Get to Know Brad Sherwood, Library Board President

For the past seven months, Brad Sherwood has served as the Library Board President. Recently, we sat down with Brad to discover his background and interests. Learn more about Brad and why he’s passionate about Grand Forks Public.

Q: Tell us about yourself.

A: I come from a long line of music teachers. My grandfather, Dwight Sherwood, moved to Grand Forks in 1941. He taught vocal music at Grand Forks Central, and then my father, Kenneth, taught vocal music at Red River. I graduated from the University of North Dakota in 1984, and taught music in Hillsboro from 1984-88, then Valley Jr. High from 1989-92, and then Red River High School when dad retired in 1992. Along the way, my friends and I founded the Summer Performing Arts (SPA) Company. We spent 35 summers providing outstanding experiences in the Arts for K-12 students in the region.

In 1987, I married Jocelyn Dubourt from Walhalla, ND. We share a joy for all things music and theatre. We and others opened the Frostfire Summer Theatre in Walhalla and produced several of their first shows. We have two sons: Ian and Cole. The boys grew up in the theatre and have most recently been accepted into the Berlin Opera Academy.

We love to travel and have most recently visited Switzerland. We loved skiing, but now that our knees are 60+ years old, we have found significant joy in scuba diving instead.

Q. Why do you love the library?

A. The Grand Forks Public Library has been such a big part of my life that there is significant nostalgia for me every time I enter the building. I graduated from Red River in 1979. The library moved from downtown to its current location in 1971. Every Thursday, the Bookmobile would be outside Kelly Elementary, and we never hesitated to check out books and then either return them to the Bookmobile or my mother would take us to the new library.

In junior high, my best friend lived right behind Kmart and I lived over by Schroeder. So, every bike ride to each other’s house meant a stop at the library. It was brand new, and it was about the coolest place in town (sorry, Benners, you were a close second). 

Of course, I loved all the books, but even better were the stereos and records. You could sit and listen to albums for hours on end. You could check out LP records! My mother used to check out pieces of art. They had prints and paintings you could check out… how cool is that?

THEN CAME THE PODS! The white pods were all the rage. You sat inside this great white egg with a matching footrest, and it had built-in speakers. Cocooned from the world, you could listen to music in what seemed to be complete isolation. They were so popular that I recall the librarians limiting us to 10-15 minutes as kids (and adults) waited in line.

In high school, the library was our connection to the outside world. The Grand Forks Herald and the Star Tribune could be delivered to your house but the NY Times? The Washington Post, The Village Voice, The Chicago Tribune? Newspapers from around the globe were available, and we pored over them to learn what musicals were opening on Broadway or the West End.

Today, Grand Forks Public is even more impressive. Most recently, I perused microfilm of the GF Herald throughout the 1940s. My dad graduated in 1949 and I wanted to see what his world was like as a teenager.

They have books on tape galore! Plus, DVDs of movies and TV shows. Even video games! And I’m just scratching the surface. There is also a beautiful 240-gallon freshwater aquarium. It is stunning, and it was created and maintained by Leif Fritzell. He is an amazing aquarist. 

Q. What is your favorite book?

A. It’s just not possible to name a favorite book. It is quite possible that I have not read it yet.

I’m one of those readers that have 3-4 books on my nightstand and 2-3 more in the living room. Most of the time I am reading many books at the same time. Then I will binge. 

A year or so ago, my dad said, “Check out this book by Lee Child.” He handed me his copy of one of the Jack Reacher books. I read that book and then I read everything Lee Child has in print. 

Q. What excites you most about being the Library Board President?

A. I get to discover what’s new at the library and return to spend more time with an old friend (the library). I think there are many exciting opportunities in the library’s future. I like to be an advocate for this gem in our community.

Q. What is your favorite quote?

A. “People who say it cannot be done, should not interrupt those who are doing it.”

-George Bernard Shaw

Q. What is your favorite local restaurant?

A. Ely’s Ivy, Toasted Frog, Sky’s, Steers, and House of Punjab.

Q. What is your favorite thing to do in Grand Forks?

A. We love the Greenway. We walk our Samoyed along its paths nearly every day.

Q. Describe your perfect day.

A. Any day where Jolly, Ian, Cole, and I are in the same place at the same time. 

Q. What would you do with a free hour?

A. Read more! I’ll steal the better part of a blizzard day or rainy day to disappear into a book.

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