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 4, 2003

June 4, 2003 - Douglas County Libraries

I give up.

The name of our library system, encompassing all the public libraries in the county, was christened in 1990. Its name is the Douglas Public Library District.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, we've plastered that name on almost 100,000 library cards. It appears several times a week in all the newspapers. We've sent newsletters to every single household.

The result? Nobody knows our name. They think we are the Douglas County Library.

I may be slow, sometimes, but I'm not altogether stupid.

Generally, I think it's a mistake to change an institution's name. Once you achieve name recognition, it makes sense to build on it. But in this case, there is no name recognition.

Here's an interesting thing: people DO know the names of the individual libraries. They know the Lone Tree Library. They know the Parker Library, the Highlands Ranch Library. In Castle Rock, some people call it the Castle Rock Library, and others by its true name, the Philip S. Miller Library.

In general, knowing the name of your library by its geographic location is a good thing. It's clear, and it becomes a matter of local pride.

The name "Douglas Public Library District" is clear enough in my mind, because the name captures both the audience (public, as opposed to school or university or corporate) and the governing and funding type (district, as opposed to municipal). But that's like chemists calling salt "sodium chloride;" it's correct, but it's also a little pedantic.

We've already gone through the process of establishing our name legally. But soon, we will begin doing business as "Douglas County Libraries." Note the plural on the end. Yes, we are a unified system, but we offer multiple buildings. It's not only correct, it's a promise.

In the past week or so, we've been trying out the new name. I'll say this: It's certainly easier to use when I answer then phone.

Please note that the names of the individual libraries will NOT be changing. The Highlands Ranch Library will remain so, as will the Louviers Library, the Lone Tree Library, the Parker Library, and (in about 4 months), our new Roxborough Library.

We will also retain the name of the Philip S. Miller Library. Mr. Miller's contribution to the library system is worthy of a lasting memorial, and if we have to educate people about what that means, then it is our honor to do so.

This change, and others yet to be, are a result of a marketing study we commissioned from a Douglas County firm called Cahoots. Our intent is to position ourselves to be clearer communicators of our mission and services.

Along the same lines, we will shortly be rolling out some new website addresses. The old one -- www.dpld.org -- will continue to work. But you'll also be able to find us through www.douglascountylibraries.org. Similarly, www.parkerlibrary.org will take you to our same website, as will the names of our other libraries. The Philip S. Miller Library will be available under two names: www.philipsmillerlibrary.org AND www.castlerocklibrary.org.

These new websites obviously won't be as short as "dpld," but it's our hope that they WILL be more memorable, and therefore easier for people to find.

Remember us!

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