Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Kenosha WI and back

Today I talked with the staff of the Kenosha (WI) Public Library about intellectual freedom issues. (Thank you, director Barb Brattin, for the opportunity!)

There is a sense - not just in Kenosha - that things (our society, our norms of political contest) are changing. There are some things we thought we knew that are suddenly not so certain.

So, the role of the library is .... ?

I said that we should do what we have always done, what is still most urgently required: gather, organize, and present to the public the intellectual content of our culture. That content comes from several sources. Mainstream publishing has been the key pipeline for at least a generation of library users.

But I also pointed out that there are now far more numerous and potentially more powerful wellsprings of content production. Small, independent, and self-publishing now completely overwhelms the 350,000 annual titles of our Big Five publishers and three or four distributors. Today, there are over 1 million new titles published each year. Yet most libraries know almost nothing about this new content.

Even that unprecedented upsurge doesn't begin to touch the dynamic content of the internet, which may well have tipped the last presidential election.

Another important point is that the intellectual content of our culture is not just "out there." It's "in here," too - it is embedded in the minds and hearts of the people of our communities. Libraries of all descriptions - academic, school, and public - could do a much better job of cataloging those resources, both formally and informally.

What does it all mean?

It means that there remains an important role for libraries. We need to continue to introduce the world to our communities. We need to help our communities create new content. We need to find the balance between social justice (providing sanctuary and welcome to all), and intellectual freedom (here defined as the right not only to speak, but also to gain access to the speech of others). We need to provide common and neutral ground for our communities to have the vital discussions they must have.

An invigorating morning.

And on the way back, under a very grey, overhanging sky (winter is coming!), I found a haiku:

on every side road
of Sheridan Avenue
thigh high piles of leaves

Sunday, November 27, 2016

New website, again

I've been an Earthlink customer - for home internet, for home networking, for web hosting - since 2002. But for the past few months, I've been unhappy with that relationship.

The big problem was that my DSL connection just started pooping out. I called it in, spent lots of time troubleshooting it, and even replaced the modem. I could never get EarthLink to even admit that there was a problem. Nonetheless, the internet connection became unusable.

As far as web hosting is concerned, things have gotten cheaper. $10 a month wasn't bad, but some folks charge half that or less.

I bought a domain name,, a long time ago, through another company. Then, a few years back, I moved to Google for email, which required some odd gyrations with EarthLink mail server settings.

Then I got to thinking: my website had been whittled down to a few links and just a little text. Why not just move that content over to my blog, and make my blog the website?

Advantages: the preservation of eight years of content. No more hosting fees (blogger is free). A more dynamic web presence. Some encouragement to blog more often, maybe.

Disadvantages: it looks more like a blog than a website. OK by me.

So I've moved over the content that matters, tidied up the links, backed up everything, and done a little investigation about how to point my domain name to blogger. I'll try to wrap that up tomorrow. Then I'll give up on EarthLink, a company that just never took me seriously. And incidentally, save $120 a year. It might make my life a little simpler, too.

P.S. 11/29/16. I did finally figure out how to configure Network Solutions to point to Blogger. But it still required a text verification field, provided by Google. After changing that, it took a while for Google to get the updated change. Once verified, I saved the new "custom domain" name in Blogger. Of course, then I found that I could not search for my domain at all. I imagine it takes a while for the domain name to propagate across the internet. ... And it's up. It took about two hours for the change to take place.

P.P.S. I also had a little bobble with my email - but Google helped me to set up mail records on my domain server. I think I'm back up. Sorry for any interruptions between yesterday and tomorrow.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Speaker information

I've created this post for folks who bring me in as a speaker. Typically, they want three things: a brief biography/blurb, a photo, and a description of the session I'm giving.

Here's the blurb:

LaRue is the former executive director of the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom, and the Freedom to Read Foundation. Author of "The New Inquisition: Understanding and Managing Intellectual Freedom Challenges," LaRue was a public library director for many years (including a 24 year tenure as director of the Douglas County Libraries in Colorado), as well as a weekly newspaper columnist and cable TV host. He has written, spoken, and consulted on leadership and organizational development, community engagement, and the future of libraries.


The session description, of course, varies!

Contact information:
Please direct all communications to
jlarue [at] jlarue [dot] com.
Phone: 7 2 0 . 5 3 0 . 4 2 9 4

No spam, please!

Oh, and I also can be found at @jaslar on Twitter. - Welcome

In November of 2018, I left my position at ALA in Chicago to return to my Colorado-based writing, speaking, and consulting career. So I'...