Interview With Trustee Lisa Groshong

Vice President of the Columbia Public Library Board Lisa Groshong

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.

Why do you think libraries are important?
I have always been a fan of the Columbia Public Library, but I gained a new appreciation for it while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zambia, where a paperback from one of the country’s handful of bookstores could easily cost the equivalent of $30—or more. The provincial capital housed a tiny public library whose only books published since 1980 were discards from the bookshelves at the Peace Corps office. Since moving back to Columbia, I still find it incredible every time I walk out of the library with a bag stuffed full of books, magazines, CDs and movies that I get to borrow—for free! I think it’s essential that this access to information and ideas is freely available to everybody.

What made you apply to be on the library board?
I have been a dedicated library user since growing up a few blocks away. I studied in the quiet reading room throughout college and launched my freelance writing career with the help of CPL’s reference librarians who helped me track down countless bits of information. Serving on the board seemed like a great way to become more involved with the library while giving something back to an institution that has been so important to me throughout my life.

What makes DBRL special?
We have a gorgeous facility with a top-notch collection, but the intelligent, helpful and positive staff members really make DBRL extraordinary. I am always impressed by how passionately committed the staff are to protecting the public’s right to read.

Tell us about your occupation and your family.
The library has stoked my hunger for lifelong learning, so, after many years as a writer and editor, I’m back in grad school at Mizzou, studying parks, recreation & tourism and public health. I’m married to Trevor Harris, who is a radio producer and classical music announcer at KBIA and recently started his own book club because he was envious of mine! My dad is on the board of the DBRL Foundation.

Anything else you’d like to share about yourself?
I wish more people would ride their bikes to the library. Recently I broke down and bought an e-reader, though I do not have a cell phone. The library helped me find my book club, the Rowdy Readers,­—I was lamenting how hard it is to find a book club during a writing workshop I taught at the library, and one of the participants invited me to join hers! We recently formed a young-adult book auxiliary to the regular club, called the Rowdy Rebels, and the members have become great friends.

Do you have a favorite memory or story about libraries from your youth?
I grew up down the block from CPL and learned to read at Grant Elementary School, just across the street, so the library was a large planet in my childhood universe. I spent hours on those squishy whistle chairs, inhaling the intoxicating smell of books while working my way through everything written by Judy Blume, Laura Ingalls Wilder and so many other favorite authors. As an adult, I was so proud the first time I found an encyclopedia with my byline in it in the reference section of the very library that played such a huge role in my relationship with reading and learning.

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