I've just returned from the annual conference of the Colorado Library Association. The association has over 1000 members now, and its annual conference is an opportunity for people to share what they've learned, listen to (and challenge) some national leaders and thinkers, and socialize.
If I walk to work the same way I usually drive, it's 3 miles. The shortest route -- just a little over one mile -- requires me to completely disregard property lines and walk along the railroad tracks. On occasion, I've done that, though I'm sure I shouldn't. It makes me feel like a kid.
Sometimes, though, such paths are not only the quickest way through town, they are also the most illuminating. Often, the distance between the facade of a town and its reality is a matter of a couple of blocks.
[Three weeks ago, I wrote a column about a survey we mailed out. Called "Why did you leave us?" it was an attempt to find out why a surprising number of people who recently got library cards, never checked anything out again. Below is the altogether marvelous response of one of the people who received that survey. It is a tale of seduction ... and perhaps of redemption. I am deeply indebted to the author for her permission to reprint it.]
Dear Douglas Public Library District:
Thank you for the enclosed survey.
My daughter, Maddy, is just about to turn 12 years old. We taught her at home through first grade. From second through fifth grades, she attended a charter school based on E.D. Hirsch's Core Knowledge Curriculum. But at the end of last school year, she asked if she could be home schooled again.
Naturally enough, we asked her why. Her reply was illuminating. "Learning," she said, "isn't fun anymore."