Throwing Away the Book

Letters to the Editor

Trash landing: I guess Stuart Steers's "Checked Out," in the August 7 issue, explains what I've noticed lately at my beloved Denver Public Library (where I've borrowed books for over thirty years): first, the de-emphasis on serious works, then the de-emphasis on books themselves, attended by the introduction of tapes, art displays, films, Net surfing, CDs -- anything but reading material -- and then the mysterious closure of the library store. Here I've been saying to myself, gee, isn't it time for the book sale? Rick Ashton has made a huge mistake in conceiving of the book sale strictly as a fundraiser. It has traditionally been a joint celebration of the people of the metro area and their library: The DPL distributes its beloved excess to the people for cheap, and the people come to buy with gratitude in their hearts for the library. Great PR.

Casting out the Friends is the last straw. If he thinks the high rollers who attend his private functions or the WWF video fans can carry the vote on whether to fund his library district, he may well discover that his real demographic -- teachers, students, researchers, historians, bibliophiles and other somewhat intellectual middle-class citizens -- has abandoned him. A library throwing books in the trash is sacrilege, a sin, a crime. It is anathema!

Susan Williams

Cheers for volunteers: I am an employee of the Denver Public Library, and I am very concerned about the impression given by Stuart Steers's article concerning our volunteers. Morale is low as we face all these difficult changes, and we could not continue without the support and help of our volunteers. It has been very difficult, as we work twice as hard to make up for our losses in staff and resources. We could not continue to provide effective service without the help of our volunteers. They are our most valuable asset, and it pains me to hear that some feel they are not appreciated. I assure you that we all know we could not function without them -- especially in times like these. If it weren't for our volunteers and their dedicated efforts, the library would not be able to operate.

To all the library volunteers, thanks for all you do -- and know that the employees appreciate your efforts.

Name withheld on request

Living on borrowed time: Stuart Steer's "Checked Out" was a very fine and detailed article about this subject; many other communities face the same difficulties. Great writing and research; thanks very much.

Michael McGrorty, library student
Altadena, California

Broken bindings: I worked once a week as a volunteer book sorter at the Belmar Library for two years. The volunteer who trained me had worked in the Jefferson County library system for many years and was excellent at her job. I never witnessed good books being thrown away, and their sorting system over the years had been refined and rerefined until the donated books ended up in approximately three dozen categories. Actually, the library's problem was that hundreds of books were being donated each week for their yearly book sale and for resale in their library bookstore -- and the only place to sort the donated books was in an employee hallway. They were woefully short of shelves to store the incoming books and had no tables where books could be sorted and boxed. They were also almost always short of library carts, so the bulk of the sorting I did was into boxes placed on the floor with employees constantly walking around the boxes -- and me. I had to sort books and keep out of the staff's way at the same time. The final straw was when I came in one day and found around thirty books that wouldn't fit on the already loaded shelves piled on the floor, which further eliminated what little cramped space I had to work in. And, due to poor planning, this condition existed in a brand-new library! I haven't been back to the Belmar branch library since I quit a year ago. Also, as of this date, I still haven't received a letter from the library stating, "Thank you for helping us. If you have time to volunteer in the future, please keep us in mind." But I was mildly berated by my paid supervisor for not giving her two weeks' notice or helping train a new person to fill my job.

Robert R. White Jr.

A real page-turner: Mayor John Hickenlooper shouldn't have difficulty seeing the policy problems reflected in "Checked Out." In a "Democratic" city, criticizing unnecessary expansion of government spending is unpopular. While Representative Diana DeGette's publicly funded Web site screams "cradle-to-grave health care," the majority believe "the People" should not pay for services the private sector already provides.

Choosing priorities is basic business/government partnership process. Could Rick Ashton actually believe he has succeeded? Is $140,000/calendar-year salary not enough incentive to rise above politics and make solid business decisions? Even when the Friends' costs are $.78/dollar raised, they provide services deducted from costs to "the People" and $.22/dollar, free. And why buy any "best-sellers"? Within a week of the publishing date, thousands of "members" have read their own copy, which they'd probably donate to the library, if asked.

A new library tax district? An inventive idea from tax-and-spenders, hiding issues in "social-good" feathers while tarring fault onto "an uncaring national political administration" -- typical Clinton-Gore-era tactics. Facts scream beyond partisanship, though. Elections brought us the "I don't care who's responsible, I want it fixed Parking Meter Mayor." Well, good luck, Mayor; the honeymoon might last another couple of weeks.

