In general, they appeared on the dates shown in various Colorado Community Newspapers.
A couple of weeks ago, I called for comments from the public about successful or useful library innovations.
Thank you! Many of you took the time to submit often brilliant analyses of various trends and implementations. All of you, without exception, were kind even when making criticisms. Douglas County patrons continue to be among the savviest library users I've run across.
But your communications also pointed out two troublesome trends. They deserve a straightforward response.
About a month ago, I got a "martenitsa" in the mail -- a red and white bracelet of string with a couple of wooden beads. Per instructions, I tied it to my wrist, where I've worn it for weeks.
The martenitsa is a Bulgarian tradition. I wear it in honor of the Dora Gabe Library, in our sister city of Dobrich, over by the Black Sea. I visited there several years ago now.
Why do people rob banks? Because that's where the money is.
That old joke provoked some interesting thinking for me.
Right now, our staff handles a lot of reference calls. Some come to us by telephone. Some come to us over the Internet. Many questions we handle in person, face to face.
But there's a flaw. Do you see it?
On the one hand, yes, the library is the place where the answers are.
But it's not where the questions are.
"Stealing from one person is plagiarism. Stealing from many is research."
One of the jobs of leadership is to keep an eye on the competition. Librarians, as I've written before, tend to be very open about what has, and has not, worked for them. So word gets around.
Library experiments fall into a couple of broad divisions. They are interesting, or they are useful.
I've always been fascinated by "idiots savant" -- people who are, for instance, lightning calculators, or able to tell you, the instant they hear your birth date, what day of the week that was. That's the savant part.
But the "idiot" part means that often these remarkable super-abilities are coupled with disabilities. No doubt some folks with super-abilities learn to hide them. It may also be that such abilities are linked to accidents of biochemistry, and thus are coupled with various kinds of physical or mental impairments.
I had the pleasure recently to hear a talk by Lee Rainie. He's the director of the Pew Internet and American Life Project.
The folks at Pew do a lot of research, and lately have begun to focus on a group dubbed "screenagers." These are people between the ages of 12 and 20 who spend a lot of time in front of various screens -- TVs, computers, iPods, cellphones, etc.
Below are some of Pew's findings.
Seventy percent of American adults now use the Internet. For teens, it's 93 percent.
Recently, I did a workshop with a friend of mine. The topic, according to my friend, may address one of the key issues around the nation.
How do you fire somebody?
Obviously, firing should be the last step in an unproductive relationship. But every single one of us can think of people who accept a paycheck, then seem to feel no compunction of any kind to work on behalf of the organization that pays them.
And often, it's worse than that: they actively work AGAINST the goals of the organization.
As I've written before, I am a "delegate" to an international library cooperative called OCLC.
So far, this has entitled me to attend the quarterly meetings in Ohio. OCLC pays for the trips. In exchange, I attend about 2.5 days of meetings, often intense, for which I have to prepare in advance, and at which I'm expected to contribute something thoughtful and useful.
This year, OCLC decided that since it is an international business, it should hold a meeting outside the U.S.
One of the things you grapple with as you get older is this curious contradiction: there are a lot of good, smart, conscientious people in the world, who just can't seem to get simple things right.
I could illustrate this principle with many examples from my own life. But let's pick on the phone company.
For many years, our libraries have had their own phone numbers. Because of the way Qwest sliced up the various phone books (Castle Rock/Parker, South Metro, etc.), it was almost impossible to get all of our listings and locations in one book.
Once upon a time (1889 to 1898, to be precise) there was a director of the Denver Public Library named John Cotton Dana. He was, in fact, Denver's first library director.
He was a beacon of "progressive" librarianship. In his view, most libraries of the day were mere warehouses and prisons of books. Librarians were more concerned with protecting the collections from patrons, than in seeing those collections used.