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 30, 1996 - Vote!
This is the last News Press column before the 1996 election. Aren't you glad?
This year, many Douglas County citizens voted early. But for those of you who haven't, here's a quick round up of the information sources you might want to consult before you walk into the ballot booth.
* "An Analysis of 1996 Ballot Proposals," by the Legislative Council of the Colorado General Assembly. This document provides the complete text of all the state initiatives, and arguments both for and against. This publication was mailed to the households of all registered voters in Colorado. It is also available at your local library.
* "Ballot Issues 1996," sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Colorado Education Fund. This pocket-size brochure again concerns statewide issues. While the publication does not include the full text of each measure, it offers summary information on the measure's major provisions that many will find much easier to read and understand. The brochure also includes comments from "those in favor" and "those opposed." In addition, there is a good deal of useful information about voter registration. This League of Women Voter publication is available at your local library, Norwest Bank of Parker, and 1st Bank of Douglas County in Castle Rock.
* "Notice of Election," prepared by the Douglas County Election Office. This document provides the text of local issues, and prints all comments, both for the measure and against it, that were received by the sponsoring entity by the statutory deadline. This was mailed to all residences that have a registered voter. The library does NOT have copies of this publication.
* "1996 Voter Guide Information on Colorado State Judges." This publication, from the Commission on Judicial Performance reports recommendations from surveys and questionnaires completed by attorneys, jurors, litigants, probation officers, social services case workers, court personnel and law enforcement officers, as well as several other sources, including a personal interview. Most voters are surprised when they see judges\' names on the ballot. Without this publication -- unless you\'ve been in court quite a lot recently -- you may not have enough information to make an informed decision. This is available from your local library.
* Newspapers. In addition to the Douglas County News Press, the library subscribes to several other local and metro Denver papers, all of which have editorial endorsements or local voter opinions. Often, the papers include fairly detailed analyses of various proposals or candidates -- certainly far MORE detailed than offered through TV sound bites.
This year, 1996, the last presidential election of the millennium, may be best remembered as the first year in which electronic political information became widely available. If you have an Internet account, you might want to check out the following locations for a solid introduction to a whole new form of voter research:
* http://www.politicsnow.com/campaign/ -- "PoliticsNow" is supported by a large staff of experienced journalists and offers surprisingly comprehensive analysis. The "Campaign 96" section has seven sections: White House, Senate, House, Governors, States, Resources, and Calendar. It boasts great lead articles and exhaustive links.
* http://allpolitics.com/index.html -- "CNN/Time All Politics" combines the strengths of Time Warner and Cable News Network. There are "quick takes" that give candidate positions on various issues. In a sign of the times, perhaps, the site also contains multimedia games -- with a political twist.
* http://www.vote-smart.org/ -- "Project Vote Smart" is a project of the Center for National Independence in Politics, a national, nonpartisan, non-profit organization based in Corvallis, OR, whose founding board includes former Presidents Carter and Ford. This site offers more background information than the others -- and is the only one of the three to offer much information about various state ballot issues in addition to candidates.
The Founders of our country envisioned a nation ruled by "an informed electorate." It's important that we not only cast our votes -- but that we've given some time and thought to them. As Joseph de Maistre wrote in 1811, "Every nation has the government it deserves."