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 20, 2006 - Generations Need to Talk
When I was growing up, there was a lot of talk about the "generation gap." Mainly, it was conflict between the GI generation and the Boomers -- the Veterans and the War Protesters. Nowadays, the conflict isn't quite so obvious.
But you know it's happened to you.
You're a Gen-Xer talking to a Baby Boomer, who is being so maddeningly circular that you have no idea what she is trying to tell you. Or you're a Boomer, wondering why the Gen-Xer doesn't seem to have any loyalty to the company.
You're a grandparent, a member of the "Greatest Generation," uneasily aware that all of the public institutions you fought to preserve and build upon, are being dismantled before your eyes.
You're a member of the "Silent" generation, the generation that never had a president -- but did have Martin Luther King, Jr. -- and whose dreams of social justice seem submerged by our culture's consumerism.
Or you're a Millennial -- whose lives of technically assisted multitasking (iPod, cell phone, Instant Messaging) and overscheduled days seem utterly new.
The generation gap is alive and well, gumming up communications within your business, flummoxing family discussions, and leading to mixed messages, hurt feelings, and all-too-frequent dysfunction.
It doesn't have to be like that. "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it," said Santayana. When it comes to generations, each believes that it is unique and alone. And each is mistaken.
In fact, there is a rhythm and a logic to the generational cycle. Once discovered, it enriches those encounters between the generations, and provides a strong connection to our national history.
On May 5, 2006, I'm going to be giving a public lecture on this topic. I call it, "Four Generations: How to Talk ... and to Listen ... to Everybody." The talk will be held at the new Sanctuary of the Christ Episcopal Church, 615 4th Street, Castle Rock, from 7-9 p.m. There is a modest donation at the door -- $10 for one person, $15 for two -- which goes to defray the construction costs of the church. (I'm not a member of that church, but I do admire this beautiful new addition to the architecture and cultural life of the town.)
After my talk, which I hope to keep lively with audience interaction (questions and comments welcome), we'll have a short break for wine and snacks.
The second hour of the evening will be devoted to live music. The theme is simple: what are some of the distinctive songs of each generation throughout American history?
My research into this has been fascinating. The songs most associated with a generation were most frequently written by .... the PREVIOUS generation.
When you look at a list of those songs that most influenced you as you were growing up, you realize that you discovered them in the first 15-20 years of your life. There are few successful musicians who are 15-20 years old, so you are of necessity listening to your predecessors in time, who somehow had the ability to capture the emerging spirit of the culture.
Our musical performances will feature a number of talented locals, of several generations.
So if you're interested in learning more about the people dear to you, and in exploring the cultural contributions of the generations, do consider bringing a friend or family member to the evening.
It should give you something to talk about.