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.
First, my thanks to the literally thousands of people who have responded to recent library mailings about our consideration of a proposal to add additional library space and materials around the county. I appreciate it.
Second, some of our citizens have asked pointed questions. I'd like to answer them.
Question: in Parker, why don't we just buy and renovate the vacant King Soopers, as we did with the old Safeway in Castle Rock?
Answer: the building isn't for sale. The owners have other plans for the property. We can't buy what isn't on the market.
Question: "are you idiots aware that there's a recession?"
Answer: we have got to do something about the quality of public discourse in this county.
No, we're not idiots. Yes, we are aware that some of us are spending up to $30 more a week to fill up our gas tanks -- for which we receive absolutely NO increase in value.
[This week I wanted to highlight the business development work of the library and its partners. Our "reporter" is Rochelle Logan, my wonderful Associate Director of Research and Collections.]
I recently attended the National Economic Gardening Conference in Steamboat Springs where participants from twenty states, Japan and Australia came together to discuss ways to support small businesses in their communities. The concept of Economic Gardening started in Littleton, Colorado some twenty years ago. In addition to attracting new business from outside your city or county and keeping them, Economic Gardening (EG) helps local entrepreneurs thrive and grow which brings more resources to the community.
"Economic Gardening is a great opportunity for smaller businesses. It provides access to resource channels that they might not be aware of or otherwise be difficult to engage." Christian Eppers, Manager of Economic Gardening, Chamber of Commerce at Highlands Ranch.