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Wayne Hanway

Oklahoma Library Legends

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Wayne Hanway Image

When Wayne Hanway became the Executive Director of the Southeastern Public Library System of Oklahoma in 1991, he faced formidable challenges. Geographically, the library is the largest in Oklahoma, but its seven counties have long struggled with poverty, illiteracy, many social problems, and a weak tax base. The library had experienced considerable turbulence in recent years and had been operating on deficit budgets for several years, with a tax millage of just two mills. Automation was a hope, not an affordable possibility.

Fifteen years later, the situation had substantially improved. Voters in each county had raised the tax millage to the constitutional limit of four mills. The library was automated, with a fast Internet line in each branch. A fifteenth branch had been added, outreach services had expanded (including six volunteer-staffed local lending libraries called reading centers), all branches were open more hours, collections had been upgraded, and library use was at an all-time high. Perhaps the most visible sign of progress was five new library buildings, with three more new or expanded building projects in the active fund raising process.

While working on these and other improvements, Hanway was also active at the state and regional level. After serving on a variety of Oklahoma Library Association (OLA) committees, he was elected OLA President for 2001-2002, the first in decades from southeast Oklahoma, and after that he was elected to be the OLA representative on the board of the Mountain Plains Library Association (MPLA), a term cut short by his 2005 election to the office of MPLA President in 2007-2008.

A Nebraska native, Vietnam veteran, and graduate of University of Iowa’s MLS program, Hanway came to Oklahoma after 17 years as a public library director in southeast Iowa and northeast Nebraska. He gained a reputation for his way with words, his creativity, his ability as a building planner, and his well-informed, pragmatic approach to problem solving.

Assessing his experiences in Oklahoma, Hanway said, “The Oklahoma library community is one of this state’s richest assets. My accomplishments have come through working with many wonderful people, both librarians and library supporters, whose dedication, support, and friendship have meant so much.”

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