Cleveland Public Library The Drum Major for Change: Felton Thomas at TEDxCLE


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Felton Thomas, Jr. was appointed Director of the Cleveland Public Library (CPL) in January 2009. Since then, he has positioned CPL as a community deficit fighter and launched initiatives aimed at addressing community needs in the areas of technology, education, and economic development.
During Felton’s tenure, CPL has maintained its “Five Star” status and been named a “Top Innovator” by the Urban Libraries Council for its use of technology and data to inform decision making. Felton also has guided CPL through the worst recession in decades by actively seeking input from the community, and then reducing CPL’s budget by millions while still providing superior service and keeping all neighborhood branches open.
Felton’s vision for the Library is that of a strong leader in defining a more prosperous future for Cleveland by battling the digital divide, illiteracy, unemployment, and other community deficits with innovative programming and action at all branches. He has also launched a “Downtown Destination” campaign to reposition the Main Library for the 21st century and market its status as a major downtown attraction.
Felton is a native of Las Vegas, where, as a youth, he first developed his passion for libraries. At age 13, he became the youngest employee in Las Vegas-Clark County Library District history when a librarian noticed his enthusiasm and encouraged him to become a page. Thirty years later, the young page has move up the library ranks to become Director of one of the best libraries in the country.
Felton earned his undergraduate degree in psychology from The University of Nevada-Las Vegas and his Masters in Library Science from The University of Hawaii, and is currently pursuing his PhD in Managerial Leadership Management at Simmons College.
Felton lives in Shaker Heights with his wife and two daughters, is an accomplished musician, and has become a devoted Cleveland sports fan since his arrival on the shores of Lake Erie.
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations).

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Cleveland Public Library The Drum Major for Change: Felton Thomas at TEDxCLE

  1. 1. A Drum Major forChange
  2. 2. More new ideas,more sane ideas,than any other libraryin the world.John G. White
  3. 3. Remove barriers and open shelves
  4. 4. Open outlets where people live
  5. 5. Welcome children
  6. 6. Serve Everyone
  7. 7. Embracetechnology
  8. 8. “Even if you are on the righttrack, you’ll get run over ifyou just sit there.”Will Rogers
  9. 9. Why make a shift in theperception of the ClevelandPublic Library?
  10. 10. REALITY
  11. 11. A Drum Major forChange