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, December 25, 1991

December 25, 1991 - New offices

I'm moving my office and I'm not happy about it. Well, no, I'm happy about it, but it worries me a little.

But let me start at the beginning. Social Services, our former tenant at the Philip S. Miller Library, has moved to new quarters (the Moore Building on the corner of Wilcox and Plum Creek Parkway). That freed up a lot of square feet to rededicate to the library -- space we desperately need.

One corner of it, we'll use as offices. I've got four people and a noisy computer system crammed into two small meeting rooms now, and we need to stretch out.

Most of the space will go to the expansion of the library branch itself. It will be several months, however, before we figure out which walls to knock down and how to best rearrange our stacks. I'd also like to add some study and meeting rooms.

But I get a great new corner office right away. My new office will be in the southwest corner of the building. It has three big windows. I can see Pike's Peak, Dawson's Butte, and Devil's Head. And that's not all: the northbound train runs about 50 feet west of where I plan to put my desk. In an age when most of us have to work in places that don't even have windows, all this is wonderful, and okay, I'm excited about it.

So what's the problem? I'm not sure people will know where I am any more. One of the things I most enjoy about my job now is that a lot of patrons feel free to walk in and chat with me. Sometimes they have compliments, sometimes criticism, sometimes just interesting stories. But they all genuinely care about how well the library is doing. I like talking to them.

A few months ago, I sat through a "conflict resolution" presentation, where the speaker talked at some length about how bosses can get their staff members to drop in and talk about work-related problems. When she asked for questions, I wondered simply, "Is there some way to get them to stop?"

I don't know as it ever occurred to the people on my staff that they might want to keep library problems to themselves.

But I'm kidding. I like seeing THEM too. And I'm very interested in those problems.

No matter how good a boss is, it can be hard to get direct knowledge of what goes on at the front desk. That information just comes from two sources: the public and the staff.

If the people we serve and the people who provide the service don't stop in to tell me what's really going on in the world, then eventually, despite our surveys, my wandering around the county, and my too-brief stints at the front lines of library service, I'm probably not going to know, or at least know as much.

So here's what I'm going to do:

(1) Tell everybody that I've moved to a new office. Consider yourself told.

(2) Invite everybody to come back and see me: and I mean you, the reader (and your family, and your friends), and you, the staff of the Douglas Public Library District (and your family, and your friends). We can talk about what we ought to do with the rest of the space, and who knows, maybe a train will go by!

(3) Tell you how to find my office. In brief: head straight down (south) through the middle of the library. Turn right at the reference desk until you see the exit sign (to your left). Step through the open door, then jog right through another door. It's open, too. I'm in the second office to your left, smack in the corner of the building.

(4) Start scheduling myself out at the circulation and reference desks, not only at the Philip S. Miller Library, but also the other branches. Maybe I could schedule some computer catalog training sessions for the public ...

After all, this, the first full year of the Douglas Public Library District, is just about over. Maybe now I'll actually have some time to handle some books again, and talk to people about what they really need from a library. If I remember right, that was why I got into the library business in the first place.

In the meantime, come see me!

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