Library News

James Thomas is ‘The Rock’ of Sedona Public Library

Hello Red Rock News Readers! Many hands make light the work. From the volunteers who pull the holds and shelve the books, to staff who greet patrons upon their arrival and are ready to help them with whatever they need, everyone who works or volunteers at the Library plays a vital role in keeping it in tip-top shape. 

The Sedona Public Library’s Facilities Manager, James “Jim” Thomas, is one such person at the Library who I am glad to know and honored to work with. Over the past 8 months, I have come to appreciate Jim and all that he does at the Library. Being in charge of the physical goings on of a 26,000 square-foot building is no easy feat. Somedays yes, it’s routine duties like making sure the lavatory is clean and presentable before the Library opens to fixing a broken leg on the train table in Youth Services. There is never a day where Jim doesn’t perform miracles we didn’t know we needed.  

The fondest memory I have of my first few weeks of working with Jim was watching him navigate in between the book stacks on a motorized construction lift during the Library’s Quilt Show installation in January. Up and down the aisles he went, humming a Tom Petty tune, navigating the lift down the aisles as expertly as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in Disney’s The Jungle Cruise. 

I am grateful for Jim. While my days start later and end later most days, his doesn’t. He’s at the Library earlier than most, and usually by the time I arrive to let him know about an event scheduled that day, he’s already made the proper preparations. Jim has a great sense of humor, an even-keeled temperament, knowledge and experience gained from managing RV properties and senior care facilities, and the patience of a saint when working with me. I’m still learning as I go, the ins and outs of my job, and Jim is there to point out when I can’t see the forest past the trees. Jim figures out the best way to time-manage an event.  

As with all staff introductions, let’s take a moment to learn more about the Library’s Facilities Manager and resident McGuyver, James “Jim” Thomas, who, by the way, plays a mean six string guitar for Silent Treatment, a Cottonwood rock band. 

Where were you born? “I was born and raised in the Central San Joaquin Valley of Central California (the Fruit Basket of the World). In the 1970s, this was a great place to grow up. I lived in a little neighborhood on the East side of Fresno and Clovis amid the fruit orchards and spent a lot of time in the orchards goofing off with friends or swimming in the irrigation canals.” 

What was your first job? “My first job commitment was mowing lawns in the neighborhood. At ten-years-old, my partner in shenanigans and I started mowing, edging (with a manual edger), and raking yards for $5, front and back. It wasn’t long before we had a regular route that we worked for about four years. My first taxpaying job, ironically, was as a custodian’s helper at the elementary school they built in the neighborhood. At fourteen-years-old, I was working for $4.15 an hour and was feeling pretty good about it.” 

What was the most influential book you read and why? “I would have to go with “Chariots of the Gods” by Erich Von Daniken. This book presented the idea that the history of man, as we know it, was in question, and it put me on a mission to find out the truth. What I found were more questions than answers and I continue to search to this day.” 

Are you Team Dog or Team Cat? “I’m team No Pets. Let me explain, after having both dogs and cats my whole life, I came to a point where there were no more pets and my kids had grown up and moved out of the house. The opportunity arose for not having the responsibility of children and pets, and it was a pleasant ten years. No  picking up poo, trips to the vet, pet hair EVERYWHERE, or pet sitters. But – heavy sigh – that time is over and we have had two cats this last year. Everything I didn’t have to worry about the last ten years is back, but we love them dearly.” 

Have you ever seen a ghost or UFO? “I have not seen a ghost, but I have witnessed some very strange things. Yes, I have seen many UFOs. Was it aliens? I do not know, but I do know it wasn’t a weather balloon. I even researched them for quite some time and worked on a National Geographic show called “Chasing UFOs” as a production assistant. Somehow this seems to tie into my book answer, “weird”, and I continue to search for them to this day.” 

The next time you see Jim, hammer in hand, six feet up on a ladder, take a moment to say “hello”, ask him about his newest grandchild, and thank him for all he does to help keep the lights on at the Library. No really, he replaced the lights by the Silent Waterfall, much better now. 

Sedona Public Library is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.  To make a tax-deductible donation, please visit our website or send your check to Sedona Public Library, 3250 White Bear Road, Sedona, Arizona 86336. Remember you can direct your gift to the Village Library. Thank you! 

As published in the Red Rock News

Library News Column for August 5, 2022  
Written by  Jan Marc Quisumbing, Program & Marketing Coordinator 


Library News appears each Friday here and in the Red Rock News.