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 15, 1993

December 15, 1993 - crazy

"This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God." - Walt Whitman#

Sometimes, you read a slew of apparently unrelated texts, and realize abruptly that all of them are talking about the same thing.

Item: Molly Ivins' latest and often hilarious book, "Nothin' but Good Times Ahead." One of her pieces deals with the homeless, particularly the homeless population resulting from a "brave liberal experiment" called de-institutionalization. In the 60s and 70s, thousands of mentally ill people were released from what Ivins called their "incarceration" in various big state hospitals.

Ivins says that the failure of this program -- which she doesn't dispute -- was in large part because the second half of it called for the increased funding of local mental health centers. That never happened.

Item: a novella by Colorado author Dan Simmons, called "Sleeping with Teeth Women." The story is based on the legends and social history of the Lakota Sioux. Simmons describes how the Sioux honored even the "winkte" -- homosexuals -- and the "contraries," or people who behaved in an opposite fashion to all others members of the tribe. While most "self-respecting braves" wouldn't care to be either, the Sioux tribe nonetheless considered these variations from the norm to be "wakan" -- holy. They also had the deepest regard for dreams and visions.

Item: my wife, who spent some time on a scholarship in the old Soviet Union, told me about the Russian "holy fools." Before the Soviet revolution, the people fed, cared for, and even revered these people. How did you spot a Holy Fool? Well, if a man walked naked through the streets in the Russian winter and seemed unbothered by the arctic chill, he was obviously "touched" -- touched by God, or so the people believed.

Now maybe this is what comes of too much reading, but I can't help but notice something odd. Contraries, holy fools, and the touched have always been with us. In the past, at least in some cultures, we respected them.

But in today's more enlightened age, we view them with fear. As Molly Ivins puts it, we recoil from them as if their condition were contagious.

Of course, some people, for whatever reason, really are dangerous. And if they are violent, if they cause harm to another, surely the people collectively have the moral right to do something about it. Causing real physical harm to someone else is criminal. We put criminals in prisons, or sometimes, in hospitals.

But that issue -- when, whether, or where to put them -- isn't always clear. On the one hand, there are sometimes chemical causes for odd behavior. It may also be true that other kinds of strange but non-violent behavior are chemically caused.

On the other hand, many scientists, artists, musicians, poets, and even saints just didn't or don't act like regular folks. Do our educational, social service, medical or legal establishments have the wisdom to determine -- in the ABSENCE of any violent behavior -- that such people should be caged, whether it be behind bars, or behind potent drugs?

It's probably the case that no two of us could agree about just what "holiness" means -- or if it means anything at all. But I can't shake the suspicion that if the genuine article showed up -- real live holy men or women -- most Americans wouldn't have the wit to recognize it.

Or if we did, we'd soon find a way to punish them.

Tuesday, November 23, 1993

November 23, 1993

I have written in the past about something librarians call "patron confidentiality."

There are a few exceptions, but most of the time, we are constrained by statute and general professional principles to hold information about your reading habits as strictly confidential: it's a private matter, between you and us.

I've held workshops at each of our branches to discuss this issue, and the branch managers and staff have tried to maintain the highest standards of confidentiality.

But about the time we really got everybody on the same wavelength about this, we began to run into problems. Some of our patrons got mad at us.

There are two circumstances.

The first is the thoughtful spouse who wants to pick up a book for his wife. He stops at the desk and asks if anything new has come in for her. The problem is, even if there is, we're not supposed to tell him.

We recognize that almost all of the time, the book is probably nothing more controversial or private than the latest mystery. It could be that neither party would object to us sharing this information, and might even appreciate it.

On the other hand, as I've written before, the book could be, "How to Give a Surprise Birthday Party for your Husband." Or it could be, "How to Divorce Your Abusive Husband." Either way, we'd hate to spoil the surprise.

But we do offer some options. If you want us to check out something, or answer questions about what someone in your family has checked out, just make sure you have the right library card. We will cheerfully hand over books reserved by your spouse if you've got your spouse's card. We take that as tacit approval.

Another option is to have us post a note in our computer that you don't mind if your husband or wife picks up your books. Then all we have to do is to dip in to the computer to verify your agreement -- a matter of a few moments.

The second circumstance, and a trickier one, is letting parents have access to information about what their kids are reading.

In public schools, parents have the right to examine any records regarding their children's performance. That includes library use. But that law is very specific: it includes only public schools, not public libraries.

Library law, on the other hand, doesn't indicate that children are in any respect different from adults when it comes to intellectual privacy.

At our library, usually the only reason parents ask about their children's reading is because they're trying to get everything back on time. We appreciate that. And again, usually the books we're talking about aren't anything unusual. They're books on subjects being covered in school, or popular juvenile fiction. Standard fare.

But suppose the child is reading about something that she isn't ready to talk with her parents about yet? Maybe she's reading about the effects of drugs because one of her friends is doing them. Or maybe she's reading about menstruation, because she's too embarrassed to talk about that with her folks. Or maybe she's reading about a young girl whose parents are divorcing, just like hers.

On the other hand, if a child loses a book, parents have to pay for it. That's something parents agree to right up front, when they sign for their child's card. So isn't it reasonable to say that if parents are paying for it, they have a right to know what the book is BEFORE they discover it's lost?

Please understand: there isn't a soul who works at the library who wants for an instant to come between parents and their children. If anything, we would hope that parents and their children regularly discuss the things they read together.

But this question is a real one: do children have no right to intellectual privacy at all? If they do, don't libraries have to respect it?

So parents, please understand that when we hesitate to just "reveal all," we aren't being obstructionist, bureaucratic, or pointlessly stubborn. We're trying to balance our need to obey the law and respect our patron's intellectual privacy, with our sincere desire to offer you hassle-free service.

Sometimes, as you can see, that's harder than it looks.

Wednesday, October 20, 1993

October 20, 1993 - gruesome stories

Please understand that my daughter Maddy, now 6 years old, is a sweet, loving little girl.

I can't remember which book it was - some Grimm Brothers tale, I think. I do remember that the end was a little gory, surprisingly so. But once you start reading a story like this, there's no graceful way to get out of it, so I barreled ahead. If she's upset, I thought, then we'll talk about it. It's a technique that works for us.

Finally, I closed the book, and looked at Maddy carefully. "What did you think of this story?" I asked her. She grinned. "Gruesome," she said. "But good."

And speaking of sometimes spooky stories with occasionally horrible endings, Douglas County is now engaged in the campaigning that precedes a general election. For the first time, that election includes the School Board. In my opinion, it's been fascinating: there are some real alternatives, real choices for the citizenry, and I've heard some thought-provoking arguments on all sides. I've also heard some utterly fanciful tales that were nonetheless entertaining. But one of these days -- November 2, in fact -- the people will declare an end to the campaign storytelling.

For those of you seeking an earlier end: early voting, courtesy of the Douglas County Clerk and Recorder's Office, will be available at the meeting room of the Philip S. Miller Library in Castle Rock. The dates: from Tuesday, October 12, through Friday, October 29. The hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The School District predicts that as many as 20,000 people will be voting in this election. If you've made up your mind on the issues and candidates, and want to avoid the crowds at your local precinct, why wait?

In a way, admittedly skewed, political campaigning is a Halloween program for adults -- a celebration of masks, costumes, and various tricks 'n' treats. But as one of the only public institutions with something for people of all ages, the library district feels an obligation to offer a program for children, too.

Our gruesome -- but good -- Halloween storytelling sessions are entitled, "Stories for the Fainthearted," and "Stories for the Stouthearted." The first session will be held at the Parker Library on October 27. The second will be held at the Philip S. Miller Library on October 28. At both places, the spooky stories will begin at 7 p.m. -- that's for the "Stories for the Fainthearted." Younger children are welcome; the stories are appropriate for children as young as 3.

At 7:30, both locations, the Stories for the Stouthearted" will begin. These are for kids ages 5 and up. It happens that the district has two very talented storytellers. Priscilla Queen of Parker will be featured, as well as Carol Foreman, of Castle Rock. At our other branches, there will be other activities. The Oakes Mill Library, in addition to its Spooky Share the night of October 28, will feature its traditional pumpkin decorating contest, and sponsor a UNICEF program on Halloween safety at 3 p.m., Saturday, October 30. At Highlands Ranch, be sure to check out the staff costumes on Halloween; they're a hoot.

Sometimes, at least around Halloween, I think the real appeal of scary stories is purely seasonal: the shiver on the inside echoes the shiver on the outside. That delicious chill just makes it all the more satisfying to reach for our blankets and settle in for a nice long snooze.

Of course, I don't mean politically. I think.

Wednesday, October 6, 1993

October 6, 1993 - memory and silly reference questions

At last week's dedication of the Josephine Marr Research Room, I said that in many ways, a community is like a single body. Historians, I said, are its eyes and ears.

What, then, is the role of the public library? Simple. We are the community's memory.

It's true. The library is where you go to find all the things you wish you could remember: the headline from a couple of weeks ago, the study cited in a news magazine, the controversial new book, or even the event you attended, but only saw a piece of. The whole focus of librarianship is to provide an unfailingly swift and precise recollection of the past.

It's not easy.

First, we have to accurately describe the thing to be remembered. Next, we need to work out a strategy for retrieving it. Then, we need to set up all of the necessary apparatus and links to allow someone to identify and use the strategy, and thereby reliably fetch the relevant information.

