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 14, 1996

August 14, 1996 - Library Growth in Income, Population, Demand

I remember the day I proudly informed an old college friend that I was going to be a father. He said, "I'm really sorry to hear that."

Surprised, I asked him, "Why?"

"Mark my words," he said darkly. "Right now, there might be two or three years between our visits. When we do get together, it doesn't really seem like that much time has passed. We look and feel about like we did the last time we saw each other. But now -- one visit your daughter will be in diapers, and the next time she'll be graduating from college. There's only one way to interpret that: I'm getting old. Kids are responsible for it."

I laughed. I'm not laughing now.

Three months ago, I carefully marked the spot on the wall that equaled my daughter's height. Now she's two inches taller. Three months. As I often say to my wife, they don't make a year like they used to.

But kids just make it personal. I've been reviewing some library statistics lately, and my business life echoes my personal life.

For instance, I've been looking at library revenue, the library's budget since 1991, which was our first year as a library district. In 1991, our income was $2,181,868. In 1995, it had risen to $2,818,905. That's an increase of 29 percent, which seems very healthy.

But consider the population growth in Douglas County. In 1991, 64,857 people lived here. At the end of 1995, there were 99,091. That's an increase of 53 percent.

Now consider the jump in library business. In 1991, we checked out 510,211 items. Last year, we checked out 1,038,322 -- an increase of 104 percent. That's almost twice the rate of population growth, and three and a half times greater than the growth of library revenues.

But to anybody with children, this is downright familiar. It doesn't matter what kind of growth you see in your income. At some point, it occurs to you that what you need for the future is intelligent investment -- setting aside for a purpose. These days, I think that the real, tangible manifestation of love is the will to plan. If you don't have that, you may have affection -- but you don't have love that is alive and conscious.

Your children will need adequate funds to go to college. Your libraries will require adequate structures to house the broad curriculum of new library materials. Responsible parents plan for the well-being of their children. Responsible citizens plan for the well-being of their public institutions.

It's a hard thing, discovering that those marks on the wall not only add up to the bewildering growth of our offspring, but to deep new obligations, our sweat for their future. But mark my words, the right time for planning is yesterday. If not then, then today.

Two inches in three months. Astonishing.

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