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, February 3, 1999

February 3, 1999 - Deckers Books by Mail Program

There are costs to living in remote rural areas. You can't just run down to the supermart. There are no movie theaters or big hardware stores. There aren't, when it comes right down to it, many of the trappings of civilization.

But some might call these benefits, not costs. There are no traffic jams. There are no stoplights. At night, you can still see the stars. Deer wander your land. It is quiet.

Let's face it: Most of what we call "civilization" is just blind consumerism and noise. Getting just beyond the edge of all that madness may just mean things get a little less convenient from time to time. You have to plan your shopping trips, for instance (although this is also more efficient).

However different the outward signs of life may be between city life and life way out in the country, one thing is the same: taxes. And here things do seem unfair. Whether you live in downtown Parker or the edge of Deckers, you pay for library service. But in Parker, you actually get a library. In Deckers, you don't. Or at least, you didn't.

Some years back, Cindy Murphy, Public Relations Manager for the Douglas Public Library District, attended one of former County Commissioner Michael Cooke's town meetings. It was held at the fire station outside Deckers. Cindy came back from the meeting very thoughtful. "Isn't there some way we can do something for our patrons up there?"

Until then, Deckers residents who wanted library services were more likely to drive to Woodland Park than to drive to Castle Rock. Thanks to something called the Colorado Library Card, they were able to use the Woodland Park Library District for free. But Deckers residents paid taxes to us, not to them.

So we spent some time investigating options, and finally came up with a program we call Books By Mail.

Here's how it works. First, we get Deckers residents to fill out "reader profiles" -- a description of the kinds of materials they like to read. Then we solicit some volunteers to run around and match up materials from our collection. These materials are then placed in special mailing pouches. Another volunteer drives these bundles to the Sedalia Post Office each week (Sedalia gets them out to Deckers faster than Castle Rock, which routes things through Denver). Then the packages are sent right to the houses of our Deckers patrons. Patrons can also call in specific requests. The library pays for postage, both ways.

How successful is the Books By Mail program? Well, last year, we mailed out 1,175 items. Our extraordinary book-selecting volunteers were Ginny Fife and Mickey VanderKooi. Our postal courier was Tillie Teets.

Another partner in this program deserves a special thanks: IREA (the Intermountain Rural Electric Association). For the past several years, they have made an annual donation of $600 to help underwrite this outreach effort to Deckers residents. This money, which covers just about half of our postage costs, comes from the interest earned on IREA's unclaimed capital refunds.

So thanks to the good work of many volunteers and benefactors, we have added one more sound to the quiet of the high country: the soft shuffling of pages.

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