THE ROLE OF LIBRARIES IN A POST-PANDEMIC ERA

About the Panel

Libraries continue to face unprecedented changes to operations related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Three library executive directors will discuss the state of libraries in a global context: Larry White, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Library System in Oklahoma, US; Stephan Schwering, head of the Central Library in Dusseldorf, Germany; and Simon Smith, Libraries and Museum Manager in Reading, UK. The changing role of libraries, adaptations, new services, and future plans will be discussed in this interview-style virtual event.

In 2021, the Metropolitan Library System of Oklahoma County and International English Library in Dusseldorf formalized a sister library relationship, partnering across the globe to strengthen cultural understanding and cross-promote events to their respective audiences.

About the Panelists

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Larry Nash White

Larry Nash White joined MLS August 26, 2019 as the Director of Strategic Planning and Projects and was promoted to the Deputy Executive Director of Strategic Planning and Services on January 24, 2020. Throughout his 25 years of library experience, he has developed an international reputation in organizational performance assessment and competitive information usage. He has 13 years of experience teaching library administration and various aspects of management at the University at Buffalo, SUNY and at East Carolina University. Larry served as Library Director for Washington County Public Library in Marietta, Ohio, and as Director of Library Operations in Bronson, Florida as well as in other public service positions. He has worked as a library consultant and was one of the winners of the 2007 Library Journal “Mover and Shaker” award. Larry has a BA in History from the University of Florida and from Florida State University he holds an MSLS in Library Science and a PhD in Library Administration.

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Simon Smith

Simon Smith is currently Reading Libraries and Museum Manager in Reading, UK. Having got his first professional librarian post there he then worked in a variety of library roles in Harrow and Slough before returning to Reading in 2016 as the service manager. Reading has 7 libraries as well as a home service and digital service, and is home to around 165,000 people. Reading is around 40 kms from London, is the home of text messaging, and a full size replica of the Bayeux Tapestry, as well as being internationally known for Oscar Wilde’s ‘Ballad of Reading Gaol’.

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Stephan Schwering

Stephan Schwering has held managerial positions in medium-sized city libraries in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) since 1992. He has been head of the Central Library of the Duesseldorf Public Libraries since 2014 and has been largely responsible for the internal future process and the conception of the newly planned Central Library in KAP1, which opened in November 2021.

He considers social media in libraries to be a management task and is intensively involved with community building and analogue-digital library concepts. From 2008 to 2013, Schwering was on the board of the Association of Libraries in North Rhine-Westphalia and from 2008 to 2014 he was a member of the library advisory board of ekz.bibliotheksservice GmbH. He is the initiator of the “Night of the Libraries” in North Rhine-Westphalia, which takes place every two years (next in 2023), and is co-founder of the Twitter chat #BibChatDE, in which library topics in public digital spaces have been discussed since 2017. Schwering believes in libraries as THE “third places” for future societies.

Presented by the Metropolitan Library System of Oklahoma County and the International English Library of Düsseldorf, Germany.

Keynote Speaker: Chris Zervas

Chris Zervas

We are pleased to announce that the Keynote Speaker for the 2019 OK Literacy Conference will be Chris Zervas.

“Profound, engaging and fun” are words Chris Zervas’s audiences often use to describe his presentations.

The author of the book, Bomb-Proof Constructive Feedback, his thoughts have also been featured in newspapers, websites, and periodicals such as Entrepreneur.com.

Chris knows the importance of literacy and has worked with Oklahoma Literacy programs in the past.  He received his Master’s Degree in Communication from Wheaton College after graduating from the University of Oklahoma as a student/athlete.  

He has served two college communication faculties, worked in fundraising for over 10 years and has been trained in conflict resolution by the Administrative office of the courts of the Supreme Court of Oklahoma. 

Chris is the co-founder of Baby Builders an infant motor-skill activity program and is principal of Summit Solution Group which provides keynote speaking, training and coaching.

