Meet the Board: Khaki Westerfield

Board member Khaki WesterfieldKhaki Westerfield, Columbia and Boone County Library District Board Member

Khaki Westerfield and her family have a multi-generational relationship with the library and with Boone County. Both Khaki’s grandfather and father served on the Columbia Public Library board before her, and her parents, her sister, her husband, her children and she herself were all Hickman Kewpies. Professionally, she taught English at Hickman High School and worked through the University of Missouri with undergraduate education students, first-year teachers and their mentor teachers across the state. Of teaching, Khaki says, “I couldn’t have chosen a more rewarding profession; I learned so much from those relationships and experiences.”

What three words do you think best describe the library?
Service-oriented, responsive, innovative.

What should people know about the library?
The norm for DBRL has always been service to our communities, but during the long pandemic months, the staff responded by quickly adapting: curbside pickup, extensive electronic resources and programming and safe procedures to reopen as soon as feasible.

How is the library different today than it was 10 years ago?
Yesterday’s library model was building-centered while today’s library reaches beyond its buildings and into the community. When I served on the board from 1976 to 1986, people came to the library to check out books, attend meetings and programs and perhaps patronize limited bookmobile stops. Today, while the buildings and books remain popular, the library provides much more outreach to preschool and K-12 schools, retirement communities and incarceration centers; coordinates with social service agencies; and offers personalized services such as technology help, passport issuance and extensive electronic resources, including online career training.

If you could have dinner with a famous author or book character who would it be?
I would love to meet Isabel Wilkerson (“The Warmth of Other Suns” about the Great Migration) and Helen Zia (“Last Boat Out of Shanghai” about Chinese migration throughout the U.S.). They traced the lives of real people and helped me understand migration in America much more deeply than simply reading facts and figures.

In the spirit of the library’s mission to promote lifelong learning, is there anything that you would personally like to learn more about?
When I read news about other areas of the world, I realize how little I know about their histories. Right now, I want to learn more about the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

Each library board member serves on his or her own district board as well as on the Daniel Boone Regional Library board, which is the governing body responsible for policy-making and fiscal oversight.