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 24, 1997 - Urban legends and Deep Thoughts
Ever since Jan Harold Brunvand came up the phrase "urban legend" (in his book, The Choking Doberman and Other New Urban Legends, among others) we've all gotten a little savvier about those stories that "really happened" to the now-proverbial FOF (friend of a friend).
The latest incarnation of such legends now fly through the Internet. The most recent case was Kurt Vonnegut's "graduation speech to the 1997 class of MIT." I got this at least six times from various friends through e-mail. It began, "Wear sunscreen." it was quite clever, and I forwarded it to about 100 people myself. Trouble was, Vonnegut didn't have anything to do with it. The "speech" was actually a column that appeared in the Chicago Tribune, and it was written by a woman.
With that caveat, I pass along the following list of quotes (slightly abridged from the original list). They are ALLEGED to come from "a newspaper contest where entrants ages 4 to 15 were asked to imitate "Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey." "Deep Thoughts" was a short feature that used to run on Saturday Night Live (and maybe still does, for all I know).
I've included them here for two reasons:
1) They're funny. Funny is good.
2) I'm flying back to Illinois for an occasion that won't be funny at all, and found it really hard to come up with a column idea this week. So forgive me for not having anything much to say about the library this week (besides recommending a good book, and a good newspaper). Enjoy!
I believe you should live each day as if it is your last, which is why I don't have any clean laundry because, come on, who wants to wash clothes on the last day of their life? --Age 15
Give me the strength to change the things I can, the grace to accept the things I cannot, and a great big bag of money. --Age 13
Democracy is a beautiful thing, except for that part about letting just any old yokel vote. --Age 10
Home is where the house is. --Age 6
I bet living in a nudist colony takes all the fun out of Halloween. --Age 13
For centuries, people thought the moon was made of green cheese. Then the astronauts found that the moon is really a big hard rock. That's what happens to cheese when you leave it out. --Age 6
I once heard the voice of God. It said "Vrrrrmmmmm." Unless it was just a lawn mower. --Age 11
I don't know about you, but I enjoy watching paint dry. I imagine that the wet paint is a big freshwater lake that is the only source of water for some tiny cities by the lake. As the lake gets drier, the population gets more desperate, and sometimes there are water riots. Once there was a big fire and everyone died. --Age 13
As you make your way through this hectic world of ours, set aside a few minutes each day. At the end of the year, you'll have a couple of days saved up. --Age 7
Often, when I am reading a good book, I stop and thank my teacher. That is, I used to, until she got an unlisted number. --Age 15
It would be terrible if the Red Cross Bloodmobile got into an accident. No, wait. That would be good because if anyone needed it, the blood would be right there. --Age 5
Think of the biggest number you can. Now add five. Then, imagine if you had that many Twinkies. Wow, that's five more than the biggest number you could come up with! --Age 6