What Hennen Library Consulting Brings to the Table
Tom and Valerie Hennen have been a team for over 45 years. They learned the consulting craft by the work they do and the love they share. Tom’s day job taught him much that he shares with clients when consulting. Lobbying state and local legislators for better library service was critical to that day job. During his career Tom was active in library advocacy. Much to their surprise, asking the legislature to do things can matter. Oddly, if you ask them to force you to do things you want to do anyway, good things can happen. The passage of Wisconsin Act 150 in 1998 proved that to them. The law that they championed required them to do strategic planning; they planned with gusto. They learned that library buildings cost a lot. Who pays the taxes for them can be controversial. One of Valerie’s favorite stories about their library consulting together was the night Tom wouldn’t even let her get out of the car after she came home from work without talking earnestly about the latest proposal on governance and funding for Waukesha County.
Tom retired in 2013. He retired as the director of Waukesha County Federated Library System in Wisconsin. Tom says that his dad taught him that “Just because you think in rows and columns doesn’t mean you can’t dream!” Valerie is the editor and co-founder of HAPLR and Hennen Library Consulting. She retired after 30 years from her position as a speech and communications instructor at Gateway Technical College.
Now that they are both retired, they travel, 45 countries at last count. They consult on library planning, governance, and construction in their off hours. They are passionate about each other, their 2 kids, 3 grandkids, extended family, travel, and libraries, in that order. But, library folk, don’t take that amiss. They have a lot of passion. So libraries get their share!
Tom has been a librarian for over 40 years. In 2013 he retired as the director of Waukesha County Federated Library System in Wisconsin. He previously directed library systems elsewhere in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Library periodicals such as Library Journal and American Libraries have published more than 40 of his articles on a range of topics, including library futures, standards, and accounting. His book for Neal-Schuman, Hennen’s Public Library Planner, was published in April 2004. Hennen has addressed professional library associations in 15 U.S. states, five Canadian provinces, and in Australia. He developed the now discontinued Hennen’s American Public Library Ratings (HAPLR). It used data provided by 9,000 public libraries in the United States to create comparative rankings. Thousands of libraries ordered reports on their libraries from 1999 to 2010. He is a library leader internationally known for his work on library planning, governance options, and statistical comparison of libraries. During his career, he has addressed library groups on library evaluation, planning, and services in a dozen U.S. states, 3 Canadian provinces, and Australia. He played a leading role in legislative development in the Wisconsin Library Association. Since 2000, he has provided consulting to libraries on library planning and evaluation. He is skilled at presenting statistical and demographic data in graphic formats as well as interpreting what large amounts of data mean about library service.
Valerie is the editor and co-founder of HAPLR and Hennen Library Consulting. She has been an instructor at Gateway Technical College for nearly 30 years. She received her MA in Curriculum and Instruction in 1978. She teaches Associate degree and diploma level general education courses including Oral Interpersonal Communications, Speech, and Reading and various writing classes. She also teaches part-time for Concordia University of Wisconsin, Kenosha center. She has published state-wide curriculum projects under grants supervised by the Wisconsin Technical College System.