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August 22, 2014

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As executive director leaves, Henderson Library District looks for its next Tom Fay

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Mona Shield Payne/Special to the Sun

Henderson Libraries’ Executive Director Tom Fay speaks about the history of libraries in Henderson Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2009, during the groundbreaking ceremony of the new James I. Gibson Library located at Lake Mead Parkway and Water Street.

The Henderson Library District has started the search for a new executive director after its current director accepted a position with the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District.

Henderson Library District Executive Director Tom Fay will start his new job as the deputy director of the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District on July 22.

Fay said he felt he was leaving the district while it was in a healthy state and said the district could benefit from a new director with a fresh perspective.

"I was here when we built it up, and I was here when we downsized it. As we're starting to come out of the recession, (the district) is in a good place. A new set of eyes and new ideas would be good," said Fay, who has been the executive director for nine years.

Henderson Library District Board of Trustees Chairwoman MJ Maynard joked that the No. 1 quality that board members would seek in applicants was to "be Tom Fay." Maynard said Fay, an “all-around great guy,” would be sorely missed by his team.

“He's such a smart, confident individual. He's done a great job over the last nine years,” said Maynard, who also praised Fay’s budgeting skills and ability to meet with legislators and stakeholders. “He knows how to build, repair and maintain libraries.”

Fay said he was at the point in his career where he was ready to face new challenges. He noted that it would take some time to get used to the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District's bigger scope.

"The scale of operation is large. I will be responsible for around 25 libraries as well as libraries across the county. Mesquite, Laughlin — you name it," Fay said, adding that he would be working with a staff of over 500 people compared with the Henderson Library District's staff of 100 in four branch libraries.

Fay worked for the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District before he joined the Henderson Library District in 1999. He became the executive director for Henderson in 2004.

He said he felt the library district accomplished a lot while he was director, such as building new libraries, including the Paseo Verde Library and the Gibson Library, and bringing Green Valley Library under the Henderson Library banner.

Maynard said lobbying a proposed tax initiative, which would have boosted revenues for the library district by raising property taxes, was one of the highlights of Fay's career. She said Fay worked tirelessly to support the initiative.

“It was a daunting undertaking considering that we were just barely coming out of a recession,” Maynard said. “This is a guy who met with every single stakeholder in Henderson, and he knocked on doors, attended meetings. He went to breakfasts, dinners and met on weekends trying to inform folks about what this tax was about.”

Although the tax initiative failed at the polls, Maynard said the libraries still benefited from Fay's efforts.

“He took the awareness of what libraries mean to a community to a whole other level. He introduced libraries to folks who hadn't been to libraries or hadn't been to libraries in a long time,” Maynard said, noting that Fay's mark on Henderson would not be forgotten.

Fay, who began as an information technology manager when he became a part of the Henderson Library District's team, said technological offerings bolstered the libraries' success.

"Having those libraries offer modern amenities like public computers, e-books and other electronic media is the key to our continued success," he said.

Fay said he would still watch the Henderson Library District's continuing progress from afar and will miss the people he's encountered in the library district.

"I've spent a lot of my 30-year career here, and I think we've got a great staff, a great community and a lot of supporters who have made it what it is today," he said.

Maynard said that after Fay's departure, the library district would continue to work with a constrained budget and hire a successor who will be able to think on his or her feet and would not be afraid to make changes when necessary.

“We're going to continue to assure the staff that any replacement is someone who will fit in with the organization and is not afraid to manage during a challenging time,” Maynard said.

In regards to his successor, Fay said he was confident the district would pick someone who would be good for the community and would engage with the community.

He offered some advice for the to-be-chosen executive director.

"It is a great team here. Remember to have fun. It's a great community. They appreciate and enjoy their libraries," Fay said.

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  1. Why does Henderson need an executive director? Libraries are going the way of buggy whips. We don't need to spend what we once did on libraries. Especially not high salaries.