Fannette H. Thomas, 56, librarian, bookseller

July 10, 1998|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Fannette Henrietta Thomas, a former librarian whose love of literature led her to begin a company specializing in selling multicultural children's books, died Saturday of cardiac arrest at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Dr. Thomas, 56, of West Baltimore, began Anasi's Web Book Co. with two partners about two years ago. The Baltimore-based company located and sold books -- especially African-American books -- for customers.

"She loved it," said Pamela Johnson of Baltimore, Dr. Thomas' niece and co-founder of the business. "It was more than just business to her, it was a mission. She loved the sharing of literature."

Dr. Thomas, who had worked as a librarian or in library-related positions for more than 20 years before the business venture, had scores of contacts in the book world and could readily find most topics, titles and authors.

"She was an extremely focused person, extremely positive," Ms. Johnson said. "She had excellent contacts and good people skills."

Dr. Thomas, who had also written two books, read many books by or about African-Americans and had a keen interest in black history. She often amazed friends with her recall of book characters -- both fictional and nonfictional.

"She was perhaps one of the most well-read persons I knew. She read and knew the classics as well as the ones considered fun," said Lynda Person of Baltimore, a former co-worker at Coppin State College, where Dr. Thomas had been an adjunct professor.

"She read a lot, because she just enjoyed reading. She could impart that knowledge easily."

A native of Royal Oak in Talbot County, she earned a bachelor of arts degree in English from the former Morgan State College in 1964 and a master's degree in library science from Atlanta University in 1966.

She received a doctorate in library science from the University of Wisconsin in 1982.

She worked as a children's specialist at the Enoch Pratt Free Library from 1966 to 1973 and later as an assistant professor in library and information management at Emory University in Atlanta.

From 1980 to 1992, she worked at Essex Community College, first as a public service librarian and later as acting coordinator of public services and as an associate professor.

From 1993 until recently she was the coordinator of library collection and development and an associate professor at Essex Community College.

She was a member of many professional organizations, including the Maryland Library Association, the Maryland Online Users Group, the Baltimore Area Reference Librarians Information Exchange, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Maryland Inc., and a former board member of the Morgan Christian Center.

She was also active with the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, working on the organization's newsletter, among other duties.

A memorial is planned for noon Wednesday at Epworth United Methodist Church, St. Lukes Lane and Liberty Road.

Dr. Thomas is survived by a brother, Raymond F. Thomas of Royal Oak.

Pub Date: 7/10/98

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