The ironic thing about all of this is that I'm as nearly amnesiac a person as you'll find. To be brutally honest, I'm not sure I should be trusted with the community memory.

Just a few months ago, I stepped out of a restaurant on Wilcox Street, looked up at the Rock, and for maybe 5#D10 seconds, I truly didn't know who or where I was. The scary thing is, I kind of liked it. For that slice of a minute, I was utterly free.

But all this means that I understand why most people really need a public library. Here's proof. I just got a list of genuine reference questions from someone who works at the Queens Public Library in New York. This guy swears (and I believe him) that people have strolled in and asked, "Do you have":

"The Hound of the Basketballs?"

"The Wrath of Grapes?"

"Hard Times, by Moby Dick?"

"The Scarlet Pumpernickel?"

"The Taming of the Screw?"

"An English translation of the novels of William Shakespeare?"

"A recent photograph of Abraham (the Old Testament Patriarch)?"

"A biography of that great Black Feminist, Martha Luther King?"

"The Homer, by Odyssey?"

"Cliff Notes on Jane Eyre, by Charles Bronson?"

"The King James Version, by Genesis?"

"A biography of Perry Mason?"

Here are three other memorable reference questions:

(1) "Happy Hanukkah" means "Merry Christmas" in what language?

(2) "My mother wants to become an American citizen. How can I get my mother neutralized?"

And finally, (3) "I've heard of Malcolm the Tenth. What happened to the first nine?"

Given the evidence, the problem is clear. In brief: I'm not alone. Most of us are lucky we can remember our names, much less anything that happened any time before a few seconds ago.

Fortunately, your local library employs a good many people whose memories are way better than mine (not that that would be especially difficult). Besides, we can always look it up.

So if you've got questions, just give your local library a call. You'd be surprised what we remember.

Hey, somebody's got to.

Wednesday, September 29, 1993

September 29, 1993 - books lies and videotapes

Like people in every other profession, librarians make some bad calls.

Back about the time the phonograph record debuted, there was a lot of talk about how this would completely revolutionize our library collections. The modern librarian, pundits declared, shouldn't hesitate to sweep out the books - those musty, dusty remnants of antiquity.

In their place would be tightly packed stacks of phonograph albums, because from now on, people would read books by listening to them. Why, some day soon, there might be phonograph-playing devices in every household!

Not too many years later, we went through the same kind of thing with 16 millimeter films.

Now, as we close out the 20th century, those libraries that built up big collections of phonographs and 16 mm films are, if not exactly sweeping them out, very definitely getting rid of them. Why? Well, there are lots of reasons, but the main one is that the technology that supported them isn't around anymore. The turntable has given way to the CD player; the 16 mm film projector to the VCR. On the other hand, the technology for reading a book (at least one working hand and one working eye) is still pretty much the same as it was a couple thousand years ago.

I'm not saying that those libraries were wrong to collect albums and films. But two lessons jump out at the disinterested student of library history:

1) the book has remarkable staying power, and

2) few other formats are likely to endure so long.

By far the majority of the purchases - and the uses - of Douglas Public Library District are books. Just this year (from January through August) about 70 percent of the new materials were hardback books. Together, they accounted for almost 75 percent of what got checked out. About a third of those, by the way, were books for very young children. (Thank you, moms!)

After that, though, things start to get interesting. A little over 17 percent of our new items this year were magazines, although they accounted for only 3.61 percent of our checkouts. Does that mean we shouldn't buy so many periodicals? No, because magazines are almost always the most current source of information. Too, the numbers are deceiving: a lot of magazines are used in-house, but not necessarily checked out.

Nearly 5 percent of the items added to the collection this year have been videos. While we have tried to place a strong emphasis on educational materials, we have given more than a nod to classic films, and book-related videos for children. They're popular: videos made up over 10 percent of what people actually checked out this year.

The next biggest number for new items added (4.74%) was audiocassettes: mostly unabridged books on tape. They accounted for 5.76% of our checkouts.

A mere 3.47% of our new items were paperbacks. But they accounted for even more business than our cassettes: a tad over 6 percent.

What am I driving at with all of these numbers? Mostly, I find that I'm comforted that books are still our primary draw. And I think that the surge in audiocassettes is fine too: unlike phonographs, audiocassettes really are used as substitutes for books, mostly by people who do a lot of driving.

But about those videos ... I can't help but wonder if they will prove any more long-lived in the popular mind or public shelves than phonograph albums. It's also a caution to us: we need to take care not to duplicate what's available at your local video store. There are a lot more of them than there are of us, and we need to stay focused.

And I see I haven't even touched on music CDs. Here at the library, we're still trying to figure out how much of a commitment we want to make to that format. Buying just a few CDs doesn't really offer much to our community. But buying a lot of them undercuts our ability to keep the shelves stocked with books.

And books - those magnificent, durable, wildly popular books - are still what we're really all about.

Wednesday, September 8, 1993

September 8, 1993 - charter school philosophy

I'll say this about my dad. When I was in college, he never once told me what I ought to study. But when it was all over, and I had graduated with the preposterously unlikely triple major of philosophy, creative writing, and business law, he did ask me, politely enough, just what I intended to do with it.

For a moment, I was stumped. Finally, I told him, "Argue eloquently in bars." But it turns out that philosophy is a terrific grounding for any profession. Why? Because if you can ask the question, "Why?" -- and make an honest stab at answering it -- then you can do anything.

Don't underestimate the power of philosophy. Even today, especially in the prestigious eastern universities, physics is called "natural philosophy." Philosophy's questioning spirit is the mother of all knowledge.

Philosophy can make you nervous, but it will never make you comfortable. So what's the point? Socrates said it first: "The unexamined life is not worth living." If you study philosophy, and if you're serious about it, your life will never be dull. Three little letters -- w, h, y -- will keep you forever on your guard.

There's an oddball glory to philosophic debate, too. And I've always been willing to pick up either side -- although I generally prefer the side I don't believe, because I learn so much more that way. It's harder work than just repackaging my prejudices.

And speaking of debates, I happened to attend the school board meeting on September 1. At this meeting, the School Board unanimously approved the formation of the state's second charter school. Philosophically speaking, it was a good debate, which means that both school board members and charter school enthusiasts had to do some head-scratching. But many good points were made. A key discovery of the evening was that the school district was giving to the Academy Charter school just exactly as much funding per pupil as they give to all of their other schools. As Superintendent Rick O'Connell put it, "No more, no less." The school district opted for fairness.

On the other hand, the district wanted to charge the charter school for administrative advice, which they clearly don't do with their own schools. It is true that district staff and the school board put in a lot of hours on this one -- but not nearly as many as the charter school people. And you can't charge extra just to comply with the law.

But despite a few moments of tenseness, everybody did what they were supposed to do: get involved in public education, ask some questions, defend some answers, try something new, and ultimately, make a difference.

In short, I believe this excellent example of good public debate -- to a refreshingly packed house -- resulted in a product better than either party could have accomplished alone.

Incidentally, the strong interest in charter schools around the county and state has sparked two library-related acquisitions. There is now a reference copy of the 600-page Academy Charter School application at each of our Philip S. Miller, Parker, Oakes Mill, and Highlands Ranch libraries.

In addition, the Colorado Department of Education has offered to send us a special collection of materials relating to charter schools. We'll house them at our Oakes Mill library, which has developed something of a specialty in education.

Remember: this whole idea of charter schools started as a deceptively simple philosophic question. Why shouldn't parents have more of a say in which educational experiment their children are part of?

Three little letters -- they can pack a lot of power.

Wednesday, August 25, 1993

August 25, 1993 - staff day

I'm the eldest of five kids. Both of my parents worked. Our only family vacation usually fell smack in the middle of our long summer break from school. Every year, we went the only place our parents could afford to take us: my mother's folks. The trip (to Findlay, Ohio) was some 300 miles, or about 6 hours. To a small child, especially a child crammed into a Ford with four other children, it was a looong trip.

But it was worth it. Not only was I crazy about my grandparents, I also got to spend some time with my cousins.

It was at my mother's funeral, many years later, that the cousins realized just how much we missed seeing each other. So we started having family reunions.

It was always amazing to me how many memories they sparked. Inevitably, one of us would dredge up some odd little bit of family history. Up until that moment, most of us had forgotten all about it. But once reminded, all of us remembered it. In a surprisingly important way, those reunions made us whole, bound us together again as a family. Together, we figured out the ways we were alike. This, in turn, strengthened us, sent us back into the world knowing that somewhere out there, we had allies, people you could count on, people who were there for you, people who remembered the same things you did.

I find that the Douglas Public Library District is now in need of a reunion.

Over the past three years, the district has gone through explosive changes. Three years ago, we had 34 employees. Now, after greatly increasing our hours and opening a new branch, we have 70, many of whom have never even met each other. Much like a scattered family, the various libraries need to spend some time together again. We need to talk about our shared past. We need to re-identify our common links, our common purpose. And we need to talk about our joint future.

In the state of Colorado, the new Access Colorado Library and Information Network may well transform the way we do business. The Americans with Disabilities Act has some significant ramifications for public entities. There are many other issues to consider, too.

And at least once a year, I think our employees would like a chance to hear the "state of the library district" address. They also need - and deserve - an opportunity to ask some hard questions about where we're going and why.

All of this is by way of explaining why the Douglas Public Library District branches will be closed on Friday, August 27. This will be our first annual Staff Day.

