An exceptional library media specialist and role model for more than 50 years, Helen Adams distinguished herself as a powerful intellectual freedom advocate, particularly for children and youth. Her career began as a school district reading instructor and by 1973, she was a school librarian, retiring in 2004 from Rosholt School District (Wisconsin) as District Library Media Director and Technology Coordinator.
During those years, Helen’s Wisconsin leadership was evident. She served on the Wisconsin Library Association Executive Board, 1984-85, and in 1985 she served as president of the Wisconsin School Library Media Association, a division of WLA. Helen received the Special Service award from the Wisconsin Educational Media Association (WEMA) in 1986 as well as its Award of Excellence in 1993. She also served as WEMA president 1996–1998.
Under her leadership, the library media program in Rosholt was recognized to be among the best, and Helen gladly shared her expertise in Wisconsin and beyond. Helen participated in Department of Public Instruction (DPI) library division activities including conference presentations, long range planning development, and WISCAT (statewide union catalog of library holdings) contributions. She provided in-service programs for CESAs (Cooperative Educational Service Agencies) serving numerous school districts as well as workshops/presentations for Wisconsin Public Library Systems. She also taught adjunct graduate courses in automation, technology, and policy development at UW Stevens Point and UW Stout. After retiring, Helen continued to teach online graduate courses focusing on legal and ethical school library issues for Drexel University (2005), Mansfield (PA) University (2005-2015) and continues to teach one course per year for Antioch University-Seattle (2016-).
In addition to conference presentations at state and national levels, Helen published books and journal articles. She co-authored Privacy in the 21st Century: Issues for Public, School, and Academic Libraries (Libraries Unlimited, 2005) with (fellow Hall of Fame inductee) Bob Bocher, Carol Gordon and Elizabeth Barry-Kessler. She also wrote three books including School Media Policy Development: A Practical Process for Small Districts (Libraries Unlimited, 1986), Ensuring Intellectual Freedom and Access to Information in the School Library Media Program (Libraries Unlimited, 2008) and Protecting Intellectual Freedom and Privacy in Your School Library (Libraries Unlimited, 2013).
Helen distinguished herself at the national level as well. She served on the Board of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) at various times between 1990 – 2003, and was AASL President 2001 – 2002. In addition to volunteer work in AASL, she served as a trustee of the Freedom to Read Foundation (2011-2015) and multiple terms on the American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee, most recently serving as chairperson in 2017-2018.
Writing, teaching, and volunteering continue to be a large part of Helen’s life.
Helen was born and raised in Wisconsin. She received a bachelor’s degree in English/Art from UW – Oshkosh in 1966. She received a master’s degree in Library Science from Western Michigan University in 1971, and a master’s degree in media technology from UW – Stout in 1981. Post-graduate work was completed at UW – Stout, UW – Eau Claire, and UW – Stevens Point. Helen was inducted into Beta Phi Mu, the international library science honor society, in 1971.
Helen is an outstanding role model and mentor. She has been a dedicated intellectual freedom and privacy advocate throughout her distinguished career. Helen has fulfilled the promise of Beta Phi Mu, which, by inducting her nearly 50 years ago, recognized her scholastic achievements and leadership potential.