In Memoriam: Robert L. Clark, Jr.

Sad news. Former ODL Director Bob Clark died on May 26. He had been suffering from Post Polio Syndrome for the past several years, but his wife Audrey says he remained active despite his physical difficulties. In fact, he remained active until five days before his death.

Below is the brief paragraph we shared with the national library press, which has very limited space for such announcements. If we had had room, we would have also mentioned that he was instrumental in establishing the Oklahoma Center for the Book, the fourth such center established under the Library of Congress program. It’s always good when Oklahoma is not at the bottom of a list.

Memorial donations may be made to:
ACLU of Oklahoma
3000 Paseo
Oklahoma City, OK 73103

Robert L. Clark, 72, director of the Oklahoma Department of Libraries (ODL) from 1976 until his retirement in 2000, died May 26. During his tenure as State Librarian he headed two Governor’s Conferences on libraries and led a strategic planning process that redefined Oklahoma’s state library and its role in the information age. He championed preservation programs, government openness laws, and library and information services for institutional populations.  A staunch supporter of Intellectual Freedom, he and the agency made news in 1997 when a federal judge granted ODL intervener plaintiff status in the strange obscenity case of the Academy Award winning film “The Tin Drum.” When an Oklahoma County judge ruled the film contained obscenity, VHS copies of the movie were confiscated from the Metropolitan Library System and area video rental stores. The Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) sued and ODL was granted standing in representing access and censorship concerns on the local level. The VSDA prevailed in the case and the film was ultimately returned to library and store shelves. Clark received the Oklahoma Library Legend Award from the Oklahoma Library Association in 2007.

Accountability and Advocacy on the Hill, and at 23rd and Lincoln

Oklahoma Librarians in Senator Tom Cole's Office
Oklahoma librarians and fellow library advocates presented U.S. Representative Tom Cole with an Oklahoma Library Association Resolution, thanking him for his support of the federal Library Services and Technology Act. The presentation was made in May during National Library Legislative Day. Left to right: Paul Gazzolo with the Corporate Committee for Library Investment; Kathryn Lewis, Director of Media Services and Instructional Technology at Norman Public Schools; Representative Cole; Lisa Wells, Director of the Pioneer Library System; Kim Johnson, Director of the Tulsa City-County Library System; Oklahoma Department of Libraries Director Susan McVey; Gavin Brooks, American Library Association Washington Office; and Tim Miller, Director of the Western Plains Library System.

Every January or February, ODL Director Susan McVey and Deputy Director Vicki Sullivan head to the State Capitol Building to meet with the Oklahoma Senate and House appropriations committees to report on past agency accomplishments and to answer questions about the ODL Budget Request, which was submitted the previous October.

During the hearing, we share our successes and expenditures in a way to demonstrate the agency’s accountability to our lawmakers and the state’s taxpayers. Some of the information we put together is used by Oklahoma Library Association members for advocacy purposes as they visit with their legislators.

Later in the spring (usually in May), Director McVey heads to Washington, DC with a group of Oklahoma librarians for National Library Legislative Day to talk about library funding and policies with our U.S. Reps and Senators.

We thought we would share some of the information pieces we assembled for our hearings and meetings with state and federal lawmakers this past spring.

Documents for our State Capitol presentations…

Each year, ODL puts together a PowerPoint presentation for the House and Senate committees. It includes our agency mission and history, budget request, expenditure breakdown, the impact of past State Aid cuts on public libraries, the impact of Literacy Grant cuts, and information on how we use federal dollars. Check out this year’s PowerPoint here.

To illustrate the importance of State Aid to Oklahoma public libraries, we put together a flyer with Quotes from the Field on the importance of these grants to communities.

The legislature likes to see state agencies working with partners to accomplish services, and services to young people are high on everyone’s list. This ODL + 51 Partners flyer showed how we worked with others to serve almost 125,000 young Oklahomans last year.

