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.

Wednesday, August 1, 1990

August 1, 1990 - The public library: yours, mine, and hours

There are at least three key facts about any public library: it's yours, it's mine, and its hours.

That's not a misprint. H-O-U-R-S. Sure, the library is "ours" in the sense that it belongs to all of us. But a significant factor in the success of any business is how often it's open.

Everybody's schedule is busier than it used to be. Even on the weekends, most of us have more errands than time.

In recognition of that fact, smart businesses have started to keep more flexible hours. Example: the grocery store that never closes.

Another example, and one that maybe deserves a closer look, is video stores. Earlier today, I called one of the video stores in town. "What are your hours?" I asked. "Ten to ten, seven days a week!" he said.

Isn't that wonderful? So simply put! So easy to remember! That's marketing that understands the importance of customer convenience.

Libraries could learn a lot from video stores.

Of course there are other factors at work. If you have preschool children at home, stop for a minute and add up the number of minutes you spent reading to them last night. Then add up the number of minutes you either watched TV together, or let them watch TV by themselves. Spooky, isn't it?

We teach children to watch TV before we teach them to read. According to Jim Trelease in the book #The Read-Aloud Handbook#, "The average kindergarten graduate has already seen more than 5,000 hours of television in his young lifetime. That is more time than it takes to obtain a bachelor's degree."

Reading is a skill. The more you do it, they better you get at it. But reading also takes time, and these days there's plenty of competition for the simple pleasure of a book.

Only about half the public libraries in Colorado are open 10 or more hours per week outside the normal 9-5 business hours. Why? It's as obvious as it is frustrating: funding. If you want to increase library hours, you have to increase library budgets.

When we get serious about wanting our children to read, public libraries will be as common and convenient as the neighborhood video store -- with similarly accommodating hours.

In the meantime, here's a reminder of the current hours of all the branches in the Douglas County Public Library System. Why not post it on your refrigerator?

PHILIP S. MILLER BRANCH (Castle Rock): Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Summer preschool storytimes are held Tuesday mornings at 10, with a program for older kids on Thursday at 11.

PARKER BRANCH: Monday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Summer preschool storytime is Monday evenings at 7 p.m.; for older kids, Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.

OAKES MILL BRANCH: Monday and Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Wednesday and Thursday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Summer preschool storytimes are held on Tuesday mornings at 10:30 a.m.; for older kids, on Wednesdays at 4 p.m.

LOUVIERS BRANCH: Thursday, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., with a program at 1:30.

LARKSPUR LIBRARY (at the elementary school): Tuesday, 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., with a program at 10.

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