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 30, 2006 - Elections Had 2 Positive Results
I'm sure people are tired of hearing about the elections. But I have two things I'd like to share.
First, a lot of Colorado libraries went to the voters this November. And by and large, they did very well.
Successful library issues (usually, increases in funding to build or renovate libraries) were approved in:
- Adams County
- Fort Collins
- Garfield County
Three of these were votes to form library districts (converting from a municipal or county library to an independent entity, much like the Douglas County Libraries): Adams County (which was actually formed a while ago, but only now got sufficient funding to operate), Fort Collins, and Garfield County.
That's not to say that all libraries won at the ballot box. Four issues went down, in Alamosa, Eagle Valley, Superior, and Pagosa Springs.
Still, I take the trend as encouraging. Libraries are smart investments in a community, and this is often even more strongly the case in small towns.
Here's another trend: over ten years ago, there weren't very many library districts out there. Now, about half of the 241 or so public libraries in the state are districts.
Why? Because for library districts, funding increases don't depend upon the whims of a small group of politicians. They depend upon broad community support.
That's probably true for most libraries. But it's unavoidable for districts: good service is essential to their survival.
And the record shows that the public understands that. They tend to reward library districts with greater funding than their municipal or county counterparts, because they can see how hard libraries work to provide that service.
My second observation about 2006 voting is this: even with some of the bobbles in Denver and Douglas County, I found myself tremendously heartened.
The last two national elections left a lot of people with a deep distrust of the process itself. Some believed Diebold voting machines to be utterly insecure from a software perspective. In many parts of the country, extreme partisanship worried others, particularly when some of those extremists (of either party) might be in local "control" of the election processes.
What troubled me, before this election, were the open expressions of that fundamental mistrust of the system. While there have always been shenanigans and errors in American elections, the elections themselves have been regarded, I think justifiably, as trustworthy nationwide.
Now, I believe, we have proof. Without any bloodshed, a lot of power changed hands overnight. If there really was some kind of big national conspiracy, that wouldn't have happened. The people in power would have stayed in power.
So quite aside from the spin you'll see by any of the political parties about the specific results of the last election, I think we owe a deep and genuine thanks to all the officials and volunteers who put those elections on.
Ultimately, and for all the verbal nastiness and even personal inconvenience of the 2006 elections, we have the good fortune to live in a nation where your political opinions or ambitions won't get you killed.
Instead, they actually count for something. And that's worth celebrating.