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 24, 2011

March 24, 2011 - one way or another, you get a book

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking and talking with colleagues about the future of libraries. How will or should we respond to the coming eBook shift in the publishing world?

I have three comments this week.

First, at the Douglas County Libraries, over a third of our checkouts are children’s books. It isn’t uncommon to see mothers and a gaggle of giggling preschoolers tumble out the door with as many as 40 books at a time. Often, that's the haul from a visit that happens every week.

It’s hard not to feel good about that. Families that come to the library together not only spend quality time in each other’s company, they also establish a habit of literacy. Students in Douglas County schools tend to do very well academically. Surely part of the explanation is that many Douglas County children are ready to read long before they get to kindergarten. Libraries help make communities smarter.

What about those families who bring their children to the library? Are they really going to have an eBook reader for each child? Are they really willing to buy 40 books a week, 52 weeks a year?

If our goal is literate kids, the library – and its role as a cost-effective distributor of literature, music, and movies - will have a role for a long time.

Nonetheless, we have to explore new directions, too.

And that’s my second comment. I am very pleased to announce a partnership between the Colorado Independent Publishers Association (CIPA), and two Colorado libraries: the Red Rocks Community College Library, and the Douglas County Libraries.

Many members of CIPA have entered the world of digital publishing. By June of 2011, the Red Rocks Community College and the Douglas County Libraries will not only offer ebooks from CIPA authors for checkout through library catalogs, but will also allow click-through purchases of these titles.

Karen Reddick, Executive Director of the Colorado Independent Publishers Association, said "For twenty years, CIPA has been one of the largest and most active independent publishing groups in the nation. This pilot program will help us introduce a new generation of writers to a new generation of readers. Some of those readers will become writers themselves; some will become the next generation of independent publishers."

This partnership underscores the changing nature of publishing and distribution. Recently, larger commercial publishers have cut libraries out of the eBook market altogether, or have imposed onerous new restrictions on use.

"Libraries are natural partners with independent publishers," said Joseph Sanchez, Director of Library and Learning Services for the Red Rocks Community College. "We understand and value both copyrights and the great value of alternative viewpoints. We can easily integrate eBooks into our collections, ensuring one use at a time, but also exposing authors to precisely the people who are looking for them."

My own take is this: Connecting writers and readers is what we do best, through our two million visitors a year to our facilities, and another two million through our catalog. This project will demonstrate not only that libraries are firm supporters of the independent publishers through our willingness to buy and promote their works, but also that libraries and publishers can help each other grow the still-developing eBook market.

Finally, my third comment is about what to do when your old car finally dies. Mine did, so I gave it to the library. And I'm not alone. If you’re on our website (DouglasCountyLibraries.org), click on the lower left corner, labeled Car Donation. There, you’ll get a couple of phone numbers (303-423-2277, or 866-701-2277), or can fill out an online form. They came and picked it up right out of my driveway. They auctioned it off, and donated half of that back to the library. The more cars we collect, the more we make. It’s easy, convenient, tax-deductible (they send you a receipt), and it’s good for your community.

What does that have to do with eBooks? Well, if you haven’t got a car, you may as well stay home and read. One way or another, we’ll get a book to you.
LaRue's Views are his own.


  1. Bravo on this new partnership, Jamie! It's a good direction to go, and should enhance library services immensely! Congratulations to all. I hope that patrons support it with click-through purchases... Depending on offerings, I sure will.

    Now, to this bit about donating dead cars -- what is this? Some sort of commie plot? ;-) Certainly is a liberal-minded thing: NPR is constantly asking me for "my old unwanted vehicle." Of course, the truly red-necked thing to do is to let it sit a hulking, rusting wreck along side the house. Whaddayamean? It has value to someone else after I'm done with it? And I get a tax deduction? Seems un-American! ;-)

  2. My car rolled into my driveway and died. One call, they came and towed it out. But come on, tow trucks, spinning lights, and auctions? What's more American than that?