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, October 14, 1998

October 14, 1998 - Lone Tree Library Opening

I still remember the very first time I went to a public library. I kept thinking, "What's the catch?"

First, there were more books than anybody could read in a lifetime. Second, there were people who were paid to help you FIND books precisely tailored to your interests, even if you were just a kid.

Third, they let you take most of these books (just excepting reference materials) home with you -- for free. Sure, there were fines if you didn't get things back on time. You had to pay for stuff you damaged or lost. But if you played by the rules -- and those are some mighty lax rules -- it was essentially free.

Stewart Brand, creator of the Whole Earth Catalog, wrote that "Public libraries are the only thing towns do for smart kids." I don't know as I was particularly smart, but thanks to the library, I was certainly better read.

The library had a profound effect on my understanding of the world in another way. It showed me by example that the community was looking out for me.

Today it's fashionable in some circles to think of any governmental expense as some kind of boondoggle. But from the beginning, I experienced the public library as tangible proof of the competence and good-will of the society I lived in. It was "good government." I grew up in my public library, in more ways than one; it gave me an enduring faith in the power of human achievement.

It happens that just a few days after this column hits print, I begin a year as President of the Colorado Library Association. As President-Elect this past year, I've attended a handful of library openings around the state, from the west slope to suburbia. Every time, I am thrilled all over again by the excitement of a library opening, the genuine appreciation of parents, business people, students, seniors. When I attended the grand opening of the new Montrose library, the children were lined up for two city blocks.

I like most of the libraries I see. But I'm particularly proud of the first library we've built from the ground up in the 8 years I've worked here.

So I am pleased to announce the Grand Opening on Saturday, October 24, of the Lone Tree Library. The celebration lasts from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Designed by the architectural firm Humphries Poli of Denver, the building grows right out of a river bank on the corner of Lone Tree Parkway and Yosemite.

From the south, the building is a long, low wall. At the western edge, by the entrance, is a "kiva" -- an altogether distinctive, inward tilting barrel that will serve as our public meeting space. At the east end of the building is the children's reading garden.

Most staff spaces -- circulation desk, work rooms, offices, etc. -- live within a tear-drop nestled against the south wall. Heading north, the building blinks higher and higher to the sky, wider and wider to the view, culminating in commanding windows that bring in that fine, even, northern light.
On opening day, not only have we reassembled the materials of the former Oakes Mill Library and the bookmobile, but we have added over 4,000 new items. The library will also have a reference desk, CD-ROM and Internet workstations, a quiet study room, many tables and chairs, and a fireplace.

The old Oakes Mill Library had just 3,000 square feet upstairs, and about an 800 square foot meeting room downstairs. The new building has 10,000 square feet, all on one level.

I warmly invite the public to attend the opening. This is a community library, geared for families. I gratefully acknowledge the extraordinary design work of Humphries Poli, the construction expertise of Ash and White, the profoundly thoughtful involvement of Gina Woods, Library Manager, and the strong community support evident in a variety of touches throughout the building.

Please join us in this celebration. And do bring the children.

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