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.
March 8, 2001 - More Expansion at Parker Library
Change is coming (again) to the Parker Library. In 1996, Douglas County voters approved a mill levy increase to expand, renovate, and operate our libraries. At the time, the Parker Library was our newest and largest facility.
Since then, we've just about run out of room.
But our architects did something very smart. In an effort to contain costs, we "banked" some space in the building. Of our 20,000 square feet, we left about 4,000 square unfinished.
In the past four years, the library district has changed. The greatest single direction has been toward the establishment of children's departments. It had to happen.
The demographics of the county are such that we have lots of children. When our children's collections were relatively small, we let parents and their children fetch for themselves.
But now three things have changed. First, our collections have grown. It's not as easy to just wander along till you find something apropos to your interest or homework requirements.
Second, we've added some expertise. A combination of in-house training and some judicious hiring has brought some deep knowledge of children's literature and resources into our staff. That matches up, incidentally, with a jump in demand. Douglas County has an unusually high percentage of home schoolers and charter school students. They look to the library for support, as do students of our traditional schools.
Third, as our libraries have gotten ever busier, they've also gotten noisier. At our Highlands Ranch Library, we learned that encapsulating the children's area - putting walls and doors around the collection and story telling area - goes a long way to making the building as a whole quieter for adult users.
The existing Parker Library building is very flexible. It's a mostly square box. This means that we will have the ability to shuffle some space around to give us what we most need: more space for children. The cost to us is a loss of storage space, which will be more than made up by an increase in use.
Over the next several months, we'll be conducting our planning process. I encourage you to drop off your ideas at the Parker Library. You'll find Patt Paul, Library Manager, to be a receptive and enthusiastic listener.
It's a challenge, sometimes, to keep up with the rapid growth of Douglas County. But it's also exciting. The trick is to balance the already phenomenal growth of existing services - new materials, the pickup of items reserved electronically, reference questions, meeting rooms space - with new services.
However, you can be a part of this decision making. Do feel free to submit your ideas to library staff. Incidentally, you can also talk to us by e-mail. Patt can be reached at email@example.com. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.