Thomas J. Hennen, Jr., 2021 Library Hall of Fame Inductee

Tom Hennen was nominated for the Library Heritage Hall of Fame for his significant contributions to the Wisconsin library community, as well as to the planning, evaluation, and development of public libraries throughout the United States during his 40-year career as a librarian.

Tom served as Director at both the Lakeshores Library System and Waukesha County Federated Library System (WCFLS). During his tenure, he successfully negotiated library system contracts that solved cross-county borrowing issues and saw to it that Waukesha County was an early adopter of countywide library standards.

Tom was a vocal advocate for the concept of a “statewide library card” and worked diligently to facilitate the legislation which became Act 150. Under the 1997 law, county library plans are required to provide for reimbursement to public libraries for service to non-residents and include minimum standards for public library operations to meet public library system membership requirements and qualify their municipality for exemption from the county library tax. It paved the way for Act 420 in 2005 which extended non-resident reimbursement across county lines.

Much of Tom’s notable library research work focused on the use of data for planning purposes. He launched the HAPLR (Hennen’s American Public Library Ratings) system in 1999 and continued to update the data until 2010. In addition to publishing data that used specific metrics for analysis of a library’s operational effectiveness, Tom provided individual data and consulting assistance on a case-by-case basis to libraries interested in using the tool for planning. The HAPLR Index was featured in annual issues of American Libraries magazine from 1999 to 2008 and received national media attention. In addition to HALPR-related writing, Tom published more than 40 articles on a wide range of topics, including library futures, standards, and accounting. He has addressed professional library associations in 15 U.S. states, five Canadian provinces and in Australia.

Tom was a member of WLA’s Library Association Library Development & Legislation Committee from 2003-2006, serving one year as committee chair. He was named to the 2002 Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Library Legislative Task Force, Library Services and Technology Act Advisory Committee, and invited to provide keynote testimony to the Wisconsin Legislature’s 1996 Legislative Council Study Committee on Libraries. Tom was elected President of the System and Resource Library Administrators’ Association of Wisconsin (SRLAAW) for an unprecedented four terms from 1992 to 1996 and worked on numerous SRLAAW committees, including the one that revised the state aid formula proposal for 2000-01.

Carol L. Diehl, 2021 Library Hall of Fame Inductee

Carol Diehl was a school librarian, library administrator, and local, state, and national library advocate. She was a “big picture” person who understood the significance of state and national policies and their impact on local libraries. As a tireless worker for school and public libraries, she made significant contributions to improving library service at all levels.

At a local level, Carol began her career in 1951 as a teacher in Port Washington, followed by school librarian positions in Minocqua, Fredonia, and Manawa, head librarian at Vernon County Teachers College, and New London school district library media director. She provided leadership for K-12 media program long-range planning, created elementary school libraries and pursued appropriate levels of trained librarians and aides, while also aggressively advocating for new technologies. Carol wrote competitive grants that brought in thousands of dollars to support the school libraries and other district-wide programs.

At the regional level, Carol was a member of the Outagamie Waupaca Library System (OWLS) Board of Trustees, the Fox Valley Library Council, and the Northeastern Wisconsin In-School Telecommunications (NEWIST) Advisory Board.

At the state level, Carol was an active leader in the Wisconsin Library Association (WLA) including its school and trustee divisions, the Wisconsin Educational Media Association (WEMA), and the Association of Wisconsin School Administrators (AWSA). She represented school librarians as a member of WLA’s Library Development and Legislation Committee, as well as the WEMA Legislative Committee and testified for both organizations at many public hearings. A wily advocate, she was well known to state legislators on both sides of the aisle. For six years, Carol was WLA’s Federal Relations Coordinator and a frequent WLA delegate to National Library Legislative Day in Washington, D.C.

In 1989, State Superintendent of Schools Bert Grover named Carol to Wisconsin’s Advisory Committee for the State White House Conference on Library and Information Services. As a result, she was a delegate to Wisconsin’s Pre-White House Conference in Madison, a precursor to her work as a delegate-at-large to the 1991 White House Conference on Library and Information Services (WHCLIS) where she was instrumental in seeing the Youth Services Omnibus Bill endorsed as a top recommendation.

