Wisconsin Library Heritage Center

The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center is a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation promoting understanding and appreciation of the history of libraries and librarianship in Wisconsin.

WI Library Hall of Fame Nominations for 2012

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The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Steering Committee is accepting nominations for individuals to be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame in 2012. Nominations must be submitted by August 1, 2012. Procedures and a nomination form are located HERE. Both the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center and the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame are programs of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation. Induction into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame is granted to individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the statewide improvement of library service in Wisconsin over a sustained period of time.  Individuals who have worked in and/or advocated for Wisconsin libraries will be considered.  Both living and deceased individuals will be considered. Final selection of inductees into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame will be made by the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Steering Committee. Nominations should be submitted to Larry T. Nix (Chair of the WLHC Steering Committee) as email attachments at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by August 1.  For additional information please feel free to contact Nix.

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Janice Kee and a Librarian's Travelogue

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This entry was also posted on The Library History Buff Blog on March 4, 2012.

kee-72Sarah Janice Kee (1908 -1998) was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame in 2009 primarily because of her work as Secretary of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission from 1956 to 1965. During Kee's tenure at the Commission, Wisconsin established the foundation for its current seventeen federated public library systems.  In seeking to find out more about Kee a number of years ago, I was able to obtain a copy of a travelogue written by Kee titled Around the World in 80 Years: A Travelogue Interspersed with Anecdotes (unpublished, 1997). As the title suggests it is a record of Kee's travels around the world during her lifetime, but it also chronicles a remarkable library career. Kee was a native Texan and ended her library career in Texas. In regard to her travels, Kee writes: "It has been my privilege to see much of the world in my life time. My methods of travel have been in a swing seat in a covered wagon, a buggy, surrey, the back seat of a Model T - Ford car, both slow and fast trains, the driver's seat in a Ford, Chevrolet, Frazier and Oldsmobile, both slow and fast airplanes and a Cruiser in the Mediterranean sea."  From her rural Texas roots, Kee embarked on a library career with her first library position in the Library Service of the Air Force during World War II. She did so well that she was eventually promoted to Command Librarian supervising 35 post libraries. She went to work for the Missouri State Library in 1947, and again did so well that she was designated Acting State Librarian when State Librarian Katherine Mier retired in 1948. Unfortunately, it was only "until a man could be found for the job". According to Kee the man they found "knew nothing - I mean nothing about State Library work". Lucky for Wisconsin she left Missouri and came to Wisconsin for her first stint at the Wisconsin Free Library Commission. She entered the national library arena in 1952 as Executive Secretary of the Public Library Division of the American Library Association, a position she held until she assumed leadership of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission in 1956. Kee concluded her library career as Library Program Officer (classified as a GS-14) with the U.S. Department of Education at the regional office in Dallas, Texas. At her interview for the position in Dallas with the Head of the Regional Office, according to Kee "a political appointee - one of those good-ol-boys who was retired from a Superintendent's position", she was told "'Miss Kee, do you realize I have MEN on my staff who are not GS-14s?'" She reminded him that she would be taking a pay cut if she took the job. She got the job anyway. Although Janice Kee wrote her travelogue primarily for her family, I feel fortunate to have shared via the travelogue in her travel and library career experiences. I wish more people could do the same. The original manuscript is located at the School of Library and Information Studies at Texan Woman's University where Kee established the S. Janice Kee Library Scholarship Fund.

Ginny Moore Kruse (1934- )

