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.
September 10, 1997 - Oakes Mill Cooling
I have a friend back east who loved old houses. She and her husband bought a rambling old three story farmhouse in an older neighborhood. Over almost 20 years, they wallpapered, and refinished, and repainted, and rebuilt. And when she finally got it just the way she wanted it -- she sold it.
Well, it was complex. The children had grown up. She wanted more outlets and closet space. She wanted a modern kitchen. The character of the neighborhood was changing in a way that was more commercial, less comfortable. So she bought a nice new house, into which she busily packed her Victorian furniture.
Along the way she got the usual gifts that attend a house-warming . But on the last night of the move, she realized that she needed something else. She needed a house-cooling.
So she invited some dozen of her closest friends over to the now almost empty farmhouse. We filled our glasses with a suitably nostalgic wine, then wandered from room to room. She and her husband told at least one story about something that had happened in each room (plus a few stairway stories, and one involving a broom closet).
By the end of the evening, we were all pleasantly tearful and sentimental. It's good to say goodbye sometimes.
Well, as the patrons of our Oakes Mill Library are aware, but the rest of you may not be, we'll soon be saying goodbye to the little 3,000 square foot building that launched library services in the northwestern quadrant of Douglas County.
Within a month or so, we hope to have set up a temporary structure at the same site. Library services will continue while the construction work goes on. Then, we'll tear down the existing building, and start construction on a new, 10,000 square foot building. The new building will be all on one level, a beguiling combination of ceramic brick, stucco, and glass, with far more natural light, and a more conscious view of its surroundings.
The new community meeting room will receive greater pride of place. The building will more easily accommodate Internet workstations. We'll have more tables and chairs and shelf space. We'll have a new reference desk, and an expanded children's area.
By spring of next year, we'll be inviting all of you to say hello to the spanking new Oakes Mill Library.
But before we say hello, it's time to say goodbye.
The "Goodbye to the Old Oakes Mill Building Party" will take place on Friday evening, September 12, at 7 p.m. Bring your family (and camera) to take a last look around. The entertainment for the evening will be a lively puppet show, written and performed by Oakes Mill staff. Following the puppet show we will host a dessert potluck. We will provide plates, forks and napkins. You are welcome to bring a dessert (although we'll also have some extra goodies on hand).
Please join us as we toast the successes and special moments of a library about to pass into history.