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.
June 28, 2001 - My Two New Redheads!
My daughter (13 years old) and my son (7) have red hair.
They didn't used to. They started out blonde. Yesterday, Maddy had hair the color of honey, a sort of golden brown. Perry had hair that was moving in the same direction, but was still much lighter.
Well, shortly after I went to work today, Maddy decided to dye her hair. Perry said that sounded great. He wanted to cut his hair short, dye it black, then maybe work up some spikes. But it happened that Maddy had some red dye left, and we were fresh out of black.
So I have two redheaded children.
My wife and I knew this was coming. At some point, all children test their limits. I certainly did. So did Suzanne. In my case, I grew my hair fairly long (for those days), and wore granny glasses. In Suzanne's case ... well, let her make her own public confessions.
Hair seems to be a persistent, and persistently illogical, generational test. My father was obsessed with my hair, and that obsession led to many angry confrontations. My father, I should say, had only a wreath of hair himself.
What's ironic, of course, is that these days my own follicles are fleeing my scalp as if it were about to erupt. (Given the way age works, of course, this is entirely possible.) Suzanne's hair has gone from its own honey darkness to a sparkling silver, as bright as a new nickel.
The bottom line: hair is mostly ornamental. You don't have all that many years, necessarily, to enjoy it. So what the heck?
I suppose, too, the fact that after having recently dyed my own hair and beard, shaved my beard and mustache (all for community theater productions), and then grown (some) of it back to normal, I've given my children permission to mess with their appearance, as well.
Our theater friend (thanks Bridgette!) who did the dye jobs says the color will wash out in 28 days or so. So my children will have a month to see themselves -- and make us see them -- in a new light.
And that's not bad. After all, one of the huge appeals of reading is that you get to imagine yourself different: a brave soldier, a princess, a magical soul. You can have hair down to your ankles, biceps bigger than boulders, or passions more perfect than paradise.
That's one of the reasons the Douglas Public Library District promotes reading, as in our current Summer Reading Program. Did I mention that we also have a reading program for adults this year? One of our branches has already signed up 60 grown-ups.
Sure, there are prizes. Of course, we have interesting programs sprinkled through the summer months. But the glory is in the books, in the imaginary universes you can populate, all without any real, physical harm.
It's like ... dying your hair for a month. After all, it's not as if my kids have pierced their tongues, or gotten tattoos on their foreheads.