2020 Community Connection Profile - It all adds up to Chris Boike's life

Mike Christopherson

First off, could you tell us a little bit about yourself? Your family, education, background/previous stops, career, etc.?

    I was born and raised in Fairmont Minnesota. I graduated from the College of Saint Teresa in Winona in 1989, with a degree in Mass Communication with an emphasis in Journalism/Public Relations, and English. I was the Director of Public Relations for the Archdiocese of Dubuque, in Dubuque, Iowa and then held the position of Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admission at the University of Dubuque. Prior to joining Lake Agassiz Regional Library in January, 2012, I was the Cooperative Campus Ministry Coordinator at the University of Minnesota, Crookston for 11 years. I began working for LARL part-time in 2012 and several months later became a supervisor. The following year, in 2013, I became the director and Crookston Hub Supervisor.

    My husband Lon is a teacher and coach with the Crookston School District and we have three children, which we are very proud of, as parents are. Alec, a 2013 graduate of CHS is currently finishing his second year of medical school at the University of Minnesota. Sydney, a 2015 graduate, will begin medical school at the University of Minnesota in August, and Caden is an 8th grader at CHS.

Do you think the average person who maybe doesn’t walk through the doors of a public library very often be surprised at just how much activity goes on inside, and the variety of those activities?

    I do. We really are a hub of activity for our community.

    And, we are more than shelves of books, DVD’s, audiobooks, and reference materials. We offer computers, copying, printing and wireless printing, faxing, WiFi, and technology assistance on a daily basis. In addition to our vast collection of books, we also offer over 20,000 eBooks on Overdrive for your mobile devices, e-readers and computers, and due to the current pandemic, we are beefing that collection up as well. We offer a fabulous variety of programs for adults and children, including our amazing Summer Library Experience program, and Legacy programs, which are made possible, in part, by funds from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

    We offer meeting spaces, a teen area,   areas of study, Story Time, Baby Bounce, comfortable spaces to read, and opportunities for social interaction. We have even been host to piano recitals and had two Murder Mysteries, sponsored by the Friends of the Library and the Crookston Community Theater. There is NEVER a shortage of activity going on at the Crookston Public Library.

Someone told me that public libraries are basically the small-town version of a community center. Is that label accurate in your mind, and, if you think it is, do you embrace it?

    I absolutely believe that and embrace it! You will often hear me say that I feel that for Crookston, our library is the closest thing we have to a community center, and people are very proud of it, as they should be.

    The city of Crookston, as well as its community members, have long been committed to our library and the partnership we share with Lake Agassiz Regional Library. We have shared that partnership since 1961, and are celebrating our 60th birthday next year! We are fortunate to be part of such a progressive system, which dedicates itself to providing the best customer service possible.

    Two years ago, we were fortunate enough to receive a Bremer Grant along with contributions from community members and the Friends of the Library. In addition, the city council supported the project by moving up projects like new carpet, flooring and LED lights throughout the building. Lynn Willhite, local artist and designer, was generous enough to donate both her time and talents to the project.

    The result of this partnership was that we took an already beautiful space and building, and made it even more beautiful and functional for the foreseeable future. We have seen a huge increase in foot traffic, people using our meeting rooms, and utilizing our services this past couple of years. People that use the library really know the value of it in a community. In addition, your library card is free, so if you don’t have one, you need one.

In your mind, what’s the biggest change that’s occurred in public libraries over the past 10 years? How about the next decade…what do you think the next big change or shift will be?

    The needs of individuals and groups, including schools, businesses, etc. are always changing. Technology is a huge part of that, and perhaps one of the biggest challenges. We offer digital services that include eBooks, Wi-Fi, wireless printing, color copying scanning to emails, and so on. Many people do not have internet, access to computers, and even a budget for entertainment, so they rely on us to provide a lot of these services and opportunities for themselves, their families, and businesses. I think that has probably been the biggest change, and will continue to be, in the next decade.

    I would also add that we as a system are constantly looking at ways we can improve our services and meet peoples every day, ever changing, needs.

    We are already looking at our strategic plan for the future and asking our customers and ourselves how we can assist them in being ready for school, the workforce, and life in general. Their input is invaluable in helping us determine what software, technology, perhaps STEM related materials and things of that nature, which will be helpful to them while they are preparing for those endeavors.

How important is the public library’s role in being a resource for people to connect to the internet? Do many people come in every day primarily to get online?

    Very important. We have people come in on a daily basis to utilize our public computers and internet and we offer assistance to them in a variety of ways.

Do you think the Crookston Public Library and its role in the community and region is appreciated enough? Please explain your answer.

    I do think people appreciate the library and the services we provide, but I also think that there are a number of people that do not utilize it enough or realize how much it has to offer.

    If you have not been to the library in a while, I think you would be pleasantly surprised at how welcoming and informative it is, and how enjoyable it is. We have great, helpful, and friendly staff ready to help in any way they can.  When people come in that have not been here for some time, we hear nothing but positive comments about

their experience, and we take great pride in that.

Do you have any skills and/or hobbies that are particularly quirky or unusual that might surprise people to know about?

    I love music, attending concerts (I’ve been to roughly 40) and I love to sing and dance. When I was a child, I dreamed of a career in music, comedy or acting and was voted Most Comical and Class Clown when I graduated from high school.

    While l would have loved to pursue either, I did not for various reasons, one being that I suffered bit from stage fright, unbelievably. I could probably speak in front of hundreds of people, but performing in front of people is altogether different!

Let’s try a you’re-stranded-on-a-deserted-island question: You have an amazing home theater and audio system and somehow have all of the electrical power you could ever need. But you can only play three songs and watch three movies. Which three songs and which three movies do you pick?

    Wow, this is a hard one because like many, I love music and movies and have many favorites. But if I can only pick three of each I would have to say for movies, “A League of Their Own”, “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Bridesmaids”.

    For music, I will go with “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” (I’m a huge fan of any Whitney Houston music), “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder, and “The Prayer” by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli.

I’m not asking you to list your heroes, since that term is a bit too casually tossed around these days, but could you list three people you look up to and/or admire, and explain why?

    The first two would have to be my mom and dad. My dad passed away in 2005 before my youngest son was born. I so wish they could have known each other like my other kids. My dad always had a smile on his face, loved us unconditionally and worked extremely hard. He had a difficult childhood, and life was not always easy for my parents, but they persevered and always made faith and family a priority.

    My mom still lives in my hometown of Fairmont, and instilled in me, among many things, a love of music, dancing, people, and how to get things done. She loves her kids and grandkids like crazy. They both did. As a parent, I‘ve always tried to instill the same values and love in my kids that I was taught and given. As a friend, and in my work, I learned loyalty and dedication from them as well.

    The third person I admire most is my best friend Twyla, because she has the most amazing faith and outlook on life despite having been a cancer survivor, not once, but three times. As if being a survivor countless times is not enough, Twyla has lost her mom and two of her sisters to this unforgiving disease. Through it all, her faith has been unwavering, and she places the highest priority on the Word, family and relationships on a daily basis. She is self-less, and she is a fighter like no one I have ever known. I am constantly amazed by her attitude, gratitude, and outlook on life despite the adversity she has experienced. She has taught me so much, and I feel so blessed to call her my best friend and “buddy”.

Please describe yourself using no more than 10 words.

    Faith, family, friends, people, laughter, words and music = My LIFE.