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 15, 2003 - Phone Book Listings for Library
The new phone books are out AND ... the listings for the library are wrong.
Well, not completely. But despite our best efforts, year after year, we have yet to get it all to come out the way we've asked for.
Yes, we do give Qwest the exact information we want to be displayed. But somehow, by the time it hits the four phone books that serve the county (Denver, Highlands Ranch, South Jeffco and Castle Rock/Parker), that information has morphed in four different directions.
Here's what we were shooting for. In the business white pages our listing should refer to the government section. Under "government county," the Douglas Public Library District should be listed with all the phone number of our branches. We also requested that our listing under the "government city" section, which is where the special districts are normally listed, be replaced with a referral to the county section.
A bit of background here. The Douglas Public Library District is in fact an independent entity. We broke off from the county in 1990. For the past dozen years we have been publicizing our name through countless columns, ads, fliers, bookmarks, posters, and brochures - not to mention
the tens of thousands of library cards floating around the county.
Nonetheless, the plain truth is that hardly anybody knows our right name. They look for us under Douglas County.
OK, so got that? Our name is the Douglas Public Library District. We put a listing under Douglas County to help people find us based on the way we know they look for us.
Here's how things came out: the Highlands Ranch and South Jeffco business white page and government county listings are fine. These two phone books also have a detailed listing under the government city section.
In the Castle Rock/Parker phone book, the business white pages refer to the government section. However, they also, inexplicably, list the Literacy Hotline and the Parker Library. Under the government county section, Literacy Hotline and Parker are missing. The other branches are there - but listed in a peculiar order. (Librarians HATE it when people don't alphabetize.)
In the Denver phone book, the business white pages refer to the government section, with the government county section also failing to list Literacy Hotline and Parker. But then they do show up with a partial listing of numbers under the government CITY section!
In both the Castle Rock/Parker and Denver phone books' business white pages our maintenance facility is showing up as "Douglas Public." This number shouldn't have been listed at all, as it's for purely internal use. But we're used to that. Last year, the Administration number was the only one that showed up in somebody's book. I used to get, and still get on occasion, calls from people asking me to renew their books. (I just renew them - it's easier than explaining.)
In the yellow pages I believe all the phone books display our ad correctly under "Libraries," except for Highlands Ranch, which fails to include the telephone renewal/hold number.
Oh, and as a consequence of listing the district under Douglas County, we just found out that the caller ID for the library is now identified as the county. This is, of course, very misleading to patrons. We have been assured that this can and will be fixed.
It would be easy to get discouraged, but I'm an optimist. I have confidence that all will be made right. For instance, I just know that the bill for our phone book listing will go to Douglas County. Or possibly Parker.