A Talk with Charles Shepard, Director of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, in the Stacks of Art, Music & Media.
“Libraries to me are as much an experiential place as going to a gallery or museum. I don’t think many people understand how fortunate we are to have public libraries. Truly, you can educate yourself on any topic in the world, free.”
Charles Shepard has been the Director of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art since 2003.
Growing up in the small town of Bath, Maine he was introduced early to libraries, to a very old library, the Patten Free Library. This library was founded in 1847. Construction began on the new library in 1889 and was finished in 1890.
Charles discovered the library when he was a young teen. There was a beautiful park, rarely used, that was a great place to sit and read. He was amazed at the bounties of the library and asked the librarian if he could come in and sit there in the library and look at things. He was amazed that they let him stay there all day. Most of his weekends were spent in the library, it was like a club house for him and it gave him an excuse to stay out of trouble.
He continues to be a frequent library patron. He loves to go camp out at one of the tables with a whole stack of books and play with them for hours. He says, “So often you come for things that you need but more often than not I come here on a Saturday or Sunday and start by looking at the new book covers but then I wander the stacks and see what looks interesting. To leave without 8 or 10 books for me, I haven’t been successful. People don’t know what they can find in the library – it’s not like shopping, you can’t just go in and buy a quart of milk and leave, you have to poke around.”
His advice for browsing the collection: “A good way to choose a book is to look at the title on the spine rather than the cover because if the title interests you, you may like the book more than if you succumb to the attraction of the cover.”
He also uses ACPL for reference. We found a book on Myanmar art, Myanmar Style: Art, Architecture and Design of Burma by John Falconer, that Charles was able to check out to help him answer questions on the Myanmar collection currently on exhibit at the museum.
Charles says that he mostly reads history. He recently read The Big Short and just ordered a new book about the role of the U boat in WW2.