June 18, 2018

Tom Bober | Movers & Shakers 2018 – Innovators

Tom Bober


Library Media Specialist, Ralph M. Captain Elementary School Library, Clayton, MO


MA, Information Science and Learning Technologies, University of Missouri Columbia, 2011; MSE, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, 2001


Worked for ten years in his grandfather’s bakery and still loves reworking old recipes


@CaptainLibrary on Twitter; Tom Bober on AASL’s Knowledge Quest; Tom Bober on Teaching with the Library of Congress

Photo by Douglas Gritzmacher


Primary Sourc-erer

Students who can confidently analyze primary sources “look at things with a critical eye,” says school librarian Tom Bober. But cultivating this crucial skill can be daunting, as he discovered as a classroom teacher. After attending the Library of Congress (LC) Summer Institute in 2013, however, Bober was armed with strategies—and ready to spread the word.

Since 2014, he’s given more than 40 presentations on primary sources. In 2016, he approached Margaret Sullivan, then past president of the Missouri Association of School Librarians, about leading two-day workshops in four cities in summer 2017; an LC grant they wrote covered 80 percent of the cost.

Bober inspired participants to create dynamic lesson plans by analyzing pictures and maps, searching LC resources, thinking like a historian, and connecting learning goals and primary sources. He provided them with free resources, many available through LC’s website. “Even librarians in schools with small or no library budgets have access [to these tools],” says Sullivan. “Because of Tom Bober, primary sources are being used…in school libraries all across Missouri.”

Bober isn’t stopping there. He fields questions from librarians and demonstrates through Knowledge Quest blog posts how to pair historical documents with picture books for powerful lessons. “Sharing and working with others in the field makes me a better educator, and I’m honored and humbled to be able to give back,” says Bober.

This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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In this two-week online course, you’ll create a maker program that aligns with your budget and community needs, with personal coaching from maker experts—from libraries and beyond—May 23 & June 6, 2018.


  1. Victoria Jones says:

    Such a well-deserved honor! I feel lucky to have learned so much from Tom and am proud to call him my colleague. Children, librarians and teachers across the state of Missouri and the country benefit from Tom’s commitment to sharing the importance of primary sources.

  2. Mike McQueen says:

    Love this! Students need to understand primary sources – now more than ever. Yay Tom!

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