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, July 23, 2009

July 23, 2009 - lifelong learning is fun

I've been thinking lately about how libraries work. Today, I might put it like this: driven by our core beliefs, librarians assemble complex systems to achieve important community outcomes.

For instance, because librarians have a keen value for literacy in all its manifestations, we build collections and programs to nurture a community of lifelong learners. Lifelong learners not only know how to read, think, and discuss, they get a big kick out of doing it. Regularly.

Lifelong learning has a broad reach. It takes in everything from attending storytimes as an infant, to watching obscure foreign films, to a comprehensive and compulsive reading of romance novels, to attending every free lecture you can find.

But not only libraries are in this business of growing literate communities. This week, I'd like to highlight the efforts of the University of Denver's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. OLLI, as it is known, is a lecture/study program designed for older learners (age 50 and up).

It happens that OLLI has a new south campus, located right here in Douglas County. For a modest membership fee (usually $100, but now an introductory offer of $75), you can choose from a listing of 9 topics taught locally -- and many more from other campuses. Membership offers other perks: access to the Penrose Library, discounts on Newman Center concerts, and so on.The fee is good for one academic term (fall, winter, spring).

Most of the classes last 8 weeks (typically one 2 hour session a week, usually held on a week day). They are taught, often, by OLLI members, many of whom have impressive credentials. A sample of upcoming topics:

* Eyewitness to Power - taught by Harry Cullis, on a book by David Gergen, former advisor to four U.S. presidents.

* Macbeth: Fair or Foul - taught by Patricia Paul, past president of the Colorado Language Arts Society.

* Colorado Mystery Writers Series - featuring eight different writers presenting on their own work.

* Searching for Hussan: a cultural, historical, and political tour of Iran - taught by Khosrow Badiozamani, who was born in Iran.

* A Survey of Comparative Mythology: the contributions of Joseph Campbell - taught by Thomas Carter, international businessman.

OLLI also offers a smattering of one-offs -- one-time lectures with their own modest fees (for instance, $10 gets you into a two hour class on fine music appreciation).

There are no exams. This is learning for the fun of it.

On Tuesday, August 4, from 10 a.m. to noon, OLLI is sponsoring an open house at the south campus. According to a recent press release, "The open house is an opportunity to learn more about the program, register for classes and meet OLLI members. For information, or to be added to the OLLI South database, contact Nancy Chase at 720-203-9708 or nancychase@q.com. OLLI South Open House & classes: Valley View Christian Church, 11004 Wildfield Lane (4 miles south of US85 & C470 on the northeast corner of South Santa Fe Drive & Titan Parkway)."

More information, and online registration, is available at www.universitycollege.du.edu/olli.

Meanwhile, for those of you who are not yet 50, or don't have $75 to spare, remember that the People's University (doing business as the Douglas County Libraries) offers a guaranteed scholarship to a lifetime of exploration.

Why not start today?

LaRue's Views are his own.

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