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.

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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.

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.


 


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