My name is Leslie Langley and I am the branch manager of Wister Public Library, the smallest branch in the Southeastern Public Library System of Oklahoma. SEPLS is a multi-county library system with 15 branches in 7 counties of southeastern part of the state. Wister Library is a two-employee library currently housed in the municipal building, a WPA native rock building. We are in a 1250 square foot end of the building and we have approximately 15,000 items in our collection. We are open Tuesday through Saturday for a total of 37 hours per week. Wister is a tiny town with a population of 1,025 but my service area is large and we serve about 3000 people. The school is the largest employer but there are 2 cattle auctions that draw hundreds of people here each Saturday.
It has always been my goal to be as involved in our community as possible. I believe that none of us are as strong nor as smart as all of us and that small public libraries can play a large role in the lives of our customers and citizens. Wister Library is the business center and ‘visiting’ place in our town. The coffee is always on and we’ve watched strong friendships and business alliances form over the years because of this service. And because I am active in my community I am also active in professional organizations. Being a career-long member of the Oklahoma Library Association led me, eventually, to the recent position as president of OLA. It was immediately after my presidential year that I first learned of the Association for Rural and Small Libraries. Wow! An entire association just for libraries like mine! I immediately joined and learned all I could about ARSL and it’s amazing. I attended the 2011 conference in Frisco, TX and the rest is history. ARSL is an exciting association and every librarian in a rural or small-library setting is doing themselves a great professional disservice if they aren’t members. I also found that once I became a member, it’s so easy to be active. I volunteered my services and was asked to join the Membership Development Committee. The work is important and easy and reaching other rural librarians in the process and getting the word out that there’s a very professional place just for us is an incredible experience.