Getting to Know You: Ann Thompson

By: Gale Biddle

As I was interviewing Ann Thompson, Manager of the Knowledge Commons in Pattee Library and mother of 4 active children, I thought of Professor Hinkle, the magician on the animated show Frosty the Snowman, saying “busy, busy, busy” because busy is exactly what Ann is, both at work and at home. Growing up in a town in Potter County so small that it doesn’t have a traffic light, Ann’s first job was using her grandfather’s riding lawnmower to mow lawns. A self-proclaimed “math nerd,” she received her bachelor’s degree in Math with a focus on Statistics from Penn State. This is where her long connection with Penn State started.

Ann began her career at Penn State Behrend in 1991 as a student before transferring to University Park in 1992. She took a brief break to work at another company but found that she didn’t enjoy it. So, she came back to Penn State and to the Libraries, where she says, “it gets in your blood and you stick around.” Overall, she spent seven years working part-time in the library including the Periodical Room and the Math Library. Once she became a full-time employee, Ann worked in several departments, including Serials, Microforms, and News and Microforms before settling into the Physical and Mathematical Sciences (PAMS) Library for twelve years. During her tenure at the News and Microforms and PAMS Libraries, Ann saw each facility undergo significant changes. She had to coordinate her area of collections and resources with internal and external library services.

cake by Ann Thompson for blog postStarting about seven months ago, she became the Manager of the Tombros McWhirter Knowledge Commons. Ann oversees all the operations within the Knowledge Commons, including the services at the Welcome Desks at Pattee/Paterno and at the Search Bar. The position requires her to work with the IT department, Media and Maker Commons, and the Writing Tutors to create a successful partnership to assist students. Now that the Head of Knowledge Commons is on sabbatical, Ann is taking on additional responsibility as acting Head from January until June of this year. In addition, she’s the product owner of the Room Reservation system, LibCal, and the contact person for 25Live.

Ask Ann about her family, and you will immediately know how proud she is of them. Ann and John, her husband of twenty years, are parents to Julia, Amber, Laurie, and John. Her children (ranging in age from kindergarten to high school senior) are involved in figure skating, soccer, hockey, volunteering, plays, and much more. As a family, they enjoy being together and doing all sorts of outdoor activities, including skiing and canoeing. The family pets include Pumpkin, a cat, and Pi, a dog. Ann’s husband, a mechanical engineer, is also a pilot, and on occasion, he takes her to her favorite place–the beach. She’s a gifted cake baker and decorator and makes beautiful wedding cakes.  Some of her other hobbies include knitting, crocheting, and photography. And if all of that isn’t enough, she became a certified Scrum Master, too!

When it comes to Penn State, Ann says that the best part of working here is the people she’s met throughout her career. She says she’s “made some lasting relationships, met some great people, and learned some great lessons.” I think that statement rings true for most of us. And Ann is one of those great people you will meet here at Penn State.

Ten Random Questions with Ann Thompson

  1. Favorite Movie? Fried Green Tomatoes
  2. Favorite color? Blue
  3. Least favorite word? Freaking—if you’re going to swear, just say it!
  4. Last concert you’ve been to? Josh Grobin
  5. Place you’d like to visit that you’ve never been? Hawaii
  6. Best gift you ever received? My family
  7. Best gift you ever gave? 4 children
  8. Favorite food? Lasagna
  9. If you were on a desert island, what one thing would you have to have with you? My husband—he’s handy to have around
  10. First thing you would do if you won the lottery? Invest it to pay off my kids’ education