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, 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.

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