Those of you following this year’s legislative session won’t be surprised to learn ODL received extra dollars for mandated pay raises for employees (the first raise in at least ten years for many state employees). The agency received a 2.88% appropriations increase—about $125,000 more than the previous year. There will be some dollars left over from the pay raises to add some additional funds to State Aid. Total state appropriation for ODL went from $4.357 million to $4.483 million.

What we took to the Hill…

Our U.S. reps also like to see state agencies join with private and non-profit partners to get the most out of federal dollars, so we also provided them with a flyer on how we join with partners to serve young Oklahomans.

One of our biggest federal projects, of course, is the statewide  databases that provide current reference information and millions of full-text articles to every library in the state. We provided a map showing the number of schools and libraries in each Congressional District that have signed up for the databases. During 2017, Oklahomans viewed full-text magazine and journal articles on the statewide information resource more than 20 million times.

To communicate the impact of federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds on local communities, we put together information for each Congressional District which highlighted some of the programs making a difference in our state. (Note: Due to the resignation of District 1 Representative Jim Bridenstine to become NASA Administrator, we did not prepare a District 1 report this time around.)

Finally, we want to share the Oklahoma Library Association Resolution thanking District 4 Representative Tom Cole for his support of federal library programs and funding.

National advocacy efforts were successful, with Congress increasing funding to the Institute of Museum and Library Services by $9 million (including $5.7 million more for LSTA) over the previous year.

We hope you find these information pieces enlightening. Feel free to use any of this information to communicate with the stakeholders and decision makers in your community.

Oklahoma’s First Teen Book Con Brings Big Names in YA Literature to Guthrie

Oklahoma Teen Book Con Graphic

More than 20 Young Adult authors from across the country will join hundreds of readers in the state’s Territorial Capitol on Saturday, October 28 for the inaugural Oklahoma Teen Book Con.


The Scottish Rite Temple of Guthrie, the largest Masonic center in the world, will serve as the venue for the day, which begins with a 10:00 a.m. keynote from Maggie Stiefvater, New York Times bestselling author of the Shiver trilogy, The Scorpio Races, and The Raven Boys Cycle series.

Stiefvater will be joined by Ryan Graudin, winner of the Oklahoma Library Association’s Sequoyah Book Award for Wolf by Wolf, for the final session of the day to discuss what YA literature means to the authors who pen it.


In between participants can attend sessions on YA romance, fantasy, and mystery. An Author Meetup will work like “speed dating” with authors rotating around the room to talk to different groups.

Oklahoma YA authors Sonia Gensler and Tara Hudson will be teaching writing workshops to winners of a previously held writing contest.

A grand book sale and book signing with all the authors will be held from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. to close the event.

Continue reading Oklahoma’s First Teen Book Con Brings Big Names in YA Literature to Guthrie

Meet Reading Roundup Author Cynthea Liu

Award-winning author Cynthea Liu joins the 2017 DoubleR Author Tour on September 19 with a presentation at Wister Public Library.

Liu received the 2016 Oklahoma Book Award for her picture book Bike on, Bear! She will also be visiting schools and public libraries in Tuttle, Miami, Tahlequah and Tonkawa. Copies of Bike on, Bear! will be available for purchase at all of her presentations.

Continue reading Meet Reading Roundup Author Cynthea Liu

Meet Reading Roundup Author Alton Carter

Oklahoma’s third DoubleR Author Tour kicks off September 11 in Claremore with a presentation by award-winning author Alton Carter. He will also be appearing in public libraries and schools in Stratford, Elk City, Tecumseh, and Watonga.

Carter’s first book, The Boy Who Carried Bricks, is a true account of his young life in Oklahoma—a life betrayed by abandonment, neglect, hunger, and violence. While some readers may identify too closely with the hardscrabble narrative, all readers find inspiration in the author’s ultimate triumph over a difficult childhood.
Continue reading Meet Reading Roundup Author Alton Carter