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.
December 31, 2009 - that was the year that was
Here at the end of 2009, I sent an email around to the staff of the Douglas County Libraries. I asked them to reflect on what they were proud of over the past year. I thought I'd share their responses with you.
Karen Dvorchak noted that "With the Bookmobile retiring this summer, I am very proud of the efforts the drivers and staff made through all kinds of weather and conditions to bring our services into the neighborhoods."
I got lots of comments about our new Castle Pines Library. Beth Dalton wrote, "This was truly a collaboration between the community and Douglas County Libraries. Many different groups and individuals within the library worked together to make the Castle Pines Library a success. The Castle Pines staff is grateful for all of the community members who have donated their time and money to the library." Other staff members wrote about the astonishing speed and teamwork that made this unplanned-for project happen -- 8 weeks from start to finish!
I also got lots of comments about our Parker renovation. As Debra Weskamp put it, "I am very proud of our staff at Parker for working gracefully and professionally during our Re-Model. It was well organized and patron services were minimally impacted when you think that we did not have to close the branch one day! It was like remodeling your kitchen and cooking 3 meals a day sometimes, but we made it!!" Sylvia Wilkinson thanked her "exceptional volunteers at Parker." Lynn Gillingham praised the "beautiful new children's area and other stunning renovations."
Joanie Mack noted how much fun it was to register new patrons. She wrote, "After I give them a brief introduction to DCL, I love to hear their delight at what is available to them and especially love to watch their jaws drop when they use our self-check system. It is so fast and wonderful! They are usually just amazed!"
Also from Parker, Jeanie Straub wrote, "We had a lot of great moments in libraryland at Parker but my favorite -- or one of top 3 -- was seeing Angie Stevens and her band rock out in our reference section ...
Sabrina Speight of our Contact Center was justifiably pleased by the 97% satisfaction rate in the customer service survey we ran on that department. She also noted that "In November, the Contact Center tested an initiative to assist the Elections Department by taking calls during their busy election season in order to provide better and faster service to Douglas County citizens." Governments working together to pool resources and save costs -- who would have thought? Thanks to Jack Arrowsmith, our County Clerk and Recorder, for this effort as well.
Dedra Anderson wrote that she was "pretty proud of the DCL Book Chat blog. (See http://dclreading.wordpress.com/.) It has over 125 staff suggestions for good reads for our patrons."
Ruth Ann Krovontka wrote that "One of the proudest times for kids at Highlands Ranch was the first annual Battle of the Books and the beginning of the second annual with Parker adding on."
Kathy Johnson was pleased to participate in her graduation from our two year internal leadership development program. (And all of our graduates are so good!)
This came from Margie Woodruff, our Foundation Director: "Libraries were an inspiration to people like Dr. and Mrs. Robert Sullivan and Mrs. Verna Daughenbaugh who paid for the children's department renovations at the libraries in Castle Rock and Parker through generous donations to Douglas County Libraries Foundation.
"Old friends and new gathered together for the book launch of the Perry Park Story, a reprint funded by Douglas County Libraries Foundation that documented their community story from the beginning to present.
"The spirit of the Louviers community was admirable. Despite the odds, they rallied to keep their library open and fundraised close to $18,000 to help cover operating expenses."
What am I proud of? In addition to all of the above (an amazing list!), I am deeply impressed by the spirit, the service ethic, the passion, and the intelligence, of our staff. It is a profound privilege to work with them.
On to 2010!
LaRue's Views are his own.