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kruse-final-72.JPGGinny Moore Kruse is one of seven individuals who will be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 3, 2011 at the Awards and Honors Banquet during the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Milwaukee.  Kruse is Director Emerita of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, an examination, study and research library devoted to children's and young adult literature. She served as director of the CCBC between 1976 and 2002. While director, she founded the award-winning CCBC Intellectual Freedom Information Services. With CCBC colleagues she wrote and taught about book evaluation, especially multicultural literature and also international books for children & young adults. As an active member of the Wisconsin Library Association and the American Library Association, she chaired and also served on many book award committees. She co-founded the annual CCBC Charlotte Zolotow Award & Lecture. Ginny's formal honors include election into Beta Phi Mu (1977); Member of the Year, Society of Children’s Book Writers (1977); Librarian of the Year, Wisconsin Library Association (1978); Alumna Honor, College of Education & Human Services, UW-Oshkosh (1985); Christopher Latham Sholes Award, Council for Wisconsin Writers (1988); Award for Outstanding Contributions to Children’s Books, Children’s Reading Round Table of Chicago (1988); Award of Excellence, Wisconsin Educational Media Association (1996); Alumna of the Year, School of Library & Information Studies, UW-Madison (1996); Distinguished Service Award, Association for Library Services to Children, American Library Association (1996); Hope S. Dean Award, Foundation for Children’s Books (1997); and the Distinguished Achievement Award, School of Education (1998). In 2003 Ginny was awarded the second Rabin Youth Arts Award for Individual Achievement given by the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras. She was named a Distinguished Alumna of the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh in 2006. In 2008 Ginny was named a “Backyard Hero” by Community Shares of Wisconsin for her leadership in the 2007 “Public Reading of Banned Books” event sponsored by ALCU/Wisconsin. 
 
Prior to taking the position as Director at the CCBC, Ginny received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education from Wisconsin State University – Oshkosh in 1956 and a Masters Degree in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 1976. She taught English and Speech at Lincoln Junior High School, 1956-1958. Between 1967 and 1969, served as Library Director at Central Junior High School in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, followed by five years during which she was the Resource Center Director at Weeks Junior High School in Newton Centre, Massachusetts. In 1974 she taught the Children’s Literature course in the Education Department at Simmons College, Boston. Between 1974 and 1975 Ginny coordinated special programs for children and families for the Children’s Department of the Brown County Public Library, Green Bay, Wisconsin. 


Ginny is grateful for the mentoring and support of two previous Library Hall of Fame inductees - Elizabeth Burr and Muriel Fuller. Burr as Children's Consultant at the Wisconsin Free Library Commission (WFLC) helped found the CCBC in 1963 as a cooperative venture between the WFLC, the UW Library School, and the UW School of Education.
 

Daniel Steele Durrie (1819-1892)

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durrie-3-72.jpgDaniel Steele Durrie is one of seven individuals who will be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 3, 2011 at the Awards and Honors Banquet during the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Milwaukee. Durrie held the elected position of Librarian of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin (now the Wisconsin Historical Society) from 1856 until his death in 1892. Durrie and Lyman C. Draper, the first Secretary of the Historical Society, worked together to build the foundation of the Society’s nationally acclaimed collection. Leslie Fishel had this to say about Durrie and Draper in a 1995 Wisconsin History Magazine article: “Daniel Steele Durrie was a knowledge-seeker with a penchant for detail, a dedication to hard work, an ambition to build enduring monuments, and an imaginative drive which undergirded all of those impulses. Reserved and respectful but not reticent, he assisted and complemented the expansive and egocentric Lyman Copeland Draper, who, as the institution’s first “corresponding secretary,” energized a fragile State Historical Society of Wisconsin in its early years. Working in tandem, these two men helped to create the foundations of a dynamic research institution which came to rank with the best of the breed around the globe.” In an 1892 tribute to Durrie, James Davie Butler indicates that Durrie is justly classed among the founders of the Historical Society. Durrie was largely responsible for organizing and indexing the library’s monograph and periodical collection prior to the development of a library profession in America. Durrie was born on January 2, 1819 in Albany, New York. Prior to his work in the Society’s library he was a bookseller. During Lyman Draper’s tenure as Superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction, Durrie served as his assistant. 


The image of Durrie is from the Wisconsin Historical Society's Digital Image Collection. Image ID: WHi-47868.


