Library executive director candidate David Johnson meets with public

David Johnson, one of two final candidates seeking the vacant executive director position at the Fayetteville Public Library, speaks during a public session Tuesday evening inside the library’s Walker Community Room.

Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Members of the public this week got a chance to hear from one of the two final candidates in the running to be the Fayetteville Public Library’s new executive director.

David Johnson spoke to about 20 people Tuesday night during the first of two planned candidate forums.

The other candidate, Steven Thomas, will speak to residents at 6 p.m. Jan. 17 on the same stage.

Former executive director Shawna Thorup resigned in August during an investigation by the board of directors. To date, neither party has chosen to openly discuss details of Thorup’s resignation.

Johnson is the son of a librarian and is a 27-year resident of Fayetteville. He is a past employee of the library where became head of the adult services department in 1995 before entering the corporate world two years later.

“I envisioned, when I came to the Fayetteville Public Library, working my way to the top,” he said. Although his goal was to become executive director, Johnson said his $24,000 salary was too limiting at the time.

“I felt like I wanted to create an opportunity for us to have some choice about whether or not Holly (his wife) wanted to stay home and be with the children or whether or not she wanted to continue to pursue her career,” said Johnson.

Johnson said he decided to step aside and go to work at Tyson Foods where he found an opportunity to apply his library and information science training.

He has worked at Tyson Foods for 14 years moving through various leadership positions and is currently the information systems lead for product research and development.

Johnson said he wasn’t looking for a job when the library position became available, but that his wife recently became executive director of the Fayetteville Education Foundation which gives him an opportunity to return to the library field.

“My vision is of a future where we are the ultimate library experience,” said Johnson. “We will be the barometer and the benchmark against which every public library in the country measures itself. From ages 2 to 92, I want people to come here and have that ‘wow’ library experience.”

To reach that goal, Johnson said the library’s leadership must focus on four pillars – people, quality, innovation and process efficiency.

When asked if 14 years of work in the corporate world might hinder his ability to serve as director of a public facility, Johnson says it’s quite the opposite.

He said he’s learned valuable leadership skills at Tyson and has come to appreciate the idea that investors are shareholders who must be satisfied.

“This community is writing the check and it is up to us to make sure that they’re getting the best return on their investment,” he said.

David Johnson

MLS: University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, 1993.
MA in Communication: University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 1991 BA in Communication: University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 1989

2010-Present: Information Systems Lead, Product Research & Development, Tyson Foods, Springdale, AR
2006-2010: Information Systems Project Leader in Sales & Marketing, Tyson Foods, Springdale, AR
2004-2006: Information Systems Project Leader, Tyson Foods, Springdale, AR
2003-2004: Information Systems Communication Manager, Tyson Foods, Springdale, AR
2002-2003: Information Systems Training Manager, Tyson Foods, Springdale, AR
2001-2003: Information Systems Manager of Technical Writing, Training & Office Automation, Tyson Foods, Springdale, AR
1997-2001 : Information Systems Help Desk Manager, Tyson Foods, Springdale, AR
1995-1997: Department Head, Adult Services Department, Fayetteville Public Library, Fayetteville, AR
1993-1995: Head of Reference, Arnold Ledoux Library, Louisiana State University, Eunice, LA
1992-1993: Reference Librarian, Hodges Library, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN

Steven Thomas

MLIS: University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, 1994
BA in History: University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, 1992

2007-Present: Assistant Director, Washington Co. Library System, Fayetteville, AR
2005-2006: Assistant Director, Support Services, Kanawha Co. Public Library, Charleston, WV
1998-2004: Director of Operations, Assistant Director, Manager of Public Services, Reference Manager, Fayetteville Public Library, Fayetteville, AR
1995-1998: Assistant Branch Librarian, Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn, NY
1995: Reference Intern, Lawson McGhee Public Library, Knoxville, TN