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.
January 16, 2002 - Newcomer? Here's What the Library Offers
Every now and then, I like to repeat some key information for Douglas County's many newcomers.
First of all, welcome! You'll find that Colorado is a hard place to leave. Douglas County not only enjoys Colorado's remarkable climate, but also offers extraordinary views, a highly educated community, and a surprisingly rich history.
Second, let me tell you a little bit about your library. The Douglas Public Library District, founded by citizen vote in 1990, is an independent governmental entity serving the residents of Douglas County. It depends for its funding on property tax: 4 mills (that's .0004 of your assessed value). That averages out to somewhere between $40 and $60 per year per household.
What does that buy you? Well, there are four "full service libraries" in the county. "Full service" means "open 7 days a week." These libraries are located in the communities of Castle Rock, Highlands Ranch, Lone Tree, and Parker.
In addition, we have 3 "satellite libraries" located in Cherry Valley, Louviers, and Roxborough. These libraries vary in hours, but can be counted on to be open at least two or three days a week. We also offer a books by mail program to our Deckers patrons, way out in the southwest tip of the county.
All together, we have some 400,000 items: books, magazines, videos, audiotapes, DVD's, CD's, local history materials, and more. Our full service libraries also offer Internet terminals. Computers in the children's room are filtered. Computers in the adult areas are not.
The basic library service is "circulation" -- checking materials in and out. We also offer reference services in person, by telephone, or by email.
A huge part of our business involves children. In addition to an ever-growing collection of picture books, juvenile fiction and non-fiction, as well as various other media, we also offer creative and dedicated staff. Our employees offer an astonishing number of story times. All of our full service libraries give at least one story time session per week day, and often as many as three. The sessions are free.
We were the first Web site in the county, and we continue to be one of the deepest. You can find us at www.dpld.org -- and you'll see that it offers everything from 24X7 access to our catalog (including the ability to place reserves, check the status of your card, and renew materials), to a host of commercial databases. If it's 10:30 p.m., the day before a school or business report is due, our Web site can help you find current and authoritative information from thousands of periodicals and other online resources.
Another of our contributions is community meeting space. We provide free public space for local and non-profit groups -- literally hundreds of meetings a year.
Among our most precious resources, however, is the people who work here. You may have run across good service before. At our libraries, you'll see excellent service, day after day, year after year. We have the brightest, most dedicated, most persistent people you'll ever find.
The purpose of the public library is pretty clear. It's our job to gather, organize, and provide public access to the intellectual capital of our culture. We take that job very seriously. That means that sometimes you'll find things that startle or offend you. But you'll also find deep, nourishing sources of information to help you in your quest
for learning and meaning.
The library works hard to be visible. That means you'll find listings for all our location in the yellow pages (look under "Library"). We publish an extensive weekly calendar in the newspaper, as well as a steady stream of press releases announcing speakers, reading programs (we do three a year for kids, and another one for adults), and other events.
We're also available as speakers. Just ask at your local library.
If, at any time, you think of something you wish we were doing, or would provide, just let us know. I'm the director of the library, and you can track me down at 720-733-8624, or via email at email@example.com.
And welcome again to Douglas County. Have you got your library card yet?