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  • Nancy M. Pexa says #
    I am a descendent of John Steele as is Durrie. When Durrie documented the Holt family, his research was put in the archives at WI...
  • Larry Nix says #
    Nancy, I'm not in a position to do any research. You would have to contact the State Historical Society directly. Larry

Walter Mcmynn Smith (1869 – 1938)

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smith-walter-80.jpgWalter Mcmynn Smith is one of seven individuals who will be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 3, 2011 at the Awards and Honors Banquet during the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Milwaukee. Smith became the first full time Librarian of the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 1891 and served in that capacity until 1937. During his tenure the library grew from a staff of one to a staff of 35 and the library increased its holdings from 18,000 to 475,000 volumes. Smith was one of the founders of the Wisconsin Library Association in 1891, and he was the first academic librarian to serve as President of WLA (1908-1909). Smith oversaw the move of the University library from Library Hall to the new building of the Historical Society of Wisconsin in 1900 where it shared space with the Society’s library. Starting in 1893 Smith gave a series of lectures about the library to students, one of the early examples of library instruction in the nation. Smith was born in Janesville, Wisconsin. He was listed in Who’s Who in America (1936) and is included in the Dictionary of Wisconsin History. Smith was one of 67 American librarians elected to the prestigious American Library Institute when it was organized in 1905. 
 

Ella T. Veslak (1897-1996)

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veslak-small.jpgElla T. Veslak is one of seven individuals who will be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 3, 2011 at the Awards and Honors Banquet during the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Milwaukee. Veslak was a leader in the development of county library service in Wisconsin. She began serving as Director of the Shawano Public Library in 1926 and served simultaneously as Director of the Shawano County Library starting in 1934. She was a proponent of bookmobile service and participated in the first federal demonstration of bookmobile service in Wisconsin. She was a strong advocate of the role of the public library in adult education. In 1939 Veslak was presented with the Theodora Youmans Citizenship Award of the Wisconsin Federation of Women’s Clubs for her service in uniquely combining local, county and federal resources in providing library service to rural people. She served as a citizen member of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission 1946-1948. According to Benton H. Wilcox, Veslak was one of the most respected members of WLA when she was appointed to the WFLC. She became a staff member of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission in 1948. She received the Citation of Merit from the Wisconsin Library Association in 1960. She received the 1967 Honorary Recognition Award from UW College of Agriculture & Life Sciences which honors individuals who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and made significant contributions in the areas of agriculture, life sciences, natural resources and social science. 
 

Orrilla Thompson Blackshear (1904- 1994)

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blackshear-72.jpgOrrilla T. Blackshear is one of seven individuals who will be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 3, 2011 at the Awards and Honors Banquet during the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Milwaukee. Blackshear was a public library leader and a major promoter of Wisconsin’s literary heritage. She held important administrative positions at the Wisconsin Free Library Commission and the Madison Public Library. She was the compiler of Wisconsin Authors and Their Books 1836-1975, a landmark publication about Wisconsin’s literary heritage. Blackshear served as President of the Wisconsin Library Association in 1960-61 and was designated as WLA Librarian of the Year in 1962. Blackshear was a high school teacher and librarian in Ripon, Wisconsin (1937-40), Librarian of the Ripon Public Library (1940-45), and Librarian of the Beaver Dam Public Library (1945-47). From 1947 to 1957 she was a public library consultant and later head of the Traveling Library for the Wisconsin Free Library Commission. Simultaneous with those jobs at the WFLC she was editor of the Wisconsin Library Bulletin. In 1957 she became Assistant Director of the Madison Public Library, a position she held until 1967. She was then hired by the University of Wisconsin Library School to work on a special grant project. Blackshear was born in Otsego, WI in 1904. She received her BS in Library Science from the University of Illinois in 1943.
 

