By Diana Weaver
There can be no argument that in the last 25 years, libraries have been forever changed by technology. Librarians in Kansas, Nebraska, and beyond have had the good fortune to be led through this time of change by Cindi Hickey, who will retire from the State Library of Kansas on April 13.
Cindi came to libraries as a second profession, graduating from the Emporia State University SLIM in 1993. Her professors there freely admit that her technological knowledge and skill was often ahead of her instructors. Even before she was out of graduate school, Cindi began working with the Nebraska Library Commission and other state agencies to promote the Internet as a key tool for small rural communities. Cindi fearlessly traversed the state during her tenure, running phone lines across main streets, hooking up laptops to a hub and dialing an 800 number back in Lincoln to demonstrate the power of online resources.
Throughout her career, Cindi found astonishing ways to harness the power of the Internet to help librarians serve their communities. She helped former SLIM Dean Marty Hale and Patti (Butcher) Poe translate the library planning process “Pathways to Planning” to the web. She was, as Poe says, the “wizard behind the curtain” for numerous continuing education projects in Kansas, including ICE (Institute for Continuous Education), K-PLACE, and 23 Things Kansas. Many librarians in Kansas consider 23 Things Kansas a highlight of their careers, and immeasurably helpful in their daily work. “Who else but Cindi,” says 23 Things Kansas participant Cathy Newland, “could get 600 Kansas librarians together? And for four months!”
Cindi has also presented nearly every year at the Kansas library conference, always targeting her efforts at practical, useful and needed continuing education. But her teaching and sharing has extended way beyond Kansas with presentations at several national venues, including numerous Computers in Libraries conferences. She was named a Library Journal “Mover and Shaker” in 2005 for being a “professional coach” to librarians and for her passion for making professional education easily available.
Cindi will be retiring from her most recent position as the WebJunction Coordinator and Director of Library Development at the State Library of Kansas. Her colleagues at WebJunction feel extremely fortunate to have teamed with Cindi and, while they acknowledge her tireless work on behalf of Kansas librarians, they appreciate her “equally valuable contributions to the field nationally.” To her WebJunction partners, she “epitomizes leading by example and brings a positive, upbeat quality to any collaboration or meeting – her sense of humor is always appreciated!” In 2010, Cindi was recognized as a WebJunction Shining Star, a peer award nominated by state library partners for her leadership and innovative approach to continuing education.
Cindi’s legacy will continue in the field long after her retirement this spring because of her generosity in mentoring other librarians. Younger colleagues in Kansas appreciate Cindi’s great willingness to discuss every facet of librarianship with them and to share her expert knowledge. She is a role model, according to Heather Braum of the Northeast Kansas Library System, “because of her dedication, passion, thoughtfulness and love of learning and discovery…She has truly demonstrated to us all the meaning of considerate leadership and lifelong learning.”
As many of us have experienced over the years, Cindi has a special grace and humility to answer any question gently and thoroughly, yet somehow managing to never make the questioner feel as ignorant as they probably are. Her leadership, goodwill and perseverance will be missed. Cindi looks forward to the next phase of her life, which she knows will be “both challenging and fun,” and will certainly include continued avid support of her beloved KU Jayhawk sports teams.