Since becoming assistant state librarian in August 2000, Mary Wegner has been a catalyst for the many changes the Iowa library community has faced as they moved forward with new initiatives and technology changes. In December, she will retire as state librarian, a position she has held since November 2001.
“Having served now for many years on the Iowa Commission of Libraries, I’ve seen Mary’s leadership in several key areas including funding and, of course, reorganization," said Dan Boice, a commissioner and librarian at Divine Word College. "While Mary has had many successes, what has most impressed me has been how after setbacks she takes up the fight again with cheerful intensity. She has been an outstanding advocate for all of Iowa’s libraries.”
Prior to her present position, Wegner was director of the health sciences library for Iowa Methodist Medical Center and Iowa Lutheran Hospital. In 1999, she served as president of the Iowa Library Association. But it’s her tenure as state librarian that has had the biggest effect on library service in Iowa.
“In my short period of time working with Mary as chair of the IaLS Advisory Panel, I have come to admire the energy, enthusiasm, and dedication that she embodies for excellence in the provision of library services to the public, school and academic communities,” said Greg Heid, IaLS Advisory Panel Chair and director of the Des Moines Public Library. Mary’s ability to bring people together to communicate, her ability to understand the dynamics of negotiation, her attention to all aspects of an issue, and her adeptness in the political processes have made a real difference in library services throughout the state. Mary brought a new vision to the state library that has served Iowa well for many years. Her legacy will continue to guide us as we advance into the next decades of library services to citizens.”
Lorraine Borowski, director of the Decorah Public Library and past president of the Iowa Library Association, said “Mary Wegner has been a strong advocate for Iowa libraries during her tenure as state librarian. Her ability to respectfully negotiate with legislators both at the state and national levels has helped bring statewide changes that benefit all libraries and the Iowa citizens they serve. Her wealth of knowledge will be missed but not forgotten as libraries continue to enjoy the initiatives she worked hard to secure for the citizens of Iowa.”
Robin Martin, coordinator of the Iowa Center for the Book, said “Without Mary’s guidance and passionate support, Iowa Center for the Book programs such as All Iowa Reads and Letters About Literature would not have become part of the fabric of Iowa libraries and schools. In the midst of her enormous responsibilities as state librarian, she has always found the time to champion our mission.”
Advancements during Wegner’s career include:
• EBSCOhost provided at a discount to public and academic libraries; LearningExpress Library provided at no charge to public and academic libraries;
• development of Iowa School Library Program guidelines and adoption by the Bureau of Educational Examiners of new teacher librarian endorsement standards;
• administration of grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which brought computers and training to Iowa public librarians;
• development of the Putting Libraries on the Web program, which uses open source software to provide free websites to 300+ Iowa public libraries;
• growth of the Iowa Center for the Book and establishment of the All Iowa Reads and Letters About Literature programs;
• development of the Iowa Publications Online and Iowa Heritage Digital Collections websites and major update of the State Data Center website;
• establishment of Iowa Library Services, through the combination of the Library Services Areas and the State Library into one new agency;
• introduction and development of online webinars to complement face-to-face continuing education for Iowa librarians;
• administration of several national grant programs, including the Geek the Library campaign, News KnowHow, ILEAD USA, and Smart Investing;
• enhancement of Law Library services through improvements to the physical space and establishment of the A.J. Small Special Collection of seminal documents in Iowa history; and
• adoption of an open source catalog for the state library collection, development of a table of contents awareness service for state employees, and addition of a “Live Support” link on the iowa.gov website that sends questions directly to state library reference librarians.
Wegner said that Iowa Library Services achievements during her tenure as state librarian were made possible because of the excellence of the IaLS staff.
“Iowa libraries benefit so much from the creative, hard-working people at the state library and their commitment to providing high quality services to Iowans and their librarians. I am so proud of Iowa libraries and Iowa librarians, and it has been a privilege to serve as your state librarian.”