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Gerry Willingham

Oklahoma Library Legends

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Gerry Willingham received her B.S. in Education from Oklahoma Central State College and her Master of Library Science from the University of Oklahoma.

After serving 20 years with Putnam City Schools’ Library Media Program (1971-1991) and holding many titles, Gerry retired in 1991 as Director of Library Media Services. She helped in the development of the existing elementary libraries. Population growth brought new buildings, and expansions to existing buildings. She worked tirelessly in carrying through these projects, 25 in all, as well as providing full staffing for each facility.

Gerry was also instrumental in:

  • Distributing district library budget,
  • Bulk purchasing of library supplies,
  • Bringing outstanding authors to school libraries to meet with students and teachers,
  • Planning professional development programs,
  • Writing district guidelines for teaching library media skills,
  • Coordinating district-wide programs to recognize students for participating in special reading programs, i.e. the Oklahoma Sequoyah Book Awards, and
  • Encouraging community involvement through volunteering time and resources in the district’s Library Media Centers.

In addition to accomplishments in her own district, Gerry worked relentlessly for improvements statewide. A long-time member of the Oklahoma Library Association’s legislative team, she lobbied successfully for school library media improvement grants, as well as other school, public and academic efforts. These grants were directly responsible for the development of school libraries in Oklahoma, especially at the elementary school level.

Gerry’s career spanned most of the final quarter of the 20th century. She and her colleagues collaborated in pushing and pulling Oklahoman’s library media programs into the 21st century by introducing school libraries to new technology that continues to unfold as Oklahoma celebrates its centennial birthday in 2007.

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