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, April 6, 2006

April 6, 2006 - LaRue's Views

Effective today, this column has a new name. It's not just a title. It's a disclaimer.

First, I thought about adding a more formal statement to the end of each column. It would read something like this: "The opinions expressed in this column, unless stated otherwise, are not the official views of the Library Board of Trustees."

Does that mean some of the things I say are NOT endorsed by the Trustees? Yes.

While I have never tried to push a position they have voted against, the Trustees simply haven't reviewed what I write ahead of time, so shouldn't be held responsible for it -- particularly if it irritates or angers members of the public.

That doesn't happen as often as you'd think. But it happens sometimes.

I might also point out that my thinking doesn't necessarily reflect that of other library staff, either although Lord knows life is easier when it does.

Now that I think of it, even I don't always support the arguments I make here. Sometimes, I'm just trying on an idea for size. A week later, I may have learned something new, seen the error of my ways, and moved on.

Or I may discover there is a deep thread of truth, and that leads me on.

There's no denying (indeed, it is my great pleasure) that I am the director of the Douglas County Libraries. In my columns I try to set an administrative tone: about our commitment to service, about fundamental values affecting our operations, about my expectations for myself and staff.

Sometimes I also report on our budget, our statistics, and our plans. When representing the institution I serve, I strive to be as accurate and forthright as possible. Often I even solicit public comment on some service, or potential action.

On occasion, I do indeed represent the decisions of my bosses, and am proud to say so.

In all those ways, this has been, and will continue to be, a "library column."

But the reason I started writing this column in the first place is that, for me, libraries just won't stay put.

Public libaries connect to everything: urban planning, arts and culture, local history and global politics, public education and small business development. The deeper I get into librarianship, the richer those connections become.

My "views" are often based on something I believe in whole-heartedly: the EXERCISE of literacy. I read a lot, listen to and watch a lot. I talk to a lot of people.

To me the exercise of literacy also involves writing: making judgments about the information I sift through, trying to fit my conclusions into an always changing, but I hope always more coherent, worldview. I do this in a newspaper column; others may write blogs or websites.

One of the things I abhor about our current culture is that too many people are frantic to categorize everything into one of two camps. Something is either liberal or conservative, blue or red, black or white.

How small! How confining! As if our thinking, our lives, can, or should, be reduced to a binary choice.

One of the signs of our time is the idea that there must be a profound conformity of opinion -- in just one or two camps. But my own understanding of the world suggests that all the transformative ideas in our culture come from outside the norm.

Cleaving too close to one camp or the other means that you'll miss those big ideas.

So consider this both disclaimer and a promise to continue to poke around in the ocean of ideas. Isn't that just what a librarian ought to do?

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