Member Spotlight - Maurice Thomas Jr.January 3, 2022
This week's member spotlight is on Maurice Thomas Jr. Maurice is the manager of the Chicago Public Library's West Englewood Branch and a member of the ILA Reaching Forward Forum. We asked Maurice to tell us a little bit about himself and to answer a few professional and amusing questions. Continue reading to find out more about Maurice.
A little bit about Maurice
I started my library journey with the Chicago Public Library in 1998 in the position of Library Page as an 18-year-old college student. I was blessed with great colleagues and supervisors along the way who supported and encouraged me to earn an MLIS in 2008, then became a Librarian I in 2010, and now in my current role as a Branch Manager in 2016. I have truly grown up in the Chicago Public Library, having spent over half of my life working in libraries.
When I’m not serving the library patrons of Chicago, I partake in fantasy football, gaming, and cake baking. My simplest joys come when I’m spending time with my wife watching movies on television. We are also eagerly awaiting the birth of our daughter in April 2022.
How did you get into libraries?
My earliest memories of visiting public libraries began at eight years old at the Auburn branch of the Chicago Public Library. My parents would take me in to check out a stack of Choose Your Own Adventure books. I would periodically visit whenever it was time for research papers. Then, during my senior year of high school, there was a flyer posted about Library Page positions with the Chicago Public Library. I applied and was finally hired about one year later. I discovered I really enjoyed helping people then eventually come to love the research aspects of providing reference services. Now it’s been 24 years later, and I’m still going strong.
Best advice you’ve received since starting your career in libraries?
The best advice I’ve received was to step out of my comfort zone. I’ve received this advice multiple times. Apparently, I’m very fond of my comfort zone due to it being comfortable there.
Any advice to newcomers working in libraries?
Find a great mentor. I have been lucky enough to have multiple mentors who have helped me advance in my career. They have provided advice and knowledge over the years. As a result, I try to help future librarians and managers advance in their respective careers.
When and why did you become a member of ILA?
Early in my library career, I was able to attend some ILA Annual Conferences and the ILA Reaching Forward conference before I received my MLIS. I always enjoyed the wealth of information and meeting library colleagues from all over Illinois. While attending the 2017 annual conference, I finally decided to become a full member. In 2020, I was accepted into the Reaching Forward Forum, serving as a member of a subcommittee. I really wanted to give back and work on the conference that helped shape my professional career.
What is your proudest professional achievement to date?
My proudest achievement in being a branch manager is watching former branch staff members receive promotions to librarians and branch managers after their time here. It’s all about growing the next generation of librarians.
Hardcover, paperback, e-reader, or all three?
If you were stuck on a deserted island, what five books would you bring with you to pass the time until being rescued?
- Perfect Peace by Daniel Black
- Never Satisfied by Michael Baisden
- Child of God by Lolita Files
- Merriam-Webster Dictionary
- Star Wars: Visual Encyclopedia by Patricia Barr
Cat or Dog?
Dog. Finn, a handsome Shih Tzu we rescued in September 2020
Favorite film, podcast, or television show?
Favorite TV Show: 24
One person you would like to meet, dead or alive why?
Michael Jordan. As a lifelong Chicago Bulls fan, I was lucky enough to watch the greatest basketball player ever on a regular basis. He brought a lot of excitement to the city of Chicago.