A Conversation with Gene Cochrane

Executive Director Jenni Gaisbauer chatted with Board Chair Gene Cochrane to learn more about his passion for the Library. 

Jenni: Gene, are you looking forward to being our board chair?

Gene: I am so honored to be a part of this talented and dedicated group of leaders. We’re welcoming Jennifer Appleby, Caton Morris and Caroleen Burroughs to the board this year. But it was tough to say good-bye to Linda Lockman-Brooks.

JG: It was for me, too! Fortunately she has joined our Honorary Advisory Council so we haven’t let her go yet. You have a lot of experience with foundation work. What compelled you to join the Library Foundation board?

GC: Well, you did, Jenni! [laughs] But seriously, the purpose of any foundation is to improve the lives of those under its charge, be it a specific area such as education or healthcare or an issue or a defined community. The Library is about improving the lives in our community, not only in the traditional sense of lending books but through the offerings of literacy training, technology training discussion groups, and enhancing the education of all the school-age children in our area. Plus this is such a special time in our history. Building this new Main Library together will be a legacy to be proud of.

JG: Have libraries been an important part of your life?

GC: I grew up in what was then a rural part of our county. My first contact with the Library was the summer bookmobile that stopped at the country store near the farm. Inside were many diversions for a farm boy, and I could learn about things far and wide. Cleaning out my farm home, I found the old summer reading certificates you received for reading ten books. Today, when our discussions turn to summer reading and learning loss, I think back on those days.

JG: What were you surprised to learn about the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library?

GC: I never fully appreciated the truth in the statement that libraries have become the crossroads of our community until I joined the Library Foundation. The expertise of the staff and the range of services offered by our Library have exceeded anything I might have expected. Specifically, the extent of digitization that allows access to collections, journals, and magazines through the Library’s website is astounding. The array of classes offered to both adults and children, along with technology offerings, is foreign to the library I grew up with. My first interaction with a 3D printer was at the Library.

JG: What Verse & Vino author are you looking forward to most?

GC: I am a long-time follower of David Baldacci and follow three of his series. However, one of the significant aspects of Verse & Vino is the discovery of writers I did not know well. Each year brings a new person to explore.

J: What are you reading now?

G: Recently I finished the River of Gods by Candice Millard, which tells the story of the discovery of the headwaters of the Nile River, and Portrait of an Unknown Women by Daniel Silva. One of my all-time favorite authors was David Halberstam. I usually do not re-read books, but they serve as a reference to the 20th Century.

J: Do you have a favorite quote?

G: A favorite quote is not easy to pick because I enjoy reading the thoughts of intelligent people. I keep a collection of beneficial quotes. I often use one from Calvin Coolidge, our 30th president, who supposedly said, “I never got in trouble for something I did not say.”

JG: Best place to get barbecue in Charlotte?

GC: I still miss the former Spoons on South Boulevard because I like Eastern style. There are several good places around, and thankfully, more are coming to the city each year.

JG: Panthers or Charlotte FC?

GC: Panthers! [grins] I like games when teams score.

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What is Caton Morris reading?

Caton and her husband Charlie are dedicated supporters of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. She has enjoyed volunteering as a member of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Foundation’s annual Verse & Vino planning committee since 2017, and recently joined the Foundation’s Board. Prior to taking time to focus on raising her three young children, Caton was a public and investor relations consultant for 13 years in the biotechnology industry. Check out her spooky-themed picks, just in time for Halloween!

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