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, January 7, 1998

January 7, 1998 - Library Returns Lost Bibles

I used to work at a place that had eight Xerox machines. Because the machines were getting old and temperamental, we saw four of the local technicians fairly regularly. One year, within the space of a few days, three of the tech people announced that their wives were pregnant. When I commented on the odds against that, one technician looked me straight in the eye and said, “Reproduction is our business.”

I have several more stories with a slightly different message.

It happens that two folks from California -- one from Salinas, one from Vista -- lost their personal Bibles at the airport. One left it on an United Airlines flight from Florida to Denver, and had been frantically looking for it ever since. The other had been reading at DIA while waiting for a flight to Cleveland.

United Airlines rounds up the stray books regularly. About twice a month, we get a box of donations.

Most of the time, there’s no clue as to where the books came from. So we add them to our shelves, or pass them on to the Friends of the Library for their booksales. But on occasion, people (or institutions) have stamped, scrawled or otherwise marked their names and addresses. In that case, we try to route the books home.

That’s precisely what happened with the two California Bibles. And while we send a fair number of items back to their owners, few people write back to thank us. The folks who got their Bibles were the exceptions.

The Salinas resident wrote, “I cannot tell you how filled with joy I was upon receiving my Bible back from you! Thank you! It is my most cherished posession. I have been scribbling notes in it for 20+ years.”

The Vista resident began, “Dear Good Samaritan,” and soon confessed, “I ... don't really know how I left His Word behind ... a guide for my life and something that encourages, directs and helps me to help others.”

People don't misplace only their Bibles, of course. We get school text books from Hawaii. We get books on Interlibrary Loan from Tennessee. We find business manuals and historical romances and murder mysteries and you name it.

Books don't come to us just from airlines, either. Last fall, one of our patrons was driving along I-80 in Nebraska. He stopped at an automobile rest area to find a library book sitting on one of the tables, with no one else around. He returned it to us. We, in turn, passed it back to the Iowa library where it came from.

There are two lessons here. First, if you really value a book, and particularly if you intend to be traveling with it, make sure you have indicated where to send it. Be proud of your books! Claim them! Book plates are available from all the better book stores. Buy them and use them. And again, before you travel, make sure you’ve kept your address information current.

Second, if you do mark your book, and should misplace it, and it should be forwarded to a public library, you shouldn't be too surprised when you get it back. After all, matching up the right book to the right person is our business.

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