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 4, 2003 - Douglas County Libraries
I give up.
The name of our library system, encompassing all the public libraries in the county, was christened in 1990. Its name is the Douglas Public Library District.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, we've plastered that name on almost 100,000 library cards. It appears several times a week in all the newspapers. We've sent newsletters to every single household.
The result? Nobody knows our name. They think we are the Douglas County Library.
I may be slow, sometimes, but I'm not altogether stupid.
Generally, I think it's a mistake to change an institution's name. Once you achieve name recognition, it makes sense to build on it. But in this case, there is no name recognition.
Here's an interesting thing: people DO know the names of the individual libraries. They know the Lone Tree Library. They know the Parker Library, the Highlands Ranch Library. In Castle Rock, some people call it the Castle Rock Library, and others by its true name, the Philip S. Miller Library.
In general, knowing the name of your library by its geographic location is a good thing. It's clear, and it becomes a matter of local pride.
The name "Douglas Public Library District" is clear enough in my mind, because the name captures both the audience (public, as opposed to school or university or corporate) and the governing and funding type (district, as opposed to municipal). But that's like chemists calling salt "sodium chloride;" it's correct, but it's also a little pedantic.
We've already gone through the process of establishing our name legally. But soon, we will begin doing business as "Douglas County Libraries." Note the plural on the end. Yes, we are a unified system, but we offer multiple buildings. It's not only correct, it's a promise.
In the past week or so, we've been trying out the new name. I'll say this: It's certainly easier to use when I answer then phone.
Please note that the names of the individual libraries will NOT be changing. The Highlands Ranch Library will remain so, as will the Louviers Library, the Lone Tree Library, the Parker Library, and (in about 4 months), our new Roxborough Library.
We will also retain the name of the Philip S. Miller Library. Mr. Miller's contribution to the library system is worthy of a lasting memorial, and if we have to educate people about what that means, then it is our honor to do so.
This change, and others yet to be, are a result of a marketing study we commissioned from a Douglas County firm called Cahoots. Our intent is to position ourselves to be clearer communicators of our mission and services.
Along the same lines, we will shortly be rolling out some new website addresses. The old one -- www.dpld.org -- will continue to work. But you'll also be able to find us through www.douglascountylibraries.org. Similarly, www.parkerlibrary.org will take you to our same website, as will the names of our other libraries. The Philip S. Miller Library will be available under two names: www.philipsmillerlibrary.org AND www.castlerocklibrary.org.
These new websites obviously won't be as short as "dpld," but it's our hope that they WILL be more memorable, and therefore easier for people to find.