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.