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.
July 7, 1999 - Be A Bookaneer!
My daughter is now 11. My son is 5. I don't think they've missed a library reading program yet.
You might suspect that a librarian's children would be FORCED to participate. But the truth is, they've always been pretty eager. Maddy (my daughter) loves the process: getting the forms, filling them out, keeping track of everything. She's a highly organized person who reads constantly with or without an external reward.
Perry (my son) is the mercenary of the family: he's in it for the prize. Sure, he gets into the books (once a parent latches onto a good read-aloud) but for my boy, the payoff is the present. (This may change -- lately he's expressed some keen interest in learning how to read by himself.)
There are different philosophies about reading programs. Some parents and librarians think that reading should be enjoyed for its own sake. And certainly this is the HOPE of many librarians: we rope you in for the game-like aspect of the program, and pray that it sparks a lifelong interest.
But we also track program statistics: how many people sign up, how many finish, how many people came to the special performances. And the clear fact is: the better the prizes, the better we do in all these areas.
I believe our two most effective prizes to date have been the Olympic medals (with some real heft to them) and our Western camp cups (made out of mottled blue tin). We had ADULTS signing up for the cups.
This year, we go from a western theme to pirates. Or as it says on our web page (http://douglas.lib.co.us/missy/pirateprg.htm) "Come Aboard and be a Bookaneer! You'll find your treasure as ye read 15 books. Write the titles on your treasure map log, then bring the map to your library and ye'll get a prize: A real pirate hat and pirate gold to boot!"
I happen to know that demand for the hats has been pretty intense. Perry has been even more interested in another prize -- pirate tattoos for the young swabs! (Calm down, parents. The tattoos do peel off.)
Also to be found at our web site is a schedule of all the programs related to our summer reading focus, a thoughtful collection of books about pirating, and even some charming and/or educational piratical sites on the World Wide Web.
Many Douglas County students are in year round schooling, of course. As DCSD Superintendent Rick O'Connell told me some years ago, the relatively shorter breaks do help kids retain more between classes.
But quite aside from the fun of our reading programs, surely it can't hurt to have your children keeping their reading skills sharp at the library.
So avast, me hearties! A fair wind blows from the docks of the Douglas Public Library District. Take on this high sea book adventure or walk the plank, ye salty dogs! YOHOHO and a bushel o' books!