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, October 1, 2003

October 1, 2003 - incomparable staff

I have now had the great good luck of opening several new libraries in Douglas County. Most recent has been our headquarters library, the Philip S. Miller Library in Castle Rock.

Much of our public activity acknowledges the countless contributions of the general public -- our many donors, our artists, our colleagues in other branches of government.

This column, however, is about the folks who too often don't get acknowledged.

Let's begin at the beginning. The Trustees of the Douglas County Libraries are community volunteers. It is they who set the policies to make sure we had enough money on hand to take advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to move back downtown. It is they who adopted the mission of the library, which directs us to "build community and improve lives in Douglas County."

Then there were our architects. We always aggressively bid out our architectural contracts. And Humphries Poli keeps winning them. Why? Because they have the ability, time after time, to "get" what we need, to imagine new buildings, and re-imagine old ones.

Our contractors, Cambria Construction, also worked hard for us -- bringing in the project on time and under budget.

To the public, one library closed down, and just a couple of weeks later, a new one opened. I hope I don't destroy any illusions for anybody, but behind the scenes, there has been a flurry of staff activity, at times indistinguishable from panic. (Graceful panic, to be sure, but ... panic.)

The new library houses not only the circulation, children's, and reference staff of the library; it is also home to our Technical Services department (the folks who order, catalog, and prepare our materials for checkout), the Computer and Network Support Staff (who keep all our systems running), our Training staff, our Facilities department, our Community Relations Department, our Business Office, and a handful of administrative staff (Human Relations, Volunteers, Adult Literacy, my assistant, and me).

Over the past couple of weeks, I've seen a wonderful "jump-in-and-do-it" attitude all over this place. Catalogers have been slapping books on shelves. Trainers have been plugging in computers. People have been stuffing packets and lugging equipment, practicing tours, and setting up tables and chairs. Even the staff at other branches have pitched in, in an unending demonstration of support (and sympathy, as many of them have gone through their own Grand Openings).

From the beginning of our whole design process, to the final snipping of the ribbon, this library is the product of many minds, many hearts, and many hands. Yes, we pay them -- but this staff gives us not just their time, but their deepest and most conscientious commitment.

Here's just one example: on one of our moving days, Lynn Unruh, our Circulation Supervisor, tripped on a wooden ramp and tumbled. She wound up with a dislocated and fractured shoulder that required surgery. Lynn's response? She was sorry; she APOLOGIZED for the trouble.

While Lynn did wind up missing most of the fun, her good planning helped the rest of us get things done efficiently.

I have the extraordinary privilege of working with an absolutely incomparable staff. Library buildings are wonderful places. Books and magazines and DVD's are magnificent resources. But the library is more than all that: it is the people whose passion and intelligence give those things meaning.

Thank you, the staff of the Douglas County Libraries. Well done!

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