Norman D. Bassett (1891-1980)

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bassett-small-96.JPGNorman D. "Smiley" Bassett is one of seven individuals who will be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 3, 2011 at the Awards and Honors Banquet during the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Milwaukee. Bassett became the owner and first president of Demco Library Supplies, Inc. (now DEMCO) in 1931 after the former Library Supplies Department separated from the Democrat Printing Company in Madison, Wisconsin. Bassett had been in charge of the Library Supplies Department at the Democrat Printing Company starting in 1925. A hallmark of Bassett’s leadership of one of the nation’s premier library supply companies was his close relationship with the library community and his commitment to helping libraries carry out their mission more effectively. Bassett was an active member of both the Wisconsin Library Association and the American Library Association. He was Chair of WLA’s Scholarship Committee. In that capacity he instituted an auction of books autographed by prominent authors to raise funds for WLA’s Scholarship Fund. At Demco, Bassett started a free magazine for librarians named Demcourier which existed from 1931 to 1943. Bassett stepped down from the presidency of Demco in 1959 but continued to play an important role in the company until 1968. He launched the Bassett Foundation in 1954 and left $4.5 million to charities when he died in 1980.


Reference: Olderman, Raymond M. Honoring A Century of Service: The Story of Librarians & DEMCO 1905-2005 (DEMCO, 2005).

Gilson G. Glasier (1873-1972)

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glasier.jpgGilson G. Glasier is one of seven individuals who will be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 3, 2011 at the Awards and Honors Banquet during the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Milwaukee. The information about Glasier which is given below is from an article by Amy Crowder in the "WSLL @ Your Service" newsletter of the Wisconsin State Law Library. It is reprinted with permission.


Gilson Glasier: Fifty Years of Faithful Public Service


With 50 years of service to his name, Gilson Glasier is the longest serving State (Law) Librarian to date in Wisconsin history. Glasier came to Madison in 1896 to study law at the University of Wisconsin. While still in school he was appointed as private secretary to Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice R.D. Marshall and would eventually serve in that position for eight years. Following two years of private practice in Milwaukee, Glasier returned to Madison in 1906 when the Supreme Court offered him the State Librarian position.


During his tenure, Glasier actively served the legal and law library communities at both state and national levels. It was stated that he "was a quiet, soft-spoken person, meticulous in his work and completely dedicated to serving the bar in addition to his full-time position as librarian." Glasier was secretary-treasurer of the State Bar of Wisconsin from 1920 to 1949 and editor of the bar association's Bulletin, which he founded, for 22 years. He also edited Callaghan's Wisconsin Digest from 1909 to 1920.


Glasier was a charter member of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), and held the office of president in 1921-1922. He also served on the executive board and held numerous chairmanships over several decades. In addition, he served as managing editor of the Index to Legal Periodicals and the Law Library Journal. A 1952 Law Library Journal article called Glasier "one of the most active and useful members" of AALL. In 2010 Glasier was posthumously inducted into the AALL Hall of Fame as a Pioneer member, for his dedication and service to the association.


Upon his retirement in 1956, Glasier was honored by the Legislature with a joint resolution commemorating his 50 years of faithful public service to the State of Wisconsin. In it, the Legislature opined, "His leaving will be repined in all corners of the state."


2011 Library Hall of Fame Selections

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The Steering Committee of the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center, a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation, has selected seven individuals to be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame (WLHF) in 2011. They are Norman D. Bassett (1891-1980), Orilla Thompson Blackshear (1904-1994), Daniel Steele Durrie (1819-1892), Gilson G. Glasier (1873-1972), Ginny Moore Kruse (1934- ), Walter Mcmynn Smith (1869 – 1938), and Ella T. Veslak (1897-1996). Their induction into the WLHF will take place during the Awards & Honors Banquet at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Milwaukee on November 3. These seven inductees will join twenty-two other individuals who have previously been inducted into the WLHF.


Norman Bassett became the owner and first president of Demco Library Supplies, Inc. (now DEMCO) in 1931. He served in that capacity until 1959. A hallmark of Bassett’s leadership of one of the nation’s premier library supply companies was his close relationship with the library community and his commitment to helping libraries carry out their mission more effectively. Bassett was an active member of both the Wisconsin Library Association and the American Library Association. He was Chair of WLA’s Scholarship Committee.


Orrilla Blackshear was a public library leader and a major promoter of Wisconsin’s literary heritage. She served as President of the Wisconsin Library Association in 1960-61 and was designated as WLA Librarian of the Year in 1962. She held important administrative positions at the Wisconsin Free Library Commission and the Madison Public Library. She was the compiler of Wisconsin Authors and Their Books 1836-1975 published in 1976 which was a landmark literary publication.