From Army National Guard Bureau, US Bank, and ConocoPhillips to small family owned businesses, Chris helps to improve communication processes, leadership and results.

Chris is a Cherokee Citizen and lives in Oklahoma with his wife and five children.

If you have never heard Chris speak, you will want to attend!

COABE Adult Learner of the Year: Kenneth Ludolph

It is with great pleasure that COABE announces Kenneth Ludolph as the winner of this year’s Adult Learner of the Year Award.

Kenneth Ludolph with Kacie Mach (Tinker Federal Credit Union) and Rebecca Barker (OK Department of Libraries). Photo taken at OLC's 2018 Adult Learner Awards.
Kenneth Ludolp with Kacie Mach (Tinker Federal Credit Union) and Rebecca Barker (OK Department of Libraries). Photo taken at OLC’s 2018 Adult Learner Awards.


In February of 2018, Kenneth Lee Ludolph, Jr. was transferred from the Oklahoma State Reformatory to an Oklahoma City halfway house. On his first Saturday evening, he heard an announcement for the GED® students to go to class. Although he wasn’t yet enrolled, he ran to join the others. Kenneth had been attending a GED® class at his former location and had been disappointed to leave that dream behind when he was transferred. He was excited to learn that he could continue to pursue his goal. It wasn’t long before Kenneth secured a job at a restaurant which required him to work evenings and kept him from attending his new class. Upon learning about the situation and Kenneth’s high entrance scores, the coordinator offered to tutor him during the day. Their tutoring sessions were limited, but Kenneth spent countless hours independently studying. Two months after running to that first class at the halfway house, Kenneth passed his high school equivalency test and achieved his goal.

With the high school equivalency under his belt, new doors of opportunity began to open. Kenneth attended the learning center’s Career Success class where he earned a Certificate of Work Ethic Proficiency. He was honored at the annual OCCC Student Awards ceremony that recognizes the two most outstanding high school equivalency students. Three days after his
release from the halfway house Kenneth began college, majoring in automotive technology. In September, Kenneth was honored again as the 2018 Adult Learner of the Year at the Oklahoma Literacy Coalition Conference. By the end of the fall term, Kenneth had completed 20 college credits with a 3.7 GPA—accomplishing this while working 35 hours per week. Kenneth has always stood out as a leader. After experiencing a four-hour trip home from class after his bike had a flat tire, he carried a spare inner tube and gladly shared the tube with a stranger who was experiencing the same calamity. Another time, he purchased parts and repaired a single mom’s car. Kenneth hopes to have his own shop where he can continue to serve people in need. Kenneth has the kind of humble and teachable spirit that makes a teacher’s job enjoyable. He has proven that perseverance pays off and that faith and hope are available for all who choose to reach out for it. Kenneth chose to leave behind his previous trouble and work toward doing something meaningful with his life. COABE wishes Kenneth all the best as he pursues his dreams!

Learn About Resources Available to Caregivers & Seniors

(SAPULPA, OK – February 6, 2019) Free workshop offered in Sapulpa on March 5

Join Creek County Literacy Program on Tuesday, March 5 at 1:00 PM for a free workshop entitled Learn About Resources Available to Caregivers & Seniors. Open to the public, this informative workshop will be held at Creek County Literacy Program, 15 North Poplar Street in Sapulpa.

During the workshop, Caregiver Program Coordinator Martha Rains, Morton Comprehensive Health Services, Inc., will share information about resources available to Caregivers and seniors in the Creek County area. “We will discuss the many resources that are available to caregivers and seniors – many of these are not widely known about, and many are no-cost,” shared Rains. “We will discuss how to access these resources and handouts will be available.”

Learn About Resources Available to Caregivers & Seniorsis a health literacy outreach project of Creek County Literacy Program, the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, with funding provided by the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. 

For more information or to register for this free workshop, please call 918-224-9647.