Why did we pick August 27? We know from carefully scrutinized statistics that Fridays tend to be our very slowest days (based on the number of books checked out). Statistically speaking, the last week of August tends to be just about our slowest period in the year. The library is open 7 days a week. In fact, we're closed just 8 days per year. But that commitment to public service means that it's mighty hard to find a time when we can get everybody in the same room at the same time.

So from now on, we're going to set aside one day each year when we will pull everyone together, bring in some speakers on important subjects, hit our major training issues, and map out our plans for the next year.

I apologize to those of you who had planned to come to the library that day. But I do believe that when you come in the next day, you'll find a staff that has reaffirmed its connection to a rich family history. The payoff, if I'm right, is a more closely coordinated service philosophy, a better-informed staff, and ultimately, greater patron satisfaction.

Wednesday, August 18, 1993

August 18, 1993 - family violence

"The family is one of the most violent institutions in this country."

This jarring statement comes from a nurse and counselor in a center that deals with the victims of family violence. (Source: "Hospitals cope with America's new 'family,'" Hospitals, November 5, 1992.)

In the same article I found an equally jarring statistic: "domestic violence affects one-fourth of all US families from every social stratum and geographical area." This estimate, from the American Medical Association's National Coalition of Physicians Against Family Violence, has been borne out repeatedly. The place doesn't seem to matter.

In rural Iowa, an 11-bed unit treated 100 children in a year, 90 percent of whom had been sexually abused. In a Chicago hospital, the director reported, "I have doctors and doctors' wives as clients."

Where does all this violence come from? Most researchers agree that it is learned behavior, passed from generation to generation. According to some studies, as many as 30 percent of children from violent households become abusive parents.

Beyond that, in about half the cases of domestic violence, if the wife (or mother) is being physically abused, so are the children.

It happens I know something about this, at least about the kind of family violence called "verbal abuse." My earliest memory is of my father shouting at me, swearing at me, telling me how stupid I was.

Dinner was the worst. I don't think I digested a meal till I left home. I was 17. By the time I was 22, after a long journey around the country talking with scores of my father's people, I made my peace with all that. And with him.

But for a long time, I was terrified to have a child. I was afraid I'd fall into the pattern. I was afraid I would force my own offspring to hate me, as so many of my cousins and kin hated and feared their fathers.

But I worked through that one, too. My big breakthrough was when I told my dad, "This stops with me." I believe it has.

Parents don't have to perpetuate the cycle of pain. Victims can recover. With some real effort, they can even become healers.

One of the groups dealing locally with the issue of family violence is the Women's Crisis Center of Douglas County. Executive Director Mary Hillsman recently shared some second quarter statistics with me.

Compared to last year, the overall increase in reported incidents of family violence has jumped 62 percent. The number of crisis calls (to their 688#D8484 hotline) went from 734 to 1076. Last year, by the end of the second quarter, 43 children had been placed in counseling programs. This year, the center has placed 73 children.

The issue of family violence should concern, and ultimately does affect, all of us.

What can you do about it?

Well, you might consider coming to the first "Freedom Forum, 1993 Community Meeting." Sponsored by the Women's Crisis Center, it will be held on Friday, August 20, 1993, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Philip S. Miller Library. Feel free to bring a lunch.

The session will explore how the Women's Crisis Center is growing, and explore future programs, facilities, funding, and community expectations.

With luck, with the combined effort of many thoughtful participants, this forum may point the way toward stronger families.

It seems so simple and so right: to have families where none of their members fear violence from each other. What will it take?

Wednesday, August 11, 1993

August 11, 1993 - summer reading program ending

This week's column is by Children's Librarian Carol Foreman: a last, rousing word of encouragement for those few children who still haven't discovered just how "cool" reading can be.

What have you been doing this summer? Taking a vacation? Refinishing that old oak table that Aunt Mary gave you?

Or, perhaps you, like hundreds of other parents in Douglas County, have been busy hauling your children to every lesson or game or amusement park in the state!

Have you been to the library yet this summer? If you haven't, then you might not know that a lot of summer reading has been taking place for the past two months, and your children of any age are invited to participate. The best part of all is that, unlike those expensive (but fun) amusement parks, this is free.

Our summer reading program theme this year is "Books and All That Jazz!" which will continue at all Douglas Public Libraries until Labor Day, September 6, 1993. To sign up is easy. Just go to your favorite or closest branch, ask for a registration card, and pick up your reading log. After reading 24 books, children will receive a very special blue ribbon, a certificate, and one coupon each to South Shore Water Park, Elitches, and Skate City.

So, you've been thinking that your child has read every book in the library at least once and they could not possibly read 24 more books? Well, let me make a couple of suggestions.

Any book by Jean Craighead George is wonderful for grades 4th, 5th, and 6th. Of particular note is The Missing 'Gator of Gumbo Lembo. Another good author for the intermediate reader is Kenneth Thomasma, who writes Native American stories. The Kingdom by the Sea by Robert Westall is a wonderful book about a 12 year old boy and a stray dog who travel through war-torn England in search of safety.

If you have younger readers or listeners, try The Cow Who Wouldn't Come Down by Paul Brett Johnson. It's a whimsical story about Miss Rosemary, who tries everything to coax her flying cow, Gertrude, down from the sky. Another funny story is A Pile of Pigs by Judith Ross Enderle. The farmyard pigs, inspired by the poster for the circus on the barn wall, decide to make a pyramid of pigs to peek over the wall and see what the sheep are doing. The result, of course, is a pile of pigs.

I can also recommend anything by Dayal Kaur Khalsa, especially My Family Vacation--if you have ever travelled with children in a car you will even want to own a copy. I Because dinosaurs are so popular this summer, you might also want to consider Dinosaurs at the Supermarket by Lindsay Camp, Four and Twenty Dinosaurs by Bernard Most or Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs by Byron Barton.

If your children have already completed their 24 books, and your summer is dwindling down to just waiting for the tomatoes to ripen, the library has another suggestion to liven up the end of summer. You can join us at the Douglas County Fair Parade on August 14.

Our entry is entitled "Reading Through the Ages". Plan to dress up in a costume from your favorite era--1920's flapper, 1960's hippie, or perhaps a 1950's bobby socker--and bring your favorite book to carry along. We will line up at the Douglas County Judicial Building parking lot around 9:00-9:30 a.m., but if you have any questions, or wish to sign up call Cindy Murphy at 688-8752.

With the advent of year-round school, summer seems to be getting shorter and shorter. There is, however, enough time to choose that special book and settle down in a cool place to read. Reading is still one of the undeniable joys of summer.

See you at the library.

Wednesday, August 4, 1993

August 4, 1993 - carbureators and charter schools

Years back, in a fit of greed and fiscal overconfidence, I bought a used car that had a high performance twin carburetor. Naturally, this gizmo failed within hours after I took possession of the title.

After a dismal and dirty session under the hood, I finally admitted that the carburetor was beyond me. So I yanked it out and took it to a mechanic, who immediately commenced to do some mighty peculiar things.

To make conversation, and because I was curious, I asked him what he was doing. Silently, he handed me the carburetor. I jiggled it, then returned it with a puzzled shrug.

"I'm not a teacher," he said heavily. "I'm a mechanic."

I got the point. A while later, he did fix it, and considerably poorer, I slunk away.

I realize that this runs contrary to current societal trends, but I think almost anything we need to do in life can be learned after just a little study. But maybe that's a reasonable opinion for a librarian. Call it a professional bias.

It's not that I think mechanics, lawyers, doctors, teachers, real estate agents, and so on, are dishonest. All of us have at least some things we'd just as soon somebody else figured out for us. I don't begrudge people their areas of interest, specialty, or real talent.

But we ought not to be too quick to relinquish our independence of judgment. All of us can think of at least one time when a so- called "expert" wanted to charge us exorbitant fees for something that might have taken fifteen minutes of research, and five minutes of actual labor.

And I don't mean to suggest that members of my own profession are above all this. I myself have run across several librarians who made it eminently clear to me that my puny ignorance was an affront to their sophisticated data retrieval skills.

I recognize that some people, when they do manage to make it to a library, don't have the slightest interest in how we organize our collections, or train our staff. Likewise, most of us, when we take in our car for repairs, really don't want a lecture in automotive maintenance -- we just want it fixed. In libraries, most people just want some books or some answers.

But cheap information is precisely the point of libraries. It's not only our job to dig up the answer for you, it is our sacred duty to tell you how we found it -- provided you're interested.

As Francis Bacon put it over 300 years ago, "Knowledge is power." With public libraries, you've already paid for it. You can pick it up retail or wholesale.

It's up to you.

And speaking of wanting to know something about the nuts and bolts of things, the Philip S. Miller Library in Castle Rock now has a copy of the Academy Charter School application to the Douglas County School District. It's in the reference department, call number 371.02 ACA.

This 600+ page document -- largely the work of local resident Joan Torres -- represents a staggering amount of work. It provides a detailed description of just what the charter school stands for, and spells out how it plans to operate.

The Charter School people will also be holding some free public information sessions at the Philip S. Miller Library meeting room on the following dates and times: Tuesday, August 10; Wednesday, August 11 and Monday, August 30. On the first two days, there will be sessions: one at 7:30 a.m., and a second at 10 a.m. On the 30th, there will also be a third meeting at 7 p.m. The sessions should last from one to two hours.

The Douglas County School District Board has until September 12 to accept or reject the application. If you have an interest in this subject, you might want to find out more about it before that vote is taken.

Friday, July 30, 1993

July 30, 1993 - great books

What is truth? How shall we become wise? Why does the phone ring every time I take a bath?

