The Hancock Library dog and pony show crossed into the Twilight Zone at the Waveland City Council meeting with Executive Director Courtney Thomas giving legal opinions. Even better her ‘professional opinions’ differed from Waveland’s City Attorney. It reminded me of a Twitter exchange between Piers Morgan and Ben Shapiro earlier this week where Morgan and Shapiro compared law school credentials.
At the Waveland meeting, Mayor Smith shut down Ms. Thomas when she began trashing the County Sups but it was then we really began to wonder what Thomas was hiding behind these outbursts. One email with links solved the mystery.
Since Ms. Thomas has been fond of quoting the Mississippi Code how about we join in and quote section 39-3-17(2):
There shall be one (1) library director for each library system. Said library system director shall have such educational qualifications as are prescribed by the Mississippi Library Commission.
And what are those requirements? Luckily for us the Mississippi Library Commission revised them at their March 28, 2017 meeting:
A library system with a service area population of greater than 15,000 must have a permanent, paid, full-time director who has, or will have within three (3) years of hire, a master’s degree in Library Science from a school accredited by the American Library Association.
Requiring degreed professionals to run the library system is a good thing because, at least on paper, it would keep unqualified political hacks and their political enablers out of the libraries.
As for Hancock County Library Executive Director Thomas, she got an assist from the State Library Commission in getting her masters per this Sea Coast Echo article:
Courtney Thomas, Hancock County Library System’s (HCLS) Executive Director, was recently named the sole recipient of the Public Librarian Scholarship by the Mississippi Library Commission.
The scholarship is part of the Library Services and Technology Act grant program administered through the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
The grant, in the amount of $10,000, covers the tuition costs associated with Thomas’ enrollment in the Master’s Degree in Library Science program at the University of Southern Mississippi. She is scheduled to complete the coursework and receive her master’s degree in December 2015.
So the Hancock Library system is slick with the law correct? After all, our Executive Director got a nice scholarship and is no dullard, as her legal opinions can attest.
Not so fast folks. To understand how Ms. Thomas ended up as Executive Director is to understand her political bloodline. It is well known locally that Ms. Thomas’ mother is Bay Waveland School Board Trustee Joan Thomas, an appointee of former Mayor Fillingame. Fillingame’s former “Grant Writer” Paula Fairconetue is Trustee Thomas’ sister so we have a triumvirate of political appointees. Clearly these are formidable women politically.
But is Ms. Thomas qualified to run a library system? The very short answer is no as the National Student Clearinghouse indicates that Ms. Thomas does not even have a bachelors degree in library science, let alone a Masters:
I think Ms. Thomas may just be right about the Library system being undermined. That said Mayor Smith is dead on that it isn’t the Sups doing the damage. Stay tuned folks because all the muck is now bubbling up.