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, January 27, 1993

January 27, 1993 - Year Round Reading Program

This is a time of significant national, state, and local change. Under Clinton, we have a new presidential philosophy. Under Amendment One, we have a new and more stringent set of government controls. And in the wake of the defeat of Amendment Six and the local school bond, we have a school district that must find ways to contain costs without sacrificing quality.

One of the school district's response to these "challenges" (the euphemism of the nineties, I fear) is the notion of year round schooling.

The traditional school schedule was established when many American lives still revolved around farming. Parents just couldn't spare their children twelve months of the year. So schools -- then as now -- adapted themselves to societal pressures.

To the school district, year round schooling represents a way to save money by getting more use out of existing buildings. And to parents, it represents another "challenge" -- as childcare and vacation schedules are juggled to suit.

But what about public libraries? According to our own tradition, summer is when we hold our all-out reading programs. We talk to local businesses to get them to sponsor the program. We pull in interesting speakers. We host exciting events. Literally thousands of children come to the library in the summer. Our circulation statistics reach their annual peak.

In many respects, the Douglas Public Library District's Summer Reading Program is our recruitment drive. It's a wonderful opportunity to turn on kids to the glorious possibilities of reading, especially reading for fun.

So we ask ourselves: how will year round schooling affect public library use? How can the local public library best respond to the latest shift in the cultural calendar?

Well, one possibility is a year round reading program. So we're going to conduct an experiment. It will be sponsored by the American Library Association, participating area McDonalds, and the Douglas Public Library District.

On January 31, we'll have a couple of open house/sign up parties for a pilot project we're calling "Together Is Better." The parties will be held at the Parker and Philip S. Miller branches. Ronald McDonald, McDonald's clown, will be present. (Call for times: Parker at 841-3503 and Philip S. Miller at 688-5157.)

Beginning February 1, 1993, DPLD staff will be making visits to seven elementary schools: Northridge, Cherokee Trail, Eagle Ridge, Rockridge, Acres Green, Sedalia, and Roxborough. While all of these schools are not yet year round, they will be.

Each child will get a special "Together is Better...Let's Read!" brochure. The brochure has spaces for 24 titles. That's how many books we hope they can read by the time the program ends on May 31, 1993.

The program has prizes, too. Of course, reading is its own reward, but participants can also earn a Happy Meal and a certificate.

I'd like to publicly thank the owner-operators of participating McDonald stores -- the Front Range McDonalds (on 841 S. Holly St.), Castle Rock McDonald's (at 995 N. Park), and Parker McDonald's (at 10950 S. Parker Road).

They know that when a whole community is "challenged" -- it takes all of us to meet it.

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