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.
July 19, 2007 - You Have to Love Free
Written by Sonny Poling
Back in 2000, my sister laughed and called me a bookworm when she heard that my family and I attended the grand opening of the Highlands Ranch Library. Okay, I admit that I'm a bookworm. I've been visiting libraries since I was a little girl. I still remember the anticipation of reading about a new world or set of characters in a book I just checked out. Later on, there were the research papers in High School, which required scanning through magazine archives on clunky microfiche machines. Then, in college, studying for exams was best done in libraries on campus. Today, libraries offer even more services than they did when I was younger, and my family and I take advantage of as many of them as possible.
Not only are there numerous resources available in the library buildings, but the Douglas County Libraries (DCL) website, DouglasCountyLibraries.org, is an important source for tools and information too. Our favorite website tool is the Holds system where, after finding the items we need in the online Library Catalog, we simply put them on hold. When they become available, we make a quick trip to the library to pick them up, making our use of the library quick and efficient.
DCL's book inventory is vast. We've checked out fiction and children's books of course, but we've also borrowed books on various non-fiction subject matters for school, and to help us prepare for starting a business, home improvement projects, vacations, raising children and a new career. There are so many movies available that itís rare for us to rent one anymore (unless it's a new release that we desperately want to see). We love checking out the audio books before a road trip. Our son has saved himself money by being able to preview a CD before buying it, especially since he often learns that the only song he really likes on the CD is the hit single.
In addition to the large inventory of books, magazines, CDs, videos and recorded books, some of the other resources my family and I have used include:
Meeting Rooms / Study Rooms: My Writers' Critique Group meets every other week at the library, and I recently checked out a conference room for a business meeting. All for free!
Wireless Internet Access: When I want to get away from the house to work in a different environment, itís nice to still have access to the Internet while at the library.
Inter-Library Loans: When the item isn't available in the DCL inventory, they can borrow it from libraries across the nation. It's always interesting to see where the items originate, sometimes as far away as Hawaii.
Materials Request Form: When the library doesn't have an item yet, we use this form to request the item. Sometimes the library purchases the item, and sometimes they borrow it through the Inter-Library Loan system.
Reference Library: We've used several items in the Reference Library, including Consumer Reports Magazine, Writer's Market, decade summaries, and advertising listings.
Special Events / Speakers / Seminars: We've been able to attend several special events at the library including workshops, Fantasy Fest, Teen Nights, listening to guest speakers, and more. These are listed on the website, advertised in the library, or in the DCL monthly email newsletter.
Research Resources / Databases: The kids often access the encyclopedias and other research tools available from the website for their school research.
Reading Programs: We sign up for all of the reading programs; the ones throughout the school year for ages 12 and under, and the ones in summer for adults and teens.
Book Club Express: My book club has appreciated this excellent service and has checked out a couple of express bags full of books and discussion questions.
As you can see, we've been able to benefit from many library resources over the years, and there are probably even more that we haven't had a chance to utilize yet. Sometimes, when I come home from the library with only movies, music and recorded books, I have to chuckle that I didn't check out any hardcopy books, the original reason libraries were created!
Clearly, I'm a fan of DCL, and I recommend that if you're not already doing so, check them out and take advantage of all they have to offer. You don't have to be a bookworm to indulge; you just have to love free stuff!