Miriam Erickson, 2022 Library Hall of Fame Inductee

Miriam Erickson began working in the library world in 1968 and fifty-four years later continues to support libraries today. As a school library media specialist, she was a visionary leader who demonstrated in practical terms how the internet, online resources, library automation, and interlibrary loan could revolutionize not only her small district’s school library services but also those for other Door County schools and public libraries. Her influence stretched across Wisconsin.  A one-woman idea machine, Miriam never took “no” for answer, instead responding “couldn’t we just…” and then articulated another strategy to reach a goal.

At a local level, Miriam was a Home Economics teacher for Gibraltar Area Schools in 1960 and held that position for eight years before she attended UW-Milwaukee for two summers, where she earned her Master’s in Library Science in 1974.i

In 1968, Miriam became the school library media specialist at Gibraltar High School, a position she held until 1998.ii   She was a pioneer in bringing Internet access to schools and libraries in northeast Wisconsin. She became “the unwavering force that drove Gibraltar into the connected age, and in 1979 succeeded in getting a terminal installed that connected Gibraltar to the library at UW-Green Bay (UWGB),” according to a 2015 Door County Pulse article entitled “Getting Connected: Unlikely Group Brought Internet to Northern Door County.”iii  In the 1980s, Miriam also helped create the first computer network in the area at Gibraltar. iv

In a June 9, 2022, interview with Nicolet Federated Library System (NFLS), Miriam recalled her role in “Bringing in [library] automation – bringing technology to the process. It was a big endeavor because some people were very much afraid of it – they were afraid of losing their jobs. It was a big change, but it was for the betterment of services for our clients – so it was worth the effort.”v

In the public library realm, Miriam served as the presidentvi  and treasurervii  of the Door County Library Board, a member of the Door County Library Foundation, Inc., and as a member of the Friends of Door County Libraries.viii Tracy Vreeke, System Director for the Nicolet Federated Library System and former staff member at the Door County Library, recalled Miriam’s “wealth of knowledge and history,” how Miriam encouraged her in her pursuit of career growth in the library profession, and “steered (her) toward some scholarship options to help (her) fund (her) way through library school and attain an MLIS.”ix

At a regional level, Miriam was a strong supporter of library cooperation and collaboration. One prime example is that when the WISCAT project started in the early 1980s, Miriam led a contingent of Door County libraries in volunteering to beta test the MITINET cataloging program.  MITINET allowed non-OCLC libraries to contribute their titles to WISCAT. She and her fellow librarians provided valuable feedback on the MITINET program to make it easier and more intuitive to use.  From a broader perspective, Miriam realized that it would be advantageous to the Door County schools and public libraries to get their titles into WISCAT, Wisconsin’s statewide library catalog. Contributing their collection records to WISCAT enhanced resource sharing to the ultimate benefit of the students and public library users in Door
County.x

Since 1990, Miriam has been a member of the Nicolet Federated Library System Boardxi and is NFLS’ longest standing board member at 32 years of its 46 years of existence, serving as president and chair of the Personnel Committee and is someone “to whom other long-standing board members look for advice and background on many library issues.”xii  Miriam served in leadership rolesxiii as a member of the Northeast Wisconsin Intertype Libraries (NEWIL) Board. She was an early advocate for use of educational television programming in classroom, and in the 1980s and 1990s she was a board member and served as president of the Northeast Wisconsin In-School Telecommunications Board (NEWIST). As a librarian and educator, Miriam not only supported the creation of educational television programming on socially sensitive issues such as suicide, teen pregnancy, AIDS, and sexual abuse, but she also encouraged teachers in her school and in other districts to use the programs in their classroom lessons. The programs were aired on Wisconsin Public Television’s daytime programming for classroom use as well as for evening viewing.xiv

At a state level, as a long-time member of WLA and the school library division, Miriam was named School Library Media Specialist of the Year in 1984 for her exemplary school library program and its integration of multiple new technologies.xv As a Door County Library trustee, she worked tirelessly to integrate various technologies to improve users’ access to library resources. In 2000, Miriam was named Wisconsin Library Trustee of the Year by WLA.xvi

