February 17, 2018

Tom Rink | Movers & Shakers 2005

An Officer and a Librarian


Tom Rink may be the only librarian who’s also a police officer. After years on the Tulsa police force, he was ready for a change. When a career exploration course showed he was ideally suited to be a librarian, he was amused. The son of two librarians, he had never even considered it. He did enjoy researching, writing, and exploring all kinds of knowledge, though, so he got his MLIS degree while continuing as a police officer. That’s when his boss asked him to start a library for the police force.

There was no budget for a librarian or for a library. So formally, Rink became a policy writer, responsible for grant-writing and researching. Informally, he was building a collection. His early budget requests were routinely ignored, but by the time the department received an unexpected pile of drug forfeiture cash, Rink knew how to work the system and snared it for his library.

As the lone librarian, Rink had to figure it out by himself as he went along. His happiest discovery was the Special Libraries Association and its Solo Librarians group. In return for the help these newly discovered colleagues gave him, he became an active participant.

Gradually, Rink built a unique collection of books, videos, criminal justice magazines, and government documents. He also maintains files of internal reports, surveys, statistics, policies, and procedures. His officers, who call him the “go-to guy,” rely on him to answer questions like: “How has our sworn strength changed over the past 20 years? Do you have a copy of the perception study that was done of our department in 1972? Why did we change our pursuit policy back in 1983?”

With his police retirement approaching, Rink hopes to leave his library with secure funding and a replacement who’s not an officer but a librarian.



Current Position Police Officer and Information Specialist, Tulsa Police Department

Degree MLIS, University of Oklahoma, 1992

Honors Special Libraries Association President’s Award, 2002; Tulsa Police Department Chief’s Award, 2000, 2001

Marathon Man Has completed two marathons, both under 3:30