In general, they appeared on the dates shown in various Colorado Community Newspapers.
Two days from today we celebrate Independence Day. July 4, 1776 is the birthday of the United States of America, the day the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress.
Maren Francis is the owner of Hooked on Books, an independent bookstore in Castle Rock. She also happens to be a member of my library board. Maren just got back from a big conference of the American Booksellers Association, and shared some of her insights with me about trends in the book business.
The main issue among booksellers these days is the rise of such big chain stores as Borders, and Barnes and Noble. For consumers, this certainly looks like a good deal: the big chains offer big discounts.
Our culture's idea of service has changed quite a lot over the past half century, and probably not for the better.
I realized this (again) while watching the movie Back to the Future. Marty has just arrived in the 50's, and watches a car pull into the local Texaco station. FOUR young men leap out. One pumps gas, one wipes the windshield, one checks the oil, one checks the pressure of the tires. Our idea of service used to be lavish personal attention.
These days, we define service as "self-service." Cheaper, it is - but meaner, too.
Like public schools before them, public libraries are coming under increasing scrutiny in a time of social change.
One example of this is the most recent issue of "CQ Researcher," entitled "The Future of Libraries." Each issue of the magazine (published by the Congressional Quarterly) tackles some topic with public policy implications.
The overarching concern of the CQ Researcher was technology. The issues asked, Are America's libraries moving too quickly to adopt technology?
I jumped on a slow couple of days to catch up on my professional reading. Because of the way the pile got stacked (pure accident), I ran across two articles, back to back, that said more together than they would have separately.
The first was a piece called "Books, Bytes, and Buildings," published by the Benton Foundation, funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. There were many findings about "the future of [public] libraries in the digital age," based on surveys, phone polls, and focus groups. Here are the two findings I'd like to focus on this week:
The library has many friends. These friends perform two important functions for us. First, they aid in recruitment. They talk up the library, drag their neighbors along with them, and in general increase our visibility to the community.
Second, they improve the library. Like our library staff, our friends are creative people, with lots of good ideas about new services, or new twists on old ones. Let me give you an example.
I don't remember the name of the story or who wrote it. (This guy is a librarian?) But it was a science fiction yarn about people who could travel in time, all by themselves, without any machinery. This ability was a rare but persistent human mutation, like being born with six fingers on one hand.
Most of these time travelers, when they became adults, eventually went back to the period when they were children. Their purpose was to teach themselves to master their gift at the earliest possible age.
A lot of people lately have been researching and writing about the human brain.
Much of this research focuses on childhood brain development.
"At birth a baby's brain contains 100 billion neurons, roughly as many nerve cells as there are stars in the Milky Way," according to an article in the February 3, 1997 issue of Time. And according to an article in the March 10, 1997 issue of U.S. News & World Report, "... the brain reaches 80 percent of its full development by a child's first birthday."
My wife and I allow Perry, our 3 year old son, to pick out his own clothes every day. But we don't just open a drawer and let him grab something. We set two choices out for him: two shirts, two pairs of pants, two colors of socks. This is the way, it seems to us, to begin to develop the sort of child who isn't afraid to make decisions. (Based on data to date, I don't think this will be a problem for my boy. Patience: that might be a problem.)
Last weekend, my wife and I took our kids to the Children's Book Fair in Denver. There we actually shook hands with the Cat in the Hat, waved to Winnie the Pooh, and caught a glimpse of Miss Frizzle.
As part of the adventure, we drove up to about Broadway and I-25, parked the car (for free), and rode the new light rail into town. Perry, our three year old, is a big time train enthusiast. He thought this was terrific.