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, 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.

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