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.
April 9, 2003 - Home Library - Results
I got a wonderful response to my column about the essential home library -- more, in fact, than I can fit into a single column. So here are some of the highlights, pretty close to the way I got them:
One coffee table book of photos -- Ansel Adams or John Fielder.
One history book -- "The Century," by Peter Jennings.
"Who said that?" and "Familiar Quotations," by John Bartlett
"The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable Brewer"
"Putnam's Concise Myth*o*log'i*cal Dictionary" (absolutely invaluable for crossword puzzles)
"Mythology," by Edith Hamilton
"The Age of Fable," by Thomas Bulfinch
"The Book of the Cat," edited by Michael Wright and Sally Walter
"How to be your dog's best friend; a training manual for dog owners," by The Monks of New Skete
A collection of Greek comedies and tragedies
Shakespeare's comedies and dramas
The original illustrated Sherlock Holmes
"Annotated Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass," by Lewis Carrol, illustrated by John Tenniel
"The Secret Garden," by Frances Hodgson Burnett
French/English, Spanish/English and to a lesser extent German/English and Italian/English dictionaries.
Anything by Stephen King
Terry Brooks' Shannara books
Magazines for children: Spider, Highlights, and Sesame Street
The N.C. Wyeth illustrated versions of Children's Classics to reread or read as adults for the first time like "Treasure Island," "Robinson Crusoe," "Robin Hood," "Last of the Mohicans," "Ivanhoe," etc.
Some easy, classic poetry like Longfellow or Frost (or Robinson Jeffers!)
The Children's Illustrated World Atlas
Scholastic World Atlas, and an illustrated children's dictionary.
"Where the Sidewalk Ends," by Shel Silverstein
"A Light in the Attic," by Shel Silverstein
"The Deluxe Transitive Vampire," by Karen Elizabeth Gordon Pantheon), plus her "The New Well Tempered Sentence"
Timetables of History and/or Timetables of American History, although Timetables of Science and Technology is pretty interesting, too
A historical atlas
Hart/Oxford Companion to American Literature and Drabble/Oxford Companion to English Literature! (Not to mention the Oxford Companion to African-American Literature)
Plutarch's Lives, Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, Virgil's Aenead, Euclid's Geometric Theorum, Complete writings of Plato and Aristotle, Heroditus, Xenophanes, Thucydides, Cicero, Tacitus, Marcus Aurelius, Josephus, St. Augustine, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, "Paradise Lost" by Milton, Isaac Newton's physics, The 4 voyages of Columbus, Travels of Marco Polo, Don Quixote, Robinson Crusoe, Voltaire, Montesquie's "Spirit of Law", John Locke's works, David Hume's Works, The Prince by Machievelli, Descartes, Rousseau's works, Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, Gibbons' Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Autobiographies of Ben Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine's Common Sense and Age of Reason, The Federalist Papers, The Constitution, Darwin's Origin of Species, "Communist Manifesto", Complete works of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, "Uncle Tom's Cabin", Writings of Frederick Douglas, Pride and Prejudice, Moby Dick, Grimm's Fairy tales, Nietzsche, Works of Washington Irving, Chekhov's Works, Poems of Emily Dickensen, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and other most requested poetry, Complete works of Edgar Allen Poe, The Count of Monte Cristo, Frankenstein, "Little Women", Complete Works of Mark Twain, Grant's Memoirs, "A Christmas Carol", Sherlock Holmes Treasury, The Grapes of Wrath, O. Henry's works, Zane Grey's Riders of the Purple Sage, Wister's The Virginian, The Big Sky, DBE Dubois' "Black Folk", "Call of the Wild", Works of CS Lewis, All Quiet on the Western Front, Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, the Autobiography of Malcom X, Erma Bombeck Selections, Art Buchwald, James Thurber, Biographies of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Aldous and Julius Huxley writings, The Science Fiction Hall of Fame - complete volumes, Reader's Digest collections of Humor, MAD Magazine, Stephen King selections, the complete series of "Far Side", The Giver by Lowry, The Black Stallion, The Source by Michener, Freud and Carl Jung works, Jules Verne Complete Set and H.G. Wells complete set, The Scout Handbook and Camping Guide, Textbooks of Algebra, Geometry, Biology, Anatomy, Insurance, Accounting, Finance, Business Law, Landscaping and Lawn Care, Physician's Desk Reference of Medications, Medical Dictionary, Black's Law Dictionary, Glenn's Complete Bicycle Manual, The Home Fix-it Series, Basic auto repair, the complete Internal Revenue Code and Regulations, The Colorado Revised Statutes and Annotations, along with the Bible, the Vedas, The Book of Mormon, The Koran, Confucius, The Buddha, perhaps the Urantia book....
The complete Oxford English Dictionary in hard copy form
The Wizard of Oz with Judy Garland. As my correspondent wrote, "okay, so it's not a book, I don't like the Baum books (too sickly sweet), but, I do think you can learn everything you need to know to live a good and decent life from that movie."
So there you have it. Buy them all for home. Or ... visit your local library.