Beginning in 1985, Miriam was an active member of the Wisconsin Education Media & Technology Association (WEMTA) [formerly WEMA], serving as a member of the Board, chair of the Legislative Committee, and chair of the Collaboration Committee.xvii For her advocacy and legislative efforts, Miriam received the following WEMTA awards: Special Service Recognition Award (1986), Award of Excellence (1991), President’s Award (1999), and the
Emeritus Awardxviii (1999).xix

From 1991 to the present, Miriam has been a member of the Wisconsin Council on Library and Information Network Development (COLAND)xx, a group that identifies and studies issues affecting all types of Wisconsin’s libraries. Appointed to COLAND by five different Wisconsin Governors (both
Democratic and Republican), she was chair of COLAND in 2011 and vice-chair from 2019 to the present. xxi xxii

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) frequently called on Miriam’s experience as a school library media specialist including appointing her to PK-12 Technology Plan Committee. In 2002-2003, Miriam contributed her expertise to the updating of the Wisconsin DPI PK-12 Technology/Information Literacy Plan. Miriam was a member of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Advisory Committee and in 2000-2001 served as chair of the Technology Literacy Challenge Fund Advisory Committee.xxiii

Miriam co-authored an article in the Summer 1983 issue of the Wisconsin Library Bulletin entitled “Getting to Know Your Computer: Love at First Byte,”xxiv in which she shared her philosophy about the computer being an integral part of the Instructional Media Center.

Although Miriam promoted the use of technology and online resources, she loves high quality children’s and young adult books. To support excellent literature for students K-12, Miriam served on the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) Advisory Board.xxv

At a national level, Miriam was a member of the American Association of School Librarians and worked on several AASL committees. Of greater significance, however, is that Miriam served as a delegate to the White House Conference on Library and Information Services (WHCLIS) in Washington, DC, from July 9-13, 1991. xxvi After the conference, Miriam hosted an annual meeting in Door County of all the Wisconsin delegates to work on Wisconsin library issues. xxvii Those informal annual meetings ensured that the objectives set during the 1991 WHCLIS conference were strategically carried out in Wisconsin.

In 2000, the Wisconsin DPI’s Division for Library Services added Miriam to the American Library Association (ALA) American Association of Library Trustees (ALTA) National Advocacy Honor Roll, xxviii an award for “Outstanding Contributions to the Field of Library Service.” Individuals and organizations named to the Honor Roll were those who had actively supported and strengthened library services at the local, state or national levels over the last 10 years.xxix Additionally, in 1992, the national Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) recognized Miriam as Wisconsin Media Specialist of the Year for her early and innovative use of technology in school libraries.xxx

Not Done Yet!
Miriam retired as a librarian in 1999 with decades of library service on her resume; however, she continues to advocate for all types of libraries and remains very active in library, educational, and cultural activities in her Door County community and at the state level. She said in her June 9, 2022, interview with NFLS that “It’s just been a pleasure working in this field of endeavor, and I’ve enjoyed it. I was a teacher for eight years; and when I switched to library services, it was a different field but one that I really thoroughly enjoyed. It’s been a fun ride!”xxxi

A Wisconsin native, Miriam obtained a BS degree from the UW-Stout, and holds a master’s degree in Library Science from the UW-Milwaukee.xxxii

