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, December 27, 2007

December 27, 2007 - so you want to be a Trustee

“The players have changed but the game remains the same." - Harrison Ford, "Working Girl."

As we approach 2008, the Library Board of Trustees finds itself with two vacancies. Leaving us at the end of December is Steve Roper, who was appointed back in 1996. His term expires in January of 2010; his replacement will fill that out. Candidates must currently reside in Douglas County Commissioner District III, meaning Highlands Ranch.

Also leaving us, at the end of her term, is Cathy Norris. Her replacement will be an "at-large candidate" -- meaning that he or she may reside anywhere in the county. That term will run to January 2011.

Both have contributed much to the institution, and will be hard to replace.

So this is a call for people interested in serving on the Douglas County Libraries Board of Trustees.

Who is the Board?

Trustees are volunteers who serve 3 year terms. They are interviewed by the current Trustees, who then make a recommendation for appointment to the County Commissioners.

What does the Board do? Its tasks are fourfold:

(1) To adopt policies for the governance of the library.
(2) To adopt and oversee the budget.
(3) To provide long range planning for the library.
(4) To annually evaluate the director.

Unique among the boards I've known, our trustees have another tradition: an annual evaluation of their own performance, as part of its ongoing analysis of the entire district's effectiveness.

What kinds of issues will the board be dealing with (hence, what kinds of expertise might it be seeking)?

* Facilities constraints. As of 2008, the district will for the first time fall below our standards of library space for our still growing population. Our problem is Parker is acute. It is demonstrable in Castle Pines North. It is predictable in Lone Tree. Strong connections to these communities are essential.

* Organizational transformation. Faced with tightening resources and increased demand, the library has embarked on a host of initiatives to increase productivity and efficiency. These changes ripple through our organization, affecting budgets, job descriptions, building layout, and more. Trustees must balance these changes against our essential mission.

* Community effectiveness. The library is not only a tool for individual growth, it is also a social asset. What can, or should, we do to better serve the pressing needs of our communities?

What makes for a good Trustee?

* Knowledge of and involvement with community. The Board wants people who know about, care about, and actively work to improve their social, educational, and political environment.

* Commitment to policy governance. Board members are strategists, not day to day managers. When it comes to library operations, Trustees keep their noses in, but their hands out.

* Commitment to intellectual freedom and the public library. The purpose of the public library in our society is to provide the broadest possible access to intellectual resources. That takes, I think, a measure of fearlessness -- and a commitment to present the evidence of our culture, even when it's not especially popular.

The Library Board currently has four men and one woman. In the name of gender balance, female applicants are strongly encouraged. The Board also now has no one with young children; yet that constituency is among our biggest users.

If you are interested in applying, please send a letter of interest and resume to:

Board of Trustees
Douglas County Libraries
100 S Wilcox
Castle Rock CO 80104

Or email trustees@dclibraries.org.

Please send in your information by January 18, 2007. We will then seek to schedule interviews shortly thereafter.

Thank you!

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