Daniel Durrie served as librarian of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin (now the Wisconsin Historical Society) from 1856 until his death in 1892. Durrie is considered one of the founders of the Historical Society. He along with the first Secretary of the Historical Society, Lyman C. Draper (Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame inductee), established the foundation of one of America's great historical libraries. Durrie played a major role in indexing and organizing the Society's collection.


Gilson G. Glasier served as Wisconsin’s state law librarian from 1906 to 1956.  During this period the Wisconsin State Law Library (formerly the Wisconsin State Library) grew from 30,000 volumes to 125,000 volumes and was ranked as one of the best law libraries in the country. Glasier was one of the founders of the American Association of Law Libraries and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2010.


Ginny Moore Kruse, Director Emerita of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, served as director of the CCBC from 1976 to 2002. In that capacity she was a state and national champion of quality library literature for children and of intellectual freedom. While Director she founded the CCBC Intellectual Freedom Information Services.  She is an advocate for children’s literature that reflects the multi-cultural nature of our society.


Walter Smith became the first full time head librarian of the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 1891and served in that capacity until 1937. During his tenure the library grew from a staff of one to a staff of 35 and the library increased its holdings from 18,000 to 475,000 volumes. He oversaw the move of the library from Library Hall to the new building of the Historical Society of Wisconsin in 1900 where it shared space with the Society’s library.


Ella Veslak was a leader in the development of county library service in Wisconsin. She began serving as Director of the Shawano Public Library in 1926 and served as Director of the Shawano County Library starting in 1934. She was a proponent of bookmobile service and participated in the first demonstration of bookmobile service in Wisconsin. She served as a citizen member of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission in 1946-1948, and joined the WFLC staff in 1948. She received the Citation of Merit from the Wisconsin Library Association in 1960.


More extensive coverage of the accomplishments of these seven individuals will be forthcoming in later posts to the WLHC website.


Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame 2011 Nominations

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The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Steering Committee is accepting nominations for individuals to be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame in 2011. Nominations must be submitted by August 15, 2011. Procedures and a nomination form are located HERE. Both the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center and the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame are programs of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation. Induction into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame is granted to individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the statewide improvement of library service in Wisconsin over a sustained period of time.  Individuals who have worked in and/or advocated for Wisconsin libraries will be considered.  Both living and deceased individuals will be considered. Final selection of inductees into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame will be made by the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Steering Committee. Nominations should be submitted to Larry T. Nix (Chair of the WLHC Steering Committee) as email attachments at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by August 15.  For additonal information please feel free to contact Larry T. Nix.

Awards and Honors Banquet 2010

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potter-hof-acceptance-72.jpgThe Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Steering Committee appreciates the opportunity to induct new people into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame as part of the Awards and Honors Banquet at the WLA Annual Conference. This year in Wisconsin Dells on November 4 was the third time that the WLHC has inducted multiple individuals into the Hall of Fame during the Awards and Honors Banquet.  The Wisconsin Library Association Board and the WLA Awards and Honors Committee have been extremely gracious in allowing the inductions to take place at this important event at the WLA Conference. The Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame is a logical extension of the recognition which is given annually to those who have made an important contribution to the improvement of library services in Wisconsin. Both the Awards and Honors Banquet and the Library Hall of Fame are made possible by the support of the WLA Foundation which is a major reason for supporting the Foundation with a contribution. Cal Potter is shown here giving his acceptance speech for his induction into the Library Hall of Fame.  Wayne Bassett, H. Vail Deale, Leah Gruber, and Julia Wright Merrill were all inducted posthumously. Information about all five inductees can be found HERE. I find the Awards and Honors Banquet to be one of the most uplifting events of the year. It always makes me proud to be a part of the Wisconsin library community. Information about this year's recipients and previous award winners can be found HERE.

