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, March 21, 2001

March 21, 2001 - Personal Book Shopper Service

Last year, there came a point in our Castle Rock renovation when we had to replace the carpet. I figured we’d have to close the library. But Greg Mickells, the Manager of the Philip S. Miller Library, figured out a new wrinkle. When patrons showed up, we offered them a comfy chair, fed them cookies and lemonade, and asked them what they needed. Then we sent in staff to navigate among the roaming bookstacks (which got moved around to free up various parts of the floor) and fetch the items.

During this period, Greg referred to our staff as “Your Personal Shopper.” I thought that was brilliant. Instead of turning customers away, we brightened their day with sugar and service.

Generally speaking, service seems to be on the decline in America. Part of this is the very nature of our retail establishments. Gone are the corner grocery and hardware stores. Instead, we get the big box, echoing megastores. Given the volume of these spaces, it is understandably difficult to find someone to help you sometimes. At the dawn of the 21st century, service is giving way to “convenience” -- hence the Automated Teller Machine, the pump-your-own-gas station, and the vending machine.

Well, picking up on our earlier theme, Pam Nissler, manager of the Highlands Ranch Library, and her dedicated staff have decided to do something about this trend.

We call it our Personal Book Shopper service. Here’s how it works. Beginning on March 15th, you can just stop by or call the Highlands Ranch Library (303-791-7702) and request a Personal Book Shopper application form. I think of this as a sort of “reader’s profile.” You’ll be asked to specify your favorite authors, books you’ve already read and liked, topics of interest to you, and various other bits of information that tell us what sort of books best suit you.

Then, armed with this information, our tenacious librarians will start sifting through our over a-third-of-a-million holdings to select just the items you might have picked, had you the time to do this for yourself.

After we’ve assembled a digestible literary feast, we’ll either pull or place the items on hold, and let you know when it’s time to stop by the front desk and pick them up.

Time is, of course, our scarcest commodity. Throw anything else into the mix -- a vacation coming up, a sick child, a last minute business trip -- and a service like this just might mark the difference between having books in the house, or not.

Getting books into your house, by the way, is a big goal of the Douglas Public Library District.

The service does, however, have a few limitations. Right now, it is available for adults only. And I hate to break the news, but our Personal Book Shopper Service does not include cookies. At least, not yet.

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