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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Irene W. Newman (1895 -2005), 2016 Hall of Fame Inductee

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on Thursday, October 13, 2016
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Irene W. Newman was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame at the Wisconsin Library Association annual meeting in Milwaukee on October 27, 2016
Irene Newman served the State of Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction for 43 years, first as the assistant supervisor of school libraries, and, after her appointment in 1937, as Wisconsin supervisor of school libraries, a position Irene held until her retirement in 1965. Under her leadership, libraries were established in the smaller high schools and at the elementary level. During this period, the place of libraries in a school was legalized and certified teacher librarians became compulsory. As supervisor, Newman served as secretary of the Wisconsin Reading Circle Board which directed the supplementary reading in the grades and professional reading for teachers. She served as president of the Wisconsin Library Association (1935-1936), a past treasurer of the Wisconsin Library School Association, and served on numerous committees on education and book selection, including the original committee for the Cooperative Children's Book Center.  Newman was a member of Sigma Kappa Social Sorority, from which she received a diamond anniversary certificate, and also the Alpha Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma Honorary International Educational Society, for many decades. Other memberships included the American Library Association, the Wisconsin Alumni Association and its Half Century Club, the State Historical Society, Dane County Red Cross, St. Martins Guild, St. Anne's Altar Society of Holy Redeemer Church, the Madison Catholic Woman's Club, the Catholic Daughters of America, and the Madison Area Retired Education Association. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1917 with a B.A. degree, and from the U.W. Library School (now the School of Library and Information Studies) in 1918. She was the oldest living U.W. alumna for several years prior to her death. After receiving her library degree she worked with the Minneapolis Public Library system, and then returned to Madison to join the Wisconsin Library Commission. A large donation was made to the WLA Foundation from her estate in 2005. 


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