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, August 23, 2000

August 23, 2000 - Presidential Portraits at Highlands Ranch

Our new Highlands Ranch Library is intended to be the first public building in the new downtown of a city. But what does it mean to be a "public building?"

The most obvious definition is that it was funded by, and opens it doors to, everybody. In the case of a library, that means it also provides access to a collection of materials, purchased cooperatively, and accessible to all.

But there's more than that. A public building serves a public purpose -- a goal that to a previous generation fell under the heading of "civic."

One of the overt signs of this civic connection is the flagpole, proudly flying the American flag.

Another way that the public library celebrates its civic roots is to host programs and exhibits that explore our local, historic, political, or artistic heritage.

So I am pleased to announce that from August 24 to September 3, the Highlands Ranch Library will be housing an exhibit called "American Presidents: Life Portraits." This exhibit, sponsored by C-SPAN and ATT&T Broadband (which is handling all local arrangements), features 41 oil paintings of our Presidents. The artist, Chas Fagan, will be on hand during our kickoff of the exhibit (August 24, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.) to answer questions. A media reception is planned -- as well as some corresponding activities for our younger citizens, fresh out of story time (9:30 a.m.).

These paintings were commissioned by C-SPAN to complement their recent television series (concluding in December of last year) of the same name. The exhibit has since showed up at both the Republican and the Democratic National Conventions. During the Presidential campaign, the exhibit will continue to travel around the country, although Colorado and California are the only two western states that will be visited this year.

The Douglas Public Library District is pleased to be one of the hosts for this fascinating and highly accomplished retrospective on American leadership, and is grateful to AT&T Broadband for bringing this exhibit to our patrons.

More information about American presidents can be found at C-SPAN's website at www.americanpresidents.org -- and, of course, your local library.


A second district event occurs the day after the Presidential Portraits kickoff. On August 25, all Douglas Public Library District branches will be closed while we have our annual Staff Day. On this day, we gather in our 200 employees for a day of continuing education workshops.

The format of these days varies some from year to year. What doesn't change is the need to touch base with one another, to put faces to the voices we talk to on the phone each day.

This year we will be talking to some of the "competition" -- leaders from other Colorado libraries. We'll ask what we can learn from their experiences.

We'll also do something I think is crucial: asking our own staff what issues most need to be addressed in the coming year. I have my own ideas, but I know that sometimes the folks at the front line of library services have knowledge and insights that I don't. This is one of my best opportunities to gather those insights.

The other side of being a public institution is what happens behind the scenes. In libraries, that means a continuous commitment to service. In turn, that sometimes calls for a series of adjustments to better reflect the times we live in.

As it is with the American electorate, so it is for library staff: this is the beginning of the season for decisions about our future.

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