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, September 19, 1990

September 19, 1990 - The HBW Report

In 1989, Douglas County contracted with Pouw & Associates, Inc. of Denver to create a "Facilities Master Plan." A part of that plan addressed the future of the Douglas County Public Library System. HBW Associates, Inc., a nationally-known library consulting firm based in Dallas, Texas, surveyed library staff, combed through library and community statistics, evaluated library buildings, and came up with some recommendations.

I saw the first draft of the "Library Facilities" report shortly after I was hired six months ago. I was impressed. It isn't often that new directors get -- in their first week -- a current, comprehensive, unbiased, amply-documented analysis of their new library's problems.

I was pleased to see that "the Douglas County Public Library System continues to provide library services to the citizens of Douglas County in an admirable fashion through the existing facilities." That matched my initial (and continuing) impression of my staff -- a hard-working bunch.

On the other hand, "At the time of the site visit by the consultant from HBW Associations, Inc., the Library was already exhibiting signs of an inability to respond to ever-increasing demands for library service." Small wonder. The jump in library use over the past couple of years is over ten times the national average.

HBW Associates also highlighted some very specific and significant weaknesses of the Douglas County Public Library System, based on comparisons to national library guidelines. In brief:

* The Douglas County Public Library System should have 42,420 square feet of library space by 1990. The library has less than half that right now -- 21,000 feet total. Based on even the most conservative estimates of population growth, the library system will need 92,540 square feet by 2010.

* The library now has about 100,000 items in its collection. For our current population, the collection should have at least 242,400 items. By the year 2010, it will need at least 528,800 items.

* The library now has 252 periodical subscriptions. It should have 606 in 1990, and 1322 by 2010.

* DCPLS has less than half the recommended number of librarians, clerical, and circulation staff. As I've written before, I believe libraries should be open at least as often as video stores. In Douglas County, libraries are open just five days a week. More hours means more staff.

To restate the above, in all the most the basic elements of a library -- space, materials, and number of staff -- the Douglas County Public Library System is #inadequate# to serve #existing# needs, much less "to respond to ever-increasing demands for library service."

HBW had many other suggestions for the branches. The Philip S. Miller Library should build up its core reference collection. Our business collection is especially weak. The Parker Library needs at least 3,000 square feet of new space immediately. The Oakes Mill Library (in the Lone Tree development) should have a meeting room. Highlands Ranch needs a library branch. Everybody needs more computer catalog terminals. That's just the beginning.

As I say, it's swell to find out what all your problems are. The next step, the tough part, is to figure out some solutions.

But I'll talk about that in two weeks. Next week's topic is censorship.

No comments:

Post a Comment