Calvin (Cal) Potter (1945- )

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potter-recent-72.jpgCalvin (Cal) Potter was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 4 at the Wisconsin Library Association (WLA) Conference in Wisconsin Dells. Potter was a consistent and effective legislative supporter for Wisconsin libraries of all types during his 23 year career as a member of the State legislature and during his almost five years of service as Assistant State Superintendent, Division for Libraries, Technology, and Community Learning (DLTCL). Potter was a member of the Wisconsin Assembly from 1975-90 and a member of the Senate from January 1991 to May 1998. He served on the Assembly Education Committee and the Senate Education Committee and served as Chair of both committees. He served as Chair of the 1977 Legislative Council Committee on Library Laws which resulted in major revision to state legislation on libraries. He also served as Chair of the Legislative Council Committee on Public Libraries (1997) which resulted in favorable changes to library public library legislation. Potter was a delegate to the White House Conference on Libraries and Information Science. Potter served as Assistant State Superintendent and administrator of DLTCL from May, 1998 to January, 2003. During this period extensive technology planning and implementation took place for both public and school libraries. The transition from federal to state funding for BadgerLink also took place during this period. He chaired the State Superintendent's Task Force on Public Library Funding and Legislation. For his advocacy for libraries, Potter received WLA’s Citation of Merit in 1981 and again in 1985. Based on nominations from WLA and the Wisconsin Educational Media Association, Potter was selected in 2000 for the American Library Association's National Advocacy Honor Roll which included those individuals and organizations who had most actively advocated for libraries in the United States over the last 100 years. Potter is currently a member of the Council on Library and Network Development (COLAND). 
 
Potter was born and raised in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. He received his Bachelor's Degree from Lakeland College and did graduate work at the University of Wisconsin. He taught Social Studies at Plymouth High School (1968-1975) before his legislative career. In May 1998, he received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Lakeland College in "recognition of his many contributions to quality education as a State Senator and State Representative". He has received more than 50 other awards for his legislative efforts in behalf of education, libraries, and environmental protection. He is listed in the Dictionary of Wisconsin History
 
Potter and his wife, Dr. Elizabeth Potter, a former instructor at Silver Lake College, currently reside in the Town of Sheboygan Falls.

Julia Wright Merrill (1881-1961)

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merrill2-72.jpgJulia Wright Merrill was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 4 at the WLA Conference in Wisconsin Dells. Merrill worked for the Wisconsin Free Library Commission on two occasions. From 1903 to 1906 she taught in the WFLC’s library school during the summer and served as a field agent the rest of the year.  She also served as a field agent and instructed part time at the library school from 1917 to 1922.  From 1925 to 1946 she worked at the American Library Association serving in a variety of capacities. She was the first Executive Secretary of the Public Library Association of ALA.  She was a national leader in the extension of public library service. She is included in the Dictionary of American Library Biography, a highly selective compilation of those who have made the greatest contribution to library development in the United States.  Merrill has also been inducted into the Ohio Library Hall of Fame (1975).  Joyce Latham, Assistant Professor, UW-Milwaukee will be presented a program at the WLA Conference in Wisconsin Dells on November 5 entitled “’Circuit Rider’: Julia Wright Merrill and Public Library Extensi0n, 1926 -1944”.  Latham writes about Merrill: “She had a reputation as a quiet but committed advocate for libraries, was well-liked and well respected, but was consistently overshadowed by Carl Milam, the executive secretary of the association.  Given the financial limitations on the ALA during this time, she often functioned as his number two, serving as the Acting Executive Secretary while he was away. However, the lists of great women in librarianship fail to include her and her listing in the Dictionary of American Library Biography is minimal. Hopefully, induction into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame will provide greater exposure to the contributions to this public library extension pioneer.

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  • Kathleen McCook says #
    Yes, "Hopefully, induction into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame will provide greater exposure to the contributions to this publ...
  • Larry Nix says #
    Thanks Kathleen.

