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.