City of DeSoto Names Interim Library Director as Search Continues to Fill Big Shoes

Val Armstrong at City of DeSoto meeting
Photo courtesy City of DeSoto

Val Armstrong, DeSoto Interim Library Director

DESOTO – Desoto Assistant Librarian Director Val Armstrong has taken the helm as the DeSoto Public Library Interim Library Director while the city continues to search to fill the big shoes of former Director Tracey Hunter Hayes. Hayes passed away in January of this year.

Hayes was selected by the City of DeSoto in the Spring of 2021 to run DeSoto’s library system following a national search process that reviewed dozens of highly qualified candidates. His diverse professional experiences and customer-focused approach stood out and the folks in DeSoto loved him.

His absence leaves a large hole to fill.

“The City of DeSoto is very fortunate to have a strong team in place to continue providing superior library services to our residents,” said Matt Smith, City of DeSoto Communications Manager. “We are presently engaged in a national search and are willing to invest the time necessary to find the best fit for that team and our community.”

As Smith mentioned, that “strong team” also has much to do with Armstrong now taking over in the interim. He has an impressive bio and knows the DeSoto Library system well having worked for the department since February 2020.

Armstrong completed his library certification in Sydney, Australia in 1989 with a Graduate Diploma in Library Science from the Kuring-gai College of Advanced Education. After that, he had worked on several assignments with a member of the Australian Federal Parliament, and the University of New South Wales Co-op Scholarship program. He then served four years with the University of South Australia at the Joan Brewer Library while completing a Master of Arts – Religion Studies.

On Armstrong’s return to the United States, he completed a Master of Science – Library and Information Science at the University of North Texas and began working for the Dallas Public Library. He served in a variety of roles with the Dallas Public Library for 22 years, including the West District Manager where he provided oversight for 14 branch libraries and 140 staff.

State Representative Carl O. Sherman featured Armstrong on his Facebook page last September for his work with the DeSoto Public Library where Armstrong was asked what inspired him to be a librarian.

“What inspired me then is different than what inspires me now. I was initially drawn to libraries because I saw them as a repository of the world’s great ideas and literature and I could just sit there and soak up the ambiance and have all these wonderful ideas around me,” Armstrong said. “But what motivates me now, after all these years working in public libraries is that practically everyday we help people. So whether you need to work on a resume, or you found out you have diabetes and need to look for a cookbook, whether your teenage children are giving you trouble and you need advice, or you just need a good novel to cheer you up – then all of that is here in the library and we have people who are experts at helping you find that information.”

So as the City of DeSoto continues its search for a new Library Director, Armstrong will fill those shoes well with his background and love of all things “library.”