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Two candidates have advanced to the finalist round of interviews as part of the hiring process for The Seattle Public Library’s next Chief Librarian. The finalist candidates are Tom Fay, the Library’s current interim Chief Librarian; and Chad Helton, current Library Director of the Hennepin County Library in Minnesota.

“I am very pleased that Mr. Fay and Mr. Helton – both highly experienced, quality candidates for this important position – will have an opportunity to share more about their vision for the future of The Seattle Public Library,” said Carmen Bendixen, president of The Seattle Public Library’s Board of Trustees.

Finalist interviews are scheduled to occur Wednesday, Feb. 9 with Fay, and Thursday, Feb. 10 with Helton. As part of their day-long schedule, candidates will participate in interviews with The Seattle Public Library’s Board of Trustees and Senior Management Team. The candidates will also participate in virtual engagement sessions with Library staff and the public. Connection information for public sessions will be shared in the coming days on the Library’s website.

In April 2021, the Library Board of Trustees launched the hiring process to find Seattle's next Chief Librarian after the Library’s previous chief, Marcellus Turner, took a position in North Carolina.

The Library Board appointed a nine-member Search Advisory Committee to develop a process and timeline for recruiting SPL's next chief executive. Members of the committee were identified due to their experience and expertise in the Library field, and for their commitment to the community the Library serves.


Chad Helton is Director of the Hennepin County Library system. Over his career, Helton has held progressively responsible roles in both academic and public libraries.

Prior to joining Hennepin County, Helton held executive leadership and management positions at Los Angeles Public Library as the Director of Branch Library Services, and at the Contra Costa County Library as Deputy County Librarian. At the Palo Alto City Library, Stanford University Green Library and University of California Davis Shields Library, Helton worked in Library Services, Circulation and Access and in Operations.

Helton graduated with a degree BA in African American Studies from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, a Master of Science in Library and Information Studies, and a Master of Public Administration from the University of San Francisco.

In addition to his passion for public service, Helton is an Emmy award winning documentary producer and a musical scholar.

Tom Fay

Tom Fay is currently serving as The Seattle Public Library’s interim Chief Librarian. He served

as the Library’s Director of Programs and Services from 2015 until 2021, overseeing the Library’s Public Services and Programs, Collections, Materials Handling, and Information Technology departments at Seattle’s downtown Central Library and 26 neighborhood branches.

As a native of southern Nevada, Fay’s 38-year career in libraries began as a page for the Las Vegas Clark County Library District. Prior to joining The Seattle Public Library as Director of Programs and Services in 2015, he held roles as the Executive Director of Henderson Libraries in Nevada and the Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer of Las Vegas Clark County Library District in Nevada.

Fay graduated with a Fine Arts degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and a Masters in Library and Information Science from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. He has been awarded the O’Callaghan Public Sector Person of the Year and selected as Nevada’s Librarian of the Year.


Chief Librarian finalist candidates will be available virtually to share more about their vision for Seattle’s Library system, and to answer questions from the public.

· Candidate Tom Fay, current interim Chief Librarian for The Seattle Public Library:

o Wednesday, Feb. 9 from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

o Connect: Visit our website in advance of the forum. The link to connect will be available in coming days.

· Candidate Chad Helton, current Library Director for Hennepin County Library, Minnesota:

o Thursday, Feb. 10 from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

o Connect: Visit our website in advance of the forum. The link to connect will be available in coming days.


Contact the Library’s Ask Us service by phone at 206-386-4636 or by email or chat at Staff are ready to answer questions and direct you to helpful resources and information.



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