Library executive director candidate Steven Thomas meets with public

Steven Thomas, 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

Residents interested in the Fayetteville Public Library’s executive director search yesterday heard from the second of two final candidates in the running for the position.

Steven Thomas spoke to about 30 people Tuesday night during the final public candidate forum hosted by the library’s board of trustees.

The other candidate, David Johnson, spoke last week.

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

Like Johnson, Thomas is a former employee of the Fayetteville Public Library. He was director of operations, manager of public services and reference manager from 1998 to 2004.

For the past 16 years, Thomas has worked in several libraries around the country including the Lawson McGhee Public Library in Knoxville, Tenn., the Brooklyn Public Library in New York, and the Kanawha County Public Library in Charleston, W.V.

He is currently assistant director of the Washington County Library System in Fayetteville where he’s held that position since 2007.

Thomas said a love for libraries is what’s kept him in the field for so long.

“For someone who likes to do a lot of different things and who likes a broad range of challenges, that aspect of the job has just been a dream,” he said. “But what’s better is that you get to do all these things in support of a cultural institution that makes a difference in people’s lives every day.”

In an outlined format during a brief presentation, Thomas said a great public library…

  1. Is fundamentally about culture and ideas.
  2. Has a deep commitment to education.
  3. Has a commitment to excellent processes and efficiency.
  4. Continually looks for ways to develop a sense of wonder, excitement and fun.
  5. Must be deeply linked to its community.
  6. Supports its community’s children and fosters enthusiasm in learning.
  7. Continues to look for ways to harness technology.
  8. Loves its volunteers.
  9. Can and should serve as the modern equivalent of the public square
  10. Should look for ways to create experiences that positively impact the lives of its patrons.

“This community is my favorite place in the world,” said Thomas. “It would be an enormous honor to spend the next decade plugging away every day and looking for ways to keep making this library better for its community and keep making it a better place to work.”

The board of trustees could announce its decision as early as Friday when it meets during a special session at 4:30 p.m. in the library’s Henry Board Room.

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

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