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.
August 20, 2003 - Board Member Needed
I've decided that there are just two kinds of libraries in America: the ones you can see, and the ones you don't.
The libraries you can see are the ones that relish their communities. You'll see library meeting room chairs at local plays and band concerts. You'll see library program fliers on a table by the volleyball tryouts. You'll see library staff everywhere -- any meeting of any group around. You'll see library buildings in the heart of downtown.
The libraries you don't see are the ones that just don't get out much.
Even those libraries can have a powerful effect on individual lives. One of the libraries I used as a kid was like that: off the beaten track, not much visited, a little musty, but still full of interesting people and intriguing treasures.
Part of the reason I liked it so much was that it was it was almost a secret. The staff were not only glad to see me, they were a little surprised. How had I found them?
The Douglas County Libraries work hard to be the kind of library you can see. We, too, have that ability to change lives. But we have something else -- the ability to change communities.
The point is to bring one more community asset to the table. Library participation can make the difference between a school outreach effort that works, or almost works. We can make the difference in public awareness between a crime prevention program that people know about, or that no one knows about. We can help the many good people in a community find each other. We can make a town a nicer place to live.
But to really make that happen takes something very special. It takes leadership. I'm not just talking about the leadership of library staff. I'm talking about citizen leadership.
It happens that we have an opening, right now, for a member of the Board of Trustees. This is the governing body of the Douglas County Libraries. There are 7 Trustees. They have terms of 3 years -- and if you like it (and are doing well!), you can sign up for a total of 4 terms.
The job description is pretty straightforward: to adopt policy, to set direction, to approve the budget, and to guide and evaluate the director (me).
Trustees are recommended for appointment by the rest of the Board. (They invite candidates in for an interview first.) The appointing authority, however, is the Board of County Commissioners. Each of the three commissioners may appoint two Trustees. The seventh is "at large," and is appointed by whichever commissioner represents that person.
The current library trustee vacancy is in Commissioner District 2 (Jim Sullivan's district) -- which encompasses all of Castle Rock, and most of the southern half of the county.
Right now, for the first time in the 13 years I've been here, we've got an imbalance of gender on the library board: 5 men, and just 1 woman. While there aren't any real rules about this, there are certainly far more women who USE the library than men.
So this is a call to some enterprising, community-minded woman with an interest in helping the library help the people around it live richer, deeper lives.
What's in it for you? Well, we can't PAY board members. But we do feed you at least once a month. And as long as you're a board member, you're exempt from fines. To the genuine library user, that's as good as a tax rebate.
If you've got the interest and the time (between 4 and 20 hours a month, depending upon what's up), and you really do want to make a difference, then please, by September 3, 2003, send a letter of interest, and a resume to
c/o Douglas County Libraries
Castle Rock CO 80104
Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.