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, March 26, 2009

March 26, 2009 - escape to the library

By Rochelle Logan
Associate Director of Research and Collections,
Douglas County Libraries

“… as soon as her mother had left for bingo, Matilda would toddle down to the library. The walk took only ten minutes and this allowed her two glorious hours sitting quietly by herself in a cozy corner devouring one book after another.” “She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.” From “Matilda” by Roald Dahl

Escape: to get away (as by flight) - - who can afford flying right now? After you've turned off the evening news or put down the local newspaper, you might be looking for something uplifting in your life to get away from the gloom of our economic times. We have so many options these days to find escape and in these hard times, more people are buying beer and wine. Light-hearted movies are experiencing higher ticket sales. We want to watch rags to riches stories like "Slumdog Millionaire" and silliness like "Madea Goes to Jail."

So here is another option for escape or diversion – head to your public library. It's fun AND economical. Those of us who love a book find our own special escape. But the library also offers music, movies, television seasons and more.

Since I was a little girl, I've gone to the library to find fiction books. My favorite story about my childhood library was deciding that I was going to read all the books in the children's area starting from the letter "A." The librarian was very nice and just said that was a good idea. I'm sure I got through about half the books in the "A" section, but it was an important step for me since I realized how much I enjoyed losing myself in a story. Oh yes, and I did NOT finish reading all the books.
I asked some of my friends if they had similar anecdote about their public library. Here are a few stories:

Being new in town eight years ago, the first place I went was to the library to find a book club.  Moving so much, as you know, the library is always first on my list of places to find.

My favorite memory is simply of the relationship with my hometown Carnegie library in Kingman, Kansas. Our town was proud to be one that was chosen to have a library built by Andrew Carnegie in the early 1900's.  I remember trying to open the big wooden doors "quietly," the creak of the wooden floors, the groan of the radiator, the smell of the books and the tall windows.  I love that library and it hooked me forever.  I spent hours there and it never seemed like enough.  I still visit whenever I go home and am warmed by the worn steps knowing that many have passed through those doors with me.

I was taking care of my grandchildren for a week while their parents were gone, when Annie, age 7, came up to me one Saturday morning and announced in a loud voice, "I'm bored!" I looked at her and responded in a shocked voice, "Annie, you can read!  You don't ever have to be bored again in your whole life!" Wide-eyed, she looked at me and said "Oh!" Then she disappeared into her room and came back with a library book. Her parents tell me that the main problem they have now (she's 11) is getting her away from whatever book she's reading to eat, dress, feed the pets, or whatever else she needs to be doing. I guess that was a successful suggestion! They go often to the library to keep Annie in reading material.

When my mother reached her 80's her eyesight was getting poor. She was bored and not able to read like she used to. She had been a voracious reader all her life. I took her to the library to find large print books. This was a turning point for her as she discovered not only that she loved the large print, but also checked out books on CD. Now she likes to talk on the phone about what she's reading. It really brought variety and substance to her life.

Many thanks to the women of the Highlands Ranch Reading Group who sent me their stories. If you have one to offer, please email it to Aspen Walker, at awalker @ dclibraries . org

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