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 18, 1992

March 18, 1992 - Lynn's farewell party

Lynn Robertson, branch manager of the Philip S. Miller Library, will shortly be leaving us. She and her husband Jay are moving to Dolores, Colorado.

About 62,500 people -- and I -- are going to miss her. Let me give you some idea why.

In February of 1971, Lynn phoned Alden Briskey, the very first director of what was then the Douglas County Library. Why, she wanted to know, wasn't the Louviers Library open for business? The problem, Briskey told her, was lack of staff and lack of money.

There are lots of things Lynn might have said or done. But if you know Lynn, you know what happened next: she volunteered to run it. Before long, the Louviers Library was open on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, from 1-5.

Sandy, Lynn's daughter, was at that time three months old. Lynn brought her to work with her. As Lynn worked, Sandy slept under the library table in a makeshift bed. Later, Lynn says, she added a playpen to the library furniture.

Incidentally, Lynn did finally get officially hired -- for fifty cents an hour.

In the early seventies, Lynn also served a five year term on the library board -- which put her in the unique position of being her boss's boss.

Lynn ran the Louviers Library until 1984. Along the way, she originated a program that is today a vital part of our operations: the Summer Reading Program. Not only did she read to the children, she took them sand painting on the Plum Creek, taught them how to gather and cook yucca pod soup, and ... the list is endless. Meanwhile, she also ran everything from library fund-raising bazaars to mom's exercise classes.

In 1983, she started working as a part-time clerk at the Castle Rock Library -- a 5,000 square foot building which was at that time located on Gilbert Street (now the site of the Children's Castle).

On February of 1984, she was hired as the manager of the Castle Rock Library. Lynn is the only person I've ever known who once had an office in an elevator -- which gives an entirely new meaning to the phrase "upwardly mobile."

"I started not long after the Gilbert Street Library addition was put on," Lynn says. "And I've been in the building process ever since."

First, she worked to gather petitions to convince the county and the city that the community needed a bigger library in a new location. Finally, on October 1, 1987, the library moved from the Gilbert Street location to a 1,000 square foot warehouse on Caprice Street. The idea was to wait there for a year until the new library could be built.

"The move," says Lynn, "didn't cost a penny. The Junior High School library was moving at same time, so we could use their boxes. We depended totally on volunteer help."

At the warehouse location, Lynn, her husband, other county workers, and volunteers begged carpet scraps and half-used paint buckets to try to spruce the place up. The carpet scraps were patched together by a carpet-layer with 90 hours of community service. All the donated paint was dumped into a big garbage can and stirred together -- it made just barely enough to put one coat on the walls.

The interim library had its problems. "My desk was by this great big garage door. It was cold in the winter. In the summer, we got whiffs off the sewer lagoon out back. But the Eagles," she said, referring to the library's near neighbors, "were really great, because they let us use meeting rooms for our summer reading programs. We continued with all our usual activities." She notes that that year was the only year since she started with the library in which the circulation statistics did not go up.

On October 1, 1987, she moved the library to its current home. Several weeks later, just after story time, she was walking out to the front desk to check out some books. "We were in a state of chaos," she said. "There were books in boxes -- all the shelving hadn't arrived. Mr. Miller walked in -- and he was in awe. Although he had come out to see the building in process, this was the first time he had seen the completed project."

Miller had been a long time supporter of the library, donating over $300,000 to the library's building fund over the years. "I'll never forget that moment," Lynn said. "Tears were coming down his cheeks. Then I started to cry. It was all coming together. We had been through so much."

At the beginning of the next year, Philip S. Miller wrote a check for over half a million dollars, canceling the debt on the building.

So what does Lynn have to say about her 21 years of library service? "Well, I've seen a lot of change. And I'm very proud to have been involved in the growth of the library. The change has been just fantastic."

"One thing about Douglas County," she said, "is that we have always had a community that has understood the importance of the library. And from the very beginning, we have had wonderful volunteers. Without them, I don't know where we would be."

As for me, I AM sure that without Lynn, this library would never have enjoyed the kind of support she talks about. Lynn has not only been an outstanding representative of the library to the community, and an example to staff, she has also been my institutional memory.

If you would like to be present for a public reception in her honor, please consider yourself invited to the public meeting room at the Philip S. Miller Library on Tuesday, March 24, from 3-6 p.m.

And Lynn, on behalf of Douglas County, my sincere thanks for a job very, very well done.

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