Sources:
i Miriam M. Erickson Resume, December 28, 2020
ii Miriam M. Erickson Resume, December 28, 2020
iii Getting Connected: Unlikely Group Brought Internet to Northern Door County (https://doorcountypulse.com/getting-connected-unlikely-group-brought-internet-to-northerndoor-county/)
iv Miriam Erickson Named Philanthropist of the Year By Andrew Phillips, Peninsula Pulse – July 22nd, 2010
v June 9, 2022, Zoom interview of Miriam Erickson by Lori Baumgart, Nicolet Federated Library System
vi Email from Laura Kayacan, Door County Library, to Becca Berger, NFLS Board PresidentElect, on August 22, 2022
vii October 18, 2021 Door County Library Board Meeting Minutes, page 28, stored at https://www.doorcountysheriff.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_10182021-1056
viii Miriam M. Erickson Resume, December 28, 2020
ix Letter from Tracy Vreeke to the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Steering Committee, August 23, 2022
x Bob Bocher email to Helen Adams, May 19, 2020
xi NFLS website: https://www.nfls.lib.wi.us/board.html xii Letter from Tracy Vreeke to the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Steering Committee,
August 23, 2022
xiii Wisconsin Library Bulletin, November-December 1975, page 192, 326:
https://books.google.com/books?id=n_caAAAAMAAJ&lpg=RA1-
PA326&dq=miriam%20erickson%20gibraltar%20school%20district%20wi&pg=RA2-
PA182#v=onepage&q=miriam%20erickson&f=false
xiv Eileen Littig, NEWIST director, interview by Helen Adams, August 14, 2022 xv Miriam M. Erickson Resume, December 28, 2020
xvi Alice Sturzl email to Helen Adams, November 11, 2019
xvii Miriam M. Erickson Resume, December 28, 2020
xviii WEMTA Emeritus Members listing: https://www.wemta.org/membership/emeritusmembers.cfm
xix WEMA Membership Directory, 2005, p. 7-8. xx Email from Marko Uzeirovic, Appointments Director, Office of Governor Tony Evers to Lori
Baumgart on July 21, 2022 xxi Miriam M. Erickson Resume, December 28, 2020 xxii https://dpi.wi.gov/coland/members
xxiii Miriam M. Erickson Resume, December 28, 2020
xxiv Getting to Know Your Computer: Love at First Byte by – Miriam Erickson with Gary Jones, Wisconsin Library Bulletin, Volumes 77-78, pp. 51-52 (Summer 1983) xxv Miriam M. Erickson Resume, December 28, 2020
xxvi Miriam M. Erickson Resume, December 28, 2020
xxvii Larry Nix email to Helen Adams, November 8, 2019
xxviii Letter from Patricia H. Fisher, ALTA President to Miriam Erickson, dated April 10, 2000 xxix Larry Nix email to Helen Adams, November 8, 2019 xxx Miriam M. Erickson Resume, December 28, 2020
xxxi June 9, 2022 Zoom interview of Miriam Erickson by Lori Baumgart, Nicolet Federated Library System
xxxii Miriam M. Erickson Resume, December 28, 2020 xxxiii Email from Lori Holtz, Administrative Assistant, Door County, August 18, 2022
xxxiv Email from Laura Kayacan, Door County Library, to Becca Berger, NFLS Board PresidentElect, on August 22, 2022 xxxv Miriam M. Erickson Resume, December 28, 2020
xxxvi October 18, 2021 Door County Library Board Meeting Minutes, page 4, stored at https://www.doorcountysheriff.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_10182021-1056
xxxvii Alice Sturzl email to Helen Adams, November 11, 2019.
xxxviii Email from Marko Uzeirovic, Appointments Director, Office of Governor Tony Evers to Lori Baumgart on July 21, 2022 xxxix Miriam M. Erickson Resume, December 28, 2020 xl Wisconsin Educational Media Association 2003 Directory, p. 8.
xli Miriam M. Erickson Resume, December 28, 2020.
xlii Wisconsin Educational Media Association 2003 Directory, p. 7.
xliii Miriam M. Erickson Resume, December 28, 2020
xliv Wisconsin Educational Media Association 2003 Directory, p. 8.
xlv https://www.wemta.org/membership/emeritus-members.cfm
xlvi Alice Sturzl email to Helen Adams, November 11, 2019
xlvii American Association for Library Trustees and Advocates (ALTA) Advocacy Honor Roll Honorees, 2000:
https://www.ala.org/ala/alta/altaadvocacy/advocacyhonorroll2000/AdvHonRollBan2000.htm

Thomas J. Hennen, Jr., 2021 Library Hall of Fame Inductee

Tom Hennen was nominated for the Library Heritage Hall of Fame for his significant contributions to the Wisconsin library community, as well as to the planning, evaluation, and development of public libraries throughout the United States during his 40-year career as a librarian.

Tom served as Director at both the Lakeshores Library System and Waukesha County Federated Library System (WCFLS). During his tenure, he successfully negotiated library system contracts that solved cross-county borrowing issues and saw to it that Waukesha County was an early adopter of countywide library standards.

