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.
December 31, 2003 - Access: OnSite & OnLine
Every now and then -- and the last column of the year seems like a
logical time -- I like to remind everybody what the Douglas County
Libraries are all about.
First and foremost, we are an independent library district, dedicated to
quality service. Where does our money come from? -- mostly, from
property taxes. While we are not a part of Douglas County government, we
do share the same boundaries.
How do we operate? The Douglas County Libraries hire smart people,
provide them with lots of training, and encourage them to use their good
judgment to fulfill our key mission. That mission is "to provide
resources for learning and leisure to build communities and improve
lives in Douglas County."
Among those services are almost half a million items. Most of them can
be checked out. We have books galore, magazines and comic books, VHS and
DVD videos, music cassettes and CDs, and children's kits (with several
kinds of media).
Then there are our electronic resources. Our key resource is the catalog
of all our holdings, accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Assuming
an Internet connection to our site (www.DouglasCountyLibraries.org), you
can browse our virtual shelves, look at reviews of popular books, put
things on hold, see what may have come in for you from previous holds,
Our website also contains loads of local information. For all of you
newcomers to the area, this is a great place to start exploring Douglas
Another key resource is our subscription databases. Have you ever done a
Google search and found 1,247,398 matches -- none of which had what you
were looking for?
The databases we subscribe to, on your behalf, will give you just that
handful of hits that actually contains relevant information. These
sources cover everything from car repair to medical issues to homework
help to up-to-minute corporate financial statements.
If you can't find the RIGHT database, you can always ask one of our
helpful librarians. During the work day, you can talk to them in person.
But we also subscribe to a 24/7 ONLINE reference service; so librarians
can type back and forth with you, and even push web pages to you.
We provide public space. You can attend our programs (everything from
big, signature events for adults, to daily storytimes for preschoolers),
book your own group's meetings, take advantage of one of our smaller
study rooms, or just stake out a table or a comfy chair to sit and read.
And finally, let's go back to where I started: our staff. These
cheerful, well-informed, enthusiastic souls will direct you to just the
right resource. You'll find them, and us, not only all over cyberspace,
but also at any of our seven services locations (Castle Rock, Highlands
Ranch, Lone Tree, Parker, Louviers, Cherry Valley, and, in early 2004,
back in the Roxborough area, but more news about that in future columns!).
This past year we spent a lot of time thinking through our mission and
our message. Here's the catchphrase that captures most of it: Access:
OnSite and OnLine. Translation: we help you find the thing information
you're looking for, right here in one of our buildings, or in cyberspace.
We hope to see you in 2004.