In general, they appeared on the dates shown in various Colorado Community Newspapers.
Several years ago, I was visited by Duane, a friend of mine from back in Illinois. Before I came to Colorado, Duane and I worked together in a group called Illinois Writers, Inc. -- a motley crew of poets from the central part of the state. In his day job, Duane is a community college administrator.
We were visiting about important early influences in our lives. Duane started talking about one of his teachers back in elementary school. "Dr. O'Hern was incredible!" he said. "He's why I became an educator."
Effective today, this column has a new name. It's not just a title. It's a disclaimer.
First, I thought about adding a more formal statement to the end of each column. It would read something like this: "The opinions expressed in this column, unless stated otherwise, are not the official views of the Library Board of Trustees." The Trustees are my bosses.
Does that mean some of the things I say are NOT endorsed by the Trustees? Yes.
I used to live across the street from an old architect, trained in the 1950s. Back then, he said, architects believed buildings needed to "breathe." Public buildings used to have windows that opened.
Then came the energy crunch of the 1970s. To deal with wildly rising costs, owners scrambled to tighten up, even hermetically seal their buildings.
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I was learning to play the banjo. I took lessons for six weeks from Swallow Hill (www.swallowhill.com). I continue to practice.
Along the way, I did a little reading up on the instrument.
The banjo (also called banjar, banjil, banza, bangoe, bangie, and banshaw) came from the west coast of Africa. Originally an instrument made from gourds, a neck, and four strings, it was recreated in the New World by slaves.
It could be that I hung around with the wrong kind of kids in high school. Now that I think of it, I probably WAS the wrong kind of kid in high school, and that's why they hung around with me.
My daughter's experience has been different, and almost certainly better. She's a senior at Douglas County High School. She's also in the International Baccalaureate program.
I have to say, when I watched her, for 2 years now, bring home some 4 hours of homework each night, I wondered if that was altogether good.
At the beginning of my career, the buzz was all about "automation."
Most libraries in the late 70's and early 80's used one of two methods to handle the checkouts. Most common was a paper-based checkout card system. You slid the library card, with its metal plate, into a device, then inserted the book cards, one by one, to be ka-chunked and stamped with a due date. That night, all of the cards had to be manually filed -- by author for fiction, and by Dewey Decimal number for non-fiction.
I've been reading up on the relatively new scientific discipline of brain development.
Much of the focus has been on early childhood development. If you have small children, you've probably heard about the importance of mental stimulation.
The library can and, for many families, does play a big role in precisely this. In fact, we're reworking our storytimes to take better advantage of the research to make sure that when children reach school age, they are truly ready to read.
Before my wife and I moved to Colorado I used to say we had a ton of "stuff" - our belongings. I was wrong. When the movers weighed everything, I discovered we had three tons of stuff. One ton - 2,000 pounds - was just books.
These days I try not to buy so many. If I want to read something, I get it from the library. Otherwise, I know that sooner or later I will once again have to whittle down my possessions to fit the available space. I hate that. I get enough of it at work.
I had the privilege recently to serve as provocateur for the current class of Leadership Douglas County. Originally formed by the Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce, then expanded to include the entire county, the program seeks first to recruit tomorrow's citizen leaders.
Our civic infrastructure requires lots of thoughtful, well-informed people to sit on our councils, boards, committees, task forces, and advisory groups. So the second task of Leadership Douglas County is to provide a basic orientation to our county's issues.
"I took a speed reading course and read 'War and Peace' in twenty minutes. It involves Russia." - Woody Allen
When I was in fourth grade, I decided that my homework was taking too long. Social Studies was particularly onerous. What I needed to do, I decided, was learn to read faster.
So I went to the library and asked for a book about it. There were several.