If you're a human being, you ask questions. Some of these questions are of little consequence. Others are broader, more universal.

Books can be divided into similar categories. Today's publishers are looking for "blockbusters," glitzy soups of sex and money, soon-to-be-major-motion-pictures packaged in glossy paperbacks and displayed at the grocery store checkout counter. Such books do account for a lot of business, at libraries as well as the commercial trade outlets. And why not? Popular fiction is fun and can be relaxing.

But most of the blockbusters are surprisingly transient. They get hyped onto the bestseller list, the authors make appearances on a score of national talk shows -- and five years later, no one remembers either the books or the authors.

Other books stick around, resurfacing year after year, sometimes century after century. The test is simple: classics last. And they insinuate themselves into our minds, changing the way we look at the world and ourselves.

Classics have long been used to challenge minds of every age, to introduce them to the big questions of life and to map out the conceptual course of a culture. The Great Books Program, founded by the University of Chicago several decades ago, subscribes to this grand tradition.

In a Great Books session, a "leader" meets with a group of students (classes drawn from grades 4-12, or groups of interested adults) to discuss a classic selection. The leader's job is to keep people talking by doing what Socrates did -- asking questions.

What did the author say about some of the broad issues we all must face -- for example, dealing with death or betrayal? Do you agree with what the author said? Why? Does this book affect you or the way you live your life? If so, how?

There are no right answers. There aren't any grades. The idea isn't to get you to agree with anybody. The idea is to get you to think. The Great Books people call this a "shared inquiry."

It happens that a local woman named Linda Loudon would like to start a Great Books program in Castle Rock. At the Philip S. Miller Library in Castle Rock, on Monday, August 2nd, at 7 p.m., she'll have an information meeting. I'm hoping that she'll be able to gather a goodly group of interested readers.

The people that decide to participate will be tackling twelve pieces of literature over the next year, including selections by Sigmund Freud, Thucydides, Adam Smith, Claude Bernard, Flannery O'Connor, and Joseph Conrad.

There is a cost. You have to pay $8.95 (plus shipping and handling), which buys you a book that has all the selections in it. But you get to keep it. You can even take notes in it, although personally, I have never been able to bring myself to do that.

There are a few other costs, too. All participants are asked to make three other commitments:

* to read the selection twice before each (probably monthly) meeting;

* to share areas that were confusing, conflicting, or sparked a question;

* to come to all twelve sessions.

As I have written before, education is not something done to you, it's something you do for yourself, and it doesn't stop when somebody hands you a piece of paper.

If you'd like to converse with some of the finest minds in history, maybe this is just the opportunity you've been looking for.

Wednesday, July 14, 1993

July 14, 1993 - local history

My maternal grandmother, called Mimi, was a true Southern Lady. And from my earliest memory, Mimi was telling stories.

There was the story of my Great Uncle Paul, who died of tuberculosis at the age of 22. He also taught my grandmother to dive from the pier into the Gulf of Mexico, dive so clean that she could enter the water without a splash, and turn up so quick that she'd barely get her back wet.

There was the story of the little ghost that lived in the foyer of Aunt Hazel's house. It seems it loved to rock in the rocking chair, looking out the front door window, and leaving the rocker turned that way. Then, one morning, Aunt Hazel gave it a stern talking to. "Little ghost," she said, "now you're welcome to rock in that chair all you please at night, but you put that chair back where it belongs in the morning, you hear?" And from then on, that's exactly what it did.

I spent at least two weeks every summer with Mimi, and heard the same stories over and over, stories about great-grandparents and genealogies, big bragging stories about the War Between the States, sly stories about flappers and flivvers, hushed stories about family scandals, suicides and bootleggers, story after story, spilling well into a summer's night. I never tired of them.

I realize now that those stories had a lot to do with defining my sense of self. They told me where I came from, they rooted me in my family, they helped me identify potential gifts and weaknesses in my own character.

Not every family is fortunate enough to have a Mimi, someone who lovingly collects, possibly embellishes, but at minimum passes on all these stories to the open young minds that follow. But every family needs one.

This may sound odd, but I believe that one of the jobs of the Douglas Public Library District is to serve as the Mimi of Douglas County. Who else can collect stories about the whole community, and see that they get passed on to the generations who will follow us?

Our new Local History Collection, housed at the Philip S. Miller Library in Castle Rock, formally opened on April 23, 1993.

Many, many people have been involved in this project. Johanna Harden, Conservation Specialist for the library, did an outstanding job of working with several historical societies in the county to identify, gather, restore, and describe numerous historical documents relating to Douglas County. Then, she assembled and revised a variety of guidelines for historical collections from around the state to provide a comprehensive policy and procedural framework for our collection.

Along the way, we have relied upon the rest of our Technical Services staff, as well as the unflagging efforts of Sally Maguire and Joan Buttery, volunteers extraordinaire, to aid and assist the establishment of the collection. The Collection also enjoys the strong support of the Library Board of Trustees, who adopted the complete policy and procedural manual at its June meeting.

The Purpose of the Collection (from our Collection Policy) is as follows: "The Local History Collection of the Douglas Public Library District is dedicated to the acquisition and preservation of material, including but not limited to books, newspapers, manuscripts, business records, maps, minutes, photographs, and personal papers, primarily deriving from and relevant to the pre- history, social and natural history of Douglas County, the High Plains, the Divide area of the Front Range, and the State of Colorado. The Local History Collection will be used for research, educational purposes and exhibition."

The collection is still fairly limited. And as the policy goes on to say, "The District cannot engage in indiscriminate acquisition." Too, we can't provide permanent exhibit space for materials. We are a library, not a museum, and we do want to keep the focus as much as possible on the local area.

On the other hand, we are keenly interested in acquiring materials that fall into that category. Please note that donations to the Local History Collection are tax-deductible, although we cannot ourselves appraise the value of those donations.

Right now, the collection lives in a locked room at the south end of the reference department, and is available for public use by appointment only. As time goes on, I expect that the district will have to dedicate even more space and staff to the collection. But at least, we have begun.

In a sense, the establishment of the Local History Collection is a sign of the coming of age of the larger community. Only with maturity does the mind reach back to its past.

For a copy of our Collection Policy, stop by the library, or give Johanna Harden a call at 688-4875.

In memoriam. Perry Park resident David Campbell died in a car accident last week. His wife, Dorothy, has asked that anyone wishing to make a donation in memory of David please consider the Friends of Man in Denver (P.O. Box 2919, Littleton, CO 80161-2919, phone 337-377), or the David Campbell Memorial Children's Collection, c/o the Douglas Public Library District, 961 S. Plum Creek Blvd., Castle Rock CO 80104

Wednesday, July 7, 1993

July 30, 1993

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about what kind of relationship makes sense between the public school and the public library.

Clearly, we cover a lot of the same ground. Both institutions are publicly-funded, both of us buy books, and I hope both of us come to mind when parents want to help their children learn something about the world around them.

There are areas where our services overlap, and other areas where we go out of our way to cooperate with one another.

Most of the overlap happens between school and public libraries. In both these organizations, you'll find children's literature. You'll also find lots of general non-fiction materials.

Both organizations teach children how to use the library. In the schools, this tends to be a more formal and regular process. At the public library, generally we only provide instruction to whole classes when a teacher asks us to. Otherwise, our instruction tends to be on a more individual basis.

The Douglas Public Library District even offers a special Teacher Library Card -- which allows classroom instructors serving Douglas County students to check out our books to supplement the resources available to them through the schools. In turn, several schools in Douglas County have adopted the Colorado Library Card, which opens up their doors to parents and community members.

A more recent sign of cooperation between the Douglas County School District and the Douglas Public Library District is our submission to the Colorado State Library of a grant for over $11,000. I'm very pleased to report that we got it, too.

This project, called "The Electronic Highway," will enable us to place, by this fall, DPLD computer catalog terminals and a PC- based reference workstation in three outlying elementary schools: Roxborough, Larkspur, and Cherry Valley. The school district will even provide delivery services back and forth between each school and the public library -- helping us to get library materials out to the people who don't happen to live close to one of our branches.

Beyond all this, it seems to me that school and public librarians just plain like each other.

But there are differences as well. School libraries have as their primary responsibility the support of the curriculum. Assuming they know what the curriculum is, and they've got some money, they can succeed at this task, providing precisely targeted materials to accomplish instructional goals.

The public library serves a broader clientele, and therefore requires a broader range of materials. Public library collections are more diffuse, less focused. Our mission is to represent some reasonable cross-sampling of the literature of our entire culture, with attention to the special needs of various age groups, from pre-school to senior citizen.

Unlike the school libraries, we can never succeed at this task -- until American and world culture itself becomes well-organized, which I find unlikely.

Sometimes, it may seem that our missions have been confused, and even reversed. In some schools, the focus has shifted away from formal instruction in reading, and toward a greater emphasis on recreational reading. But then some parents turn to us for curricular support, especially in such areas as phonics.

On occasion, the public library has even sponsored classes. For instance, Les Simonson has taught several classes at the public library on the writing of short stories and mysteries.

On the other hand, public libraries sponsoring classes on writing is like a restaurant sponsoring classes on cooking. It's just planning for the future.

The public library also makes space for individual literacy tutoring, provided through the Adult Center for Training. But again, you could argue that such an arrangement is in our own best interests. People who can't read don't use libraries.

