January 27, 2022

eBooks: An In-Depth Look at the Work of Jamie LaRue, Douglas County (Colorado) Libraries Director

Governing, a magazine targeted at state and local government officials, offers a in-depth profile of Douglas County, Colorado Library Director,  Jamie LaRue in an article titled, Can Libraries Survive the E-Book Revolution?”

Here are a few passages from the 2700+ word piece. 

He [LaRue] wants to transform the library from a place where you go to find a New York Times bestseller to a local incubator fostering homegrown writing talent. If the big publishers want to cut libraries out, that’s fine, he says. He’s going straight to the people.


“This is the most exciting time to be a librarian in the history of mankind,” he says. “There has never before been this profusion of writing. There’s this incredible opportunity that we have if we step up to the table, if we’re willing to reinvent ourselves, if we are bold. But if we are not willing to do those things, we will be marginalized. As time goes on, we’ll become less and less relevant. At some point, we’ll perish. It’s adapt or die.”


“Libraries always talk about how they’re a venue for discovery, for people to learn about authors. I believe that in theory, but I don’t know that there’s any hard evidence,” [Alison] Lazarus [president of the sales division at Macmillan,] says. She also argues that going digital has erased old barriers for people borrowing from a library, such as the necessity of getting a library card [***] and physically going to the library building to check out a book, and that might mean library lending will cut into publishers’ profits more than it did in the past.

** Since this is not a direct quote we don’t know precisely what Lazarus said. Regardless, the writer (and editors who reviewed the article) are incorrect (as we know). You do need a library card to access ebooks from a library. 

The [Douglas County] libraries have so far purchased e-books from more than 900 smaller publishers and hundreds of individual authors. They make up 21,000 of the 35,000 titles in his virtual catalog.


LaRue is turning his attention toward what he sees as the next frontier: libraries themselves as publishers. Now that Douglas County has the content management system for its direct-purchasing project, he thinks it would be easy to turn that into a self-publishing portal.

The article includes comments Skip Dye, Random House; Greg Pronevitz, executive director of the Massachusetts Library System; Maureen Sullivan and Alan Inoye, ALA.

Read the Complete Article

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.