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.
April 2, 1997 - Library Website
Among my jobs is to serve as the library district's "web master." What does that mean? I get to decide how our World Wide Web "pages" will look, how they're organized, and generally, what kind of information or links the public will find there.
Our "home page" (whose location is http://douglas.lib.co.us) provides access to four broad kinds of information:
1. Library resources. The most significant of these is our computer catalog. This catalog contains information about virtually every item the library owns: every book, magazine, audiotape, videotape (a few of our pamphlets, microfilm listings, or reference folders are not included, but they were never included in the card catalog, either). Patrons who connect to our computer catalog from home can not only look up such materials, but also place reserves on them, and even direct us to send them to any of our libraries for pick-up.
Library resources also include our EBSCO databases, for which we pay an annual licensing fee. The EBSCO databases provide indexing, abstracts, and many full-text articles from 350 of the most popular periodicals.
These computer resources mean that for those patrons with home computers and modems, the library is open 24 hours a day -- handy when you've got a report due the next day.
2. Local links. I believe that the library district was the first publicly-funded web site in Douglas County. But I've tried to keep track of all the other ones: among them the Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce, the Town of Castle Rock, the Douglas County School District site, Douglas County, and the Sheriff's Department.
All of these sites, in turn, have been most cooperative about linking back to the library. It's my hope that once people stumble across any of the public web sites, they'll be able to move relatively easily to all of the others.
You can find our current list of links at http://douglas.lib.co.us/your_community/county_info/local_links.htm
3. Local information. This includes a good deal of information about the library: hours, locations and phone numbers, and some of our special services (the Local History Collection, and our Books By Mail program for Deckers' residents).
It also includes something I hadn't thought much about in the beginning: web publishing, not just pointing to information other's have created, but actually creating some ourselves. Our biggest such file is located at http://douglas.lib.co.us/your_community/county_info/community_guide/dcservcl.html (for Big Community Information Referral). It lists several hundred local social service, civic, and not-for-profit organizations serving Douglas County residents, all of which are updated at least annually by library staff and volunteers.
Finally, it includes the on-line newspapers editions developed by the Douglas County News-Press, and posted free of charge. These articles -- especially when fronted by our automated indexing software -- greatly facilitate the retrieval of local historical information. You can find the News-Press library site at http://douglas.lib.co.us/your_community/dcnparchives.htm.
4. Web search tools. Finally, despite all our local or contractually provided databases, we still may not provide what you're looking for. So we have provided a page from which you can search all the resources of the Internet. It's located at http://douglas.lib.co.us/e_reference/tools.html.
Finally, our web site provides for a new form of communication. Sure, you could always call me (668-8752). You could write me at 961 S. Plum Creek Blvd, Castle Rock CO 80104. But those of you who have e-mail understand that it is often much simpler to type up a quick electronic message while you're thinking about it, perhaps about one of these columns, or about a library policy, or about a problem you've had with our service.
Now, you can not only reach me at email@example.com, but you can also communicate directly with any of the members of our Library Board of Trustees. You'll find their e-mail addresses at http://douglas.lib.co.us/your_community/how_help/board_trustees.html.
In April (at Philip S. Miller), and we hope in May or early June at Parker, we'll put be putting out our new, graphical workstations for public Internet access. Either then, or now (if you have access from work or home) look over some of these new web resources and let us know what you think of them.