My name is Eric Duran. I am an investment banker and was recently named the 9News Leader of the Year. I am proud to say I served on the Denver Public Library Commission from 1996 until 2004. The Denver Public Library was critical to my success and I am honored to share my story.
I grew up in North Denver in a household of six people in a two-bedroom apartment—my family was close. It is not something that I often talk about, but growing up, my mother and sister shared one bedroom and my grandmother and aunt shared the other. My grandfather and I slept in the living room—he slept on the couch and I slept on the floor. My teenage memories are of my grandfather waking me up at 5:30 in the morning to get the Rocky Mountain News and then moving me from the floor to the couch. I learned a love of reading from my grandfather. Although he was a humble man—he worked as a laborer in construction—he showed me the importance of knowing what is going on in the world and the importance of current events.
This spurred my interest in reading and ultimately led me to be honored as the 9News Leader of the Year in 2010. Unfortunately, there are a number of children that won’t be exposed to the newspaper and reading in the same way I was. Technology has transformed our society. We now only have one newspaper in Denver. My children communicate via text messaging, computers, iTouch and Facebook. My nine year old daughter learned to type her name before she learned to write it with a pencil.
Connected with 24 hour a day access-- we live in a new age. There is a technology divide for a number of children and adults to this new age. Lap tops, cell phones, Wi-Fi all cost money. These items would have been far too expensive for my family. We had trouble buying food, let alone a computer. Because of this, public libraries are more important, not less. The Denver Public Library may be the only place that some adults and children can go to get free access to books, computers, and electronic jobs lists. Libraries are a hub of information critical for our democracy.
The information age rockets ahead at a rapid pace; we must ensure that our civic institutions will be able to keep pace. The Library has been able to adapt to and embrace these changes. It is incumbent on all of us as leaders to support our public institutions, including libraries and schools, to adapt to the 21st century and prepare the children of today for tomorrow.
Hope resides in the ability of our institutions to adapt and also in the people within these institutions to recognize the role they play with children and families who are less fortunate. People invested in me and have helped me to become who I am today.
When Eric and I were both members of the North High School speech and debate team, many of us practically lived at the library. We even traversed the state to visit college libraries to find unique evidence for our debate cases (and Eric was a year older so he was the one with a car - albeit a tiny black car). And all of that information I can probably access at home now through the databases connected to the DPL Web site.
But there's still nothing like piling into your friend's hatchback and blasting Van Halen on the way to an actual brick and mortar library.