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.

Tuesday, December 15, 1998

December 15, 1998 - Northridge Snake Story

The real reasons for things don't always get written down. For instance, Gina Woods, manager of the Lone Tree Library, recently passed on a bit of library district history that was certainly news to me.

I'd read that we once had a small library outlet at the Northridge Elementary School. But before I started working here in April of 1990, the library had been asked to move out. I never knew why.

A couple of times over the years I asked people connected with the school district what had happened, but they didn't say very much. I could tell the topic made them uncomfortable.

It turns out that we had a library employee back then who collected snakes. One day, she brought her 20 foot python to the Northridge Library as Exhibit A for a library program. As always, she'd fed the snake ahead of time, which tended to make it a little sluggish. A sated and sluggish snake, as you might imagine, is better than a hungry and quick one.

There was still a large bulge in its body that corresponded to a slowly digesting rabbit. This is the sort of gruesome detail that children love.

Well, right before the program, the snake did something unexpected. It peed on the new school carpet. A lot.

Despite the prompt best efforts (and cleaning compounds) of library staff, the rank odor persisted. Immediately thereafter, we were asked to take our books (not to mention our incontinent animals) and go.

For the record (finally!), I don't blame the school district one bit. While I strongly doubt this contingency was covered in our agreement with them, the event reeks, you might say, of poor manners on our part.

Since then, we've had both sheep and performing pigs in our branches. Staff have taken appropriate precautions. Here we see proof that even if knowledge is not recorded, the lessons remain.

I'm grateful that Gina passed this story on. But she's been in a storytelling mood lately, as soon she will be leaving the library. Her last day of employment is December 23. After that, she'll focus on being a sports mom during her son's last semester at DCHS. Then she'll be joining her pilot husband, who is now based in Cleveland.

During her time with us, she's seen the library grow from an institution of just 12 Full Time Equivalent employees to our current 80 FTE's. She's seen the astonishing growth of library use in Douglas County, and a host of transformations within the district. She's even built a new library branch.

Throughout all these changes, Gina has served as one of the district's touchstones for warm, neighborhood-based service. That's one of the things we'll try to hang onto in her absence.

Meanwhile, do stop by and see Gina before she leaves. As a favor to me, though, leave your pets at home.

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