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, August 24, 1994

August 24, 1994 - staff day

Most Douglas Public Library District branches are open seven days a week. Of the 365 days in a year, we're closed for ten national holidays.

Last year, we added one more day when the library isn't open -- but the staff is still expected to come to work. On that one day, our Staff Development Day, we try to pull together the nearly 90 people on the payroll and focus on some key issues for the upcoming year.

Last year, we talked a lot about ACLIN -- the Access Colorado Library and Information Network. ACLIN linked almost every automated library in the state through one common menu, and made it available toll-free to anyone in the state of Colorado who had a computer and modem.

In turned out that the training was time well-invested. ACLIN, which is available on every one of the library's terminals through our "Gateway" option, has proved to be a powerful tool for librarians and patrons alike.

This year, our technological training will focus on three topics:

* CARL searching. Most of the larger libraries in the state use CARL software. One of our workshop leaders is a CARL trainer, and will give staff tips on how to search CARL libraries more efficiently.

* "Kid's Cat." This is something many librarians believe is the future of online searching. Developed by librarians and programmers in Denver, the Kid's Cat is a graphical front-end to the library computer catalog. It was designed with kids in mind. Instead of having to learn specialized database searching commands, children can just slide a "mouse" (a computerized pointing device) over a picture of an interesting topic, then click a mouse button to pursue that topic.

The result is no different from the current computer search: after a while, they find out whether the item is, or is not, available in the library. But the process represents a profound departure from the way libraries have organized their indexes in the past.

Automation has wrought truly revolutionary changes in the way libraries do business. Until now, the children's department has been mostly untouched. But the Kid's Cat -- which should begin to appear in Douglas County's libraries by the end of the year -- will change all that.

* Uncover. Uncover is just one of the vendors providing the full text of magazine articles, delivered either by fax, or right to the computer screen. Uncover is a company existing at the crossroads of two big issues in librarianship: the cost for access, and just what "copyright" means in the electronic age.

Traditionally, library access has been "free." Sure, your taxes support it. But all of us, no matter how wealthy or how poor, can have access to everything in the library. It doesn't cost us anything extra.

Does computerized access to magazine articles mark a change in that? What happens when you can have last week's news for nothing, or yesterday's news right now -- for a fee? Does this herald the creation of a new class -- the information elite?

Here's a related issue: just what does "copyright" mean when anybody who can see something on a computer screen can also capture that information to a computer file? How do we, as a society, ensure that the people who create information for a living are able to make a living from it?

This year's Staff Development Day will also have some fun stuff. We'll hear a talk by Joyce Meskis, the owner of Tattered Cover. (Did you know that she once ran a bookstore right here in Douglas County?) We'll hear a talk by Heather McNeil, a noted Colorado storyteller who recently had a book published, and will tell us just how that happens. We'll also hear reports from some staff committees that grew out of last year's meeting.

So people of Douglas County, my profound apologies that your library won't be open on August 26. I know from personal experience how annoying it can be when a public institution shuts down for a day.

But I think it's worth it. Next year, you'll see some things at your local library that will knock your socks off. This is how we let our staff know what's coming.

An informed staff is a vital link in the delivery of good service. As always, that's the point.

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