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."