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, May 29, 1991

May 29, 1991 - investigate the library

I believe that more than any other human institution, the public library offers something for everyone.

For instance, if you're just a young'n (or if you've got young'ns at home) you should know about the Douglas Public Library District's Summer Reading Program.

The theme this year is "Be A Super Sleuth!" Children who register at any DPLD library (as well as Larkspur Elementary Library) this summer, will receive a Reading Booklet, and a Reading Log. This reading log challenges children to move from a Junior Detective to Detective to Inspector to Super Sleuth (and get lots of prizes with each promotion).

How do they move up the ranks? They have to successfully complete five requirements (activities) in five different categories. The categories are: reading "In a ..." (tree, front yard, closet, box, tent, grocery store, bowling alley, and more); reading "On a ..." (bed, stair, horse, continental divide, tennis court, slide, and so on); "Reading to ..." (a baby, pet, plant, turned off tv, etc.); "Reading while ..." (doing your chores, wearing a hat, hanging upside down); and "Reading a ..." (cereal box, candy or gum wrapper, bumper sticker).

The object, in case we're being too subtle here, is to READ. READ READ READ. Read till you see letters in the lamplights, sentences in the sand, paragraphs in your palm, novels in a napkin. Read till you at last begin to grasp how magical is our language, how limitless the imagination, how bountiful the booty of the written word.

On top of all that, we'll sponsor special weekly programs (for kids 5 and older), a short story mystery writing workshop, and (coincidence?) a short story mystery writing contest.

All these activities will take place at the Philip S. Miller Library in Castle Rock, the Parker Library, the Oakes Mill Library, the Louviers Library, the Highlands Library, and the Larkspur Elementary Library.

For the older folks, I'm happy to announce that we have established three other new services.

The first one is daily delivery (Monday through Friday) among all of our library branches. This means that if you request a book that happens to be available at another Douglas Public Library District, we'll get it to your closest branch within two days -- and usually, by noon the next day.

The second new service is an update of an old one. As of May 21, 1991, we can provide 24 hour, 7 day a week access to the library's computer catalog -- as long as you have a personal computer, a modem, and software smart enough to follow some pretty basic computer standards.

The phone number for our updated computer service is 688-1428. The telecommunications settings are as follows: 8 bit word, 1 stop bit, No parity; 2400 or 1200 or 300 baud rate; and you should set your "terminal emulation" to VT100.

I realize that this looks like gobbledy-gook to those of you who don't use computers much; I hope it makes sense to those of you who do. The new setup should be much easier, much closer to usual telecommunications parameters, than our old system.

Once you do get connected, count to about 10, then just hit the return or enter key. After that, follow the instructions on the screen. (When in doubt, hit "q" to "quit" out of a particular screen message, or "so" for "start over.") To hang up, just hang up.

Along the way, you may notice our third new service. From any terminal, as long as you have a Douglas Public Library District card, you can reserve any book that's checked out, or available at another (not Castle Rock) library -- then indicate at which library you would like to pick the book up. That's right, you can place your own reserves for materials without asking a librarian to do it (although we will still be happy to do it for you if you prefer).

All in all, we're ushering in a new age: the age of the self-service -- or at least self-directed -- library, with the understanding that friendly and expert help is just a shout (or a keystroke) away.

Your local public library: it's worth investigating.

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