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New Orleans Public Library Board Names Emily Painton New Executive Director and 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 of Directors has named Emily Painton as its new Executive Director and City Librarian.

“I am proud to welcome Ms. Painton as the new Executive Director of the New Orleans Public Library and as our city’s Librarian,” Mayor LaToya Cantrell said. “Our libraries are community anchors that connect families to extensive resources on health and wellness, job opportunities and workforce development, financial and social services, and critical housing and disaster information, while encouraging literacy as a critical foundation for child and adult wellbeing. It is important to have a leader that gets it and understands that our libraries are essential to family enrichment and in improving the quality of life for residents, which aligns with our 10-Year Strategic Plan. I am confident that Ms. Painton will succeed in this role as she remains steadfast in strengthening communities in New Orleans through vital resource connections.”

Painton has more than two decades of experience working in libraries, including six years at the New Orleans Public Library. She served as the Library’s interim executive director since November 2021, and the public services director since June 2020. Painton also served as the manager of the New Orleans Public Library – Main Library and worked at Austin Public Library.

“We are thrilled to make this announcement,” Library Board Chair Vonda Flentroy-Rice said. “Ms. Painton has been instrumental in moving the Library forward and continues to implement the goals within our strategic plan.”

 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. Over the past few months, she 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 grateful for the opportunity to assume this position at the Library,” Painton said. “I’m also excited to carry on the strategic work we began last year. The Library holds such a special place in the New Orleans community, and I am honored to be a part of it.”

The Library’s Strategic Plan, adopted in 2021, focuses on creating a Library lifestyle. It calls for an enhancement of core services and concentrations on S.M.A.R.T (Science, Math, Art, Reading, and Technology) kids, a ready workforce, and open doors to meet the needs of its users and the greater community.

As 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, she loves to travel and paint. She can be reached at epainton@nolalibrary.org. 

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