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