By Daniel Evans
The LaGrange Daily News
Keith Schuermann has served as the director of the Troup-Harris Regional Library system since 2012. We sat down with him to talk about his role at the library and what he likes to do when he’s not working.
LDN: Are you originally from LaGrange or Troup County?
Schuermann: No, I was actually born in Ferguson, Missouri. I would often as a teenager go to the city of St. Louis, so I moved to Chicago for film school. In the course of ultimately working at a library, I’ve lived in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and a little bit of New York City so I have been around quite a bit. Most of that moving is to seek greater opportunities in my field.
LDN: Tell me about your position at the library.
Schuermann: I’m the regional director that provides services for Troup and Harris Counties. This is my first directing job, and I really feel like this is the path that was set before me.
LDN: So, you went into film school? How did this lead you to the library?
Schuermann: I went to the University of Missouri, thinking I might go for journalism. I fell in love with film and wanted to go into film school in Chicago. I worked as a post-production tech a little bit in editing. I helped cut the Spuds MacKenzie campaign, the Budweiser dog with the spot. I really came to the point in my life where I wanted to do something more impactful to the public, and at that time, I was living in Cleveland. I fell in love with our local Carnegie library and began a homeschooling curriculum for our children. I really fell in love with the library and decided if I’m going to do public service, something that is education based that is going to promote lifelong learning, this is the perfect vehicle for doing that. I’ve been working in libraries since that point around 2002.
LDN: After living in all those big cities, what do you think about LaGrange? That’s a pretty big difference.
Schuermann: I always wanted to have the small-town type of life I grew up with in Ferguson. I was young, footloose and fancy-free, starry-eyed back in the day. I’m now 48 and realize the joy of living in a smaller community.
We want for nothing here, other than maybe Indian food. Even the things LaGrange gets knocked on, like not having a lot of big box shopping options, I’ve lived in areas that have that to the nines like Newnan does, and I wouldn’t want that. LaGrange is unique and magnificent and I think people who are natives to LaGrange don’t even realize some of the things that are here that you don’t find everywhere. In particular, I noticed right away that there is an enriched culture of giving. I don’t know if that’s because it’s such a strong community of faith, but as soon as I arrived, people were coming out of the woodwork to help me.
LDN: Do you have kids?
Schuermann: I have three — Alice, who is 24 and is a graduate student at the University of Illinois; Edie, who is 22 and is a senior at the University of Georgia; and my son, Casey, who just turned 19 lives in Atlanta and is pursuing a degree in film production.
LDN: What do you enjoy about your job?
Schuermann: What I really enjoy is working on capital projects. In 2016, we opened a new library in Hogansville, in December.
The building was four times as large as the old one, and I feel that building was really impactful for Hogansville. I enjoy that process of going from design to build, working with contractors and sub-contrators and realizing a vision and having that legacy to leave behind. I can put on my sombrero and grab my guitar and put on an amazing children’s story time and people will giggle and laugh. However, [the capital projects] have a lasting impact that is exponential far after I am here.
Just last May we opened a new building in Harris County. Being able to have that high impact on a community drives what I do.