Mike Hensel has essentially been with the London Public Library since the Internet.
The organization’s director and long-time employee will resign from his position Dec. 31 to take on a new challenge as director of a library in a Dayton suburb.
“I’ve had a great time serving this community over the last 20 years,” Hensel said. “It’s something I’m proud to have been a part of.”
Hensel, the son of a Methodist minister and Pennsylvania native, was a recent college graduate when he wandered into the library in 1997 as a patron and noticed a sign seeking a part-time clerk. He described himself as someone who “loved reading” — especially classic literature.
“I was probably checking out a Jane Austen book,” he added with a laugh.
His father, a Methodist minister, had brought the family to Ohio to serve congregations in Lilly Chapel, Toledo and London. And although Hensel’s degree was in Biblical studies, he was preparing to go back to school for a career in communication and thought a part-time job would be flexible with his schedule.
Within weeks he was hired in a full-time position. Over the following years he took on roles in public relations, marketing and information technology.
Hensel eventually came to a crossroads: leave the library for other marketing capacities, or turn his love of reading into a career. He chose the latter, and in 2009 completed his Master’s in Library Science and was named director in August of 2010.
During Hensel’s tenure, the library went through the economic recession and several capital improvement initiatives, the latest capital venture being the renovation of the library’s main floor in 2014. The library also joined the Central Library Consortium in 2014, expanding access to library materials from 45,000 items to more than five million.
He’s most proud of how he’s led the organization through the digital age. Ohio libraries were plugged into the Internet in 1996 — just one year before he started in his position. Hensel recalls going live with the organization’s first website in 1998.
“It was pretty basic,” he said. “It included general information about the library and some contact information.”
The site is much different now. Among the services the library offers are free online magazine subscriptions, the ability to reserve a book at the local branch or access one throughout the state, and streaming of popular movies, TV shows and music.
He’s also joined the community itself. Hensel currently serves as the president of the London Rotary Club — a role he will have to resign at the end of the year — and a member of various boards including United Way, the Madison County Chamber of Commerce, Madison County Family Council and the London City School District’s business advisory committee.
He’s also raised a family here with his wife, Katie, a former city auditor with deep roots in the community. His three children attend the city schools.
“I’m still a community member and looking forward to serving in a new role,” he added.
His role at the Dayton Metro Library System as the Branch Manager of the Wilmington Stroop library begins Jan. 8. The library is one of the system’s larger branches and serves the Kettering area. While London’s library serves 17,000 patrons, the Kettering library serves about 40,000.
Hensel said he’s looking forward to getting to know a new community, and is confident London’s staff will take the vision forward.
“There’s energy and momentum here,” he said. “I’m excited to see what happens to the London library in the future.”
The first next step is to find the library’s next leader. The organization’s board met in a special meeting Tuesday evening to name fiscal officer Rebecca Stickel as the interim director, according to board president Denny Park.
The board plans to post a job description this week. Park said he expects it to be a couple months before a new director is named.
A farewell reception will be held in Hensel’s honor from 5 to 7 p.m. this Thursday on the library’s main floor and will feature cake and punch. It’s open to public.
Andrea Chaffin can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619 or via Twitter @AndeeWrites.
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