February 17, 2018

Tom Peters | Movers & Shakers 2005

Team Leader


Tom Peters packs 36 hours of work into the confines of a 24-hour day. Without breaking a sweat, he juggles multiple collaborative projects, which currently include an Illinois academic library shared storage facility; a multistate virtual reference and instruction service for blind and visually impaired individuals (InfoEyes); a virtual meeting space for training and conferences (OPAL); and a program that designs and delivers web-based consumer health programs for senior citizens (HEALTHY).

In his spare time, he writes books and articles, participates in professional associations, and presents at conferences.

It’s been that way everywhere Peters has worked. In his previous job as director for library initiatives at the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, Champaign, IL, he led a collaborative initiative for harvesting OAI-compliant metadata, a collaborative e-publishing venture with libraries and presses, and a consortiumwide preservation microfilming project.

Lori Bell, of the Mid-Illinois Talking Book Center, says Peters is so effective because his management style “gets everybody involved in the project committed, excited, and invested. He’s a consensus builder and does an excellent job of identifying the gifts and skills of others.”

Peters’s success also stems from the hundreds of interesting ideas that keep exploding out of him like popcorn. Think of any technology over the past 15 years – PDAs, digital repositories, ebooks – and chances are Peters got to it first, using it to improve library services.

He’s also a pioneer in working with vendors in developing better products. Along with librarians and some blind end users, Peters worked with Steve Potash of OverDrive. They told Potash that print-impaired people wanted variable-speed playback, which wasn’t possible with audiotape. At a recent seminar, when Potash displayed the variable-speed playback built into the OverDrive Media Console, “the blind and visually impaired individuals in the audience stood up and cheered.”

Peters thinks librarians still need to figure out “how to translate the social and cultural value of a place-based institution into a digital era where place doesn’t matter.” He’s eager to see libraries adopt technologies that add unique value for their users. For example, the InfoEyes virtual reference project “uses simple, affordable VoIP technology to deliver an enhanced accessible online service for print-impaired users.”

These days, Peters runs his own business, TAP Information Services, which offers “planning, consulting, research, and assessment services, supporting libraries, consortia, government agencies, associations, publishers, and other information organizations.” He says, “Being my own boss is great. The last couple of annual performance appraisals I’ve had with myself have been better than average. The downside is that I am also my only employee.”

Peters doesn’t work his magic alone, though. He builds a team. A suggestion: if he tries to enlist you, don’t tell him you’re too busy.



Current Position Founder, TAP Information Services, Blue Springs, MO

Degree M.A. in LIS, University of Iowa, 1987

Projects Mid-Illinois Digital Talking Book Project (www.midtb.org); InfoEyes (www.infoeyes.org); OPAL: Online Programming for All Libraries (www.opal-online.org); HEALTHY (www.projecthealthy.org)

Awards ALA/Sirsi Library 2004 Leader in Technology Award; National Network of Libraries of Medicine Consumer Health Award

Books Computerized Monitoring and Online Privacy (McFarland, 1999); with Susan Gibbons and Robin Bryan, E-Book Functionality (ALA, 2003)