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 11, 1992

March 11, 1992 - Radio Rally

About ten years ago I participated in a study of "first impressions." The point to the experiment was to determine how accurate those impressions really are.

Half of us were asked to talk to a person over the phone, then fill out a questionnaire about the person we spoke with. The other half of our group actually met the person; they too filled out the questionnaires.

Then, all of the questionnaires were cross-tabulated against detailed personality profiles compiled by psychologists.

The results surprised me. By far, the telephone interviews were the most accurate.

There are no doubt many reasons for this. But one of the reasons is that when people aren't visually distracted, they not only listen better, but they also get more involved in what they hear.

Take, for instance, the difference between radio and television. A few years back, my wife and I took a long car trip. For fun, we brought along some audiotapes, among which were some tapes of old radio programs.

At the end of the day, we lay awake in the darkened motel room, huddled around our little cassette player, listening to Orson Welles intone, "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? ... The Shadow knows." It was great.

Like books, good radio (or tapes of good radio) let you form your own pictures of what people look like. And somehow, the images you come up with yourself are more interesting, more evocative, more personally meaningful, then the interpretations on television or movie screens.

The American Library Association, tapping into the excitement of both radio and books, will launch a "Call for America's Libraries" campaign on March 16, 1992. It happens that March 16 is Freedom of Information Day.

Here's how the campaign will work. From March 16 to April 11, radio stations all around the country will announce a toll-free number (800-530-8888), then encourage people to call it in order to voice their support for libraries.

"Support," incidentally, does NOT mean that you will be asked for money. Anytime between 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, all people have to do is to express their interest in libraries and support of the principles upon which the public library is based. Finally, they will be asked to give their names and addresses.

These names and addresses will be presented to United States Congressional leaders on the American Library Association's Legislative day. In a time of grave national concern about public education, illiteracy, and crime, our legislators sometimes forget about the strong, positive role libraries can play. The American Library Association hopes to provide a timely reminder.

The "Call for America's Libraries" campaign, incidentally, will be based in Colorado Springs. A company called Telephone Express will donate telephone lines and office space -- a contribution worth about $25,000. An estimated 30,000 libraries will also be participating in promoting the event.

In fact, I'm going to drive down and volunteer for one of the stretches myself. If you would also like to put in a shift talking to total strangers all around the United States -- but LITERATE strangers -- give Cindy Murphy or me a call at 688-8752 and we'll sign you up.

My guess is that you'll like the people you talk to. And the message is certainly worth listening to.

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