Summit County Library director named Librarian of the Year
Dan Compton honored and taken aback by the award
- For information about the Summit County Library, visit thesummitcountylibrary.org.
- For information about the Utah Library Association, visit ula.org.
Summit County Library Director Dan Compton is the 2023 Librarian of the Year.
The Utah Library Association presented Compton the award, which recognizes the “most outstanding contributions to librarianship in the state of Utah for the previous calendar year,” during its annual conference that was held May 17-19 at the Davis Conference Center in Layton.
“It was so unexpected, but an amazing honor,” Compton said.
One of the things that struck Compton was that his staff cast their nominations without him knowing.
“We work together so hard as a team to do great things, so to have them think so highly of me means the world to me,” he said.
This is the second Utah Library Association award that has been presented to a Summit County Library employee in almost a decade. The last was the Outreach Award in 2014 that was given to Daisy Hodson, who was the multicultural services librarian at the time, Compton said.
“She worked a lot with our Spanish GED program, where she helped quite a few individuals earn their GEDs,” he said. “That was the first Summit County Library staff who won that I can recall until this one.”
Compton joined the Summit County Library staff in September of 2005, and was officially named the director in January 2011.
“I love what the profession stands for,” Compton said. “It makes resources available to everyone no matter what their backgrounds may be. So, we try to provide the community with information they need to better themselves, and to have life-long learning opportunities.”
LIbrary sciences pulled Compton in while he was in college studying to be a teacher.
“Although being a teacher didn’t work out, I have found that I get some of the same pleasure in doing the same types of things like offering education, classes and things like that in the library world,” he said. “So I still feel like I get to do a lot of what a teacher does, but in a different way.”:
Compton feels that libraries are needed more today than ever.
“There’s a whole battle right now across the country for the freedom to read, and reading whatever you want,” he said. “I feel that it is so important for people to have access to information.”
Compton has always loved libraries, and he remembers visiting them as a child with his mom before he could read.
“She would take me all the time, and check out books to read to me every night,” he said. “When I got this award, she joked with me and said, ‘All of those nights that I read ‘Goodnight Moon’ to you paid off.'”
Compton carried on the tradition of reading Margaret Wise Brown’s “Goodnight Moon,” which was first published in 1947, to his family.
“I have fond memories of my mom reading the book to me, and I’ve read it to all of my kids,” he said. “I’m passionate about reading every day to children. There’s the bonding time, but it also helps them so much to be better prepared for school.”
Not only does Compton oversee the Summit County Library’s Kimball Junction Branch, where his office is located. He also works with branch managers Susan “Murph” Murphy in Coalville and Rachel Spohn in the Kamas Valley.
In addition, the Summit County Library oversees the Bookmobile, managed by Linda Bliss, and remote library lockers in Henefer, Kamas and Kimball Junction, Compton said.
“When I got the award, I gave a very short speech and thanked the Summit County Library staff for supporting some of my crazy ideas,” he said. “We have 13 full-time and 10 part-time employees between the three branches and Bookmobile, and I’m amazed at how these 23 individuals have served the community, and what we’ve accomplished.”
Some of those accomplishments are innovative in Utah’s library landscape, according to Compton.
“We are the first library to offer materials lockers,” he said. “Our first was in Henefer, and we recently installed two others in Kamas and Kimball Junction.”
Compton said he is most proud of getting the Henefer locker up and running.
“Henefer was a community where we would bring the Bookmobile to, but they didn’t have a physical library in the town,” he said. “So, I’m so grateful that we were able to partner with the town so residents could request any materials through our system.”
Summit County Library staff fulfills those requests by dropping off the materials in the lockers, Compton said.
“And people are able to return the materials through the locker,” he said. “I think it’s been a game-changer to have that kind of access.”
Other projects Compton is happy about are the renovations of both the Coalville and Kamas Valley branches and the implementation of extended access in Coalville.
“The extended-access program allows people to access the library when staff aren’t there, and we couldn’t have figured out how to do that without the amazing staff and its support,” he said.
Compton is also grateful for the support of the Friends of the Summit County Library, a nonprofit organization that provides supplemental support to the library.
“They are amazing, because one of the biggest ways they help is financially,” he said. “When we have some kind of a new program or need that we can’t support through our regular county budget, we can appeal to the Friends of the Library for funding.”
Friends of the Summit County Library helped fund the Great Decisions, a nine-week book club that helped its members stay on top of world issues, and the new Emerging Issues programming.
Emerging Issues is a once-a-week reading and discussion program that addresses privacy in this day of surveillance and A.I., according to Compton.
“Not only is the Friends of the Summit County Library providing financial support for this program, they are also providing volunteers,” he said. “Bob Shallenberg, who is the president of the Friends of the Summit County Library, organizes it and is the facilitator.”
Compton knows it wasn’t just the staff and volunteers who helped him become Librarian of the Year.
“I also want to thank the Summit County administration for their support with library services,” he said. “We can’t do anything without their support and their belief in the importance of libraries.”
Echo Church travels into the past with a Transcontinental Railroad exhibit
Tourists and residents can immerse themselves in the past through free, self-guided tours at the historic Echo Church.
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