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, June 7, 2007

June 7, 2007 - library sponsors open house on future

I wonder if this is true for anybody else: the more you know about things, the more amazed you are that anything ever works.

It reminds me of a day in high school. Our math teacher had just told us something surprising: there were an infinite number of points in a line. Divide it in half, divide it again, keep dividing, and you could keep going forever. Immediately after that, I had Physical Education, in which I was expected to run 50 yards.

"That's impossible!" I protested. "Before I could run 50 yards, I'd have to run 25. There are an infinite number of points in a line! You can't expect a high school kid to run an infinite distance!"

In exchange for this thoroughly commendable cross-disciplinary insight, I was made to run not just 50 yards, but the entire circumference of a football field. I remember it with pride -- the day I did the impossible.

But seriously, no matter what profession you're in, it's a battle of increasing expectations. You learn to do some task with competence. Let's say, to use a library example, that task is reading a story to children.

But then you start to realize that a successful story time isn't just about your own ability to read dramatically and with color. It's also about having the setting right.

And once you get the setting right -- an enclosed space with carpeted floor and seats for the parents -- you realize that there are other factors. Again, just to continue an example, you need a large enough parking lot for the parents and children to make it to the event.

To get the parking lot large enough, you need a big enough plot of land.

To get the right sized plot of land, you need enough resources to buy it and pave it.

To secure sufficient resources ...

The point is that no matter how small your task (not that telling good stories to children is a small task), it takes place within a larger context. And your understanding or competence in that larger context can have a big effect on your ability to get something done.

There's a trap here: you can get so demoralized by your inability to ensure world peace that you can't work up the energy to go grocery shopping. Creativity and dedication can get things done no matter where you find yourself. The trick is to be in the moment, to do your best with what you've got.

On the other hand, you have to at least TRY to understand and to influence the larger context. That's just being responsible, and it reflects a more mature understanding of your business.

Along those lines, I want to invite the public to come talk to us about library plans. In order to maintain current standards of library service, we're going to need more space. "To secure sufficient resources," our public, that's you, need to know about and approve of those plans.

So we'd like to share them. At the following dates, places and times, I'll be available to chat with anybody about our standards, our projections, and anything else on your mind about the library's future. At various times, I'll be joined by board members. I hope to see you there!

I can promise this: it beats running laps around a football field.

6/16 Highlands Ranch Library. Formal presentation: 1-2 p.m. But I'll also be there for half an hour before, and an hour afterward.
6/30 Parker Library. Formal presentation: 1-2 p.m. Again, I'll be there from 12:30 to 3 p.m. to catch stragglers.
7/7 Philip S. Miller Library in Castle Rock. Formal presentation: 3-4 p.m. I'll be there from 2-5 p.m.
7/8 Neighborhood Library at Roxborough. Formal presentation: 1-2 p.m. I'll be there 12-3 p.m.
7/9 Neighborhood Library at Lone Tree. Formal presentation: 7-8 p.m. I'll be around from 6-9 p.m.

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