play. There's a natural stage just west of the circulation desk; and the Mainstreet area was perfect for the buffet.
The script came from Tom and Penny Warner, of Danville California, but was edited to include many local references and characters. And I do mean characters. Frank Yaeger (Parker Water and Sanitation District) was most impressive, in drag, as Ms. Page Turner. Debbie Lewis (Parker Town Council) was an utterly fetching and dramatic Alexa Dynasty, diva of the trashy mini-series. David Casiano (of the Cultural Commission, I believe) was Dell Doubleday, the brisk, big-city publisher. And Chip Stern (Town Council) was right out of the 60's as the romantically challenged Dalton B. Walton, bookseller.
When author Miss Agatha Mystery (the Parker Chamber's Mary Looney) staggered to her hilariously long, drawn-out death, investigative matters were attended to by Chief Sam Slayed (a correctly costumed Tom Cornelius of the Parker Police Dept.), with the befuddled assistance of Detective Blind Side and Sergeant Speed Trap, whose real names shall remain, mercifully, unreported.
Other folks included Parker Library Manager Patt Paul as Lotta Books (librarians just don't dress like that anymore), Aden Hogan (Town Administrator) as the flag-waving Mr. Short Term, and David Aldridge (Town Council) as the cigar-chewing, fashion-disabled Mayor Ron Bonzo. They were all a delightful, if utterly suspect, lot.
I even had a small part myself as "Rocky," Alexa's lounge lizard fourth (fifth?) husband. I put almost $3.00 of greasy kid stuff into the act, and in my modest opinion, it was worth every penny.
The audience may not have been overwhelmed by our troop's acting ability. They were, I hope, entertained.
The Celebration of Literature, funded in part by the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, is clearly catching on. It's a mystery to me how they can improve on this year's activities.
But I bet they do.