In general, they appeared on the dates shown in various Colorado Community Newspapers.
I've been giving a lot of my personal time lately to talking to various community groups about the library's ballot question this fall, question 5A. (And yes, these columns are written on my time, too.)
Let me begin with something wonderful. At every talk, someone tells me about the fine, often extraordinary service they got from our staff. I believe it.
Thank you, oh passionate and dedicated Douglas County Libraries staff! Your service is the library's product.
But some people also have doubts, questions, and concerns, not previously addressed in this space. I thought I'd speak to some of them here.
* The county has grown through the years. Haven't library revenues grown with it?
Yes, our revenues have grown (although not nearly as fast as demand!). But here's the bottom line: our annual budget is $20 million. The cost of a new, desperately needed library in Parker is $23 million. The cost of a new Lone Tree Library (and the structured parking it needs for the site) is another $20 million. Our current revenues are enough for our current operations. But they are not enough to build -- or operate -- the larger facilities Douglas County needs.
By Katie Klossner, Community Relations Manager
When people find out I work for Douglas County Libraries (DCL), I am often mistaken for a librarian. I can see the disappointment in their faces when I gently explain I am not able to help them with a reference or research question (or even remove any library fines they may have). I am honored folks think I am a librarian, as I have a great deal of respect for these incredibly bright, educated, and friendly resources that work the public areas of our library world.
I can usually be found working in a small administrative office within another area of the Philip S. Miller Library. Ironically, even though I work within a library, I have always been just an ‘average Joe’ library user. However, due to the challenging economy, my family and I have been using the library more and more within the past year or so. In fact, I made it a budget goal for my family to save money by using the library. Here are some of my easiest cost savings tips:
1. Don’t Buy Books (Approximate savings: $300/year; $25/month)
I remember talking to my father about the days before Pearl Harbor. Times were hard.
The list of problems passed from memory to history almost to legend: the Depression, the Dustbowl, bread lines, bankers leaping from Wall Street skyscrapers. Nothing seemed to be working: not business, not government, not even the weather.
Then, on December 7, 1941, a surprise attack by the Japanese against a United States naval base in Hawaii transformed public opinion almost overnight. Within two weeks, at least according to my father's WWII navy buddies, the United States went from a suspicious and isolationist stance to a unified nation braced for war.
The change was both immediate and remarkable.
The overall death toll at Pearl Harbor reached 2,350. On 9/11, almost 3,000 people died in the attacks. And here's this week's discussion question: Why didn't America snap into alignment during the two weeks following September 11, 2001?
There are at least two possible reasons. First, we knew how to apply the idea of "war" to a nation. Japan was geographically distinct. It had a hierarchy of well known leaders.
Back when I lived in Greeley, I got word one day that Reverend Jesse Jackson was coming through town. It was his second run at the Presidency, and he was going to give a whistle stop talk. I had heard he was a good orator, so ran over on my lunch break to give him a listen.
He used the traditional call and response technique: he'd shout out a phrase, everyone would shout it back, and eventually, it would work into a complete sentence.
On the one hand, that's kind of fun. There's a lot of energy around that kind of group response. On the other hand, it reminds of the joke about why Unitarians make terrible choir members: they're all reading ahead to see if they still agree. I felt distinctly uncomfortable shouting out political statements when I didn't know quite where they were going.
Jesse Jackson is perhaps best known for his 1971 "I AM ... SOMEBODY" speech, which used the same technique. And that speech inspired an interesting project I just heard about. It's called "I Am -- the Library." It's an "ethnographic video project, which documents the everyday ways a public library is used."
On August 21, 2008, the Library Board of Trustees adopted a resolution to place a mill levy increase question on the November ballot. That ballot will ask for voter approval for 1 (one) mill. 0.4 mills will be retired when the building projects are paid for -- which is estimated to take about 20 years. One mill is $7.96 per year on each $100,000 of home value.
