In May of 1977, “Star Wars: A New Hope” was tearing up the Box Office. It was also the same year that Joe McKenzie took a job at the Salina Public Library. This December, the fifth film in the saga will be released with a new director and a new cast. But over those 40 years, one thing has remained constant, Joe’s love of the Salina Public Library. Joe McKenzie is the BANK VI Hero of the Week.
Joe was an English major at Marymount College when he began to see his career path start leading towards the library. “They put me on the library committee at Marymount, so I got to see a bigger picture of what it takes to operate a library,” McKenzie said. “The librarians there encouraged me to go to library school.”
He also met his wife at Marymount.
After graduating from the University of Denver with a master’s in library science, Joe took a job in the children’s department at the Salina Public Library. According to him, the library was a much different place back then. But as the library evolved, so did Joe’s place in it.
“For a long time I thought I had the best job in town because it fit me so well,” Mckenzie said.
Following a three-year stint as the assistant director, Joe applied for the library director position in 1989. During his time as director, he has helped modernize the library’s facility and services. From overseeing the automation of the card catalog, to major renovations, Joe has helped shape the Salina public library into what it is today.
About the time he took the director’s position in Salina, Joe was offered another library director job in Idaho. Joe and his wife made the decision to keep their roots planted in Salina. “You never anticipate spending 40-years with the same organization, but Salina has been good to us and it was a great place to raise a family.”
In late June, Joe announced his plans to retire at the end of the year. According to a library press release, a public farewell will be scheduled for Joe at a later date.
If you know someone who gives back to our community or goes that extra mile to make our community a better place, nominate them for BANK VI Hero of the Week by clicking here.