Tom was a vocal advocate for the concept of a “statewide library card” and worked diligently to facilitate the legislation which became Act 150. Under the 1997 law, county library plans are required to provide for reimbursement to public libraries for service to non-residents and include minimum standards for public library operations to meet public library system membership requirements and qualify their municipality for exemption from the county library tax. It paved the way for Act 420 in 2005 which extended non-resident reimbursement across county lines.

Much of Tom’s notable library research work focused on the use of data for planning purposes. He launched the HAPLR (Hennen’s American Public Library Ratings) system in 1999 and continued to update the data until 2010. In addition to publishing data that used specific metrics for analysis of a library’s operational effectiveness, Tom provided individual data and consulting assistance on a case-by-case basis to libraries interested in using the tool for planning. The HAPLR Index was featured in annual issues of American Libraries magazine from 1999 to 2008 and received national media attention. In addition to HALPR-related writing, Tom published more than 40 articles on a wide range of topics, including library futures, standards, and accounting. He has addressed professional library associations in 15 U.S. states, five Canadian provinces and in Australia.

Tom was a member of WLA’s Library Association Library Development & Legislation Committee from 2003-2006, serving one year as committee chair. He was named to the 2002 Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Library Legislative Task Force, Library Services and Technology Act Advisory Committee, and invited to provide keynote testimony to the Wisconsin Legislature’s 1996 Legislative Council Study Committee on Libraries. Tom was elected President of the System and Resource Library Administrators’ Association of Wisconsin (SRLAAW) for an unprecedented four terms from 1992 to 1996 and worked on numerous SRLAAW committees, including the one that revised the state aid formula proposal for 2000-01.

Carol L. Diehl, 2021 Library Hall of Fame Inductee

Carol Diehl was a school librarian, library administrator, and local, state, and national library advocate. She was a “big picture” person who understood the significance of state and national policies and their impact on local libraries. As a tireless worker for school and public libraries, she made significant contributions to improving library service at all levels.

At a local level, Carol began her career in 1951 as a teacher in Port Washington, followed by school librarian positions in Minocqua, Fredonia, and Manawa, head librarian at Vernon County Teachers College, and New London school district library media director. She provided leadership for K-12 media program long-range planning, created elementary school libraries and pursued appropriate levels of trained librarians and aides, while also aggressively advocating for new technologies. Carol wrote competitive grants that brought in thousands of dollars to support the school libraries and other district-wide programs.

At the regional level, Carol was a member of the Outagamie Waupaca Library System (OWLS) Board of Trustees, the Fox Valley Library Council, and the Northeastern Wisconsin In-School Telecommunications (NEWIST) Advisory Board.

At the state level, Carol was an active leader in the Wisconsin Library Association (WLA) including its school and trustee divisions, the Wisconsin Educational Media Association (WEMA), and the Association of Wisconsin School Administrators (AWSA). She represented school librarians as a member of WLA’s Library Development and Legislation Committee, as well as the WEMA Legislative Committee and testified for both organizations at many public hearings. A wily advocate, she was well known to state legislators on both sides of the aisle. For six years, Carol was WLA’s Federal Relations Coordinator and a frequent WLA delegate to National Library Legislative Day in Washington, D.C.

In 1989, State Superintendent of Schools Bert Grover named Carol to Wisconsin’s Advisory Committee for the State White House Conference on Library and Information Services. As a result, she was a delegate to Wisconsin’s Pre-White House Conference in Madison, a precursor to her work as a delegate-at-large to the 1991 White House Conference on Library and Information Services (WHCLIS) where she was instrumental in seeing the Youth Services Omnibus Bill endorsed as a top recommendation.

At the National Level, Carol was an active member of the American Library Association (ALA) and the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) where she took numerous leadership roles including AASL Legislative Committee Chair. She advocated for school library professionals and their libraries and used her state-level lobbying knowledge as a member of the ALA Legislative Assembly in 1989-90. Carol’s national advocacy work on behalf of libraries continued after retirement in 1995. In 2006, President George W. Bush appointed her to a five-year term as a member of the U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS).

Carol Diehl was born in Milwaukee on August 10, 1929 and died in Neenah on June 14, 2020.

