Columbia Library District Board President David Webber
Each trustee serves on his own district board as well as on the regional library board, which is the governing body responsible for policy-making and fiscal oversight. A contract binds our three member library districts into a regional system, allowing us to pool the resources of our whole region to give residents better service at lower cost.
David Webber is an associate professor of political science at the University of Missouri–Columbia where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses. When not interacting with students, he enjoys reading, writing, running, and frequent walks to the Columbia Public Library.
Why do you think libraries are important?
Public libraries are a multi-service center of a community. They provide information resources, of course, but are also a learning center, a community center and at times a retreat center for young and old alike. One of my favorite quotes about public libraries is from Lady Bird Johnson: “Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest.”
What made you apply to be on the library board?
I have been a big user of the Columbia Public Library since coming to town, so I thought I should get involved and make sure it would be there for the long haul.
What is the role of the district president as you see it?
In addition to presiding at meetings, I’ve tried to be more attentive to public comment and to represent the library at community functions.
What are you most proud of regarding the Columbia Library District?
I’m pleased with the long-term planning process led by Rosie Gerding, the DBRL president. The library staff and board members worked hard developing a solid plan of action. We are happy with the results.
What makes DBRL special?
I think it is the tireless pursuit of improvement. The director, managers and staff seem to always be alert to ways of improving library services. We are proud of the staff and they seem to enjoy working at DBRL. My favorite program is the One Read program. I love the speakers, displays, activities, and discussions that the staff comes up with. I never would have read “Ender’s Game" or “The Whistling Season” if it hadn’t been for One Read, but I totally enjoyed each of them.
What challenges does DBRL face in the coming year or years?
Our biggest challenge is keeping up with community demand for physical space, parking, and electronic resources. We had over two million check-outs last year, and that surprised everyone that it happened so soon. It will be interesting to see if patrons use the remote pick-up and drop-off lockers DBRL is providing before the end of this year.
Do you have a favorite memory or story about libraries from your youth?
I have two. When I was a kid we used to wait for the bookmobile to drive past our house and then chase it down the road on our bikes, returning home with our side baskets full of books. In high school, it was cool to gather at the public library to study with friends. And I remember Mrs. Cross, the stereotypical librarian, who I talked with to get my Boy Scout reading merit badge.