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 13, 2003

August 13, 2003 - no joke

Recently,  I was listening to the library's Fresh Air Laughs tape (from the NPR program hosted by interviewer Terry Gross).

One of the 14 interviewees was Drew Carey. How, Gross wanted to know, did Carey ever learn to write jokes in the first place?

She was astonished to discover that he started where he said he always started -- at the library. He just checked out a book that told him how to write a joke. It laid it all out for him, he said. There were other books that gave examples.

There are so many subjects in the world. Some of them may be of great interest to you. But where to start? Learning to fake your way through a song on the piano. Learning to speak Russian. Learning how to build a deck. Learning how to throw a successful party for kids.

Once you get started on this list it's hard to stop. (And wouldn't making such a list be great fun the next time you gather around the table with your family?) How to raise rabbits. Win at chess. Make prize-winning pies. Make a business plan.Travel through Europe on $10 a day. Braid hair.

After that, wouldn't it be at least interesting  to try to follow up? If you have a son who really, really wants to draw comic book heroes, why not take him to the library and ask the reference librarian to pull together a stack of books that might help your boy get started?

Or maybe it's your daughter who has always secretly longed to explore Celtic mythology. Or henna tattoos.

Or maybe it's you who wants to know more about Lyndon Baines Johnson, or Marilyn Monroe, or evolution, or railroads, or body-building, or diet, or urban design.

Here's the whole secret to a fascinating life. Ask yourself what interests you. Use the library to begin exploring some subjects. Drop the things that don't hold your interest. Dig deeper into the things that do.

Before very long, you just might find that those books, or DVD's, or magazine articles that started as nothing more than the way to scratch a vague curiosity, wind up unlocking the door to a whole new passion.

In other words, those library materials might pave the way to other learning environments: classes, clubs, hours of happy practice and experience. Or, for your children, it might be the kind of thing that turns them into regular reading program participants. Some of you may be practicing that already -- certainly, we have had over twice as many people in this year's reading programs (wrapping up this month) as last year.

But what's my point? Using the library can improve your life. And that's no joke.

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