HENNESSEY — Mary Haney gave credit to other people recently after receiving an award for her work with Hennessey Public Library.

She received the 2008 Liberty Bell Award, which recognizes a lay person for his or her efforts in educating people about American legal rights and responsibilities and services to their community.

Haney has been director of Hennessey Public Library for more than 10 years. She said she really was surprised to receive the award.

She said she was invited to a Law Day lunch by her good friend, Robert Lovell. Lovell stood up to present the 2008 Liberty Bell Award. As he was talking, Haney said she realized it must be her who was about to receive the award.

According to Haney, an educated society usually is a more law-abiding society.

“It was a very humbling experience to receive the award,” she said.

Haney also said she felt like a fraud for accepting the award because improvements to the library couldn’t have been done without the help of many other people.

Haney came to Hennessey Public Library after the oil bust. She was assigned to bring the library into the 21st century and to expand the building. When Haney arrived, the library was in just one wing of the building it is now fills. The library was able to expand when town offices relocated to downtown from the north wing of the building.

Hennessey’s library is unusual, Haney said. The typical size of a public library for a town with 2,050 residents, about the size of Hennessey, is about 2,000 square feet. Hennessey Public Library is about 13,500 square feet, she said, not including the upstairs, which is only storage.

The library currently has a children’s room, a middle school room, a high school room, a research area, an Oklahoma research area, a wi-fi room called The Brick, an auditorium, a fiction room, a Hennessey history room and hall and a popular checkout area near the door.

The children’s room is a big area for elementary school and younger children. The room has age-appropriate books, she said, and is decorated with bugs for the summer reading program. The middle school room has age-appropriate books and games.

The high school room is the place to be after school, Haney said. It has a restaurant-type booth and table, age-appropriate books, a television and a table for studying. Haney said kids will bring in laptops and video games to play.

The research area is away from the children’s area, and Haney says no matter how loud the kids get people in the research area won’t hear them. The Brick has a refrigerator and microwave, but the library doesn’t sell food. Haney said people still come in and bring their lunches, and kids come in and eat snacks before going into the library. The Hennessey history room and hall have historic pictures and books dating back to the 1800s.

Haney has led improvement of the library in many areas, but said she still has more plans in the works for greater improvement. She said she would like to get air conditioning in the auditorium, which is used during the winter but cannot be used during the summer because of the heat.

She also has a goal to do work on the stage and the area behind the stage to make it useable for conferences. Haney thinks it will help all of King-fisher County, because there currently is not a place to hold conferences in the area. Other goals include redoing bathrooms, adding a DVD and listening center in the high school room and moving from desktop computers to laptops. Haney also hopes eventually to have distance learning in the library.

Hennessey Public Library also serves Dover and helped Enid when the library was damaged and closed from October 2007 through March.

Haney said the library has story time for children. Haney said she also gets to do library lady visits to the preschool in Hennessey. She said she dresses up and puts on funny hats to help encourage children to visit the library.

Haney said she is in her fourth life now. She started out as a high school teacher. Then, she moved on to writing and directing religious plays. Next, she taught at the junior college level. Now, she’s at the library.

She said this is her final life. She will be at the library until she retires or dies, whichever comes first.

“I love this place. I really do,” said Haney.

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