Google has nothing on Andrew “Mack” Schroer’s favorite search engine, the 168,600-square-foot, librarian-powered engine that is the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library.
“Yeah, I could Google it, but that just scratches the surface,” he said.
Mack is always looking for inspiration. The 25-year-old Berryton resident paints, draws, sculpts, and works in the film and production design business.
He wanders through the 700s, the Dewey Decimal range that holds the art book collection. He can’t live without the local resources found in the Topeka Room that encourage and inspire him to tell stories through art, he said.
“By being active and aware of the resources available to me as a library cardholder, I discover fascinating information about the community while also furthering my educational pursuits. For example, I discovered the miniature bronze statue called ‘Pioneer Woman’ by Merrell Gage. I asked what it was and the library assistant pulled up stuff on Topeka’s only Oscar winner [Merrell Gage], who created the statue at the library.”
In the Alice C. Sabatini Gallery, he sits with his sketchpad inspired to draw the beauty he sees. A visit to the periodicals takes him to Sights and Sounds, a magazine on cinema, from where he discovers “Hitchcock at Work,” a book he based some of his drawings on.
When he needs something to fuel his research, he heads to the Millennium Café, where the food is great, he said.
Mack, like lots of folks, comes back to the library time after time because he recognizes the value of the library in the pursuit of self-education.
“It’s like the library has everything that’s’ applicable to my creative pursuits,” he said. “The library is my key to the universe.”
He emphasized his appreciation for Interlibrary Loan, the service that allows you to check out stuff from libraries around the world and pick up at the Topeka library.
“Interlibrary Loan changed my life. I was blown away. It’s a great tool for research on a budget.”
Mack graduated from Washburn University in 2008. In college, he realized how competitive the art world is. So, he turned to the library for help sharpening his skills. He’s since discovered the library’s unmatched ability to fulfill his needs, he said.
Since graduation, Mack’s library use has gone up a lot. Though, he still uses the library card he got when he was a young boy.
You can support the arts and artists like Mack by giving to the public library. Volunteer in the gallery or the Topeka Room. Gift a work of art to The Library Foundation, or donate to the Larry Peters and Barbara Waterman-Peters Endowed Art Fund. Call 785-580-4498 or log on to foundation.tscpl.org.
Below: A shot of Mack’s journal. He tells stories through writng and art in its pages. And, this particular story was inspired by a visit to the Topeka Room, where he saw “Pioneering Woman,” a statue by Merrell Gage, a famous Topekan.