Interview With Library Board Member Lyle Johnson

Each trustee serves on his or her own district board as well as on the regional library board, which is the governing body responsible for policy-making and fiscal oversight.

Lyle describes himself as a “mild-mannered commercial relationship manager for Commerce Bank by day, and a daring, dashing father of two wonderful children by night with specialized expertise in laundry management, lawn care, driveway basketball and short-order cooking.” He and his wife Jackie grew up in Boone County, attended Mizzou and see Columbia as a wonderful place to raise a family. Lyle has been coming to the library since he was a toddler and now frequents the library with his son Lanny and daughter Katya.

Why do you think libraries are important?
Someone once said a mind stretched by new ideas never goes back to its original dimensions. Entire economies are being built on the various creative ways we learn to share information and connect with our world, so it’s important that we have mechanisms in place to share it as best we can. In this context, I see libraries as an important component in the fabric of our evolution as a society.

What are you most proud of regarding the district board?
I am proud of how well we disagree with one another. We have an excellent group of board members with disparate backgrounds, experience and knowledge. At times, we disagree on how something should be handled, but our culture is to listen to one another in those situations. And, if, at the end of the day, we still disagree with one another, there is a mutual respect. It’s incredibly refreshing.

What makes DBRL special?
Occasionally I’ll mention to someone that I serve on the DBRL board, and they’ll thank me and rave about our library. From anecdotal accounts, at some other libraries this is rare. At the Columbia Public Library, our parking lot is nearly full no matter what time of day it is. Inside, people are everywhere, enjoying a cup of coffee and a good book or newspaper, browsing for a CD, using the computers or collaborating on a project in one of our meeting rooms. It’s a vibrant, key component of our community. 

Do you have a favorite memory or story about libraries from your youth?
I remember the first time I discovered the media room on the second floor of the old Columbia Public Library, before the remodel. I saw stacks of records as you would see in record store, and headphones and little listening cubicles. It blew me away. I remember thinking to myself, “I can just pull any one of these records off and listen to it as long as I like?” It completely shifted my idea of what a library was and why it was important. 

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
One of the best-kept secrets about our library, although it’s really no secret, is the holds system. For busy people or families on the go, it’s a wonderful way to experience the library. Simply create an account and search online for titles that interest you. When they are available, the library will send you an email and hold the material at the front desk or send it to you on the bookmobile. You can stop by and pick up your items in no time flat. No card catalogs or Dewey Decimal decoding required!

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