OC Public Library’s major strength is the community itself —new librarian

OC Public Library’s major strength is the community itself —new librarian

“The staff here has done an amazing job,” says Pat Thompson, the newly-appointed director of the Obion County Public Library. Mrs. Thompson assumed her new role recently after moving here from Nashville. The library has been under the direction of interim director Curt True for the past year, since former director Mary Carpenter’s resignation to assume the post of director at the Paul Meek Library at the University of Tennessee at Martin became effective June 30, 2007. Mrs. Thompson had high praise for the staff with whom she is beginning a new association and said her plans are to work hard at keeping the library vibrant and progressing. “This library’s major strength is the community itself. The simple fact that it is here speaks volumes about the community and what it values. I don’t know if people here know how fortunate they are,” she said, noting that the Obion County Public Library is a crown jewel in the statewide system. While many of the library’s ongoing programs are kicking into high gear or progressing right on schedule — the children’s summer reading program, the teen summer reading initiative, Nifty Fifty Bingo, the annual Friends of the Library book sale, the children’s story hour on Saturdays, scrapbooking and cardmaking sessions, English as a Second Language classes and more — Mrs. Thompson has a new and major undertaking ready to commence right away: a strategic planning effort. Backed by the support of the library’s board of directors and a recommendation from the library system’s regional director that there could be no better time to act, Mrs. Thompson will be introducing a skilled and highly recommended facilitator to assist with the project. The commitment will also involve library staff, the board, the Friends of the Obion County Library and the community in an effort to work out goals and objectives for the next five years. Add into the mix plans for a teen arts program with hands-on-crafts and a safety program carried out in conjunction with local manufacturers and involving community personnel from the fire department, police department and hospital and it is clear the library’s new director and her committed staff will spend the vacation season doing anything but resting. Mrs. Thompson grew up in Fountain City in East Tennessee and began her undergraduate studies at Indiana University in Richmond. She returned to East Tennessee with her family and completed her degree at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. After the death of her husband, she finished work on her master’s degree in information science at UTK. She has worked in the Knox County system, spending time in several capacities and learning the job inside out as a floater at 16 of the county’s branches. She also logged time at the Stewart County Library as director when she lived in Dover and at Blount County Public Library back in East Tennessee, where she was head of the reference department for five years. From there, she moved to the Tennessee State Library and Archives, administering the Tennessee Electronic Library and working to get registration efforts underway. She also undertook training for reference collection and development and newer Web technologies for Tennessee’s regional libraries. Her work at the UT Hodges Library and the law library and a practicum at the system’s medical library and herbarium offered yet other opportunities to round out her impressive resumé. She has been president of the Tennessee Library Association (2006-07) and is no stranger to the hands-on work that makes libraries successful, having also been engaged in liaison commitments with Friends of Library groups and the non-profit TENN-SHARE organization supporting Tennessee Electronic Library. She is the mother of six adult children and grandmother to 17. Mrs. Thompson left two sons and a daughter and their families in Knoxville when she accepted her newest job but has also moved closer to her daughter Aura Marzouk; her husband, Ashraf; and their three children, who make their home in Martin. Another daughter, Merrily Dixon, accompanied her mother to Union City for a short stay, and she is even a little closer to the sixth of her children, a son and his wife and daughter, who are in Texas while he serves with the U.S. Army. Fishing, camping, reading, attending outdoor blues concerts and visiting grandchildren take up the new director’s spare time, although working to attain her goal of library directorship has not left an abundance of hours to fill through the years. She is full of praise for her new home ­— extolling the beauty of the landscape and the ease and convenience small-town living affords (no stalling in traffic jams, no driving long distances “across town” for a necessity). “I am passionate about libraries and I have worked toward my degrees and the job of being a library director and tried to learn all anyone would teach me about it,” she says with a smile. “Being here in Obion County is wish-fulfillment. It’s just another day in paradise.” Published in The Messenger 6.11.08

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