Over the next couple of months, the Philip S. Miller Library will offer two kinds of support for yet another player. You may have read in the paper about the Academy Charter School. This is an attempt to form an alternative, publicly-funded elmentary school in Douglas County, under recent enabling legislation by the state.

Materials provided by the organizers of the charter school will be available at the Philip S. Miller reference desk. Completed forms (indicating interest in participating) may also be returned to the reference desk.

Ultimately, it seems to me that the public is well-served by alternatives. Let's face it: there's a big informational, educational, and intellectual marketplace out there. The wise consumer shops around.

July 7, 1993 - schools and public libraries

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about what kind of relationship makes sense between the public school and the public library.

Clearly, we cover a lot of the same ground. Both institutions are publicly-funded, both of us buy books, and I hope both of us come to mind when parents want to help their children learn something about the world around them.

There are areas where our services overlap, and other areas where we go out of our way to cooperate with one another.

Most of the overlap happens between school and public libraries. In both these organizations, you'll find children's literature. You'll also find lots of general non-fiction materials.

Both organizations teach children how to use the library. In the schools, this tends to be a more formal and regular process. At the public library, generally we only provide instruction to whole classes when a teacher asks us to. Otherwise, our instruction tends to be on a more individual basis.

The Douglas Public Library District even offers a special Teacher Library Card -- which allows classroom instructors serving Douglas County students to check out our books to supplement the resources available to them through the schools. In turn, several schools in Douglas County have adopted the Colorado Library Card, which opens up their doors to parents and community members.

A more recent sign of cooperation between the Douglas County School District and the Douglas Public Library District is our submission to the Colorado State Library of a grant for over $11,000. I'm very pleased to report that we got it, too.

This project, called "The Electronic Highway," will enable us to place, by this fall, DPLD computer catalog terminals and a PC- based reference workstation in three outlying elementary schools: Roxborough, Larkspur, and Cherry Valley. The school district will even provide delivery services back and forth between each school and the public library -- helping us to get library materials out to the people who don't happen to live close to one of our branches.

Beyond all this, it seems to me that school and public librarians just plain like each other.

But there are differences as well. School libraries have as their primary responsibility the support of the curriculum. Assuming they know what the curriculum is, and they've got some money, they can succeed at this task, providing precisely targeted materials to accomplish instructional goals.

The public library serves a broader clientele, and therefore requires a broader range of materials. Public library collections are more diffuse, less focused. Our mission is to represent some reasonable cross-sampling of the literature of our entire culture, with attention to the special needs of various age groups, from pre-school to senior citizen.

Unlike the school libraries, we can never succeed at this task -- until American and world culture itself becomes well-organized, which I find unlikely.

Sometimes, it may seem that our missions have been confused, and even reversed. In some schools, the focus has shifted away from formal instruction in reading, and toward a greater emphasis on recreational reading. But then some parents turn to us for curricular support, especially in such areas as phonics.

On occasion, the public library has even sponsored classes. For instance, Les Simonson has taught several classes at the public library on the writing of short stories and mysteries.

On the other hand, public libraries sponsoring classes on writing is like a restaurant sponsoring classes on cooking. It's just planning for the future.

The public library also makes space for individual literacy tutoring, provided through the Adult Center for Training. But again, you could argue that such an arrangement is in our own best interests. People who can't read don't use libraries.

Over the next couple of months, the Philip S. Miller Library will offer two kinds of support for yet another player. You may have read in the paper about the Academy Charter School. This is an attempt to form an alternative, publicly-funded elmentary school in Douglas County, under recent enabling legislation by the state.

Materials provided by the organizers of the charter school will be available at the Philip S. Miller reference desk. Completed forms (indicating interest in participating) may also be returned to the reference desk.

Ultimately, it seems to me that the public is well-served by alternatives. Let's face it: there's a big informational, educational, and intellectual marketplace out there. The wise consumer shops around.

Wednesday, June 30, 1993

June 30, 1993 - theory of the expanding egg

The more I think about this, the more I have come to believe that people only have one big idea in their whole lives.

Einstein, the very stereotype of genius, only had one -- the Theory of Relativity. Copernicus had the notion that the earth went around the sun. George Seurat came up with the concept of breaking up the world into little dots of color-pointillism. Camus concluded that the world was absurd.

I don't mean to belittle the importance of any of these things. Each of these people went on to further discoveries. But in the main, all of their work issued from a single initial idea, unique to each person. Just one.

My own idea -- and we're definitely not talking The Theory of Relativity here -- came to me when I was 17. I call it, The Theory of The Expanding Egg. This theory has guided my personal life, and now that I think of it, has directed my professional career as well.

In my model the essential nature of the universe is a series of ever-expanding eggs. For instance, at some point, your life is like that of a fully incubated chick. The chick starts chafing against the restrictions of the shell. Finally, it develops the strength and the means -- a beak-to break out of it. If it doesn't break out, it dies.

After it cracks the shell and struggles free, it goes through a predictable range of responses: agoraphobia, confusion, excitement, discovery-and eventually, familiarity.

My big insight is that this stage is nothing more than finding yourself inside another egg. A bigger, or expanded egg.

To continue the analogy: once the chicken gets familiar with the barnyard, maybe at some point he or she gets bored or curious, so flies over the fence and into a larger world. This is just like breaking out of another egg. It seems to me that organizations work pretty much the same way. There's birth, an expansion, the discovery of new limits, a period of organization tending toward stagnation, a new birth.

Almost everyone I know fits precisely into one of these cycles. I see people who are very comfortable in their little eggs and whose entire consciousness is turned inward. I see people who have just broken out of some previous shell, and are still floundering. I see people who are determined to get all this new information organized, regularized, constructed into an identifiable shape. And I see people who are starting to fret about the limits of their lives.

Sometimes, people even have a special bent for one of these stages. Or maybe they just do better when their outer circumstances match their inner condition. Sometimes too, I think that the success of an organization depends on matching the basic orientation of the leader to the current needs of the institution. For instance, some people love adventure, energy, the possibilities of the unknown. This is just the person you need when your organization has just turned a corner into new territory.

There are people who believe everything should be in its place, and they have a real talent for getting things there. This is the kind of leader you want when your organization has finished a significant expansion, but you don't feel that you're getting the maximum benefit out of your resources. Then there's the kind of person who can't stand stagnation, who rebels against the old ways, who is restless for ... something completely different. You can't find a better boss when your organization is trapped, when it seems like it must change, or die.

The truth is, of course, that leaders aren't enough. Organizations need all kinds of people, wherever they happen to be in relation to the size of their "egg." Take libraries.

A library building is itself a kind of an egg, with distinct limits. But inside the library, some of us (the people who buy our books) are out scouting the great expanses for new materials, new subjects, or new formats. Some of us (our catalogers and shelvers) are running around making sure these items are described well enough to be useful, and that we've put all this stuff where people can find it. And a good many folks elsewhere in the library (the rest of our staff and our patrons) are still exploring the current setup, or starting to rub up against its limits.

So okay, the expanding egg is a good idea. It explains a lot. It even helps predict things.

Somehow, though, it bothers me. It's been a long time since I was 17. Couldn't I have two good ideas?

Wednesday, June 23, 1993

June 23, 1993 - decline of manners

You are downtown and there is a gentleman giving baby elephants to people. You want to take one home because you have always wanted a baby elephant, but first the gentleman introduces you to each other.

What do you say, dear?

It's perhaps the best beginning of any book in history. So you flip the page, and you get the answer, charmingly illustrated by Maurice Sendak.

You say, "How do you do?"

What Do You Say, Dear? (subtitled, "A Book of Manners for All Occasions,� and written by Sesyle Joslin) was originally published in 1958. It happens that my wife has a copy of the first paperback version, printed in 1964. It sold for 35".

These days, it's hard to find that much good advice (or anything else) for just thirty-five cents.

Here's another situation that could happen to anybody. "You are flying around in your airplane and you remember that the Duchess said, "Do drop in for tea some time."

"So you do, only it makes a rather large hole in her roof.

"What do you say, dear?

Well, there's only one thing to say, and here's a book that cuts to the chase. You say, "I'm sorry."

The bad news is that What Do You Say, Dear? is out of print. You can't buy it at any price.

What's so bad about that? Well, for one thing, the book is a delight. Many of the situations it poses are preposterous. Children enjoy hearing them. (And make no mistake, this is a book meant to be read to children.)

On the one hand, the apparently banal or understated response of "good manners" is a sort of anti-climax - a joke.

On the other hand, an important lesson of this book is that it is precisely when life is at its most preposterous, most stressful, even its most dangerous, that good manners are most useful. They might even be necessary.

Another reason it's a shame you can't buy this book anymore is that good manners, in modern American society, are in serious decline. We need this book. We live in a time when we all insist on our rights, but few of us are willing to show simple human courtesy. We are quick to take offense - but equally quick to give it.

The purpose of good manners, or "etiquette," is to reduce social friction by defining some mostly commonsensical standards of conduct. The message of What Do You Say, Dear? is that people have an obligation to be polite, and that good manners are not some old lavender-and-lace affectation, but a simple and elegant response to the unexpected difficulties of life.

I wish I could say that a torrent of books have rushed in to fill the vacuum left by the demise of Joslin's classic. I know of a couple.

Do I Have to Say Hello?, by Delia Ephron (subtitled, "Aunt Delia's Manners Quiz for Kids and their Grownups") is available from the library.

Another is No Bad Bears: Ophelia's Book of Manners by Michele Durkson Clise.

