Contact me

These days, I'm the director of the American Library Association' s Office for Intellectual Freedom. I'm also executive director and secretary of the Freedom to Read Foundation. See "About Me" for contact information.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Bad 3 in Plain English

First TV ad against Amendments 60/61 / Proposition 101

Saturday, September 18, 2010

litl

This comes through Suzanne, then from the Daily Grommet. It's about a little "webbook" that's an interesting twist on simple computing. The design has a kind of Zen-like/Mac simplicity. If all your work is in the cloud, it's not bad. It's apparently based on Flash, not on more open standards. Is it as good as a laptop? Not quite - it only has apps in the cloud. Is it as good as an iPad? Not as many apps here, either, and it weighs more, too. I don't see an ebook reader, and the "store" is still a little thin. Still, it's an interesting design by a small company, and maybe handy for folks who just don't want the bother of a computer.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Amendment 60/61, Proposition 101 poll

Released on Sept. 3, 2010, a poll by Ciruli Associates reports that support for the statewide ballot initiatives looks like this:

Amendment 60
Definitely/likely to vote for: 32%
Definitely likely to vote against: 45%
Don't know: 23%

Amendment 61
Definitely/likely to vote for: 36%
Definitely likely to vote against: 34%
Don't know: 29%

Proposition 101:
Definitely/likely to vote for: 51%
Definitely likely to vote against: 33%
Don't know: 16%

Saturday, September 4, 2010

New newspaper archive

There are three measures on this fall's Colorado ballot - Amendments 60 and 61, Proposition 101 - which, if successful, will not only reduce my library's budget by 58%, but will wreak similar havoc on municipalities, counties, schools, special districts, and the state itself. They will also create an economic climate that is positively repellent to business. I don't know who first called the "bad 3" "a voter approved Depression," but that sums it up.

I have been writing newspaper columns for 23 years. Mostly, my thoughts have focused on the issues faced by the library, and a host of various program announcements and policy considerations. A couple of times in the past year, I wrote about federal issues. The lashback from some members of my community was rapid and extreme. They threatened lawsuits, they threatened boycotts and punishment at the ballot box, they actively sought to have me fired by county commissioners and the board.

That's ok by me, by the way. Free speech is free speech, and no one harmed me in the least. The library's lawyer confirmed that opining about things I read is perfectly legal. But I talked about my column's growing controversy with my board, agreed that I would henceforth call my columns "LaRue's Views," and end them with "LaRue's Views are his own." I even asked the newspaper to move the columns off the "library page" in the paper. That's funny, really, because until I started writing my columns, that page didn't exist. But the editors moved me to the editorial page.

My columns were also posted on the library's website, with both the title and disclaimer.

But when I started to write about the "bad 3" I had a problem. Something called the Fair Campaign Practices Act forbids the use of public funds to try to actively campaign for or against some local vote. I write my columns on my own time. I send them out from my own email account. While I have no idea how to calculate the cost of posting and hosting my columns on the library's website (pennies?), I talked it over with our attorney, and decided that it was time for a break. I left all my old columns (from January, 1996 to August, 2010) on the library as a kind of digital archive. You'll see that link to the right of this blog. My columns are still around, but eventually, won't appear on the top page of the library's web site.

Then I created a new blog - and that link is to the right of this blog, too - where I can be as bluntly political as I like. "Newspaper columns - current" can be found at laruesviews.blogspot.com.

No public money is expended. Nothing I say now has any sponsorship by my employer.

And that's really good, because if I can't speak up now, speak against measures that would undo in one year what took 20 years to build, then why speak at all?

Incidentally, our BHAG (Public Library Advocacy effort) is now wrapped up. Its successor effort, a private initiative, can be found here: bad3bad4libraries.blogspot.com/. Check it out.

New LaRue Website

I spent a while this morning doing something I should have done sooner: refresh my website. On my home (Ubuntu) machine, I fired up the open source web-editor Kompozer. Then I went looking for some templates. Eventually, I found one called "Simple Beauty." I also found Youtube videos that gave me a good, quick introduction to how to use Kompozer with templates.

Start to finish, I think it took 3 hours to completely recast most of my site. In the past, I used my website to stash some professional and personal resources that I need from time to time. That's still handy, but these days, I'm seeing the website as something else: a way to make it easier to connect with folks looking for the kinds of talks, workshops, and facilitation that I enjoy doing. To that end, I've concentrated more on sprucing up the look of the pages, and getting a little more professional about what services I provide, what topics I know something about, and which audiences might find any of that of interest. The signature page for that is here.

The template isn't that exciting. If I find a better one, I may work it through again. But the main thing is that I have taken a step toward how I market myself to the world. I like public speaking. I like helping organizations get better. Maybe now I'll get to do that more often.

I should also say that I sent a quick email to some people I admire very much, asking for some feedback on what I might put up on such a page. All of them responded thoughtfully - and quickly. While I didn't take all their advice, I took most of it. I have good friends, and I'm grateful to them.