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 18, 1991

September 18, 1991 - Reference

[Below, you'll find a guest column -- written by Reference Librarian Jeff Long, a relatively new member of our Philip S. Miller Library staff. Jeff does a good job of describing what reference services are all about, and I don't have much to add to his observations except to note that most of the services he mentions can also be provided over the telephone (688-5157).

The trickiest part of late twentieth century life, it seems to me, is finding the right information at the right time. Sadly, too few people even think of calling the library with a question. The smart ones, however, do -- and after reading Jeff's column, I bet you'll be one of them.

-- Jamie LaRue, Library Director]

Famed dictionary author Samuel Johnson once observed, "Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves or we know where we can find it." Although you can often find what you want in our libraries by using our public computer terminals, there are times when there is no substitute for human guidance. This is especially true if you're seeking information on an unusual, popular, or technical subject, or if you're seeking bits of information, such as population statistics, consumer agency addresses, or lists of manufacturers.

Our Reference Librarians are specifically trained in providing just such help. Besides being familiar with which subjects correspond to which Dewey Decimal numbers, Reference Librarians can often help you locate your answers in such resources as reference books, magazines, or pamphlet files. For example, aircraft markings are included in some abbreviations dictionaries. Local history buffs are often rewarded by perusing our Douglas County pamphlet file.

When researching a hot social issue like abortion or animal rights, you may find that most of the books in that area have already been checked out. Again, a Reference Librarian can often suggest alternative sources. Two weekly publications, Facts on File Weekly News Digest and CQ Researcher, contain valuable articles on controversial topics and breaking world events, like fetal tissue transplants and the failed Soviet coup. We also receive such governmental newsletters as Colorado Health Statistics, which includes such unexpected information as a ranking of the fifty most popular girls' and boys' names in Colorado.

If you need recent, localized, or somewhat obscure information, ask a Reference Librarian for the magazine indexes. For example, our Castle Rock library has them for Colorado businesses, National Geographic, American Heritage, and many more magazines. If the article you want is unavailable, we can often have it mailed or faxed from another library.

Another service supplied by Reference Librarians is Reader's Advisory assistance. If you're in the mood for a novel that's suspenseful, romantic, or historical in nature, let us show you how to use such guides as Book Review Digest or What Do I Read Next? We also subscribe to The New York Times Book Review, for library users who wish to keep up with today's most discussed new books, be they fiction, nonfiction, or juvenile.

So, whether you want to read a book that chills like Stephen King's, or you need a quotation from Barrons--or from the "Bard of Avon"--remember to ask for a Reference Librarian. As writer Robert Southey noted, "A question not to be asked is a question not to be answered."

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