We are proud to highlight our members who commit their time and resources to helping Wisconsin libraries and librarians thrive through their work with the Wisconsin Library Association. Each month, we will be sharing their stories and hope you will be inspired to learn more about our programs or get involved! 

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John Thompson | November 2021

For which library, institution, or organization are you currently employed? If you are retired, what was your former organization?
IFLS Library System

How many year(s) have you been a member of Wisconsin Library Association?
34 years

What has been your favorite or most impactful function or event of WLA?
The most impactful opportunities for me were serving on a variety of WLA and Wisconsin Association of Public Libraries (WAPL) boards and committees including the WAPL Board and Wisconsin Small Libraries (WISL).  It allowed me the opportunity to get to know colleagues from across the state and some of the issues that they were facing. 

How has being a member of WLA impacted you or your career?
When I was beginning my career as a library director the opportunity to interact with more experienced directors at library conferences and attend the wide variety of presentations provided me with helpful insights on how to better serve our patrons/community.  Three decades later I can share those experiences with a new group of librarians as well as continue to learn from them. WLA continues to help me connect with the library community

Do you have a library role model (in Wisconsin or elsewhere) that has provided you with inspiration or guidance? Please share a little bit about it.
Throughout the decades of working in Wisconsin I have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful individuals that were willing to share their thoughts and inspiration. It is difficult to even to come up with a top 10 list of individuals who have provided inspiration, guidance, or support over the decades. Some have been colleagues and friends for many years or even decades while others are “newer” colleagues whose insights, vision, and passion for library service inspire me to continue to learn. I feel very fortunate to be part of the Wisconsin library community. 

Do you have any advice for new WLA members?
My advice to new WLA members is to attend WLA conferences and be an active participant at the conferences. Attend the social activities; visit with the vendors; attend presentations that might be outside your normal job responsibilities; go out to dinner with a new group of colleagues.

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