In general, they appeared on the dates shown in various Colorado Community Newspapers.
Since way back in grade school, I've been enamored of the scientific method. The idea is that we are rational creatures, delighting in growing our understanding of the marvelous natural world.
True, we often start out with ideas that are a little looney. They don't fit the facts. But that's the whole point of the scientific method: you frame a hypothesis to explain some phenomenon, then you test it. If the hypothesis is wrong, you throw it out the window and come up with one that does a better job of standing up to the evidence.
It's a powerful thing. Using the scientific method, we have pushed back the darkness of human ignorance, and made incomparable gains in everything from our own ability to survive, to remarkable works of civilization.
I've also long been a fan of science fiction. What young person -- or any person of imagination -- wouldn't want to sail out into space on the starship Enterprise?
But there are frontiers that are closer to home: the study of our own brains.
Back in my early twenties, I had an unusually vivid dream. I was driving a car, when suddenly, a big concrete wall loomed up in front of me. Crash!
For a moment, I was stunned, stopped, horrified. Then, I gradually realized that I wasn't bleeding. Nothing was broken. I put the car in reverse, and slowly backed up. Everything seemed to be working. I pulled forward around the blockade. And woke up.
The meaning was clear enough. Back then, I had a gift for making spectacularly bad romantic choices. The dream was about another breakup ... that I survived.
I find the image apt for the 2008 library election. Crash! - 52.6% of the county voted down a mill levy increase.
Castle Pines North voted for the mill levy increase at 62%. Parker approved it at 51%. Highlands Ranch and Lone Tree came in at 48%; Castle Rock at 43%, and Roxborough at 38%. But despite regional differences, the total is what matters.
The library was on the road to keeping pace with growth and demand. And after two attempts to make that case to the voters, I think we have to assume that the community has spoken. That road is blocked.
Many months ago now, I attended a couple of meetings with the deans of two library schools.
We library directors had some ideas about the desirable skill sets of new graduates. The deans were eager to hear from us what public libraries were looking for these days.
After a while, I started to feel a little sorry for the deans. It turns out that all we wanted them to do was give us smart, emotionally intelligent, and experienced project managers who not only had a good handle on their own high ethics and professional standards, but also inspired others to be as good as they were.
To put it another way, what we wanted couldn't be simpler. We just wanted them to guarantee that we would never make a hiring mistake again.
The problem, of course, is that such an expectation is utterly unreasonable. No matter how good any new professional may be, the hiring organization still bears a lot of responsibility.
Professional programs impart a body of theory. They provide an introduction to a career.
The library provides something else: the real career.
By Rochelle Logan, Associate Director of Research & Collections
Of all the phases in my life, the time I am most proud of was spent as an Air Force spouse. My husband was a pilot, now retired. We moved eight times all over the US and overseas until we landed in Colorado in 1992. It was a wonderful life, but also a hard one. We never knew where the military would send us next. Will it be in a part of the country or world we’d rather not live? How will the children take another move?
There were plenty of times I was anxious and lonely and those were during times of peace for our country. Now I have friends whose sons and daughters are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Military and their families deserve our thanks and support from our government. The GI Bill is one way the United States helps veterans.
A year ago, after the 2007 election, I did something I hadn't done before. I took a vacation, all by myself, to a place where I knew no one.
Last year, it was Milwaukee. I rented a cheap hotel room close to Lake Michigan. And I spent several days walking the shore, walking the city, walking and walking and walking.
When I got back, my wife asked me, "So whom did you talk to?" Usually when I travel I return with lots of stories. And that's when I realized that I really hadn't talked to anybody, other than to check into the hotel, or to order a meal.
I returned, I think, better than when I'd left. I had found my center. Sometimes you just need absolute quiet and physical release. You need solitude.
And if that's one side of the equation, here's another: civic engagement. I know that after the recent, interminable election process, no one wants to think about this.
Back in the day, I lived for a while as a wandering poet. The pay was terrible, but the experience was rich.