What are the projects? A neighborhood library in Castle Pines (in leased space), a new Parker Library (on donated land), and a new Lone Tree Library (also on donated land). They would open in 2009, 2011, and 2012, respectively. Castle Rock and Highlands Ranch would also see some building improvements as funds are available, but not later than 2012.
The proposal is different from last year's in three ways.
* It's cheaper. Our public feedback revealed a lot of concern about the economy. We heard you. Despite rising construction costs, we lowered the anticipated expense by scaling back the projects, and phasing in their construction. The library has always taken an aggressively conservative approach to public expenditures. We still do.
by Sheila Kerber, Manager, Philip S. Miller Library
Mark Twain once said, “Love seems the swiftest, but it is the slowest of all growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century.”
When I was 18, I came up with a basic life philosophy. I called it "the expandable egg."
Imagine a chicken in the egg. One day, the young chick is aware of pressure. That pressure is uncomfortable, then constraining, and finally intolerable.
So the chick starts to kick and peck. She breaks out of the egg.
And immediately: Wow, it's big out here! So the first instinct is to seek shelter. Under mom, away from mysterious threats.
But eventually, the chick gets bolder, and starts exploring. After a while, she learns all kinds of shortcuts to the best or hidden food. What was immense and unknowable becomes familiar.
And then, it becomes too familiar. Constraining. One day, the chick pokes through the fence, and --- wow, it's big out here!
Learning is an egg that gets bigger and bigger.
It applies to using libraries, too.
In Douglas County, many, many children are first exposed to libraries through storytimes. Here they fall in love with one or more of our staff, discover fascinating stories, learn fun finger plays and songs.
Consider the following. Based on a comparison of library statistics between 2002 and 2006:
* Visits to libraries increased by 10 percent across the country; at Douglas County Libraries, 65 percent.
* Circulation (checkouts) grew by 9 percent nationwide; at Douglas County Libraries, 74 percent.
* Nationwide, the number of Internet-capable computers increased by 38 percent; at Douglas County Libraries, 126 percent.
* Our circulation of children's materials (in 2007) is the highest in Colorado at 3,122,000 and is 48% of our circulation. That outstrips the 42% that was reported as the highest in the country in 2006 -- at a library in Vermont.
Here are a few local stats:
* Over 80% of our households have at least one active library card.
* Independent research has revealed that the return on investment for the Douglas County Libraries is just over $5 per tax dollar invested.
* A recently completed poll by Hill Research reports that we have an approval rating among our citizens of a staggering 93 percent.
A few months ago I got to give one of my favorite talks. The topic was generations: how a combination of parenting styles and world events leads to distinct differences between us, and how those differences play out at home, in the workplace, and in society generally.
One of the people who heard the talk -- a police chief -- invited me to give it again, this time to a leadership group of police officers.
At first, I'm not sure they thought that a librarian would have much to say to them. But what I like about the topic is that it eventually touches everybody.
I learned that several metro area police departments are finding that they just don't get as many qualified officer candidates as they used to. Where once a modest ad might bring in 2,000 people, now only eight show up, and four of them really shouldn't be given badges and pistols.
Many officers reported that the way they were trained doesn't seem to be working as well with new recruits.
Herein is my 2nd column trying to address questions the public has asked about a proposed mill levy increase question for library funding (approximately $30 a year on a $300,000 home).
Q: Why is the library asking for money for the arts?
A: It isn't. It never did. It is asking for money to build and operate libraries. The proposed land for two of the library projects (Lone Tree and Parker) is adjacent to proposed performing arts centers in those communities. But the library isn't paying for them. They are local projects. Together, libraries and performing arts centers add up to a significant draw for economic development. But the funding for them is completely separate.
There is an independent library foundation, a 501 (c)(3) organization that uses private donations for the purchase of art in our libraries and in partnerships with other community agencies. But no taxpayer dollars are used for the purchase of art.
Q: Who needs libraries in the age of the Internet?