David Husted

He speaks volumes: Oh, no -- say it ain't so! First Westword reported on the demise of Denver's renowned Museum of Nature & Science, and in your August 7 issue, it is the deterioration of the Denver Public Library under Rick Ashton. I used Christ's words a year ago regarding the museum: "Do not cast your pearls before swine, lest they be trampled under foot." The same applies to what is happening to our great library. When the leadership is concerned mainly about monies, the reason for the existence of these institutions gets lost. They were not started to make money. What is happening is like a watering-down of good beer, wine or whiskey: The great taste is lost. These so-called leaders seem inept in knowing the real purpose of these institutions and clearly misunderstand and care little for the great people who dedicate their lives and time to these institutions.

What a shame, and what a loss to the people they should serve.

Frank Galmish

Hacks and Flacks

Pressing engagements: In the August 7 "Role Reversal," Michael Roberts's excellent coverage of DIA PR maven Amy Bourgeron shows eloquently why Bourgeron is incompetent to run communications at a major airport (or anywhere else).

A PR rube from inner Labrador would know that not talking to Paula Woodward, taking action in the courts and fighting coverage of a personal-patronage gravy train are three successive, basic blunders. If Amy had gone to school and cracked a PR book (does she even know Cutlip, Grunig, Hunt?), she'd realize that personalizing public dissonance suggests culpability (get a dictionary and look up the big words).

Real PR pros know that they're cannon fodder paid to take it for the good of the organization. By blubbering, Bourgeron shows that even with a "demotion" to $72K, she doesn't have what it takes.

The gig's up, Amy. Your $72K won't last long, either. It's still not too late to sign up for the fall semester. Right now, you can afford it.

Marco D'Ugo
Wheat Ridge

California Schemin'

Good riddance: Regarding Richard Scott's letter about Kobe Bryant in the August 7 issue:

Richard, glad to see that you've moved back to the land of milk and honey (and Gray Davis). Since you're now back where you belong, I suggest you keep your whiny trap shut about Colorado. Ooooh . . .so your nasty neighbors ratted you out because you didn't want to register your vehicle in Colorado. If you were a Colorado resident, by law you were required to register your cars in Colorado within thirty days. Period. No excuses. If I were your neighbor, I'd have done the same.

So get off your high horse about what you feel about Colorado law. You didn't feel obliged to obey it while you were here, so you have no right to criticize it from there in Looneyfornia.

Hey, are you running for governor yet?

Pete Bialka

See Dick run: No, Mr. Bryant can't get a fair trial here or anywhere else. Our society has immortalized our professional athletes to the point where a local rape case gets international press. To be honest, I don't give a crap about Kobe Bryant's "misadventures." If he is guilty, he should do the time just like any other Joe; if not, let him play his game and do his thing. Just like O.J. Simpson -- of California.

As for Richard Scott's experience here in Colorado, well, I'm sure his neighbors in Longmont didn't shed a tear when he moved to L.A., nor did the tens of thousands of other California residents who relocated here to Colorado (many of them friends of mine). It sounds like Scott has read a few brochures on Colorado history. I assuming he's referring to the Sand Creek Massacre; actually, such events took place all through the West during the 1850s through the 1890s. The settling of the West involved many bloody conflicts that left innocents killed, both Native American and white. Hey, why don't you go to the L.A. public library and read some books about the battles that took place in Arizona and southern New Mexico? You'll find some California ancestors of yours in the Army collecting scalps and raping Native American women, as well as a few Mexicans. Unfortunately, Scott, Western history isn't pretty, and California did help shape the West.

I've been to California as well as many other states, and I've found that every state has great things to offer and nice people. But each state also has its dicks, Dick.

P.S. Alferd Packer committed his crime in Colorado, and his trial took place in Lake City, Colorado -- but he was from Ohio.

Kurt Foster

Stink or swim: What does some jackass getting turned in for not registering his car here in two and a half years have to do with Kobe Bryant getting a fair trial? Why is it that Californians seem to think they are above the law? Mr. Scott claims to know from firsthand experience that Kobe won't get a fair trial here because "alleged" rape and car registration violations are the same? According to Mr. Scott, they are. Mr. Scott also goes on to speak about negative events and people who were in Colorado in the 1800s.

Thanks for trying to make us look bad, jackass, but let's talk about recent California contributions to history: the O.J. fiasco, the Rodney King riots, the Manson family, Robert Blake, Chandra Levy, Suge Knight and, finally, Kobe -- just to name a few. Not to mention the current gubernatorial race that features Gary Coleman, the Terminator, Larry Flynt of Hustler fame and anyone else with $3,500. I think most Coloradans will agree with your own statement that "I was finally so desperate I took a job in L.A." Yeah, you must have been extremely desperate to go to a psych ward like L.A.

To quote one group of Californians I do like, Tool: "Let It Swim." God, I love that song; it should be mandatory listening for all Californians. Any Californians who do not like Colorado, go back to California...and take Boulder with you!

Jason Novak


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