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 10, 1996

April 10, 1996 - inner adult and storytimes

Over the past several years, many people have written books and articles about their "inner child."

In part, this really bothers me. At some point in our lives, we need to stop combing the ashes of our past, and GROW UP. Or let's put it this way: we also need to discover our inner adult. There is one, you know.

Yet I also recognize that in many respects, adults are a lot like children. I got to thinking about this after I met several high-powered state librarians who had started out as children's librarians.

Every one of these librarians is highly skilled in groups. At any big meeting, they greet everybody by name. They match the pace and presentation of their points to the unique concerns and styles of the people present. They keep everybody focused and involved.
I can't help but think that they got so good at this because they were children's librarians first.

In story hours, you learn the children's names because that makes each child feel welcome, acknowledged.

You learn to spot potential problems early and act on them. When a child's attention has wandered, you refocus your method of presentation, or briefly interrupt things to remind everybody of the ground rules.

You learn to project enthusiasm. Good children's librarians make their customers happy: they have a sincere and infectious love for their work.

Finally, the best children's librarians maintain an essential respect to each individual.

Even those of who have discovered our inner adult still believe the sweetest sound is the sound of our own names. We appreciate it when people remember our favorite games. We also understand that every now and then a little reminder is necessary to keep us within the bounds of civility.

We like to hang around enthusiastic people. And all of us, child or grown-up alike, possess a basic dignity too often ignored or undermined.

In short, the skills of leadership, so vital in any organization, translate pretty well from the story hour to the state house.

But I like to think there's even more to it than that. Children's librarians tell stories. They are immersed in literature, constantly probing for the powerful tale, the engaging style, the right mix of character and action.

Leadership is these things, too.

So after all that wind-up, here's the pitch. If you find yourself in situations with children -- as a teacher (full-time, part-time, or volunteer), as a daycare provider, as a parent or grandparent, or as anybody who is just looking for a chance to gain some skills, some practice, or some direction in the wonderful pastime of telling tales -- here's an opportunity.

On Saturday, April 27, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Parker Library, our own master storyteller Priscilla Queen will conduct a workshop. All are invited. You should register first, though. Call 841-3503 (the front desk number) or 841-6942 (Priscilla's phone) to do that, or for any questions.

And remember: learning to be a good storyteller isn't only useful with children.

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