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.
June 19, 2008 - Library Launches New Website
I've learned a few things over the years.
1. Almost everything important requires teamwork.
2. Significant achievement should be celebrated.
3. Nothing is ever finished.
In light of these three principles, I'd like to take a moment to acknowledge a big moment: a new library website.
In accordance with the first principle, I'd like to thank Moira Ash (Web Administrator), Bob Pasicznyuk (Associate Director of Virtual Services), Nancy Gassen (Web Developer), the Contact Center staff (Sabrina Speight, Don Dickenson, Lois Karbach, Carey Lambert, Jacque Moore, Janet Nelson, Carol Parry, Tanna Crowley, Kayla Hickman), Laurie Van Court, Hutch Tibbetts, Linda Sturgeon, our Community Relations staff, Roy Johnston, and the many others who helped us hone the user profiles, assemble databases and tools, and generally assist in rolling out a 21st century web presence.
Our website is a kind of library branch -- open 24/7, boasting a host of services, and staffed by real people, even if you can't see them. Our technical and support staff are among the best in the world, and their work together is impressive.
The library was the first website ever to flower in Douglas County, back a dozen years ago now. Our latest website went live on June 10, 2008. This one is based on Drupal, a complex and powerful Open Source "content management system." It allows not only the creation of complex websites, but permits, and incorporates, user comments. This marks a change in how we add content to our site, distributing the work among many minds.
I hardly know how to describe the incredible richness of our site. It really is much like a visit to a library.
Front and center (the blank spot at the top of the home page) is our catalog -- the crowning achievement of America's public libraries. Or you can switch from "catalog" to "website" to do a search -- and pull in a host of other resources, including local community members. Just below that is a link to manage your account -- holds, what you've got checked out, renewals, and so on. Just these two options deserve a column of their own.
Also on that first page is a navigational tool (the "tabs" along the top of the screen), and some key links on the left pane (everything from contact information, to our program calendar, to our site about voter information).
The rest of the page is given over to highlights. It will be different every time you load it.
Right now, you'll see links to "eLearning2Go" -- online training, including everything from office software to college, career, and test preparation. The library website: a virtual classroom. How cool is that?
But here's that second point: celebration! The unveiling of this website reflects at least a year of preparation -- and more. Well done! Fireworks! Cakes and candles! Dancing in the street!
And now the third point: the library's website, it goes without saying, really isn't done. It never will be. Anything this infernally complex has incomplete parts, quite aside from the fact that the public keeps expecting new and better things from us. Bear with us as we fill in the outline, tweak the system, and generally respond to both public and staff scrutiny.
In weeks to come, expect to see our website continue to evolve, I hope toward greater simplicity. (And let's add another principle: 4. Simplicity isn't easy.)
But perfection is a fool's dream. Let's take a moment to breathe a big sigh, and say, "Wow."
DouglasCountyLibraries.org -- you're just a click away from one big neighborhood of knowledge.