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 23, 2000 - Happy Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving continues to be my favorite holiday. First, it requires only that you get together with friends and family, and eat as much good food as humanly possible.
Second, I like the idea on which it is based: we have much to be thankful for.
My life these days is very rich. I am blessed with a family I adore, and work that matters to me. I have my health. While my finances are modest, so are my needs. I have a slowly widening circle of friends and colleagues.
And I have books.
It happens that I had a mostly unhappy childhood, for a variety of reasons that don't much matter now. But I also had hundreds of companions that gave me solace: books and more books. Almost without exception, I found those companions at the library.
Science fiction books both educated and challenged me. History books and biographies gave me a sense of the arc of human lives, and the dawning suspicion that societies, too, have life spans. Art books nurtured my sense of wonder.
Comic books built new additions to my imagination and gave me a language to describe many of the things young people long for: nobility, strength of character, courage. The occasional need for a secret identity.
After getting into my profession, I find that my gratitude for books continues to grow and deepen. To me, libraries are the best possible evidence of community benevolence. We pool our individual pennies in order to purchase access to incomparable resources. Those resources are open to all, from the most disenfranchised -- adult or child -- to the most privileged.
The flash these days is all about electronic resources. Look what you can research from home! See how quickly you can search through oceans of data!
But that's not the heart of librarianship. The heart is the connection that the person makes to the book. Sometimes, it is enough to just set the book on the shelf, and hope it finds a reader. It's easy to see that library materials and the space to house them is a big piece of what we need to do.
Yet I am also aware that some of the best books I found, just exactly the right one at the right time was placed in my hands by a librarian. "Have you tried this?" "If you liked that, you'll love this!" Those two innocent remarks from children's and young adult librarians sparked in me lifelong interests in a raft of subjects -- philosophy, music, dance, architecture.
So I am not only grateful to libraries, I am also grateful to the people who work in them. In quiet civility, these librarians and library workers gently insinuate new ideas, old human paths, into receptive minds. Sometimes, the stories in our books, videos, audiotapes, magazines, and other media are disturbing. Sometimes they are funny. Sometimes they lift us up; sometimes they explore the depths of sorrow.
I am grateful to them all, for their wise, welcome companionship in the journey of life.