Leah D. Gruber (1906-1996)

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Leah GruberLeah D. Gruber was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 4, 2010 at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Wisconsin Dells. Gruber made a significant contribution to public library service in Wisconsin as a library trustee. She served on the Prairie du Sac Public Library Board from 1940 to 1988 during which she served several terms as President of the Board. She also served on the Sauk County Library Board from 1975 until 1983. As President of the Sauk County Library Board, she was instrumental in organizing the South Central Library System  and was a member of the SCLS Board from its founding in 1975 until 1983. Gruber served as President of the Wisconsin Library Trustee Association in 1973 and 1974. She was honored as WLA’s trustee of the year in 1968 and was again selected for this honor in 1976. Gruber was on the Board of the Wisconsin Library Trustee Association when it became a division of the Wisconsin Library Association. Gruber was born in 1906 in Fort Monroe, Virginia.  She graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1927 with a bachelor's degree in English and Library Science.  She worked at the Fond du Lac Public Library and at the Legislative Reference Library in Madison. After marriage and a move to Prairie du Sac in 1939 she served as a volunteer cataloging books at several libraries in the area. Gruber received a special commendation from the University of Wisconsin System in 1974.

 

H. Vail Deale (1915-2004)

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H. Vail DealeH. Vail Deale was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 4, 2010 at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Wisconsin Dells.  Deale served as Director of Libraries and Chair, Department of Library Science at Beloit College from to 1953 to 1980. A highlight of his career at Beloit was the planning and completion of the Colonel Robert H. Morse Library in 1962 which resulted in the library being designated as WLA’s 1962 Library of the Year, the first academic library to receive this honor.  Deale was a member of the 1954-55 Steering Committee that helped establish the Wisconsin Association of Academic Libraries in the Wisconsin Library Association and served as its first chair in 1955-56.  Deale served as President of the Wisconsin Library Association in 1960-61.  He served a six year term on the Governor's Council on Library Development.  He was a life member of the American Library Association and served as chair of the ALA International Relations Committee (1957-77); chair of the ACRL College Section (1961-62); chair of the ACRL Grants Committee (1967-70); and a member of the ACRL Standards Committee.

 

Wayne Bassett (1915-1988)

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Wayne Bassett was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 4, 2010 at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Wisconsin Dells. He served as Director of the Wausau Public Library from 1965 to 1974.  When the Wausau Public Library merged with the Marathon County Library in 1974 to become the Marathon County Public Library, he served as Director of the merged library until his retirement in 1983. Concurrently (1965-1983), he served as the Director of what is now the Wisconsin Valley Library Service. Serving as the Wisconsin Library Association’s first Legislative Advocate from 1971 to 1979 he played an important role in the enactment of Wisconsin’s public library system law. Bassett received WLA’s Special Service Award in 1971 and served as President of WLA in 1976. He was named WLA’s Librarian of the Year in 1979.  His life and service to the Wisconsin library community were recognized with a WLA Special Memorial Citation in 1988.


Under his leadership, the Wausau Public Library was named as WLA’s Library of the year in 1965. Bassett was instrumental in the establishment of the System and Resource Library Administrators’ Association of Wisconsin. He served as leader and/or member of numerous WLA and other statewide committees including the Library Development and Legislation Committee; the Library Services and Construction Act Review Committee; and the Legislative Council’s Special Committee on Library Laws.  He was a member of the American Library Association.


Prior to coming to Wausau, Bassett graduated from the University of Minnesota (UM) with degrees in Political Science and Public Administration. He served in the U.S. Army in France during WWII.  Returning home, he earned a library science degree from UM. After beginning his library career at the Fond du Lac (WI) Public Library, he served as the Director of the Worthington (MN) City Library, later the Nobles County Library, from 1949 to 1965. From 1954 to 1962 Bassett served in the Minnesota House of Representatives.  


