An Interview with SMCL’s Thom Ball


Photo of Thom Ball.Getting to know Thom Ball: Who Are You and Where Are You From?

“I am a former professional musician turned librarian. My father was an Army officer and we lived in many places throughout the world. In my childhood, I moved about 7-8 times and lived off the mainland in Okinawa, Hawaii and Europe for varying periods of time.”

What Inspired You to Work in Libraries?

“Library work started off as my day job to supplement my income while playing in working bands. The library as a workplace couldn’t be more ideal if one appreciates all manner of the arts and the pursuit of knowledge and enlightenment. Over the years I discovered that I enjoyed my co-workers’ humor, intelligence and dedication to public service and found that I was deriving a tremendous level of personal satisfaction and fulfillment as well. When offered the opportunity to attend library school, I decided that the time had come to shift my focus from music to librarianship and I have never regretted it.”

What Do You Do at SMCL and Where Can We Find You?

“I manage the two libraries in Pacifica, [Sanchez and Sharp Park]. Finding me can be a challenge at times because I ‘float’ between the two locations in order to be where I am most needed at any given time. I also do a lot of community outreach so much of my time is spent outside the walls.

In 2000, I created a Musical Storytime that combines children's music and storytelling in a live performance. Audience members are encouraged to sing along with their kids and to take the song sheets home. Most storytimes have a music component but we wanted to take it to a new level. Live performance is becoming less accessible to younger children--parents comment often on this aspect of the storytime, how much they appreciate their children getting to hear live performance."

What Do You Like Most About Your Job?

“The community connection. The emergence of a true and abiding love for the written word in young people. Helping seekers of knowledge find their way through the information ecosphere. Introducing readers to a new author or concept. Hearing people’s stories and recognizing the commonalities between and amongst each other. Having the opportunity every day to make a difference in someone’s life.”

What Would You Tell People About Libraries That They Might Not Know?

“That librarians are not an enclave for repressed, authoritative older women obsessed with quiet and order. And no, we do not sit around all day reading.

The library is the last bastion of non-partisan dissemination of information that respects the intelligence of its patrons enough to provide them with the tools they need to make smart, informed life decisions without interference.”

What Are You an (Un)Official Expert On?

“I am a committed generalist who knows a little about a lot. I know a lot about winecooking, other cultures, music of all kinds, artbaseballguitar and sports in general.”

What Are Your Hobbies?

Cookingbaking, sports, walking for exercise and mental detoxification and vegetable gardening.”

What Book, Movie, and Album Would You Take With You to a Deserted Island?

“The biggest, fattest, most complete World Literature Anthology available; The Lord of the Rings Trilogy; and the [Beatles’] White Album or Crosby, Stills and Nash’s first album.”

Who Is Your Favorite Fictional Character of All Time?

“Really impossible to say. Ender WigginMiles VorkosiganOliver Twist, Arya Stark, Huck FinnDr. Dolittle -- it just goes on and on.”

If You Could Have One Superpower, What Would It Be?

“Flight. For the speed, the freedom and the convenience.”

What is Your Go-To Dessert?

“Ice Cream. Caramel chocolates. Cookies. Any or all.”

In One Word, What Do Libraries Mean to You?



Author Bio:

Intern Anthony Andora believes in libraries, too.


Thom Ball's interview

Delighted to find another Miles Vorkosigan admirer, as well as one who listens to Crosby, Stills and Nash. Kudos to interviewer Anthony Andora for his skill in eliciting great details for very readable interviews...


I really enjoy conducting these interviews. But I don't do much really--it's the amazing staff members who make them so readable, funny and insightful! It certainly inspires me towards my goal of entering the library profession!

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