JohnSpearsJohn Spears has been hired as the next executive director of the Pikes Peak Library District, trustees announced Wednesday. He begins in late January.

“Over the past five years, Pikes Peak Library District has earned the reputation as a true pioneer of 21st century library services,” said PPLD Board of Trustees President Ken Beach. “Our vision of elevating these services to the next level requires a ‘unique’ individual to lead the library forward from this point. Understanding the importance of the decision, the board has spent 15 months in the search process and we are pleased and excited that John Spears has accepted our offer to lead PPLD to that next level. John is a groundbreaking visionary and exceptional leader.”

Spears now works as executive director of the Salt Lake City Public Library. He leads a staff of 325 in a seven-facility library and operates a budget of $17.9 million. While at that library, Spears:

• Created a library service model team that examines and continually recommends improvements for library operations;

• Partnered with the Salt Lake City School District to allow parents to obtain a library card for their children as a part of online school enrollment; 

• Oversaw the creation and implementation of the library’s first digital media studios and makerspaces; and

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• Worked with more than 30 social service and governmental organizations to create “Project Uplift,” a semiannual resource fair for those experiencing homelessness.

“The Salt Lake City Library District is a bit smaller and more compact (area wise) than PPLD, but the reality is that John has been guiding the district on a path similar to that of PPLD with our vision around 21C. I am quite sure he will hit the ground running with no problem,” Beach said.

Prior to his tenure at Salt Lake City, Spears was executive director for Naperville Public Library. Spears obtained his masters of library science degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“My career has encompassed this role in a variety of libraries – rural, suburban and urban, and I am well-versed in the specific traits that make each of these unique,” Spears said.

“John’s extensive experience across the spectrum of library land is a perfect fit for PPLD. He understands that the service needs for 21c are different than the needs for example of those at say Monument, High Prairie, and Sand Creek,” Beach said.

Spears will now lead a library district comprised of 14 community libraries, three mobile libraries, 475 employees and an operating budget of $29 million. The mission of PPLD is to provide resources and opportunities that change individual lives and build community, according to a news release sent by the PPLD.