At one point, I found myself at the home of a newspaper publisher. He admitted that he did not understand poetry at all, or know how to tell if it was any good. So we got to talking. How, I asked him, did he recognize good writing in journalism?
He started rattling off some characteristics. Good newspaper writing was clear, fresh, free of cliches. It had immediacy and structure. It told a story. It was poignant but not sentimental.
And when he was done, I said "the same thing is true of good poetry." Every discipline has its quirks, of course, but by comparing samples of poetry to samples of newspaper writings, we quickly found that we had more in common than he'd thought: good writing is good writing.
Much the same thing is true in the worlds of for-profit, and not-for-profit. The end is different -- newspapers and libraries, for instance, have discrete purposes. But when you take a look at how private sector and public sector organizations operate, it again doesn't take long to identify some commonalities.
About twenty years ago, I went with some other librarians to the Greeley mall. We were going to stage a "read in."
The idea was this: we put up some library signs, then stepped into a sort of reading corral. When small children would come by, we'd invite them to listen to a story. We'd taken a bunch of kid's books with us.
Shortly after I arrived, a little boy walked along who was about the same size as my daughter Maddy was back then. I suppose he was about a year old.
Utterly without thinking, I treated him just like her. I picked him up, spun him around, dropped into a cross-legged position on the ground, and opened up a book in front of him.
And two things immediately became apparent. First, I could sense from the corner of my eye the mother freezing up. "Uh oh," I thought. "I just snatched this boy right from under her. Bad idea."
But the other odd thing was that it was perfectly clear that nobody had ever read to this child before. He didn't know where to look.
You know how long it takes to learn how to follow the rhythm of reading a book? Opening the book, starting on the left, moving to the right, turning the page?
It takes two pages.
About 70% of the currently registered voters in Douglas County requested mail ballots this year. I've already got mine. And like an estimated 70% of that group, I'll fill it out and return it in three days.
So by the time you read this, the election, at least in Douglas County, may be over. But please do not let that stop you from voting! We won't know the results until November 4, and every vote counts.
It really does. Last year, the library lost its measure by just 210 votes out of 42,000 cast. Only thirty-four percent of the voters showed up last year. A little more than half of them -- so 17% of our voters -- decided the question.
I'll be honest. Although I went into last year's election, as I go into this one, understanding that the universe persists in doing what it does, not what I want it to do, that loss was surprisingly painful. I found it personally disappointing that the election was lost in my own home town of Castle Rock.
After a recent talk I gave in Illinois, a Trustee asked me to help her understand the role of the public library in the 21st century. I said I thought it boiled down to this: libraries build brains and community.
Building brains has two parts. First, and most important, is the total immersion in language that has been proven to develop thick clusters of dendrites in the brains of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Those clusters of nerves are the biological basis of intelligence.
I've been doing a lot of reading about brain development and literacy. The two are tightly connected. Children who hear lots of stories, demanding attention, empathy, comprehension of new words, prediction of events, are not only smarter, kinder, and more competent human beings, they are also prepped for one of the most wondrous accomplishments of humankind: learning to read.
I recently returned from the Illinois Library Association in Chicago, where I had the privilege of giving the keynote address. I was raised in that area and began my career there. So I had the chance to see a lot of old friends, colleagues, and early professional influences.
One of those influences was Dr. Fred Schlipf. Several decades ago now, I took an administrative practicum with him. He was then the director of the Urbana Free Library in downstate Illinois. Recently, he retired, although he still teaches at the university and does building consulting.
I showed up that morning, wearing my only tie (I was putting myself through grad school, and most of my clothes came from Salvation Army), and was told that Dr. Schlipf was in the children's room, downstairs. I went to join him. About halfway down the stairs, I realized that the previous night's rain had flooded the basement.
And there was Dr. Schlipf, jacket off, pants rolled up, a bucket in one hand and a mop in the other. He beamed at me: "Welcome to the administrative life!"
That's a pretty good introduction.