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, June 21, 2000

June 21, 2000 - Highlands Ranch Grand Opening

As you may have seen in one of our press releases, the Highlands Ranch Library that has been operating from the storefront on West Springer Drive closed on June 12, 2000. It will reopen at its new location (9292 Ridgeline, south of the Safeway shopping center at Highlands Ranch Parkway and Broadway) on July 15. Our Grand Opening begins sharply at noon.

First up will be a round of short speeches. We'll hear from Maren Francis, President of the Board of Trustees. State Senator John Evans, a long time library friend, will be there. Joyce Meskis, owner of the Tattered Cover Bookstore, will also speak. (Her first bookstore, incidentally, was right here in Douglas County.) Our Master of Ceremonies is the well-known Ed Greene, of Channel 9 News.

After several public "commencement exercises," our patron will have the choice of a variety of activities and diversions, running from noon to 5 p.m.:

-outside, free hot dogs and soft drinks;
-Sneezles the Clown;
-regular guided tours of our stunning new building, using a -new package of "docent" materials;
-hourly puppet shows for the kids in our new children's room, which is, all by itself, almost the size of our old Highlands Ranch Library;
-a Highlands Ranch business expo, up in our new business library on the second floor; and
-many, many more new materials than we could squeeze into the old building.

Then we'll close down for a couple of hours. But come back! From 7 to 10 p.m. we'll have a street dance in the library's parking lot, featuring area favorites, the Nacho Men. Conditions permitting, we may also end the day with a brief show of fireworks.

On Sunday, the following day, we'll resume our normal library hours: noon to five on Sundays, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

The opening of this new library, which at 42,000 square feet is over twice the size of our next largest building, is a big deal not only for Highlands Ranch residents, but for the entire Douglas Public Library District. For most of the history of the county's libraries, most of our books have been housed in Castle Rock and Parker. Thanks to our 6 day a week courier system, we've managed to move those books around pretty quickly. But the simple lack of space kept us from keeping up with the demand for new materials where the demand was often greatest.

Now that we've got the space, we will be able to build a high enough item count for each area of county so that the odds of actually finding what you want, right there on the shelf, should go up considerably. This benefits not just the residents of Highlands Ranch, but everyone else in Douglas County.

Aside from the practical benefits of more retail space for library materials, I am most proud of what many players have managed to accomplish together.

Highlands Ranch has seen residential development. In more recent years, it has also seen commercial development. As the first public building in the new Town Center, the library sets some expectations for what is to follow for all CIVIC structures.

We were fortunate in this endeavor to have access to some of the best thinking of our community. Thoughtful people from Shea Homes, the HRCA Design Review Committee, the Highlands Ranch Metropolitan District, not to mention our own library Board, and the experience of our staff, all contributed to a place that defines a new phase of development.

I'm particularly grateful for the hard work and intelligence that all of our Highlands Ranch Library staff have put into the complex job of getting the new building ready for business.

It takes about two years to build a great library: a year to think it all through, and a year to build it. I'm pleased to report that the project is coming in well under budget, due in part to many donors, whose contributions will be recognized in the building.

But I'm most pleased about something else: we're not just building a library, we're building a community. And I can think of no more tangible sign of a community's commitment to culture, its consciousness of the past, and its commitment to the future, than the opening of a library.

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