I am attending the 2011 annual PaLA conference in State College, PA. I have spent the morning with James (Jamie) LaRue, Director of Douglas County Libraries in Colorado, in what amounted to a triple session beginning with a breakfast address and followed by a double session entitled “Re-thinking public libraries.” If I glean nothing else from this conference (although I’m certain I will learn a lot more since this is only my first day/session), the gems of wisdom such as the one in my post title will have made this conference well worth the time and money.
I wanted to attend LaRue’s session ever since I made the connection between the speaker and this letter, which I have never forgotten. And as a speaker, Mr. LaRue lived up to the expectations conjured by his impassioned, respectful, and well-reasoned defense of a challenged children’s book.
A couple other gems that stand out (not sure if these are exact quotes, but they’re close):
Go to the people; they won’t come to you
Librarians will not survive if they just stay in the building
Get rid of the circ desk
These are just a few sound bites from a provocative, forward-thinking, innovative session filled with wonderfully fresh ideas and a healthy perspective on libraries, ebooks, self-publishing, community, and the future. LaRue states that 62% of his libraries’ collection is checked out. And he has responded to approximately 250 book challenges, including the one I mentioned above.
I’ll probably be back to write more about this and other PaLA sessions, but this is a good start for now, starting with that title quote, which I’m going to frame and hang on my wall.