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, November 17, 1999

November 17, 1999 - Too Busy to Read?

By Laurie Van Court

(Douglas Public Library District Director, Jamie LaRue, is on hiatus this week. DPLD trustee, Laurie Van Court, is delighted to take over his column today.)

As a life-long avid reader, I'm often asked, "how do you find the time to read so much?" I'm sometimes perplexed by this question, because it seems to me that the time usually finds me.

Books and magazines have rescued me during those life experiences when time seems endless. I remember quite clearly the book that got me through the night after major surgery when my anesthesia didn't last quite long enough (Insomnia, by Stephen King, since you ask). When my husband, Don, went through the agonies of cancer treatment, many books guided us: In the Country of Illness, by Robert Lipsyte, and Mainstay, by Maggie Strong, were literally life-changing for me. A miraculous book (Expecting Adam, by Martha Beck) comforted me through the long hours when Don was in hospice. Other wonderful books, including Living Through Personal Crisis, by Ann Kaiser Stearns, Widow and Lifelines, by Lynn Caine, and Widowed, by Dr. Joyce Brothers, carried me over those awful first hours and days of widowhood.

Of course, most of my reading occurs in far more mundane circumstances: during yawningly long airport delays, at the beauty salon, while waiting my turn at the Department of Motor Vehicles. And many books have been around for joyous occasions: Fodor's Guide to Hawaii, The Complete Book of Foaling, Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts. How could I get along without the cartoons in New Yorker Magazine, the movie reviews in Time Magazine, everything by Baxter Black?

No, I don't think the problem is finding the time to read. I believe the problem is finding the time to get your hands on all those wonderful things to read. So, here, from a devoted reader with far too little time herself, are a few tips.

First, let the library staff do the retrieving for you. If there's something you'd like read, log on to the Douglas Public Library's Web Site (http://douglas.lib.co.us) and click on the public access catalog. Look up whatever catches your fancy, place it on hold and let the library call to tell you when it's in. Really, this is just as quick and easy as going to Amazon.com, and a whole lot cheaper, too. You can ask to have your books held at whichever branch is most convenient - that is to say, if you live in Franktown, but drive by Park Meadows every day, specify that your requests be held for you at the Lone Tree Library. There's no need to go to Parker or Castle Rock, if they're not part of your usual route.

Second, if you worry about the hassle of returning those books, return them to any public library in the Denver metro area. Or, for that matter, check them out somewhere else and return them to us. Through remarkable efforts on the part of Colorado's State Library, most public libraries in our state cooperate with one another. You can even check out books in Vail with your Douglas County library card!

Finally, if you spend the time you'd like to be reading behind the wheel of your car, check out some recorded books. The Douglas Public Library District has a tremendous collection of books on tape (and as many on CD as are now available) because we know many of our patrons do a lot of driving. I think some recorded books are even better than the print versions. Try, for example, Charlotte's Web and My American Journey, read by their authors, E.B. White and Colin Powell. There'd probably be a whole lot less road rage out there if more drivers were utterly captivated by words coming out of their car stereos.

All of us in Douglas County pay for library service, whether or not we use it. Except for buying lottery tickets, I doubt that any of us likes throwing money away, even if it's tax money we may not remember spending. Besides, we all deserve as much pleasure as we can get - even if it comes while waiting to buy our license plates.

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