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, March 13, 1991

March 13, 1991 - Computer Dependency

I have a problem. I've denied it for years, but I've reached a point where I just can't hide from the truth any longer.

I'm co-dependent.

You've probably heard about co-dependency. As psychological conditions go, it is, admittedly, a little vague. Sometimes, it seems that it can stand for almost anything.

In my case, the "co-" stands for "computer." I'll be frank: I can't get through a single day without using a personal computer at least 12 times.

I recently discovered that fact when my work computer -- WHERE I HAVE PUT EVERYTHING I HAVE LEARNED SINCE I MOVED TO DOUGLAS COUNTY -- failed. It just . . . stopped.

I consider myself a relatively calm person, but throughout that fateful day, I became progressively . . . edgier. I started snapping at people. Usually, I find total chaos interesting, involving, even amusing. But that day, even little things -- like air movement -- upset me.

You see, almost everything I do -- from composing "to do" lists, to writing memos, to documenting conversations, to tracking expenditures, even to storing people's phone numbers -- is DONE ON MY COMPUTER.


Oh sure, they said they'd fix it, but when they brought it back THREE DAYS LATER (I made them take it on a Friday), it WAS STILL BROKEN.

So I did what any co-dependent person does. I denied the problem. "Hey, I'm fine," I said to myself. I drafted a memo to a Board Member, on paper, in pencil. "No problem," I muttered, although my hands were trembling, and my eye began to twitch.

It was like chiseling each letter into stone. Barbaric. Slow. Unbearable.

So I found other things to do. I installed an electronic ordering system on one of our other computers. From now on, we'll be able to send a batch of book orders over the telephone to a warehouse in Tennessee, and get immediate confirmation of which books are in stock, and how much they'll cost with our discount. An order of several hundred books will take just a few minutes, and we'll get better (more accurate) financial data than we've ever had before.

Then I spent a little time reviewing another new piece of technology in the library. It's called Infotrac -- a computerized magazine index. You type the subject you're interested in, and a series of articles zoom to the screen, in a matter of moments. For some articles, Infotrac even includes abstracts -- short summaries of the article. Hit another key and the citation (and abstract) get dumped to a remarkably quick and quiet printer.

Then I set up another library personal computer to be able to connect (via telephone) to the CARL system -- a statewide database that contains information on more than 3 million books. I thought that might be handy for our Interlibrary Loan and Reference operations.

But every time I'd go back to my office, I'd see my disconnected monitor, the morose mouse, the paralyzed printer, and my heart would sink. I felt like an amputee.

They say they'll bring it back tomorrow. They say it will be fine. Tomorrow. I can do it. One day at a time.


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