At the National Level, Carol was an active member of the American Library Association (ALA) and the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) where she took numerous leadership roles including AASL Legislative Committee Chair. She advocated for school library professionals and their libraries and used her state-level lobbying knowledge as a member of the ALA Legislative Assembly in 1989-90. Carol’s national advocacy work on behalf of libraries continued after retirement in 1995. In 2006, President George W. Bush appointed her to a five-year term as a member of the U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS).

Carol Diehl was born in Milwaukee on August 10, 1929 and died in Neenah on June 14, 2020.

Paul Nelson, 2021 Library Hall of Fame Inductee

Paul Nelson’s contributions to Wisconsin librarianship include many years as a highly successful library administrator, dedicated Wisconsin Library Association leader, skilled legislative advocate, library educator and author.

Paul began his career as Head of Outreach Services/Assistant Director of the Oshkosh Public Library from 1978 to 1986 and served as Director of the Middleton Public Library from 1986 to 2008. Under his leadership, Middleton completed both a new library building project and remodeling project. Paul received WLA’s Librarian of the Year Award in 1991. The Middleton Public Library was named WLA’s Library of the Year in 2007.

Paul contributed more than three decades of participation and leadership to the Wisconsin Library Association which included being elected WLA President in 1998. He chaired the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Steering Committee and stepped up to lead the WLA’s 125th Anniversary Committee in 2016.

Paul’s twenty-year involvement with the WLA Library Development & Legislation Committee, initially as WLA State Legislative Advocate and later as LD&L Chair, led to a highly effective legislative program. For his leadership in this area, Paul received the WLA President’s Award in 2003 and 2011. When he retired from LD&L, it was to mount a successful 2014 run to represent Dane County’s 9th District on the Board of Supervisors.

Paul has contributed to the future library leadership as a library educator at the UW-Madison School of Library & Information Studies. He taught courses required for Grade 3 Public Librarian certification and continued instruction in library reference services and library management after becoming an Adjunct Assistant Professor in 2009. He was also a frequent and popular presenter at library conferences and regional workshops which assisted library staff and supporters to become effective advocates. In 2012 Paul co-authored the book Small Public Library Management with Jane Pearlmutter for the American Library Association.

Alice A. Sturzl, 2021 Library Hall of Fame Inductee

Alice A. Sturzl has lived many lives within the Wisconsin library community, devoting her time and talents to library service and leadership as a school librarian, a library trustee, an active member of WLA and numerous other professional organizations, and a dedicated public servant. She was honored with a 2005 WLA Special Services Award, as 2007 WLA/DEMCO Librarian of the Year, and 2015 WLA Trustee of the Year. She was elected 1997 WLA President and provided additional leadership to the school and trustee divisions as well as the WLA Foundation and numerous committees over four decades.

Alice was employed nearly four decades as library media specialist for the Laona School District. She officially retired in 2011 yet continued to serve as a substitute librarian at the Edith Evans Community Library that is co-located with school library services inside the Laona High School. The successful joint operation depends mightily upon the collegial coexistence of the two librarians along with their ability to bridge political relationships, policies and budgeting between the school and library boards. Alice not only mastered this challenging environment, but its unique perspective also informed her prodigious contributions to both school and public library advancement on a county, regional and statewide level.

By stepping outside her comfort zone to connect her corner of Wisconsin to the statewide multitype librarian network, Alice served as both a conduit and an advocate for greater communication and collaboration. She brought a depth of experience across multiple levels to every meeting she attended, mentoring others at the table, taking on new challenges and providing valuable insights from a statewide perspective. And she accomplished all this with a humility and devotion that also won support within ever widening circles for the libraries, resources, and services that she, her professional colleagues and her fellow library trustees held in trust for residents of the communities they represented.

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2021 Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame

Nominations Requested

The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Steering Committee is accepting nominations for individuals to be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame in 2021. Nominations must be submitted by Friday, September 10th, 2021. Procedures and nomination form may be found at

Both the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center and the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame are programs of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation. Induction into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame is granted to individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the statewide improvement of library service in Wisconsin over a sustained period of time.  Individuals who have worked in and/or advocated for Wisconsin libraries will be considered.  Both living and deceased individuals are eligible. Final selection of inductees into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame will be made by the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Steering Committee and announced this fall at the Awards & Honors reception at the Wisconsin Library Association’s annual conference.

To see previous Hall of Fame inductees, go to Nominations should be submitted to Annie Bahringer (Chair of the WLHC Steering Committee) as email attachments at by Friday, September 10th, 2021.