In fact, if you do a subject search on "manners" at one of our computer terminals, you'll find 33 titles on the subject, with a good mix of children�s books.

That's encouraging. But if you're as worried as I am about the creeping rudeness of American culture, you might want to take a closer look at some of these modern day guides to civilized behavior. Who knows? One of them might inspire you to brush up on your manners at home, in your neighborhood, at your local library - and why not? - in all your business and political doings.

What do you say?

Wednesday, June 9, 1993

June 9, 1993 - summer reading program

The first time I read a haiku, I was hooked.

For those of you not up on your Japanese poetry, a haiku is a deceptively simple, three line, seventeen syllable poem. Kids like writing them because they're short. I liked them, especially at first, because they were like working puzzles.

I still have this vague memory of being surrounded by kids thumping their fingers on their desktops to count out the right number of syllables per line. (12345, 1234 -- long pause -- 567, 12345!)

But in old Japan, the writing of haiku was seen as anything but child's play. Oh certainly, some haiku can be very playful. One of my personal favorites is by Issa, the most whimsical of the haiku masters. It goes like this: "If you are tender / to them the little sparrows / will poop on you." (For you table thumpers: it lost a final syllable in translation.)

But in Japan, it was fully expected that if you wanted to get really good at haiku, it might take 80 years or so of persistent effort. The more years you devoted to writing haiku, the more you realized how surprisingly rich and subtle they could be.

Take what has come to be seen as the definitive haiku, by the great master Basho: "old pond / a frog jumps in / water sound." There's a deep structure to the best haiku: three sharp, distinct images that perfectly evoke not only a moment, but a precise season, and the unique voice of the author.

Which leads me to our Summer Reading Program. The kick-off will be held on June 13, at the Ponderosa High School auditorium, at 1 p.m. This will mark the first opportunity for children to sign up. (If you miss the event, you can sign up at any DPLD branch afterward.)

At the Ponderosa event, children (and their parents, and even people who don't happen to fit in either of those categories) will have the pleasure of watching the performance of the Moyo Nguvu Cultural Arts Center, an African percussion dance, poetry, and martial arts troupe. The event is free of charge, and all are welcome.

Throughout the rest of the summer, the children will be treated to a number of additional virtuoso performances. The first show will be by Brad Bowles, who tells both traditional and his own original folk and fairy tales, as well as a mix of tall tales, and even some scary stories.

Other performers include Michael Stanwood, an internationally known multi-cultural musician; Judie Pankratz, who will provide a marionette variety show; and Bonnie Phipps, a nationally recognized musician and storyteller. Consult your local library for the local schedule.

The kick-off will also give us an opportunity to publicly acknowledge the generous contributions of the Mission Viejo Company and TCI. Each company donated $2,000 for the summer reading program, a sincerely appreciated token of their committment to children and reading.

From June 13 on, children will be encouraged to jump into the vast pond of literature. If they manage to read 24 books by the end of August, they will receive a prize ribbon (suitable for hanging) and their choice of a discount ticket to a Rockies game, OR a discount coupon to Southshore Water Park, OR a discount coupon to Elitch's.

Naturally, library staff will also try to liven things up. We'll be holding weekly drawings for Reader of the Week, and Participant of the Week. Readers of the Week Winners will get a "Mickey buck," (as in Mickey Mouse), and I wouldn't mind one myself. Participants of the Week will get Rockies baseball cards.

But all that stuff is just for play. It is our hope that the real result of this year's summer reading program will be that participating children -- like the haiku masters of old Japan -- will find through all the seasons of tomorrow, an enduring love for the power and beauty of the written word.

Wednesday, June 2, 1993

June 2, 1993 - finding fiction

Not to disparage the importance of careful planning, but I'm of the opinion that almost every wonderful thing that has ever happened to me was sheer luck.

Take the sixth grade teacher who kindled my abiding interest in Japanese poetry. Take the purely pixilated day I met my wife. Come to think of it, a lot of the people I've met and liked, I met through wildly unlikely circumstances, and I'm thinking here of my cat, who was born under my Airstream trailer in Arizona, 15 years ago, at about 2 in the morning.

Of course, many people will tell you how important it is to have a system to your life. They'll tell you that if you want to meet a certain kind of person, then you should hang out in a certain kind of place. While this approach doesn't guarantee that you'll find precisely what or whom you're looking for, you've at least maximized the odds.

These two perspectives pretty well reflect the two basic orientations of librarianship.

What they stressed to us in library school was the importance of organization. The two main organizational structures imposed on library collections are the Dewey Decimal System (or DDC), and the Library of Congress system (LC). Dewey divided the world into 10 big categories (100s, 200s, 300s, up to 900s), then shoehorned everything into them, with occasionally comical results (18 numbers to the right of the decimal point). Most public libraries use DDC.

The LC system is a lot broader. It uses combinations of letters (AB, PZ, etc.), which provides far more latitude in differentiation of subjects. It also results in shorter call numbers. Most university libraries -- and some large public libraries -- use LC.

But those aren't the two librarian perspectives I'm tracking. While DDC and LC differ about final techniques, they are in perfect agreement about approach: slap a number on it, put it with other books on the same or similar subjects, and keep it all tidy. It's organized. The idea here is that tidy shelves make it easier to find things.

But some studies have shown that as many as 90% of the books people find in libraries they stumbled across ... by accident. Or as we say in the profession, they were "browsing."

So the second approach to library organization, and the second perspective of librarianship, is a belief in serendipity, or what some have called, "digging for worms and finding gold."

This isn't to suggest that people who browse are staggering blindly through the stacks. Usually they browse the newer books, which in most of our libraries are conspicuously displayed somewhere near the front door. And generally speaking, we do try to keep the books in some kind of order -- either by DDC or alphabetically by the author's last name.

So based on the principle -- to which I have dedicated my life -- that if you only have two choices, invent another one, I submit that the real business of librarianship is the Science of Serendipity. Or as another library theorist put it: "For every book, its reader. For every reader, a book."

If you're interested in further probing this exciting frontier of practical philosophy, I invite you to attend a workshop by Reference Librarian Jeff Long, entitled, "Finding Your Favorite Fiction." Jeff will talk about some techniques that will greatly increase the probability of finding something you'll love.

The workshop will be held on June 15, a Tuesday, from 7-8 p.m. at the Philip S. Miller Library. If you're the sort of person who reviles the random, who cannot abide the chaos of chance, or even if you're a risk taker seeking to beat the system, you might want to come down and listen to one of our library pros give you the inside story.

Wednesday, May 26, 1993

May 26, 1993 - Oakes Mill opening

The first day I saw them, I thought, "How pretty!" I was looking out the windows of our new house, and for the first time in three years, I had a lawn. Now that's got to be one of the great joys of homeownership, I thought: dandelions. Crowns of gold above the green.

That was then. This is now. I'll grant you that dandelions are still pretty -- but only on somebody else's lawn, and only for about 12 hours. Because after that ... they mutate. They go to seed, they seize control of your lawn, then the neighborhood, then OH MY GOD THEY'RE EVERYWHERE THEY'RE EVERYWHERE!

Sorry. But honestly, you try to keep up appearances, and the next thing you know there's a twisty, alien quality to your yard, and you're afraid to go outside.

Isn't that just like nature? As long as something lives, it changes. And all of its transformations aren't especially attractive. On the other hand, on occasion you are gifted with visions of startling -- and heartbreakingly transient -- beauty.

And speaking of transformations, growing things, and the flowerings of summer, the Oakes Mill Library (at 8827 Lone Tree Parkway) is finished with its renovations. The upstairs changed only a little bit -- mostly to accommodate more children's books. But the entire downstairs of the library has been completely recast. We've also managed to establish a quite lovely Friends of the Library booksale area.

As was the case with the Philip S. Miller Library before it, the Oakes Mill Library will be featured at a Grand Re-opening. All the public is warmly invited to attend.

The celebration -- in the new downstairs -- will began at 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 3. For those of you who haven't been there before, get off I-25 at the Lincoln exit, and head west to your first stop sign, which is Yosemite. Go two blocks north, and make a left. That's Lone Tree Parkway, and the library is the first building on the right. (Parking is just to the west of the building.)

In addition to tours and refreshments, we're working on providing some special entertainment as well. I'd tell you what it is, but we don't know yet. You can bet it will be good, though.

A second event is a public information session on homeschooling. On Tuesday, June 1, a group of local homeschoolers will present a talk at the Philip S. Miller Library beginning at 7 p.m., and lasting till 9 p.m. (and later if necessary).

The session will feature presentations by several speakers on the following topics: the philosophy of homeschooling; the laws on homeschooling; the many curriculum choices; the typical day of the homeschooling household; teaching children of various ages at the same time; socialization; support groups; and various resources to be found at your public library.

It could be that you've come around to the notion that just as each homeowner is responsible for his or her lawn, so too is each parent ultimately responsible for the education of his or her children. Maybe you'll go with the prevailing choices, but keeping a sharp eye cocked for potential problems. Maybe you'll practice some weed control on weekends (checking on the educational progress of your kids). Or maybe you'll choose to cultivate your own garden of splendors (teach at home).

In any case, it's always a good idea to see what's growing around your neighborhood.

Wednesday, May 19, 1993

May 19, 1993 - Mutant tadpoles from space parker library public hearing

eeling a little overwhelmed lately? It could be worse.

Consider the mutant tadpoles from space.

