Out of Office: Derek Fraley

Derek Fraley

Derek Fraley of Systematic Savings Bank supports Missouri State University’s Special Collections & Archives, where he created an endowment for rare books. Photo: Kevin White/Missouri State University

The president and CEO of $53 million-asset Systematic Savings Bank in Springfield, Mo., has a passion for rare book collecting that led him to create the Fraley Family Rare Books Endowment in support of the Special Collections & Archives at Missouri State University.

I just freakin’ dig books. It’s the thing you can put in your hands that transmits thoughts and ideas across not only space, but time. And the further that distance, especially in time, the more interesting I find it, because you’re reading about people’s interpretation of what is happening around them, not somebody’s interpretation of what happened some time ago.

Book collecting, especially rare book collecting, is actually a very approachable hobby. You don’t have to think of rare book collecting as chasing a Gutenberg. I love to give rare books as gifts. I bought a very dear friend of mine a first edition of American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Someday, it’ll be an old book, but you’d have to wait for it to be 200 years old.

Having the original, unblemished work as a primary source is very important. Every time you translate it, or every time you alter it, or every time you abridge it, you lose a little something out of that author’s soul. And so, it’s worth preserving. That’s part of why I started the [Fraley Family Rare Books Endowment]. I [also] thought, the more primary sources we have, the more materials to study, the better professor and student we attract.

I got sick of people asking me, “Where do you work? What do you do there?” And within those two questions, they define you. So, I kind of tongue-in-cheek started this foundation. So, now I can just say I started a rare book foundation. Because, you know, what are you going to do with that? Define me now.

Brianna Boecker is an editorial assistant with Independent Banker