March 28, 2017

Wick Thomas | Movers & Shakers 2014 — Change Agents



Teen Services Representative
Kansas City Public Library, MO

BA, University of Missouri–Kansas City, 2012

@Wicholas, Equal Center, Unheard Voices,; Wick and the Tricks

Photo ©2014 Michael Pilla

Hearing Voices, Speaking Out

“If you had told me at 18 that I would want to be a librarian, I would have said you were crazy,” says Wick Thomas. He already knew, however, that he’d be an LGBT advocate, because he’d begun as a teenager, holding his first protest in rural Missouri at age 16 against a state amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Thomas founded his high school’s chapter of the Gay Straight Alliance, was president of the University of Missouri–Kansas City Queer Alliance, and is now president of Empowering Queer Activists and Leaders (EQUAL), which provides activist and leadership training.

For this work, Thomas won a Creating Change award from the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce and was named Best Activist in Missouri twice by the KC alternative newspaper Pitch Weekly.

But it wasn’t until Thomas took a job in 2006 as a page at the Linda Hall Library, an independent research library, that he could imagine a career as an advocate in the stacks. “It clicked for me that the library world was in need of that,” he says. “Young people [often] feel that no one [is] listening.”

Since 2008, Thomas has been a fervent advocate of young voices and lives as a teen services representative at the Kansas City Public Library, where he handles teen services for two branches, including weekly teen gaming events and other programs, and does outreach to local high schools—and much more. Exhibit A is Unheard Voices, a teen literary and art zine he helped young library users launch, edit, and print in summer 2013. The first edition featured the work of about 30 teenagers. Hundreds of copies were distributed to city schools and libraries.

“The zine has been an amazing success,” he says. “We are planning on implementing it yearly and increasing the number we are publishing. The next edition will be much larger.”

Thomas, who is also the lead singer of the queercore band Wick and the Tricks, says, “I have been really lucky at the Kansas City Public Library to find such amazing mentors and supervisors willing to take a chance on a punk like me.” The library world is lucky to have him, too.

5 Essentials For Creating Community-Centered Libraries
Coding Program WorkshopThis deep dive online course beginning on April 19 is designed to impact all staff and stakeholders from front line staff to the director’s chair. We’ll provide a step-by-step guide to turn your community engagement ideas into a powerful roadmap for setting direction, measuring outcomes, and leading your community.
Professional Development for Today’s Librarian
LJ Profesional Development logoStay ahead of innovations and changes impacting the library profession with timely resources and tools from Library Journal and School Library Journal. Staff and stakeholders from all settings and at all levels can participate in hands-on live workshops, enroll in immersive online courses led by leading industry professionals, and access insightful webcasts covering a range of relevant topics.


  1. Very, very well-deserved. Librarianship needs more people like Wick.


  3. Alison Donnelly says:

    Congratulations to Wick. There is no doubt that our field needs more like him out there.