According to a recent report, a batch of tadpoles on the space shuttle Columbia "returned to earth as mutants." While in space, it seems that these near-embryonic frogs swam "endless loop-the- loops." By the time they got back to earth, their bodies were permanently curved -- deformed for life.

I know someone is bound to accuse me of "leaping" to conclusions here, but I see an interesting life lesson.

In order to be really healthy, we need to be grounded. We need to keep close contact to the soil from which we spring. In some deep, undeniable sense, we belong to the center of our world.

This lesson was perfectly clear at last week's meeting about the future of the Parker Library, one of the most instructive meetings I've attended in a long while.

For one thing, we had good attendance. In addition to five of the seven Library Trustees, a County Commissioner, and three of the Town of Parker Council members, our meeting room was packed with a good cross-section of Parker residents, most of whom lived at least a mile away from downtown -- although not the same mile.

They all listened with interest to the library district's dilemma: which of several possible scenarios would give us the best "bang for the buck" to provide services to our Parker patrons?

The public had a message to send, and the most surprising thing about it was its unanimity: people wanted the Parker Library to stay downtown. They talked about the need to have a central identity to the town. They talked about avoiding the sprawl and inner-city decay of our neighbors to the north. They talked about wanting to preserve a quality of life. They told us that the library helps pull things together.

It was a refreshing revelation. Many people feel that government has only a negative influence on people's lives, and that like those mutant tadpoles, the typical bureaucracy is a series of endless loop-the-loops.

But the public was being invited to pass on their concerns to the Trustees BEFORE a decision was made. And the public came. They spoke cogently and thoughtfully, and the Trustees heard them.

Too, it's worth mentioning that the only reason the library has so many choices to begin with, is solely because Douglas County and the Town of Parker are being so cooperative. The County -- especially Chris Christensen, Mike Maag, and Ron Benson (as well as Stonegate representative Bill Green) -- has been very responsive to the library's quest for free land. The Town of Parker -- especially Mayor Lopez, Becky Robideaux, and various Town Council members -- has been very eager to work with the library as well.

In short, three governmental entities -- the county, the town, the library district -- have as their sole agenda, the desire to team up in order to stretch public dollars as far as possible to meet the public interest. Judging from the people who came to our meeting, the public likes that.

The library district still has some issues to work through. Our chief concern remains the need for adequate parking. We don't yet have a solution. We do have ideas.

But even though we're still looking for more "space" than we have at present, I wanted to thank the Parker-area citizens who reminded us to keep our feet firmly on the ground.

Wednesday, May 12, 1993

May 12, 1993 - ACLIN and Dial-Pac

I'm pleased to announce another remarkable achievement by the Colorado library community.

Last year, you may remember, we unveiled our new Colorado Library Card. The CLC sticker -- which many of you snapped up for your Douglas Public Library District library cards -- lets you check out items FOR FREE from other participating libraries. At this point, that includes almost all of the public libraries to the north and south of us, and a good many academic and school libraries as well.

But the Colorado Library Card was last year's wonder. In 1993, we're taking the notion of library cooperation one step further. As of right now, it is possible to "dial-in" to a statewide, toll-free network and have access to literally millions of books all around the state. We called it the Access Colorado Library and Information Network, or ACLIN.

What does "dial-in" mean, exactly? It means you need to have a computer or terminal that has a modem and some "telecommunications" software. You just set your software to the following options: 8 bit word, 1 stop bit, no parity, and "vt100" terminal emulation. You can run the network at 9600, 4800, 2400, 1200, or 300 baud -- whichever speed is supported by your modem. Then direct your computer to call (in Douglas County) either 440- 9969 or 786-8700. (Caution: the two lines will be merged in the near future. If, one day, 786-8700 doesn't work, go back to the 440-9969 number.)

Once you get connected, you'll be presented with two "prompts." Just type, in lower case, the letters "ac" (without the quotes), followed by an enter or return each time. After the second return, you'll get a screen that tells you about how ACLIN was funded. Press enter again, and just follow the instructions on the screen.

The very toughest thing about the system is that when you pick an item off a menu, you must first type the number (e.g. "1"), then press enter or return to move your cursor there, then enter or return AGAIN to make it happen.

The big statewide publicity push for ACLIN won't happen till this fall. Why? Not every library feels ready to support the barrage of technical questions they may receive.

But I have a lot of faith in ACLIN. As one of the members of the menu-design team, I know how hard we worked to make the system genuinely easy to use.

I also have an announcement about our own services. We've upgraded our software as well, in order to make things more convenient for our own "dial-in" users.

Using the same settings for ACLIN described above, dial 688-1428. (Note: our modem is a little slower than ACLIN. You can only use the following "speeds": 2400, 1200, or 300 baud.) When you get connected, press enter or return a couple of times to let our respective computers shake hands with each others. At this point, you should see a "login" prompt. If you don't, try holding down your control key while simultaneously pressing the letter "q." Then press enter again. (If you get a "Password" prompt, just press enter and try again.)

At the "login" prompt, type (in lower case ONLY) the word "library" (without the quotes). Press enter or return. Next, you'll see a list of terminal types our system will support. Frankly, I think the vt100 option is the most reliable - - use that one if you can.

Next, you'll get two screens of "terminal testing" -- just follow the instructions on screen, responding with a "y" if you can read the screen clearly, and "n" if you can't. If you answer "y," you'll go to the catalog. If you answer "n," you go back to the list of terminals and get to try again.

Once you do get connected, you'll see some new options -- mainly, the periodical searches I talked about a couple of weeks ago. Another major enhancement is the ability to direct the "pickup" of a reserve or Hold to another branch. For instance, you might see that a book is available at the Oakes Mill Library, but want to pick it up in Parker. Just place the hold as usual, and the system will guide you through the options.

We're updating our Community Information Referral listings, too - - data about various organizations serving Douglas County residents. Finally, watch for a new service: our Community Bulletin Board. From most of our search screens, you can type "bb" (without the quotes) and go to some screens that list various events. Right now, it just includes library events. But soon, we'll be expanding it to include all kinds of recreational, educational, cultural, and governmental calendar items.

When you're all done with our system, work your way (using "q" for quit) all the way to the first screen of our system. It looks like a card catalog drawer. Then type the word "later" (still no quotes) and press enter or return. In a while, you'll see the "login" prompt again. Now it's safe to hang up.

If you don't work your way back to "login" it won't hurt anything. But the next person to try the line might not be able to read the screen as well.

Come fall, by-the-bye, ACLIN will be a menu item right on our own system, giving our users access to CARL, and CARL users access to our system. But that's a few months away yet.

Wednesday, May 5, 1993

May 5, 1993 - parker public hearing

The continuing appeal of the West is based on the belief -- so powerful it is almost a Myth -- that you can re-invent yourself.

When you get burned out by the pace or the grime of life in the Big Eastern City, when you weary of the strangely loveless social landscapes of California, when you just need to be somebody else, either for your own sake, or for the children, why, you can plop yourself down in (for instance) Douglas County, Colorado. You can start over.

But even the people that make successful changes in their self- images may find that one day they miss something or some things about their former lives. Unlike the older, more established east, the developing West often lacks a cultural core. Its spiritual center is inward, predicated on disconnected individuals, strong, but silent and separate.

If life is to flourish, it must be rooted. These roots -- in a family, in a community, in a culture -- are in essence a body of stories we tell ourselves over and over.

But in the West, we don't want to "crowd" anyone. We want to leave a little space around everything. So the stories we tell, the cultural institutions we slowly assemble, aren't too pushy.

For instance, this community in 1990 decided to fund a library system. But the branches are 15 miles apart. You have to know where they are. You have to choose to fit the library -- and its repository of many stories -- into your life. It's the Way of the West.

I recognize that all the above is an unusually long philosophic preamble. But I think it provides some important background to a crossroads in the history of the Douglas Public Library District.

Back in 1990, one campaign promise of the "Say Yes to Libraries" Committee was that the establishment of the library district would result in (among other things) the addition of some 3,000 square feet to the Parker Library. (The Parker Library has about 7,000 square feet right now.) Well, thanks to the success of the library campaign, and some careful saving since then, the library district does in fact have the money to fulfill that promise.

The question is, where should that 10,000 square feet be? At the current site? That was our thinking three years ago. There's something to be said for keeping a cultural center "downtown." But we now have more up-to-date information about the distribution of the Parker population. We have also come to realize that there just isn't enough space for parking at our current location.

So what makes sense? There are several possibilities. One of them is build a new Parker Library at Challenger Park, just opposite and west of the new Recreation Center. The County Commissioners have indicated their willingness to donate a four acre parcel to the library district. Another option, based on another, private donation, might be to move the library to west Mainstreet -- the other side of Highway 83.

And there many be other options that we haven't heard about yet. (If you know of some, call me at 688-8752.)

If you would like to give your opinion on this issue, please consider yourself invited to a meeting at the Parker Library on Monday, May 10, 7 p.m. I'll be there to summarize what we know to date. Then I'll open up the discussion to the community. Before we go any further with our planning, the Library Board of Trustees like to get some sense of what's important to our Parker patrons.

I think the library has an important role to play in the "re- inventing" of the cultural identity of Douglas County. If you think so too, please come and let the Library Trustees know how - - and where -- we can best serve your needs into the next millennium.

Wednesday, April 28, 1993

April 28, 1993 - Pioneering project - EBSCO magazine article summaries

It isn't easy being a pioneer. There are sudden twists in the road. The weather is unpredictable. The dangers are hard to gauge.

