I have in my hand the August, 2004 issue of Focus on the Family's "Citizen" magazine. It features an article called "Danger Zone." The subtitle reads, "Think it's safe to leave your kids alone at the library? Think again."
It begins with a scare story. Earlier this year, a homeless man came to the Philadelphia Free Library, where he allegedly made a habit of looking at pornography. There, in one of the restrooms, he beat and raped an unattended 8 year old girl.
It's budget time at the Douglas County Libraries.
Here's the good news. By almost any measure of our services, both demand and use are climbing sharply.
* Circulation. We've already checked out over 2 million items this year -- more than 11% over last year at the same time. In the past five years, this has risen by 120 percent.
* Number of reference questions our staff have fielded: up 44 percent over last year.
* Adult program attendance: up 39 percent.
* Number of new patrons registered: 35 percent higher than last year.
Last week I talked about our strategies for coping with a rapidly growing workload. One of them involved a more thoughtful use of volunteers. This week, I'd like to announce our first example of that.
The district is looking to hire several volunteer administrative assistants. What does the job entail? Mainly, it will involve filing, data entry, scanning, faxing, phones, typing, and organizing. There are spreadsheets to build, databases to maintain, and community directories to update.
"Being a newspaper columnist," wrote Lewis Grizzard, "is like being married to a nymphomaniac. The first two weeks are kind of fun."
I've been writing a weekly newspaper column (sometimes more than one a week) for 17 years. For 14 years, I've been writing for the News Press. The 3 years before that, I wrote for the Greeley Tribune.