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Wanda Thompson celebrates 40 years at public library

Wanda Thompson started at the Port Arthur Public Library in 1979. On Friday, she celebrated 40 years as one of the library’s few remaining antique treasures.

Thompson joins only one other employee as the longest remaining tenured worker. The 63-year-old Port Arthur native has seen the library go through several directors, many natural disasters and the advance of the digital age.

“The main change for me, right now, has been since Hurricane Harvey,” she said. “It was the old traditional way. Now it’s more of an open space and it’s a big change going through different things. We are on our own, now, so it’s been different learning new techniques at 63, having started from my teens.”

Thompson received her degree in secretarial science from Lamar State College Port Arthur before joining the Port Arthur Public Library team as a cataloguer. Today, she is the head library clerk.

Port Arthur Public Library staff and members celebrated Wanda Thompson’s 40 years as library clerk Friday in the meeting room. 

“I like working with books,” she said. “I like researching and doing different stuff. I like doing a lot of Port Arthur history and helping people find things.”

Connecting with people, Thompson said is one of her favorite things about working at a library, especially the Port Arthur Public Library.

“I like meeting different people that come in,” she said. “Sometimes we will have people that are just passing through so to be able to help the public is special. I love Port Arthur and I love doing the research and helping people find information.”

Thompson said the Port Arthur team has been like a family to her since Day 1.

“They are all my family,” she said. “They’ve been through my marriage, my childbirth, my everything. We are all like family.”

Wanda Thompson cuts her cake during a surprise celebration at the Port Arthur Public Library.

Members and staff of the library celebrated Thompson’s milestone with a surprise party in the meeting room Friday at lunch. Thompson said she was completely taken aback by the honor.

“For them to bring my family and friends here, is amazing,” she said. “I had no idea.”

Steven Williams, Port Arthur public library director said it was a pleasure to be able to honor Mrs. Thompson and allow her to celebrate her special day with the people she loves.

“The value that Mrs. Wanda brings to the team is leadership and her experience,” he said. “Also, she has been a person that has been a mentor in my life. Me being hired at the young age of 18, she was probably one of the people who put their hands on me and decided to mentor and show me the way. I have a mother, but if I had a mother figure at work, it would definitely be Wanda Thompson.”