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.
February 7, 2001 - Library Meeting Rooms Another Public Resource
I've worked in and around libraries most of my life, since I founded the Library Club in 7th grade (it sounds a little geeky now, but there you have it) until the dawn of the new millennium. But I, too, am always finding out new things about what a library does.
I know how we buy books, how we select databases. I understand the careful training of our staff, and the professional qualifications of people we bring in from elsewhere. I have spent a great deal of time, along with the rest of our staff, thinking about how to structure our catalog records, or display our holdings, or to build cozy places to sit and study.
But lately, I've come to realize that there's another huge community resource in our libraries that librarians have done almost nothing to market to our patrons. What is that resource? - the people who use our meeting rooms.
I recently asked staff to compile a list of the folks who make use of our free, public spaces. This is for just the months of January and February, and just for the Castle Rock and Highlands Ranch libraries. The breadth of interests and expertise is amazing.
Philip S. Miller Library in Castle Rock: the Castle Rock Writers, the Douglas County Garden Club, the Plum Creek Homeowners Association, the Centennial Soccer Club, the Craft Club, the Castle Rock Players, Seniors 50+, Douglas County Dolphin Youth, Blue Spruce Button Club, American Association of Legal Nurses, Players Club Home Owners Association, AARP Tax Aides, Mountain Shadows Home Owners Association, Castle Rock Christian Homeschoolers, the Night Readers (a book discussion group), the 4-H Douglas County Stockman, the Colorado Association of Parliamentarians, the AAUW, the RLDS Chess Club, the Douglas County Surge Girl's Fastpitch, the Clover Clan 4-H Club , the Fairway Vistas II Home Owners Association, the National Safety Council, the Douglas County Republicans, the Castle Villa Condo Association, and the Leading Edge.
At Highlands Ranch: After Dark Investors, Arts Guild of Highlands Ranch, Study Group, Beta Sigma Phi-Littleton City Council, Carlyle Park Homeowners Association, Colorado State Patrol/Alive at 25, Coventry Ridge Homeowners Association, Cub Scout Pack 872, Embroiderer's Guild of America-Colorado Chapter, Highlands Ranch Historical Society, Girl Scouts Brownie Troop 1817, Highlands Ranch Book Group, Colorado Lupus Foundation, Knights of Columbus, KOC Ladies Auxiliary, Miniacs of Highlands Ranch, Parkinson's Support Group, Pi'ilani Hawaiian Civic Club, Quilt Bee of Highlands Ranch, the Rocky Mountain Snow Buddies, and the Sunflower Estate Planning Resources.
Douglas County continues its transformation from rural to suburban to urban. In the process, people will find that many things they now think can only be found in other communities, are in fact available in their own back yards.
We'll be looking for ways, over the next year, to help Douglas County residents track down such community resources more easily.
Meanwhile, if you've been looking for a group that centers around a particular interest, you might just start at your local library. You're bound to make some friends.