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, September 29, 2011

September 29, 2011 - library targets six community goals for 2012

Some months ago I wrote about library staff conducting interviews with some 40+ community leaders. We asked those leaders three core questions: what issues do you think your constituents will most care about over the next couple of years? What information do you need to make important decisions? And who else should we talk to?

After gathering all that, we had another meeting to comb through it with many of the people we met with. We wanted to know whether we got things right, what we'd missed, and what else we should be thinking about.

Ultimately, we boiled down our 2012 action list to 6 items.

* Promote Douglas County businesses. We have a variety of business communities in the county. And while several of them have had local campaigns to "shop the Rock" (for instance), there's never been a comprehensive push to area residents to spend their money here in the county.

There are many advantages to such a program. Not only do those dollars keep our local citizens working, the sales tax revenues fund important regional infrastructure that helps all of us.

The library will carry this message to the Partnership of Douglas County Governments. Most economic development organizations and chambers of commerce receive strong support from both the county and local municipalities. It makes sense (and cents) to return the favor.

* Secure long term and sustainable water. The library can't solve this one. But we can help the people who work on it. We'll be assigning at least one crackerjack reference librarian to existing organizations working on water issues.

* Provide job training. There are a lot of people looking for work. Soon, we'll be announcing our partnership with Arapahoe/Douglas County Works! That's a job training center, offering a host of new skills to motivated job seekers. We will offer free space to them at our Philip S. Miller Library in Castle Rock.

* Facilitate volunteerism. This is a hot one. Lots of people are looking for a chance to "give back" to their communities. But right now it's not easy to find the opportunities. While there are many worthy organizations, potential volunteers have to go to each website, then poke around very different organizational schemes.

The library will lead an effort to make the process a little easier. Many of our high school students need to get those volunteer hours in before they can graduate.

* Celebrate civic engagement. Keying off the previous issue, the library will begin to identify some outstanding civic heroes around the county, and give them the recognition they deserve. All of our communities DO have heroes, and they deserve their moment in the sun.

* Help veterans find jobs. There are a tremendous number of service men and women returning from duty who bring extraordinary skills with them. Yet we know that many of these people have particular difficulty getting connected to local employment. In our role as information providers and community connectors, the library should be able to help with that.

Again, I want to thank the many thoughtful people in Douglas County who helped identify the important concerns we all have in common. Now it's time to get after them.
LaRue's Views are his own.

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