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.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

February 19, 2004 - Dear Mr. LaRue 3

Dear readers,

I received another letter from Ms. Featheruffle, a library shelver. Her topic: there's Too Much Pressure at the Library. Jamie LaRue

Dear Mr. LaRue:

Last month I said something nice about library patrons, and the other shelvers all ganged up on me. They said since I occasionally criticize the Douglas County Libraries, it would only be fair to tell you something good too.

So, under duress, I’m going to tell you what I said.

You should know, however, that shelvers are absolutely critical to the overall functioning of the library. We’re the ones who get down on the floor to shelve the children’s books. ( I have BIG, ROUND, FADED patches on the knees of my pants from doing this, by the way. I don’t suppose there’s any reimbursement for wear and tear on clothes? Just thought I’d ask.)

We shelvers do a pretty darn good job overall. I’ve never heard any complaints about how messy the stacks are (except for the children’s room where a single kid can wreak havoc in one minute flat, but that’s another story.) Shelvers consider it a matter of honor to place book RIGHT WHERE IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE.

During the summer, it’s all in a day’s work when we open the book drop and find a ton of books. We duly stack them on carts, and go back to shelving.

We might go back and check the book drops 10 minutes later. There aren’t supposed to be a lot of books after ten minutes. But during the summer, when people are heading off on vacation, another ton of books can appear miraculously.

It’s okay. We can manage. It’s our job, after all, we say. Job security.

But then, just to be safe, we might go back 5 minutes later and find there’s ANOTHER ton of books waiting.

At this point you might find us just a little tense. We do have other things to do besides emptying the book drops. And all those returned books are gonna have to be shelved… There’s a lot of work ahead of us.

Well, something occurred to me one day when I emptied a bulging book drop. For the fourth time in five minutes, mind you. Anyway, I sort of said something nice about library patrons. I swear it just slipped out. Accidentally.

I said that we must have pretty good patrons because they return books. Lots of books. Books that can be recycled and lent out again and again and again so other people can read them too. A library could not exist if it weren’t for honorable patrons who return books regularly. The best people in the world use libraries.

Ok. Enough. I’ll have something more sensible to say in my next letter. Count on it.
Tess T. Featheruffle

Dear Ms. Featheruffle:
I can't wait.
Jamie LaRue

[P.S. Missy Hess is the Parker shelver who actually wrote this. Isn't she a stitch?]

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