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 16, 2000

February 16, 2000 - Children's Specialists

Back in my college days, I had developed quite a reputation around the dormitory for knowing essential facts, such as exactly which one of the dorm snack machines had oatmeal crème pies. A friend of mine, who was majoring in Anthropology, gave me a T-shirt that read "Optimal Forager." Two great words, but I was not sure what they meant. She explained to me that before man developed farming skills, he had to look (forage) for food. Those who survived were the best (optimum) at searching. Thus, 'Optimal Forager'--I liked it. So starting around 11:00 PM, people would knock on my door to find the answer to their urgent pie questions: "The west wing, between the third and fourth floor, is your best bet this evening," I'd say with cool aplomb. I was developing my information gathering skills and assisting my fellow man along the way.
I'm still in the information searching and gathering business. But now, I get to work with kids and answer THEIR reference questions. How does a student find the resources to complete his homework? Who can you ask to help you find a book just like the one you had before? Ask and you shall receive.

Douglas Public Library District recently added a Children's Specialist to the staff at each of the four main branches. Toddlers through high school seniors, we are here for you! We pay attention to what kids are reading for pleasure and for school so we can purchase library books that are necessary, useful and enjoyable. We can help you gather information for your homework assignments and we can help you find a great book to read.

But what if, "my teacher wants me to do an essay on..." or, "I have to write a book report and need..." No problem. Good communication with the schools will prove a key factor. Together, we can put student success as our primary goal. Of course we cannot do the homework assignment or write the paper, but Children's Specialists can help you learn how to use library resources--which ones are best, age appropriate, reliable and interesting.

Another exciting aspect of this new position is what librarians call 'Readers Advisory.' This is a fancy phrase for helping people find a fun book to read. Surely you've said to yourself, "I'd like to read another book just like..." Children's Specialists are well read in all areas from emergent readers to the college bound, and we are anxious to help you find the newest, most favorite story you have ever read.

The next time you are wondering, "Where should I look to get information on...," stop by the library. You'll find the Children's Specialist in the juvenile/children's section, pertly awaiting the opportunity to serve you, no matter what your age may be.

By the way, I no longer let people know where to find the oatmeal crème pies. But I'm very good at hiding them.

Laurel Iakovakis is the Children's Collection Specialist at the Lone Tree Library.

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