My wife, Suzanne, admits to her almost obsessive collecting of books. Some years back, I was going to award what I thought was a clever prize: a gold library card. (Not real gold, you understand, but a gold-colored collector item.) It would go to the person who had checked out the most books over the past five years.
But there was a problem. The winner was my wife.
Several weeks ago I wrote a column about decision-making at the library. I'm still thinking about it.
I should have said, in my other column, that I was talking about operational or management decision-making. There's another kind that I didn't mention: leadership.
This is a different level of deciding: picking the big things that the whole organization will focus on. Not operational, but strategic.
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.
In our neighborhood, Louis Yarc was the king of the hill.
When we all got together to play the game on some bales of hay, Louis was the undisputed winner. I still have vivid memories of him, in the midwest summer twilight, fending off the regicidal lunges of as many as 8 other boys. He'd dance around them, hoist them over his shoulder and toss them off, or just muscle them down.