Paul Nelson, 2021 Library Hall of Fame Inductee

Paul Nelson’s contributions to Wisconsin librarianship include many years as a highly successful library administrator, dedicated Wisconsin Library Association leader, skilled legislative advocate, library educator and author.

Paul began his career as Head of Outreach Services/Assistant Director of the Oshkosh Public Library from 1978 to 1986 and served as Director of the Middleton Public Library from 1986 to 2008. Under his leadership, Middleton completed both a new library building project and remodeling project. Paul received WLA’s Librarian of the Year Award in 1991. The Middleton Public Library was named WLA’s Library of the Year in 2007.

Paul contributed more than three decades of participation and leadership to the Wisconsin Library Association which included being elected WLA President in 1998. He chaired the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Steering Committee and stepped up to lead the WLA’s 125th Anniversary Committee in 2016.

Paul’s twenty-year involvement with the WLA Library Development & Legislation Committee, initially as WLA State Legislative Advocate and later as LD&L Chair, led to a highly effective legislative program. For his leadership in this area, Paul received the WLA President’s Award in 2003 and 2011. When he retired from LD&L, it was to mount a successful 2014 run to represent Dane County’s 9th District on the Board of Supervisors.

Paul has contributed to the future library leadership as a library educator at the UW-Madison School of Library & Information Studies. He taught courses required for Grade 3 Public Librarian certification and continued instruction in library reference services and library management after becoming an Adjunct Assistant Professor in 2009. He was also a frequent and popular presenter at library conferences and regional workshops which assisted library staff and supporters to become effective advocates. In 2012 Paul co-authored the book Small Public Library Management with Jane Pearlmutter for the American Library Association.

Alice A. Sturzl, 2021 Library Hall of Fame Inductee

Alice A. Sturzl has lived many lives within the Wisconsin library community, devoting her time and talents to library service and leadership as a school librarian, a library trustee, an active member of WLA and numerous other professional organizations, and a dedicated public servant. She was honored with a 2005 WLA Special Services Award, as 2007 WLA/DEMCO Librarian of the Year, and 2015 WLA Trustee of the Year. She was elected 1997 WLA President and provided additional leadership to the school and trustee divisions as well as the WLA Foundation and numerous committees over four decades.

Alice was employed nearly four decades as library media specialist for the Laona School District. She officially retired in 2011 yet continued to serve as a substitute librarian at the Edith Evans Community Library that is co-located with school library services inside the Laona High School. The successful joint operation depends mightily upon the collegial coexistence of the two librarians along with their ability to bridge political relationships, policies and budgeting between the school and library boards. Alice not only mastered this challenging environment, but its unique perspective also informed her prodigious contributions to both school and public library advancement on a county, regional and statewide level.

By stepping outside her comfort zone to connect her corner of Wisconsin to the statewide multitype librarian network, Alice served as both a conduit and an advocate for greater communication and collaboration. She brought a depth of experience across multiple levels to every meeting she attended, mentoring others at the table, taking on new challenges and providing valuable insights from a statewide perspective. And she accomplished all this with a humility and devotion that also won support within ever widening circles for the libraries, resources, and services that she, her professional colleagues and her fellow library trustees held in trust for residents of the communities they represented.

Nominate someone exceptional for the WI Library Hall of Fame!

2021 Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame

Nominations Requested

The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Steering Committee is accepting nominations for individuals to be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame in 2021. Nominations must be submitted by Friday, September 10th, 2021. Procedures and nomination form may be found at https://heritage.wisconsinlibraries.org/nominate.

Both the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center and the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame are programs of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation. Induction into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame is granted to individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the statewide improvement of library service in Wisconsin over a sustained period of time.  Individuals who have worked in and/or advocated for Wisconsin libraries will be considered.  Both living and deceased individuals are eligible. Final selection of inductees into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame will be made by the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Steering Committee and announced this fall at the Awards & Honors reception at the Wisconsin Library Association’s annual conference.

To see previous Hall of Fame inductees, go to https://heritage.wisconsinlibraries.org/hall-of-fame. Nominations should be submitted to Annie Bahringer (Chair of the WLHC Steering Committee) as email attachments at milwaukeewriter@yahoo.com by Friday, September 10th, 2021.