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William Houston (Bill) Lowry
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Photo of Bill LowryBill Lowry was the founding Director of the Pioneer Library System and served as its director for 29 years. Prior to that position, he worked for the Oklahoma City Public Library. With Esther Mae Henke and Virginia Owens, Bill was instrumental in the establishment of the multi-county concept for Oklahoma. In March of 1958, he became Director of the multi-county pilot project that became a reality when McClain County voted to participate in 1960 and Cleveland County voted to become a member in 1961. In 1978 Pottawatomie County joined the Pioneer Library System. When Bill retired in 1987, the Pioneer Library System covered three counties and had grown from two full service libraries to eight.

He led the effort to build a new Norman Public Library to house both the Norman Library and the Pioneer Library System headquarters. That library opened in 1966. In addition to Norman, during Bill’s tenure new library buildings were built in Moore, Noble, and Purcell.

Bill Lowry at OLA 2005 in Norman.
Bill Lowry at OLA 2005 in Norman

Bill was President of the Oklahoma Library Association in 1959 and worked for better library legislation throughout his career. He assisted in writing the enabling legislation that established the reoccurring ad valorem tax levy solely dedicated to library systems. He then worked tirelessly to pass the constitutional amendment. He served as Chairman of the Public Library Code Revision Committee that sponsored legislation that later became the Oklahoma Library Code still in force today. Bill was truly a “Pioneer” in establishing good library service in Oklahoma. He received the OLA Distinguished Service Award in 1973.

Bill Lowry died at his home in Belmont, Massachusetts, on September 30, 2018 at the age of 97.

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