Wisconsin Library Heritage Center

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Louise S. Robbins, 2017 Library Hall of Fame Inductee

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Louise S. Robbins was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame at the Wisconsin Library Association annual meeting in Wisconsin Dells on October 19, 2017.
louise-robbins-blog-72Louise S. Robbins has been a force in and for Wisconsin libraries since she became Assistant Professor and Faculty Administrator at the UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies in 1991.  She joined SLIS after being a reading specialist, teacher, and librarian in Oklahoma where she also served as Ada, Oklahoma’s first woman council member and then mayor.  Her work in Oklahoma resulted in being named an Oklahoma “Library Legend” in 2007. In her initial capacity at SLIS she was director of the School’s Laboratory Library.  While at SLIS she built a distinguished record of teaching, service, and research along her way to becoming a full professor and serving as director of the School from 1997 to 2009.  Robbins’ record of activity made an exceptional contribution to Wisconsin libraries that did not stop with her retirement in 2011.  She remains active in the Wisconsin library community through her work with the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and their effort to rebuild a community library as well as her work with the wider Tribal Libraries, Archives and Museums project and the IMLS funded “Convening Great Lake Culture Keepers,” projects she was instrumental in getting going.  
Louise Robbins has had an impact on library service at the state, national, and international level. As a library and information studies (LIS) educator as well as practitioner she has mentored many librarians in Wisconsin and beyond. At various times Robbins’ teaching load included the required field-practice, or practicum, course as well as the introductory course, meaning virtually every student who came through SLIS for many years had the opportunity to study with her. Besides her teaching/mentoring, Robbins was a force for the profession in Wisconsin by among other things: raising the profile of the School at the University; working on Wisconsin Library Association (WLA) committees; advocating for libraries at the local and state levels; contributing to a report in 2004 on Wisconsin library system organization; and was co-lead for an IMLS grant which provided scholarships and other support to increase diversity among students and the profession. Notably, WLA recognized Louise Robbins’ many contributions in 2001 with their Wisconsin Librarian of the Year award. 
Louise Robbins’ influence on library service goes well beyond the state.  She was actively involved with the Association for Library and Information Science Education, including being president in 2003 and 2004.  She was active in the American Library Association (ALA) and a member of the Committee on Accreditation, meaning she provided feedback to LIS programs in other places.  She was the external reviewer for numerous LIS faculty at other universities. And she was a member of the National Board for Beta Pi Mu, the librarian honor society which raises scholarship money and published a scholarly monograph series (for which she served as a member of the editorial board from 1996-2003). On the international level, she has consulted with librarians in Kazahkstan to help develop the Nazarbayev University Library and in China through her work with the Evergreen Education Foundation.    
Louise Robbins has made important and lasting contributions to the profession through her scholarship.  Robbins’ main research stream investigated the development of Intellectual Freedom as it contributes to the understanding of librarianship as a profession and the library as an institution. Her best known work is The Dismissal of Miss Ruth Brown: Civil Rights, Censorship, and the American Library, published by the University of Oklahoma Press in 2000.  The book won several awards including the Eliza Atkins Gleason Book Award of the Library History Round Table of ALA and a WILLA Award (named for Willa Cather).  She is author of several other books including Censorship and the American Library: The American Library Association’s response to Threats to Intellectual Freedom, 1939-1969, which was published by Greenwood Press in 1996.  In 1994 she published one of many articles in library publications titled “Loyalty Investigations in the Library of Congress: 1947-1956 : No ‘Communists or Cocksuckers’” in Library Quarterly.  The article helped launch the ALA conference program, “Hidden from History: Lesbigays in Libraryland” which led to a book edited by James Carmichael, Daring to Find Our Name: The Search for Lesbigay Library History that came out from Greenwood in 1998.  Robbins’ work was timely and part of the work which helped create a professional tide improving climate for GLBT users and employees.  Robbins’ research also contributed to LIS pedagogy through her “action research” on the laboratory library.  Along with her work with ALISE, she has contributed to the profession by influencing the notion of LIS education itself. 
Robbins received a B.A. with honors at Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, VA in 1965; a M.Ed. from East Central University in Ada, OK in 1973; a M.L.S. from Texas Woman’s University in Denton, TX in 1984; and a Ph.D. from Texas Woman’s University in Denton, TX in 1991.
Robbins professional positions prior to coming to Wisconsin included serving as Assistant Professor and Librarian at Linscheid Library, East Central University, Ada, OK and Elementary School Library Media Specialist, Byng School, Ada, OK.
This Hall of Fame entry was adapted from content provided by Michele Besant.


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