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, October 14, 1992

October 14, 1992 - League of Women Voters

In 1980 I was plugging away at an assignment for library school. Suzanne, who was already a librarian (but not yet my wife), volunteered to help me with the research.

Suzanne is a much better researcher than I am. About halfway through my writing, she tossed a gem on my study carrel: a Bachelor's thesis for the same library school, written in 1898. The author, in careful, meticulous prose, traced the establishment of public libraries in Illinois.

I was frankly surprised to discover that over 90 percent of them were founded by women's groups.

But I wouldn't find that surprising today. Just take a look at the people who use libraries. Take a look at the people who attend PTA meetings.


And in this especially crowded election year, take a look at the only group that consistently puts out clear, reliable, non- partisan information about political issues: the League of Women Voters.

Founded by a $900,000 bequest in 1917 to suffragist and League founder Carrie Chapman Catt, today's League of Women Voters is dedicated to "the promotion of voter education." Why?

Well, what's the common denominator in the longstanding support of women for libraries and education? The public interest -- an abiding belief that we have a private duty to work for the public good, which in turn is based on the ready availability of unbiased information.

What does that mean for Douglas County residents?

To begin with, the local League will be sponsoring forums for county and congressional candidates, as well as some speakers on other ballot issues, on Tuesday, October 20, at the Highlands Ranch High School, and Thursday, October 22, at the Philip S. Miller Library in Castle Rock. The forums will run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

If you're still making up your mind about some of the many issues on the November 6 ballot, here's an opportunity to get some pivotal information.

I am also very impressed by the State League's publication Ballot Issues 1992, a suit-coat-pocket-sized brochure that clearly spells out the election calendar, how to register, where to register, how to vote absentee, and how issues get put on the ballot in the first place.

That alone would be an important public service. But even better is what follows: a wonderfully lucid summary of the major provisions of each ballot proposal, and succinct summaries of the arguments for and against them.

These brochures, whose printing costs for Douglas County were entirely underwritten by the Mission Viejo Company, are available at no charge from any Douglas Public Library District branch.

One might argue that the common aim of public libraries and public schools is to provide to our current or potential citizens the necessary tools for informed decision-making. And surely voting is among the most important decisions we make.

Perhaps that's why the first thing Carrie Chapman Catt did with that bequest I mentioned earlier was to apply it to the cause of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

As it happens, next year the League of Women Voters will be celebrating "one hundred years of voting rights for women ... A Woman Suffrage Act was passed by the General Assembly and referred to a vote of the people in the general election held on November 7, 1893. The vote that 'let the women vote' was won by 35,789 to 29,451. Colorado was the second state (following Wyoming) to give women the right to vote in all elections."

A century later, the dedicated women (and yes, even a few men) of the League are still working for the public good. Before you exercise your right to vote, you might want to look over their research.

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