Thomas Jay Kemp is stepping down Friday, Oct 21st from his position as Director of the Godfrey Memorial Library. He has accepted the newly created position of Director of Genealogy Products at NewsBank, Inc.
I've known Tom for several years and have watched his career grow through a series of positions with ever-increasing responsibilities. For the past three years he has served as the Director of the Godfrey Memorial Library in Middletown, Connecticut. When he arrived at the Godfrey three years ago, the library was a well-kept secret. It was a great genealogy resource but with a small number of patrons. Under Tom's leadership, the Godfrey Memorial Library has been completely renovated; the book collection grew from 20,000 to 35,000 items; a book security system has been installed; and a new newsletter, the "Godfrey Update," was started. When I asked about the newsletter, I was told that it now has 16,500 subscribers in more than 8 countries.
The Godfrey Library also now serves thousands of patrons electronically with an ever-increasing number of services available from its web site for modest fees.
The Godfrey Library and Tom have won recommendations and awards in the past three years:
- Family Chronicle called the Godfrey the "Best Bargain" in the field
- OCLC rated the Godfrey as the 6th most productive library in the world in their last annual report
- In September of this year, Tom received the Silver Tray Award, presented by Neal Southwick, President of the Utah Genealogical Association during the FGS Conference in Salt Lake City. In part the remarks at the presentation read:
Thomas Jay Kemp, Director of the Godfrey Memorial Library, is the recipient of this year's Silver Tray Award for a lifetime of achievement and dedication to genealogical service. He is he is well known for his vision, dedication and tireless service to the Godfrey Memorial Library. He has served as the Chair of the Council of National Library and Information Associations; President of the American Society of Indexers; on the Board of Directors of the Utah Genealogical Association and the Federation of Genealogical Societies. In 2000 he was a keynote speaker at the first genealogical conference held in China. He is a life member of the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society; the New England Archivists and the New Hampshire Library Association. For many years he was the Chair of the American Library Association's Genealogy Committee. He is the author of more than two dozen books and his articles regularly appear in national and state, library, archival and genealogical journals.
When I heard that Tom was leaving the Godfrey, I contacted him and asked what was going on. Here is his reply (in part):
"I am excited about working with NewsBank. Their extensive resources are just what genealogists want. I am looking forward to making these resources even more accessible to genealogists. It has been an honor to be at the Godfrey. I first used this Library when I was a teenager. I am very pleased with all that has been accomplished in the past three years. It is difficult to leave the Library at any time but it is gratifying to know that the Library is now on a firm financial footing, with a strong future and will remain so with its hard working staff, board, volunteers and thousands of members across the country."
Tom is going to an organization that is not yet well known in the genealogy world, although most genealogy librarians do know that NewsBank, Inc. has excellent online current and retrospective newspaper and digital book collections. Collections already available through NewsBank include:
- Early American Newspaper Collection
- America's Obituaries
- U.S. & World Newspaper Collections
- American State Papers
- Early American Imprints (1639-1819
- The U.S. Congressional Serial Set
Tom's new position is Director of Genealogy Products at NewsBank, Inc. I suspect that all genealogists will soon be hearing a lot about NewsBank.
Good luck, Tom!