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.

Nancy Marshall, 2019 Library Hall of Fame Inductee

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on Wednesday, October 30, 2019 in Hall of Fame
nancy marshallNancy Marshall (1935-2018) was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Wisconsin Dells on October, 10, 2019.
Following her graduation from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a master’s degree in Library Science at the age of 39, Nancy Marshall quickly made a name for herself both statewide and nationally.  Throughout her career, Marshall was a leader in the library community, particularly in the area of library cooperation, resource sharing, and copyright. 
From 1972 until 1979, she served as founding director of the Wisconsin InterLibrary Services (WiLS), a cooperative organization for resource sharing, guiding it through its first years of operation.  In 1976, she was appointed to the newly established position of Director of the Wisconsin Library Consortium. During this time, she was a member of the OCLC Board of Trustees and served as president of the OCLC User’s Council. During the mid-1970s, she worked on the development of a statewide union list of serials as a member of an ad hoc committee of the Council of Wisconsin Libraries.  She also served on the board of directors of MIDLNET, the Midwest Library Network, an academic consortium representing 9 states.  According to Charles Bunge, a  contemporary of Nancy’s and a 2009 Hall of Fame inductee, “Nancy had great interpersonal and organizational skills, and she made WILS work.  Networking and resource sharing were growing in importance in Wisconsin at that time, and WILS was a key component.”
From 1979 until 1986, Nancy was the Associate Director of Libraries for Public Service at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  During her tenure, she continued to focus on copyright and resource sharing.  She served on the working group of the Wisconsin Library Network Plan and was a member of the Statewide Committee on Interlibrary Loan and Reference Referral.  In regard to her continuing work with the American Library Association, she became an expert on copyright, especially fair use issues and the rights of libraries and library users to copy and use copyrighted materials. During this time, she also served as president of the American Library Association’s Reference and Adult Services Division.  In 1982, she was honored as the Wisconsin Library Association’s Librarian of the Year.
In 1986, Marshall accepted the position of Dean of the University Libraries at the College of William and Mary, where she remained throughout the rest of her professional career.  Her many accomplishments include the growth and modernization of Swem Library, planning and fundraising for two separate renovations and expansions, which more than doubled its size and transformed the 1965 building into a state-of-the-art facility.   During her years as Dean and continuing thereafter, Swem has been ranked among the best college libraries in the nation by the Princeton Review.  In addition, Marshall played a key role in the formation of the Virtual Library of Virginia, a statewide academic consortium that facilitated the collective purchase of online resources to serve the state’s higher education students.  Marshall retired in 1997, the same year that she was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer.  Two years earlier, she received the Distinguished Alumna Award from the UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies for her outstanding leadership in library service.
A two-time cancer survivor, Marshall went on to enjoy a productive retirement, which was spent, for the most part, in Maine.  She had always had a fascination with Clement Moore’s poem, “Night Before Christmas”.  As she described it to a Portland Press-Herald reporter, ““I started out buying Little Golden Books, the 29-cent versions, and then I began collecting other copies from around the world with different illustrators. I got obsessed.”  Starting in the 1960s, this obsession grew to include more than 1000 books, manuscripts, memorabilia, and realia in her personal library and inspired her to write the book, “The Night Before Christmas:  A Descriptive Bibliography of Clement Moore’s Immortal Poem”, published in 2002.  She donated her collection to the Swem Library in 2005, and each year since then items from her collection are put display during December and January.  A gallery on the library’s first floor, adjacent to the Special Collections Research Center, was named in her honor.


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