This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Saturday, June 30, 1990

June 30, 1990 - Library advertising

Last night I had the strangest dreams.

First, I was in a dusty Western bar, watching a poker game. One big, grizzled cowpoke laid a spread of cards on the table before him and grinned. "Three queens," he said.

Then the man to his left, a skinny dude with no chin and an enormous Adam's apple, set his cards face down. "Fold," he said, then spit.

The next man, dressed all in black, peered up from beneath the worn leather brim of his hat. His eyes were ice-gray - cold and dangerous. His gaze swept around the table. In a gravely voice, he sneered, "Full house." After tossing his upturned cards to the table, his calloused hand reached out toward the mound of coins.

Just then a high, thin voice rang out. "Not so fast, mister." A small hand dropped over the scarred paw of the man in black, freezing it.

Then, just like in one of those spaghetti westerns, the camera of my dream turned slowly, to a rising tide of hoofclops and guitar music. And there, splashed in a dazzle of spotlight and white-fringed cloth, sat a 6 year old in a 10 gallon hat and full good guy cowboy regalia.

With infinite, almost impertinent confidence, the boy lifted his wrist and snapped down ... a Douglas County Public Library System card.

Everyone around the table moaned.

"With a Douglas County Public Library card," piped the boy, "you've always got an ace in the hole." Then, as the others lowered their eyes and backed away, the lad lassoed the money.

Then I had another dream.

The scene was -- the Philip S. Miller Branch library. But mingled with stately rows of angled bookstacks, there were benches and mirrors, and hundreds of people milling around in leotards and sweatpants.

My dream did a close-up on a beefy young man panting on the edge of a library table.

"I started out lifting some of the lighter books - V. C. Andrews, Stephen King, and like that. But now ..." I noticed that in each hand he held several volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica. "Now," he said proudly, "I can bench press half the essential knowledge of mankind."

I saw an energetic young mother, aerobicizing in the aisles. "Mentally as well as physically," she huffed, "today's women go for the burn."

And suddenly, in my dream, the library had a drivethrough lane. "Your order?" a voice asked brightly. "Two bestsellers, a Newsweek magazine, and a book about current car prices." "Please pull forward to window 2," said the bright voice. "And have your library card ready. Have a nice day!"

Abruptly, I woke up, sat up, and shook my head. What was my unconscious trying to tell me?

At first, all I could think was that whenever you dream about your job, you should get to put it on your timecard.

But then it came to me. What's the real reason that more people talk about movies, health clubs, and fast food restaurants, than talk about public libraries?

Simple. Advertising.

Here we are, with a veritable cornucopia of culture, with more to offer (in my unbiased opinion) than any other institution in our society. But people persist in thinking of libraries as nice quiet places where people doze whilst reading Chaucer.

It's time for a change. Libraries need a brand new image.

Or am I dreaming?

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