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.
November 17, 2005 - DC8 is the Best
I know people have wondered for years just what happens when somebody walks into the library with a question about local history. Well, now, thanks to Douglas County's government cable TV station, DC8, all our secrets have been laid bare.
It's in their recent "Kit Carson's Last Campfire," an original musical detailing the real story of Kit Carson in Douglas County. When challenged, the staff of the Douglas County History Research Center springs into action.
There's the usual white glove inspection, of course, then, moving with the smooth precision of a synchronized swim team, battalions of reference librarians and archivists take to the stacks, their well-oiled carts bristling with fresh supplies.
There, as has happened so many times before, we burst into song. And the answers appear.
Well, OK, maybe it's not EXACTLY like that. But the folks at DC8 have indeed captured the truth: we don't just answer questions. We do it with style.
Since DC8 has revealed the secret of our success (DISCIPLINE, and a dab of irreverence), turnabout is fair play.
At the end of October, according to a recent press release, "DC8 team members brought home seven Emmy Awards in four categories from the National Academy of Arts and Sciences Heartland Region Emmy Awards Ceremony."
Yes, that's the real deal. These are the genuine (albeit regional) Emmys, established by the National Television Academy in 1947. DC8 took awards in the Chapter of the Academy that includes almost all of Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska -- and a little sliver of southeast Wyoming. This is called an "Area Emmy Award."
In addition to the piece on Kit Carson (in which our staff cavort -- after hours, I might add), the library is also featured in another production. Called Lunchbreak, this is DC8's altogether innovative new interview program. The idea is this: Steve Capstick swings by in his pickup truck and grabs a guest. Then they drive around for awhile and talk.
As anyone who has ever taken a long car drive knows, this isn't a bad setting for frank conversation. It's not your usual "talking heads in the studio" sort of thing. Steve has the "everyman" gift. He's easy to talk to. And he asks serious, thoughtful questions in a casual way.
I had the honor to be the first interview in the series, and that session (on censorship) garnered an Emmy for:
* Steve Capstick, host.
* David Schler, Producer.
* Frank Bokoksi, Editor.
* Jess Stainbrook, Executive Producer.
It beat out the nominations for Ron Zappolo and Fox 31, to the delight of DC8 staff, and the consternation of the competition.
The library has enjoyed its relationship with DC8. This award winning group (and this is not the first year they've brought home some Emmys) has dedicated itself to something worthwhile.
They are telling the story of Douglas County.
In order to do that, they dig into the alternately quirky and moving history of our area. So we see them at the library fairly often. (And look for their productions on our shelves.)
But even more than being diligent researchers, their real talent lies in the finding and "framing" of a story. The interview program in a pickup. The exploration of a UFO or Bigfoot sighting. The following of a coal train.
DC8 is NOT your typical government television, and that makes it interesting and watchable.
Douglas County has reason to be proud of this troupe of funny, yet thoroughly professional, storytellers. They just might do for Douglas County what Garrison Keillor did for Lake Wobegone.