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.

Friday, January 13, 2006

January 13, 2006 - Mark Weston

Thirty years ago, I began writing a library column for the “Southglenn News,” the official monthly publication of the Southglenn Civic Association. At the time, I was a wet behind the ears library assistant at the Christensen Library in the Arapahoe Regional Library District. I went on to obtain a graduate degree in librarianship from the University of Denver, worked in a variety of libraries and related private business for another ten years or so, then left that field for another career. I will never forget (nor will those who were there) the experience of piloting our 40-foot long Gerstenslager Bookmobile from westbound I-225 across all lanes of southbound I-25, careening off onto the Belleview exit in the nick of time.

Life is full of turning wheels, and here I am again with a library column byline, written this time from the perspective of the President of the Douglas County Libraries Board of Trustees. The regular inhabitant of this space, Jamie LaRue, is taking a couple of weeks leave, but regular readers need not despair; he’ll be back quite soon.

Douglas County Libraries is excited finally to be able to announce the Grand Opening of the new Neighborhood Library at Roxborough. Located next to Safeway in the Roxborough Marketplace, this facility is, among other things, final proof that we keep our campaign promises. Ten years ago, the last time we asked Douglas County voters to increase property taxes for libraries, we promised to expand the quantity and quality of our services, as well as to build new facilities. Not only have we accomplished what we promised (Parker, Highlands Ranch, Lone Tree and Roxborough), the county seat got a new P.S. Miller Library as a result of some good luck and fast response.

We keep our campaign promises, and we are good stewards of your money. We operate on an annual budget (2006) of about $17.7 million. Most of this comes from property taxes, and most of it is spent to compensate well over 325 full- and part-time employees. Also, this year we’ll spend just under $3 million to purchase software licenses, periodicals, recorded materials (audio and audio-visual) and, oh yes, books.

Some of our libraries are bulging at their seams, notably Parker and Lone Tree. We are working closely with the Town of Parker and the Douglas County School District to examine the efficacy of constructing a shared facility. Similar discussions with partners in Lone Tree, including the City government, its developer, and the Arapahoe Community College are underway. There will come a time when some of the busiest libraries in the County’s fastest-growing communities will need to be replaced with bigger facilities.

Meanwhile, we continually examine what we do, with an eye toward improving service, increasing efficiency, and responding to your wants and needs. Library users (did you know that 72.3% of all Douglas County households have at least one library cardholder?) will notice some big changes this year, as we replace 20th Century barcodes with 21st Century radio frequency identification (RFID). This will enable our superb staff to spend less time on tasks better suited to machines and, consequently, more time helping library customers discover.

These actions, along with implementation of new service models at the busiest libraries, will allow us for now to continue to give you the best service within our existing mill levy constraints.

Finally, while everyone’s memory of the holidays is still fresh, let me remind you that the next big event is Ground Hog Day, February 2. It holds little meaning here, as winter does not really begin until March, irrespective of cloudy weather or rodent shadow. Nonetheless, it comes just days after the Roxborough Grand Opening and less than two weeks before St. Valentine’s Day. The wheel turns.

Mark Weston
Douglas County Libraries Board of Trustees

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