Flyer for 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


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.


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’.


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.