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, November 22, 2007

November 22, 2007 - First Impressions: It’s All About The People…

by Barbara Dash, Library Trustee

As a Douglas County resident for eighteen years, I have a long-standing appreciation for the programs and services offered by our libraries. But it wasn’t until three months ago when I became a new trustee on the Douglas County Library (DCL) Board of Directors that I had a chance to peek behind the curtain and find out how our library system really works. What I’ve discovered is that it really is all about the people – who do some remarkable things.

It quickly became apparent to me just how important the selection of a 7th trustee to fill a Board vacancy was when all six incumbent trustees and the Library Director participated in the interview process. I’ve gotten to know these new colleagues as wonderful, highly capable and dedicated individuals who take their Library Board responsibilities, including fiduciary obligations, very seriously. They’re committed to assuring that the library serves the best interests of our communities in the most effective ways possible. The Board holds itself accountable under Colorado Library Law, its own bylaws and annual performance goals, to the taxpayers of Douglas County and to each other.

Another group of 300 or so volunteers doing remarkable things for the good of our libraries are citizens who range from students to senior citizens and help with projects or regular assignments.

At the helm of the DCL system is the library director, Jamie LaRue. It’s hard to imagine anyone better suited for this pivotal leadership position. He’s an astute business man who is keenly aware of his charter to steward taxpayer funding, delivering the highest quality services in the most efficient and cost effective way. In fact, Jamie has essentially built the library into a large successful business enterprise, establishing the same standards and best practices that I’ve seen in industry. He’s also highly respected by other Colorado library leaders, and just this month he received a prestigious intellectual freedom award for the 2nd time.

Working right along side the library director are more remarkable people – his staff. Through the years of unprecedented population growth in Douglas County, they’ve constantly assessed needs for library services, which have increased in both volume and complexity. To meet those needs, the director and his staff are leading the entire library workforce through comprehensive organizational change. They’re deploying automation to achieve process efficiency and redesigning work to better utilize staff skills. In the end, it’s a win/win – for library workers who benefit from job enrichment and for patrons and communities who benefit from the expertise of professionals who have kept up with the times.

One of my most exceptional experiences is remarkable because it hasn’t changed. I received the same welcome and high level of service as a library patron as I have since I’ve been on the Board. It’s clear that a strong commitment to service excellence along with a passion for continuous learning and pride in their work are fundamental values that we see demonstrated every day in the work of the entire library staff. They simplify access to the vast inventory of library materials, offer an amazing array of specialized professional services, and create multi-purpose learning environments. Our Douglas County libraries have truly become community gathering places where all are welcome. What comes through loud and clear is that the enormous value of all these services for taxpayer dollars is one of the greatest bargains still around – to say nothing of the promise of greater returns for the knowledge gained.

There’s one more very important group of people who make the library what it is. That’s all of you who come to the library, utilize its services and programs, support it and give us your input. You inspire us and challenge us to continually strive to be the best.

I like these first impressions and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to serve with all of my new library colleagues.

Barbara Dash

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