Dublin, OH -- 16 October 2020. Dr. K. Wayne Smith, former President and CEO of OCLC, has died at the age of 82.
Smith led OCLC from 1989–1998, a period of enormous growth. He came to OCLC after a distinguished career in government, education, and business.
Smith taught in higher education, worked in national security at the highest levels of the U.S. federal government, and was a successful leader in the business world. He served as CEO at World Book Encyclopedia before coming to OCLC.
Under Smith's leadership, OCLC increased its capacity to deliver innovative information services to libraries and their users. He led the creation of new services in electronic reference, electronic publishing, resource sharing, and training. He oversaw the introduction of FirstSearch as the first online end-user reference service, and began making OCLC services available on the internet. He was a fierce advocate in support of research to expand the possibilities for library and information science.
"Wayne led OCLC into the internet age," said Skip Prichard, OCLC President and CEO. "He deserves a great deal of credit for putting OCLC on firm financial footing at a critical time in the organization's history. His contributions have had a profound influence on the course of OCLC, and on libraries around the world."
Smith led OCLC's move from largely a back-office computer service for library professionals doing cataloging and interlibrary loan work, to the reference desk, where libraries were using new OCLC core services designed for the patron, such as online reference and electronic publishing.
During his tenure, OCLC introduced a variety of innovative services, including the EPIC and FirstSearch online reference services, Electronic Dewey, Electronic Journals Online, PromptCat, ILL Fee Management, OCLC Authority Control, and CatCD for Windows, to name a few. He also opened offices in Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean.
From humble beginnings in his beloved hometown of Newton, North Carolina, K. Wayne Smith was a first-generation college student when he entered Wake Forest University, where he graduated summa cum laude with a degree in political science. He went on from Wake Forest to Princeton University on both a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship and a John Danforth Scholarship. He taught at the United States Military Academy following his Princeton years.
Smith worked in the Pentagon and in the White House, where he reported directly to the National Security Director Henry Kissinger. From there, he transitioned to business, first as managing partner at Coopers & Lybrand (now PWC), before serving as CEO at World Book and then OCLC.
His devotion to Wake Forest University lasted a lifetime. He taught there following his retirement from business, was elected to the Wake Forest board of trustees in 1991 and named a Life Trustee in 2010. He served as chair of the board from 2007 to 2009 and chair of the Presidential Search Committee in 2005. He received Wake Forest's Distinguished Alumni Award in 1973 and the Medallion of Merit, the University's highest award for service, in 2011.
The Smith family has endowed a scholarship—the Trinity Scholarship from K. Wayne Smith and Family—for academically gifted but financially resource-constrained students.
He is survived by his wife of nearly 62 years, Audrey, and their son, Stuart.
The family suggests, in lieu of flowers, memorial gifts or donations may be made to The Trinity Scholarship by K. Wayne Smith and Family c/o Wake Forest University, P.O. 7227, Winston-Salem, NC 27109.
OCLC is a nonprofit global library cooperative providing shared technology services, original research, and community programs so that libraries can better fuel learning, research, and innovation. Through OCLC, member libraries cooperatively produce and maintain WorldCat, the most comprehensive global network of data about library collections and services. Libraries gain efficiencies through OCLC's WorldShare, a complete set of library management applications and services built on an open, cloud-based platform. It is through collaboration and sharing of the world's collected knowledge that libraries can help people find answers they need to solve problems. Together as OCLC, member libraries, staff, and partners make breakthroughs possible