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, July 31, 1991

July 31, 1991 - Six month district report card

Last night something happened to me that has never happened before. I sat down to write this column and ... absolutely nothing came to mind.

It was about time for a funny one, I thought. But you know, sometimes you just don't feel funny.

Sometimes, you feel like taking a vacation. And tomorrow, as it happens, I'm taking my family down to Santa Fe for the weekend. But last night, I just sat there in front of my computer screen for almost an hour. Didn't type a word. Finally, at nine o'clock, I read a comic book and went to bed.

When I marveled about this inexplicable writer's block to one of my Board members today, he suggested that I should tell people how the Library District has done so far this year. After all, we're a little over half way through 1991 -- now's a good time to check our progress.

Well, it's not funny. But it's not a bad idea for a column. So...

I started my job here on March 29, 1990. On April 19, 1990, the Library Board of Trustees approved some key elements of a long range plan. All of them were ambitious: the library was at that time a county department, and faced a severe funding crisis in 1991.

But the citizens of Douglas County voted to create a library district. So how well has it done?

The first key goal of the Long Range Plan was to expand library hours from five days a week to seven. On March 25, 1991, we did just that. It took a lot more people -- and training them was hectic -- but I happen to think we hired some remarkably talented folks.

Our second goal was to increase the size of our collection. At the end of 1990, we owned 104,644 volumes. As of July 23, we own 122,025 volumes -- an increase of 17,385, or 16.61 percent.

Our third goal was to promote and expand community and cultural events. This has been a record year for library programming, from the well-received travel series at the Parker Library, to the Douglas County School art show at Castle Rock, last fall's music festival at Oakes Mill, and our district-wide writer's contest.

Our fourth goal was to improve automation and networking. At the end of 1990, we had just four public computer catalog terminals in the entire library system. Now, we have thirteen, as well as a dial-in computer line. We also purchased and installed a completely upgraded computer that we manage in-house -- a move that will save us about $100,000 a year. We will be adding another eight terminals (four for the public) within the next four weeks.

Our fifth goal was "to build a new library in northern Douglas County." Opening on August 12 will be our storefront library, located at 52 W. Springer Drive in Highlands Ranch (phone number: 791-7703). Its hours will be the same as those of our other libraries.

The sixth goal was to establish an "outreach" service -- a courier or bookmobile program. First, back in May, we got daily delivery going among the existing library branches. The second part of our outreach effort, particularly the delivery of materials to people in rural or outlying areas, is still being analyzed. But we should be able to announce something within a month.

The last goal was to renovate existing library facilities, specifically, to build on to the Parker Library, finish and provide access to the basement at Oakes Mill, and renovate the space at the Philip S. Miller Library when Social Services and Tri-County Health move out sometime next year. All of these projects have been slated for 1992. (We didn't quite have the money for it this year.)

How has the public responded to all of these changes?

Nationwide, library use has increased by about 3 percent over the past five years. So far, in just the first six months of 1992, the use of the Parker Library (based on the number of materials checked out) has increased by 24.2 percent over the first six months of last year. The use of the Philip S. Miller Library in Castle Rock has jumped by 26.4 percent. The use of the Oakes Mill Library has rocketed by 40.1 percent!

Overall, throughout the entire district, library use has increased by 28.6 percent over last year -- over nine times the national average.

So, on behalf of the Douglas Public Library District, I thank the many voters and library workers who made all of these great strides possible. It's an exciting time to be in Douglas County.

But I'm still going to Santa Fe.

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