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 12, 2000 - Leadership Douglas County
[This week's library column is from Claudine Perrault., manager of our Lone Tree Library. - Jamie LaRue]
On my report cards from grade school, teachers used letter codes as a simple way to share observations they had about each student, such as, "P" for "Plays well with others" or, "O" for "Outstanding Achievement in this subject." Every semester I received an "L" at the bottom of my report card, which was the code for "Demonstrates Leadership Potential."
Of course, this pleased my parents tremendously. They figured, with my grades and those comments, I would surely grow up to be a leader who made a difference. At the time, it didn't occur to either of them that my 'potential' might find its expression as a community leader.
Last Fall, my employer sent me a flyer about a new program being offered to Douglas county residents with an interest in learning more about county issues, and finding ways to make a positive difference. Although I am not a resident, it made a lot of sense for me to apply to the program, since I am employed as a public library manager in the county, working with the residents of Lone Tree and Acres Green. I could certainly do a better job at managing my branch, if I understood the issues and concerns my customers faced every day.
With the time and tuition dollar support of my organization, I applied and was accepted into the intensive 10-month leadership development program, called Leadership Douglas County. One day each month, I joined 20 other trainees to hear lectures on a single issue, then participate in panel discussions.
Our group set out to learn the give-and-take between county issues and agencies: city and county governments, transportation management, open space, education, water rights, art & culture opportunities, healthcare and public safety, and offices of economic development.
It's difficult to disassemble all the mechanisms that make a county tick, but we worked hard to identify and understand them. Sound easy? In many ways, it was. We put a lot of our program training to work in order to see the big picture and recognize the subtleties within each part.
In the end, I learned that there are so many interesting ways to make a difference. Throughout Douglas County, there are community groups quietly deciding how your resources are being managed. Some of them have leaders with vision and managers who keep everyone on task - others may need the attention of a few good volunteers.
Well, here we come! There's a graduating leadership class mobilized to get involved. Thoughtfully. In fact, at the date of this paper's publication, I will be formally graduating along with my fellow Leadership Douglas County trainees near beautiful Cherokee Ranch.
If I may take the liberty of giving letter codes to my fellow trainees, I would say that besides your clear earning of the letter "O", you guys all deserve a big, fat "P". And everyone gets an "L" for Leadership.
However, mine will be on double duty, as I'll be using my "L" for both Community and Library Leadership.
Claudine Perrault is a member of Leadership Douglas County, an innovative 1-year program that develops leaders for effective community service. If you would like to make a difference in Douglas County, submit an application to LDC at the Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce.