Movin' On Up: Librarian Paul Smith Gets National Honors

The newest issue of Library Journal has a familiar face on its cover. Familiar, at least, to anyone who’s been to a film screening, book discussion group, or special event at the Kansas City Public Library anytime in the past four and a half years.

Paul Smith, communications specialist in the Library’s Public Affairs department, has just been named one of LJ’s 2011 Movers & Shakers. He is the first Kansas City Public Library employee to receive this award.

Each year, only 50 librarians from both public and academic library settings are named Movers & Shakers, defined as library professionals “who are doing extraordinary work to serve their users and to move libraries of all types and library services forward.”

Paul is definitely doing his part to shape the Library’s future.

Since joining the Public Affairs team in December of 2006, Smith has been a driving force in the Library’s citywide Big Read programs, the annual Adult Winter Reading program, and the Off-the-Wall Film Series (which returns to the Central Library’s Rooftop Terrace this summer with films chosen by Roger Ebert).

“The Library offers some really incredible opportunities – and not just for our audiences,” says Smith. “I’ve been fortunate enough to inherit some great concepts – particularly Off-the-Wall – that I’ve managed to improve.

“But this place is such a collaborative environment, and I know that I do my best work in cooperation with the many expert librarians and other professionals who show up every day to make this institution a better place for the public.”

Aside from the big programs, Smith’s day-to-day work for the Library makes him a bona fide MVP.

Just ask Head of Readers’ Services Kaite Mediatore Stover (a Mover & Shaker honoree in 2003), who nominated Smith for this year’s award.

“Paul has seen the value of libraries as a public institution and is dedicated to the Kansas City Public Library’s success,” says Stover. “His work promoting our programs and services always comes with a special emphasis on the Library as a place for people to pursue knowledge in all formats.”

See Smith’s work in action tomorrow night at the Plaza Branch, the site for the closing celebration for the 2011 Adult Winter Reading Program, featuring acclaimed novelist Jasper Fforde, who will read from and discuss his book One of Our Thursdays Is Missing.

Read about all of this year’s Movers & Shakers, and follow Paul on Twitter: @kclibrarymovies, @redpunker.

-- Jason Harper