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.
Here's the good news. Twice now, the library has done inventories, and found in the process that our theft rate is remarkably low. That has saved us the cost of expensive security systems -- the sort with gates, magnetic strips, and the like. Overwhelmingly, the people who use our libraries are decent and law-abiding.