On the other hand, there's a certain amount of freedom when you step beyond the familiar. You learn things about yourself that you wouldn't have known before. You get a close-up glimpse of the future. All in all, pioneering can be exhilarating.

It happens that the Douglas Public Library District is something of a pioneer. We're the first library in the nation to load the EBSCO Magazine Article Summary database on its computer catalog.

Who or what is EBSCO? Mainly, it's a company serving as a "jobber" for magazine subscriptions. Instead of us trying to keep track of some 260-plus titles -- all of which need to be re-subscribed to on an irregular schedule -- EBSCO gives us a way to combine most of our subscriptions into one big order. This is not only convenient for us, it also saves us money.

But the Magazine Article Summary (or MAS) is a new wrinkle. Instead of providing us with a paper copy of the actual article, it provides us with ELECTRONIC citations and abstracts.

These citations are very similar to the usual computer catalog entry. That is, when you do a search by title or subject, the computer will show you the full and correct title of a matching entry (including author, magazine name, date, and page numbers).

But the abstracts are what make the tool so useful. For one thing, and unlike some of the other periodical databases, every article HAS an abstract.

Once you find an article -- on some software package or automobile make, for instance -- you'll find that you have a whole lot more information at your fingertips than you would from a "Readers' Guide to Periodicals" listing. Sometimes, the abstract alone will tell you exactly what you want to know, in which case you don't even need a paper copy.

Other times, the abstract may not tell you what you need, but it will tell you whether or not you're likely to find what you need in that particular article.

All of these things save time not only for you, the patron, but also for the library staff. With good abstract information, you won't have to go trudging around the library yanking magazines that MIGHT have what you want. And we won't have to trudge around putting them all back -- just the ones that were actually useful to you.

Have you ever tracked down an article only to discover that some scurrilous vandal has torn it out of the magazine? It's virtually impossible for somebody to cut a piece of an abstract out of a computer.

The DPLD is a pioneer in another way. In brief, we have tried to establish a new legal precedent. Up until now, the vendors of such databases sold LICENSES to the data, not the data itself.

What does that mean? The MAS is available as a product on CD-ROM (which are like music CDs, but contain data for use with a computer). And like many CD-ROM products, when you stop subscribing, you're honor- and contractually-bound to send everything back.

But the DPLD secured what is, I believe, the first contract in the country that enables us to keep any of the information we have loaded on our computer catalog. So if at some time, we stop subscribing to EBSCO's product, we don't have to purge our records of anything we have found useful.

We think this represents something of a breakthrough in making current periodical information available to the public.

All that's the good news. What's the down-side? Well, an MAS search doesn't work EXACTLY like one of our regular computer searches. We're still puzzling all that out. So please be patient if our computer terminals display some unusual messages over the next several weeks about some new approaches for searching our records.

But that's life on the frontier. When you're blazing a trail to the promised land, you can't count on all the usual conveniences.

Wednesday, April 14, 1993

April 8, 1993 - Meeting room policy

Robert Heinlein, the late, great science fiction author, once described a "committee" as a form of life that had more than 4 legs - but no brain.

There's another perspective, as captured by the phrase, "Two heads are better than one."

How YOU feel about committees probably depends on which ones you've worked with, and whether they made you feel dumber, or smarter. But no matter what kind of committee that is, the odds are good that you've all shared a common problem: finding a place to meet.

The Douglas Public Library District understands that the library is an almost ideal place for committee gatherings. For one thing, we don't charge anything as long as you don't trash the place.

For another thing, surely everybody knows where you can find your local library.

For yet another, the library is probably the best location imaginable to find information about whatever subject drew your committee together in the first place.

Finally, the library is by definition a PUBLIC gathering place. If you're trying to stimulate interest in a subject, why not plunk yourself down in the middle of the intellectual shopping mall and see who wanders in?

Recently, the Douglas Public Library District upgraded its meeting room at the Oakes Mill Library (in the Lone Tree development) to accommodate fairly large groups. The Philip S. Miller Library (in Castle Rock) also has a large meeting room. The Parker and Highlands Ranch Libraries have meeting rooms as well, although they are somewhat smaller.

To keep up with the times, the Library Trustees also updated their meeting room policy. So this seems like a good time to let people know about it.

The main thing to remember is that while we are delighted to be of use to the general public, just because we provide space to your group doesn't mean the library, the Trustees, or any of our staff members agree with or endorse your perspective or beliefs. (Of course, as anyone who ever served on a committee is aware -- your committee may not even KNOW what it believes. Even so, the library still may not agree with you.)

The second thing to understand is that anyone who meets at the library must agree to open their meetings to the general public. The library does not provide space for private, for-profit organizations. We won't host private birthday parties. You can't charge for attendance. The library is a public building -- the public and the press are always welcome.

After that, there are several other procedures that govern the use of our meeting rooms. Most of them are just common-sensical provisions. For instance:

~ All of our meeting rooms are reserved on a first-come, first- served basis.

~ Any group wanting to use the room has to fill out an application form. ~ The meeting rooms are available -- unless you have made special prior arrangements with the branch manager -- only during usual library hours. That's Monday through Thursday, 9-9; Friday and Saturday, 9-5; and Sunday, 1-5.

~ Groups wishing to meet on a regular basis throughout the year have to re-apply from time to time, as determined by the library branch manager. The idea here is to give newcomers a chance to gain access to library facilities.

~ Groups are responsible for setting things up themselves -- we won't arrange the room to suit you (although you're welcome to use whatever tables and chairs and other special equipment the library can make available).

~ We can't store materials for various groups.

~ You can't smoke in the library.

~ You can serve light refreshments, but you have to provide them yourself. The use of alcoholic beverages is prohibited, unless special permission is applied for and granted by the Library Board of Trustees.

~ Only classes sponsored by the District will be allowed to hold class meetings in our meeting rooms. That is, you can't start a Mandarin Chinese language class, and charge for materials, unless the library is sponsoring the classes.

~ The library reserves the right to cancel meeting room reservations as needed. We don't expect to need to very often, but you never know when we might have to do some building repairs or accommodate our own Library Board.

That's pretty much it. When in doubt, just ask to talk to the branch manager.
So will any of this make committee work easier, or the committee members any more productive?

Probably not. But at least you'll have a place to sit down.

Wednesday, April 7, 1993

April 7, 1993 - Arbor Day

The last time my wife and I drove across Kansas was during our move to Colorado.

It was 98 degrees and relentlessly sunny. We were driving two cars, neither one of which had air-conditioning. My wife was six months pregnant. I had two extremely distressed cats in the car, and was afraid to open the windows too far for fear they'd jump out.

Garrison Keillor sings a song about a similar situation, with the lines:

"Oh dogs they love to travel, with their faces to the breeze. But cats sit trembling on your lap and vomit on your knees."

It was a rough drive, especially when we finally realized that we were driving across the only state in the union that is wider than Canada.

I mean, Kansas was bleak. God's ironing board, Kansas seemed to have only enough trees to make you realize how truly barren it was.

That was five years ago. A few weeks back, we took the trip the other way -- to Illinois for a wedding. Frankly, I dreaded it. While we weren't taking any cats, we did plan to bring our five year old, Maddy.

Much to my surprise, we all enjoyed it. This time we took the back road -- U.S. 36. We found that our eyes had grown accustomed to the openness of the high plains. With some good audiocassettes to listen to (E.B. White's Stuart Little, some Prairie Home Companion reunions, some Jim Weiss folk and fairy tale tapes) the miles just flew behind us.

Nonetheless, in Kansas you can still spot towns from a great distance. Anywhere there are trees, there are people. The farther east we went, the more trees we saw.

I believe the desire for over-arching branches, for shade, for colorful foliage, for visible roots, is a deep ancestral need. Or maybe it's just that for a long time in this country's history, everybody's parents were born some place back east.

In either case, trees mean "home." Or as Stuart Little put it, "For you I pine. For you I balsam."

And that leads me to the point of this week's column. Saturday, April 17, 1993, is Arbor Day. This will be Douglas County's Third Annual celebration.

In the past two years, over a thousand trees have been planted in the county. This year, the sponsors hope to plant half again as many.

Apart from the natural beauty of the trees native to or thriving in Colorado -- the blue spruce, the Ponderosa, the pinon, the foxtail, the hackberry, green and purple ash, to name just a few of the most fetching -- there are many other good, if less poetic, reasons to support this worthwhile local effort.

* Two hundred years ago, topsoil averaged 18 inches in depth. Today the average is just 6 inches. Why the drop? Trees hold the soil. The United States loses 700,000 acres of forest land annually.

* The average tree removes 48 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in a year's time -- and carbon dioxide is one of the most significant environmental pollutants of our time.

* One mature tree offsets the carbon dioxide produced by up to 10 cars.

To reach their goal, the planning committee for the Douglas County Arbor Day needs to raise $7,000. They've already raised $9,100. Where will the rest of the money come from?

You. Individual gifts in the amounts of $5, $10, $20, $30, $50 and up are desperately needed and will go for the sole purpose of buying trees. To donate money, send it to DOUGLAS COUNTY ARBOR DAY, P.O. BOX 1390, CASTLE ROCK CO 80104. If you'd like to help plant the trees, contact Joe Julian or Jacki Hein at 688-3096.

You have a choice: long for the gentle, forested days of your youth, or plant for the future. This simple gift -- of trees, or of the time to help plant them -- will do more to improve the quality of life in Douglas County -- your home -- than you can possibly imagine.