2010 Library Hall of Fame Selections

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The Steering Committee of the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center, a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation, has selected five individuals to be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame in 2010.  They are Wayne Bassett (1915-1988), H. Vail Deale (1915-2004), Leah Gruber (1907-1996), Julia Wright Merrill (1881-1961), and Calvin Potter (1945- ).  The inductions will take place on November 4, 2010 at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Wisconsin Dells.  Wayne Bassett served as Director of the Wausau Public Library, later merged into the Marathon County Public Library, and the Wisconsin Valley Library Service.  He served as the Legislative Advocate for WLA and as its President in 1976. H. Vail Deale was the former Director of Libraries at Beloit College.  He was a member of the 1954-55 Steering Committee that helped establish the Wisconsin Association of Academic Libraries (WAAL) in WLA and served as its first chair in 1955-56.  Deale served as President of the WLA in 1960-61.  Leah Gruber served as a trustee on the Prairie du Sac Library Board for 48 years. She also served on the boards of the Sauk County Library and the South Central Library System.  Leah served as President of the Wisconsin Library Trustee Association in 1973 and 1974.  She was honored as WLA’s trustee of the year in 1968 and was again selected for this honor in 1976.  Julia Wright Merrill worked for the Wisconsin Free Library Commission on two occasions, from 1903 to 1906 and again from 1917 to 1922. She taught in the WFLC’s library school and served as a field agent promoting public library service throughout the state. She was a national leader in public library extension and served as the first Executive Secretary of the Public Library Association of the American Library Association.  Calvin (Cal) Potter’s was a consistent and effective legislative supporter for Wisconsin libraries of all types during his 23 year career as a member of the State legislature and during his four and a half years service as Assistant State Superintendent, Division for Libraries, Technology, and Community Learning.  For his advocacy for libraries, Potter received WLA’s Citation of Merit in 1981 and again in 1985.  More extensive coverage of the accomplishments of these five individuals will be forthcoming in later posts to the WLHC website.


 


Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame 2010 Nominations

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The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Steering Committee is accepting nominations for individuals to be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame in 2010. Nominations must be submitted by August 9, 2010. Procedures and a nomination form are located HERE. Both the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center and the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame are programs of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation. Induction into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame is granted to individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the statewide improvement of library service in Wisconsin over a sustained period of time.  Individuals who have worked in and/or advocated for Wisconsin libraries will be considered.  Both living and deceased individuals will be considered. Final selection of inductees into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame will be made by the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Steering Committee. Nominations should be submitted to Larry T. Nix (Chair of the WLHC Steering Committee) as email attachments at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by August 9.  For additonal information please feel free to contact Larry T. Nix.

Klas August Linderfelt (1847-1900)

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Klas LinderfeltKlas August Linderfelt was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Appleton on October 22, 2009. Linderfelt served as the Director of the Milwaukee Public Library from 1880 to 1892. The construction of the new public library and museum building in Milwaukee in 1897 was due largely to Linderfelt’s initial planning efforts. He was one of the founders of the Wisconsin Library Association (WLA) and was elected its first president in 1891. Linderfelt was an authority on library charging/circulation systems and he implemented an innovative charging system at the Milwaukee Public Library.  He was also an authority on library cataloging and was the author of Eclectic Card Catalog Rules which was published in 1890. Linderfelt was active in the American Library Association (ALA) and served as a councilor from 1883 to 1891. He played a major role in the local arrangements for the ALA Conference which took place in Milwaukee in 1886. In 1890 he was elected vice-president of ALA and in 1891 he was elected president.

In 1892 Linderfelt was arrested in Milwaukee for embezzlement. At his trial he was found guilty, but his sentence was suspended. Under the threat of additional charges, he fled to Europe where he spent the rest of his life. As a result of Linderfelt’s conviction for embezzlement, ALA expunged his election from their official records. Linderfelt resigned as President of the Wisconsin Library Association leaving the Association leaderless. As a result WLA held no annual conferences in either 1892 or 1893. Linderfelt was born in Sweden in 1847.  He received a doctorate from Upsala University in Sweden.  In 1870 he immigrated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  He died in 1900.  He is listed in the Dictionary of American Library Biography.

There is an informal group of the past presidents of the Wisconsin Library Association that holds a breakfast meeting on the Wednesday morning of the Association's annual conference. An urn with ashes (not human) was created to represent Klas in absentia. The newest past president takes custody of the urn after the meeting and keeps it until the next meeting.

 

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