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 5, 1997 - Oakes Mill Naming
"What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
- Romeo and Juliet, II, ii, 43
After this week, the Oakes Mill Library, in existence for over a decade, will be no more. The old building will be torn down. Construction will begin immediately on a more expansive (over twice as large), all-on-one-level building which will take its place. We hope it will be open before the end of summer in 1998. (In the meantime, we will offer services from a bookmobile parked at the same site.)
At the regular October 1997 meeting of our Library Board of Trustees, the City of Lone Tree made a formal request. As a newborn civic entity, Lone Tree is seeking to establish a stronger sense of place and of community. We were asked to consider renaming the library -- or rather, naming the new library -- "Lone Tree Library."
Certainly, there is some logic in the request. "Lone Tree Library" says where the building is located, after the fashion of our Highlands Ranch, Louviers, and Parker libraries. Such a name would aid the new Douglas County resident in finding us, and there are a lot of new residents.
But sometimes, what a library is called is very important to its users, and even a matter of some emotion. So before the Board takes any action, we're holding a public meeting at 7 p.m., November 19 (a Wednesday). The nearest public meeting space TO the library is at the Lone Tree Civic Center, at the northeast corner of Lone Tree Parkway and Sweetwater, just west of the current library. So that's where our meeting will be held.
There are three other options which will also be presented for public consideration.
First is to leave the name as it is. Back in 1984, the Trustees announced a county-wide contest for the naming of the building. The winning entry was written by Hilda E. Anderson of the Douglas County Historical Society. Major D.C. Oakes established at least one, and perhaps several saw mills in Douglas County, one of which may have been near Lone Tree. In the 1860's, "Oakes Mill" (also known as "Oaksville") even had a Post Office. In 1861, it was briefly considered as a possibility for the county seat of Douglas. But given that it was "only a lumber mill site," the nod was given to another community -- Franktown.
In short, the name "Oakes Mill Library" captured a bit of Douglas County history that was otherwise obscure. Given that the funding for the library then (and now) came from the entire county, and no municipality was then in existence, this seemed most fitting. It also did for the county library system just what the City of Lone Tree seeks for itself: establish some sense of place and tradition.
A second option is to merge two traditions into one: "Oakes Mill Library at Lone Tree." It even has a very contemporary sound to it.
A third option is to do what the library did for our Philip S. Miller Library, and attempted to do for our Parker Library: offer the naming of a library as a fundraising opportunity. While the district has sufficient funds to build a fine library, this is a good time to raise private funds as well. Such funds can make a profound difference in the level of internal finishes and other amenities. In Parker, no one donor sought this honor, but hundreds of lesser donations kept us well under our construction budget. Names of various community members showed up in paved bricks, in the purchase of a small fountain, and in various other touches. Those touches, coming from local residents instead of a county mill levy, make it feel like "home."
To the north, the Koelbel Library reflects a $250,000 cash donation. Our Oakes Mill Library is one quarter the size of Koelbel; I believe the Board would consider a comparably sized reduction in the donation.
A mailing has gone out to all current library card holders in the 80124 zip code area. Our November 19th meeting will help us to gather useful information for the Board, which they will use to make a decision at some later date. Please join us to give your considered opinion on what you think we should call this "rose" of a new library.