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 30, 1992

December 39, 1992 - Star Trek

I know by now the suspense is almost too much for everybody. So I'll just go ahead and tell you.

Question: What did I get for Christmas?

Answer: a lot of Star Trek (The Next Generation) stuff.

I got an official Star Fleet insignia communicator badge. I got several reams of Star Trek sticky pads and notepaper.

I got an official "Picard/Riker '92: Leadership for the Next Generation" bumper sticker, which I imagine isn't worth as much as it was before the presidential election, but still makes a heck of a good point.

I got a Star Trek coffee mug, which features Captain Picard standing on a teleportation pad. When you put a hot drink in the mug, Picard disappears. When the temperature of the mug drops again, he comes back.

I got a #very# official looking pass allowing me access to the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise.

Finally, I got a music cassette called "Ol' Yellow Eyes is Back." "Ol Yellow Eyes" is the android Data (Brent Spiner) crooning such classic numbers as "Embraceable You," "It's A Sin (To Tell a Lie), "Carolina in the Morning," "Zing Went the Strings of My Heart," and many others.

You may have gathered at about this point that I am something of a Star Trek fan. And why not? Few offerings of our popular culture give me so much cause for optimism.

"Star Trek: the Next Generation" is TV's second Star Trek, and to my taste, a better one. While I got a big kick out of the prime time science fiction of the first series, Captain Kirk was a little too cavalier, too trigger happy.

But Captain Picard -- older, wiser -- is one of my management models. He assembles the best people he can find, he solicits their advice, and deliberately, with a strong sense of purpose and principle, he makes bold decisions.

There are a lot of other hopeful things about Star Trek. In the future the show portrays, mankind is no longer at war with itself. Hunger has been abolished. There have been staggering advances in technology -- very smart computers, instantaneous transportation, the controlled regeneration of human tissue, even the harnessed energy of matter and anti-matter.

But all this technology doesn't overwhelm human life. It supplements and enhances it, much as library technology hasn't done away with books, just made it easier to find them.

People, not machines, are in charge of the U.S.S. Enterprise. And a basic premise of the show is that virtually all intelligence -- natural or artificial, terrestial or alien -- has innate dignity. And often, these intelligences find common cause: "to explore strange new worlds and civilizations."

There is something appropriate both to the Christmas and the New Year holidays in the continuing popularity of this series. Star Trek bespeaks the persistent belief that the future is promising, is good, that the human race will find answers to the questions that now seem so daunting, that we have a place in this universe.

So when it comes to the challenges facing the Douglas Public Library District in 1993 and beyond, I say, "Beam me up."

I've got all my stuff for the trip. Let's go exploring!

Thursday, December 3, 1992

December 3, 1992 - Contractors

It's started. For some time now, the library district has been shopping for architects and contractors, all the while honing the re-design of two of our libraries.

But at long last, the renovation work on the Philip S. Miller and Oakes Mill libraries has begun. At Philip S. Miller, we will soon be knocking down walls and moving our reference and technical departments to the east side of the building (formerly occupied by tenants). This will allow us to add more study space, establish a Local History Collection area, and provide more room for the processing of our ever-growing stream of new materials.

The next time you come to the Philip S. Miller Library you'll notice that a lot of our books have been shuffled around. Some new shelving crowds the central aisle -- and contains most of our reference collection. These shelves are "holding tanks" -- a place to stash materials while we set up their permanent location in the new wing.

We've also moved the beginning of the non-fiction section to get the books away from one of the walls that will be coming down. The new non-fiction, for the time being, has been interfiled with the older materials. But when we're all done, there will again be a spot for just the new stuff.

We're a little worried about dust. No, we're VERY worried about dust. So before the serious demolition starts, we will also be draping some areas of the bookstacks with huge plastic sheets. This will be something of a hassle, both for those of you trying to fetch some books, and those of us trying to file them back. We believe, however, that the plastic will only be necessary for a short time, and could save us a world of grief later.

Most of this ought to make sense to you once you see it. But if it doesn't, don't hesitate to ask. The last time I looked, all of our collection was still in there some place.

Our second project is the renovation of the Oakes Mill Library. Our chief goal is to finish the basement, thereby providing a greatly expanded area for public programs, meeting rooms, storage, and a booksale area for the Friends of the Library. We will also do some rearrangement of space upstairs, adding a small conference room and shelving for more children's materials.

The work was supposed to start on the outside of the building. We'll be putting in a short staircase where people tend to want to walk up on the grass, and laying a long ramp from the parking lot to the downstairs.

Of course, all that was before the famed "Blizzard of '92" -- which, speaking as someone raised near Chicago, was a real wimp of a storm, and I can't believe the media coverage. Nonetheless, it isn't easy to lay concrete when there's snow on the ground. We are now hoping for a stretch of good, dry, warm weather.

In the midst of all this excitement, I also wanted to let people know a little bit about the philosophy and procedures of the Douglas Public Library District.

First, for any position we are attempting to fill, or any service we are attempting to contract, we always look locally first. Watch the want ads and legal notices appearing in the Douglas County News Press. We also advertise in Denver papers.

Second, for those of you local businesspeople who think your services might be of interest to the Library District, but may have missed our advertisements in the past, I encourage you to send us a letter outlining the focus of your business, and providing a contact number. We will keep you on file, which may save both of us some time the next time we're shopping around.

Mail your letter to Cindy Murphy, Business Manager, Douglas Public Library District, 961 S. Plum Creek Blvd., Castle Rock CO 80104.

In the meantime, please excuse the mess and temporary inconvenience. But when we're done, I think you'll be pleased by the improvements in your libraries.