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, October 31, 1990

October 31, 1990 - Say Yes to Libraries

On November 6, Douglas County voters will determine the future of the Douglas County Public Library System. The very last -- BUT NOT LEAST -- question on the ballot concerns the formation and funding of a Douglas Public Library District.

Before you vote, please consider the following facts about library services in Douglas County:

* Douglas County residents use their libraries. From 1988 to 1989, the use of library materials increased by 37 percent. Nationally, library use inched up by 2.9 percent.

* According to a study conducted by an independent consultant at the end of 1989, the Douglas County Public Library System has half the books, half the space, and half the staff it should have.

* The library is currently funded by the county at 1.1 mills. Last year, that was about $16.41 cents per household. By state law, the county cannot give us more than 1.5 mills. Even if we could be guaranteed a funding increase to the legal limit, 1.5 mills still wouldn't enable us to meet minimum national standards for library service.

* The library, due to increasing costs for library materials and the need to staff public service desks to keep up with the demand, is projecting a deficit of $130,000 in 1992. If the district does not pass, this deficit will require us to reduce hours of service and reduce the number of books we can buy, despite the extraordinary demand for increased service.

* Even compared to other public libraries along the front range, the Douglas County Public Library System is under-funded. Most of the public libraries in the metro area alone receive two to four times as much per capita funding as we do. As a consequence, they have more books and are open more hours. And as a consequence of that, a lot of Douglas County residents go elsewhere for library services. Who can blame them? However, you may not be aware that the Douglas County Public Library has to pay twenty-seven-and- a-half cents for every book one of our patrons checks out from another library. This year, we paid $7,000 to other libraries. Last year, we paid $6,000. If we're going to be spending money on library materials, wouldn't it be nice if they could stay in Douglas County?

* The Library Board of Trustees has adopted an ambitious Long Range Plan. If enough people say YES to the District, we will have the resources to open all major branches seven days a week, double the book budget, purchase a bookmobile to serve rural residents and the homebound, increase children's services, expand and renovate our existing library branches, and open a new, storefront library in the Highlands Ranch area.

* The only way for the Douglas County Public Library System to get the funding it needs is to follow the lead of many other Colorado county libraries and establish a library district. If approved, the district would levy a property tax of 2.75 mills. That's a tax INCREASE of about $25 a year on a $100,000 house, or a little over $2.00 per month. The county would drop the 1.1 mills it currently taxes for libraries. In effect, if you vote for the library district, you're promising to buy one more book a year for the library.

A productive, informed, and literate society depends upon a public library that is vital, vibrant, and highly visible. The library must actively recruit the young, and demonstrate to them the incomparable splendor of the written word.

To fulfill this mission, it must have sufficient financial support. We do not have it now.

It's time to turn to a new page in the history of Douglas County's public libraries. And you, the reader, will write that page.

Please vote on November 6.

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