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Meet Emily Painton: Interim Director & City Librarian

Emily Painton was named interim executive director and city librarian by the New Orleans Public Library Board.

The New Orleans Public Library Board appointed Emily Painton interim executive director and city librarian Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. 

Painton has more than two decades of experience working in libraries, including six years at the New Orleans Public Library. An Oklahoma native, Painton holds a lifelong love of New Orleans. She regularly visited the city in her youth, getting her first taste of living here when she spent a summer waiting tables in the French Quarter in her early 20s. 

After receiving her BFA in art history and photography at the University of Oklahoma, Painton got her masters in library and information science at the University of Texas in Austin. 

While living there, she worked at the Austin American Statesman Newspaper library and archives, as an archival assistant at the Southwestern Writers and Southwestern & Mexican Photography Collection, and as a reference librarian at Texas State University. 

Painton returned to New Orleans and received her MA in art history from Tulane University, going on to manage the Delgado Westbank Campus library for four years.  

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, she moved back to Austin and took a management position at the Austin Public Library, where she fell in love with public library work. 

Painton relocated to New Orleans once again in 2015 to start her tenure at NOPL. In the years since, she served as regional manager of the Main Library and most recently held the role of director of public services. 

“I love the New Orleans Public Library and am honored to have been chosen to fill the role of interim executive director and city librarian,” Painton said. “Over the past six years, I have had the privilege to get to know the ins and outs of the organization, including the dedicated staff working on the ground to serve our city. I am grateful for the opportunity to lead this team as we work towards better fulfilling our mission to transform lives, enrich neighborhoods, and preserve history.” 

Over the past few months, Painton has been working to implement the foundations of the Library’s 10-year strategic plan, including restructuring the way the Library develops and executes programs. 

“I am excited to continue to work on fulfilling the goals of our strategic plan, which centers on early childhood education, job readiness, and open doors,” Painton said. “The launch of our new strategic planning team is a fantastic first step that I am proud to have overseen.” 

As interim director, Painton said she will focus on moving forward with the strategic plan, engaging with location staff, and working towards making the Library more accessible, appealing, and valuable for all New Orleanians. 

“Public libraries are for everyone, and my main goal is to ensure that our Library serves our communities in the best way possible,” Painton said. 

In her spare time, Painton loves to travel and paint. She can be reached at epainton@nolalibrary.org.