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.

Norman D. Bassett (1891-1980)

Posted by Larry T. Nix
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on Tuesday, October 11, 2011 in Hall of Fame


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).

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