Staff Spotlight: Betsy Thomas-Library Instructional Leader in the Library Services Department

Every week, we’ll shine a spotlight on one Lincoln Public Schools staff member! Get to know the wonderful people making a positive impact across various areas within LPS. This week, meet Betsy Thomas, library instructional leader in the Library Services Department.

“Betsy works so hard! She is creative and helps write our library lessons for all K-5 schools. She thinks of creative ideas to keep students engaged in lessons such as breakout boxes and fun themes to make the library a place students want to be. She goes the extra mile to make sure everything looks sharp and ready for our staff. She is also kind, she is the first person I go to if I need help with something and she always has a positive attitude.” - Emily Jacobs, library instructional leader in the Library Services Department. 

Briefly describe your role at LPS.
I am a library instructional leader in LPS. Our Library Services Department has the privilege of working with and supporting school librarians across the district. Our team gets to build library curriculum, lessons and resources that teach LPS students important lifelong skills such as information literacy, digital citizenship and researching skills. 

How long have you worked for LPS?
I am currently in my sixth year with LPS. In my first four years at LPS, I had the privilege of being the librarian at Kooser Elementary. These past two years I've served as a library instructional leader. 

What inspired you to become part of the education field at LPS?
A few years before applying to work in LPS I remember attending a NETA (Nebraska Educational Technology Association) session that was led by LPS' former Director of Library Services Mary Reiman and current Director of Library Services Dr. Chris Haeffner. I remember being in awe. The work they were doing was groundbreaking and inspiring. When I got the opportunity to move to Lincoln and work in LPS, I knew I would be working in one of the best library programs in the country. I am inspired daily by the work that our LPS librarians are doing to support student learning. 

What has been your favorite part of working here? What aspect of your job do you find most rewarding?
I have loved being a school librarian and an instructional library leader in LPS. As an elementary librarian, I got to work with the most amazing students. As a specialist, you get the unique opportunity to see them grow over the years. I loved getting to see students grow as readers and learners. 

As an instructional library leader, I get to see the amazing work being done across our district by our incredible school librarians. Even though I've taught for 20 years, I learn new things every day by working with and watching our talented team of librarians! 

Another rewarding part of my job is partnering with other department areas. We get to curate and create resources that support students and teachers and enrich other curriculum areas. 

Did you attend LPS as a student? If so, which school(s)? If not, where are you from?
I graduated from Giltner Public Schools.

What path did you take after completing your formal education?
I graduated from Hastings College with a degree in secondary education with endorsements in world and American history. I worked in the Council Bluffs Community School District for eight years, five as a high school and middle school history teacher and three as an elementary librarian. During this time, I began working toward my K-12 library endorsement and my master’s in secondary education at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO). I worked in Elkhorn Public Schools where I served as an elementary librarian for seven years before starting at LPS.

What do you enjoy most about the Lincoln community?
I love that the Lincoln community is so supportive of our schools and our teachers. I've worked with some of the best families in my years in LPS. The partnership between the community and our schools is what makes working in LPS so great.

What is your favorite childhood book or a book that has influenced you positively?
One of my favorite books as a child was “The Little Engine That Could.” I think that this book taught me the power of perseverance, determination and optimism. 

Share a shout out to a former teacher who impacted your life.
I have had many teachers who have impacted my life. It is impossible to pick just one!

My junior high and high school social studies teacher, Mr. Kevin Carper, made history come alive! He made history hands-on, engaging and fun! He was my inspiration in pursuing my degree in history education.

Ann Dea (former Woodrow Wilson Middle School librarian in Council Bluffs Community Schools) showed me what a good librarianship looked like! I learned so much from co-teaching with her. She encouraged me to take chances and bring my social studies class into the library to learn research skills. I had never considered being a librarian until she encouraged me to go back to school and earn my master's and a K-12 library endorsement.

Becky Pasco (Former director of the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Library Science Education program) was an amazing mentor and professor. Dr. Pasco's passion for librarianship paved the way for everything I've done as a librarian.

Do you know a LPS staff member we should feature for Staff Spotlight? Fill out this form to nominate them!

Published: January 19, 2024, Updated: January 19, 2024

Betsy Thomas-Library instructional Leader in the Library Services Department