Library Board Reflection: Making a Difference in West Des Moines

by Bryan Myers, WDM Library Board of Trustees

Franklin D Roosevelt said, “I have an unshaken conviction that democracy can never be undermined if we maintain our library resources and a national intelligence capable of utilizing them.”  This still rings true today; the quality of our community in total is directly correlated to the quality of our public library and I, though not a librarian, take a direct part in maintaining that quality as a library Trustee.

I love living in West Des Moines and the Des Moines area overall. I make that statement after visiting and living in several different areas of the country. The cleanliness and the lack of traffic congestion; the accessibility to exceptional culture, art, and nature; the caring and quality of our education and health systems are some of the best in the country. But the ready supply of opportunities for volunteering and making a difference is what I’d like to write about in this edition of our Board’s Blog.  

My children grew up here, and when they started at Valley High School, I found that I started having free time I hadn’t had when we were more frequently watching our children’s events or coaching sports. As an Eagle Scout, the idea that we ought to leave something better than we found it is deeply seeded in me. When I asked myself what I wanted to do to make my surroundings better, I was driven to fill out the Library Trustee application on the City’s web page.  Shortly after, I was appointed by the Mayor and City Council, an honor I do not take lightly.

I quickly embraced the magnitude of the responsibility that is placed upon a Trustee for our library. As Trustees, we have authority over the governance of the library within the public trust. As those words sink in, below is an overarching description of the responsibilities we oversee:

  • Hiring and yearly appraisal of the Library Director
  • Reviewing and adopting library policy
  • Working with the Director to prepare and present the library’s annual budget to the City Council
  • Helping the library administration manage that same budget for the fiscal year
  • Overseeing the monthly bills and ensuring their proper and timely payment
  • Creating and implementing strategic planning, including the Mission and Vision of your library
  • Overseeing the building facility and ensuring this asset is well cared for and offers the space and technology our community needs now and in the future. 

Being able to volunteer and be placed in a position of legal and fiduciary responsibility in a community as great as ours is exciting! It is something I will never take for granted. And it is something I encourage the readers of this blog to consider.

By that, I don’t mean considering just being on the West Des Moines Library Board of Trustees, but to seek opportunities to serve in all those areas you are passionate about. I have been appointed by two former Governors to be on the Professional Licensing Bureau for the Engineers and Land Surveyors. I’ve worked with the Community Playhouse, Civic Music and Symphony. I’ve been the emcee and coordinator for MATHCOUNTS, promoting math in the schools.  I am on an advisory council for Iowa State’s first-in-the-Midwest Masters of Real Estate Development program. And, most exciting, I was able to be the stadium announcer for a week at the Iowa Cubs games.

None of that happened just because I was in the right place at the right time--I got all of those opportunities just by ASKING.

The greatness of our community is found in people making a difference by raising their hands. Don’t take for granted how accessible this whole community is to those wishing to make a difference. As I learned as a proud Eagle Scout, we can all make our community better than we found it.


Are you interested in serving on the Board of Trustees for the library? You are always welcome to submit an application with the City of West Des Moines.  

Posted on March 16, 2022