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.

Orrilla Thompson Blackshear (1904- 1994)

Posted by Larry Nix
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on Wednesday, October 12, 2011 in Hall of Fame

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.


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