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.
October 26, 2006 - Fines Support New Veterans Memorial
In years past, the library has offered several fine amnesty programs. For instance, we have, at various times, encouraged people to drop off cans of food. In exchange, we wipe out old debts, and pass the food along to some worthy charity.
I'd like to introduce a different program: for one week, make a point to pay your fines with real money. Why? Because there's an important civic project underway, and it deserves your financial support.
That project is the Highlands Ranch Veterans Monument. As noted on their , website, "Tuesday, August 8, 2006 marked the first anniversary of the death of Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Falkel, a 2001 ThunderRidge High School graduate who served as a Green Beret. Falkel was the first Highlands Ranch resident to be killed in action."
Many older communities have monuments to fallen soldiers. Highlands Ranch does not. Again as noted on the website, a group of "community volunteers, led by Jeff Alvis, and supported by the Highlands Ranch Park & Recreation Foundation and the Metro District of Highlands Ranch, has launched a fundraising campaign for the Highlands Ranch Veterans Monument, to be built near the Highlands Ranch Library entrance in Civic Green Park."
The Civic Green Park has often been described as "the heart of Highlands Ranch," a truly civic place. The design -- both tasteful and very much in the spirit of the Colorado landscape, was created by Brian Muller. The idea is to place this monument at the north end of the park, not far from the front door of our library.
In addition to the features of the monument -- an arch, five large native rocks featuring the emblems of the five branches of the armed services, a small cascading water feature and pond -- there will also be a dedication wall.
On this wall will be tiles, available for purchase from the website. They come in two sizes; 4 by 8 inches for $200, or 8 by 8 inches for $500 (available in limited quantity). The tiles don't have to be for soldiers who lost their lives; you may simply acknowledge the service of any veteran, or member of the armed forces.
I should also stress that this tiles are not limited to residents of Highlands Ranch, or even of Douglas County. Of course, there will probably be some kind of connection to Douglas County residents.
War, of course, is a terrible thing. This monument isn't about a glorification of conflict. But it is about something we need to remember: there is a dimension to all of our lives that isn't just recreational or economic. It involves our connection to larger moments of shared social history, to issues of state, and even of global significance. It is appropriate to pause to reflect, to consider the real, individual cost of military service, and the purposes to which we ask people to give their time, or their lives.
To that end, the Board of Trustees has voted to dedicate all fine money collected during the week from Sunday, November 5, through Saturday, November 11, Veterans Day, as a donation to this project, and its contribution to our shared community.
The target for the project is $200,000. At present, it has collected a little over $17,000.
So please, consider making a small sacrifice to honor the much larger ones of our service people.