Ruby Roeder was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame at the Wisconsin Library Association annual meeting in Wisconsin Dells on October 19, 2017.
Ruby Roeder (1913-2017) was a highly respected member of the Wisconsin library community. A dedicated Library Director of the Williams Free Library in Beaver Dam, she always thought in terms of library cooperation and extending library service to the unserved. She worked diligently for countywide service in Dodge County, and then for County membership in the Mid-Wisconsin Federated Library System. She served on numerous District and Wisconsin Library Association (WLA) committees. Roeder was twice elected an Officer on the WLA Board, serving a one-year term as Secretary in 1956-57, and a two-year term as Treasurer in 1976-77.
Roeder received a Bachelor of Education degree from Oshkosh State Teachers College in 1936, worked in Chicago, and taught at Thorp High School before assuming her library career. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Library Science from the University of Illinois School of Library Science in June 1947. Roeder began work as Assistant Librarian at the Williams Free Library in Beaver Dam on July 14, 1947, and as Director on September 1, 1947. She retired as Library Director in January 1979, and resided in Beaver Dam until her death in August 2017.
Her work toward extending library service began at the same time as her library career. County librarians and trustees organized a Dodge County Library Association in September 1947 for the purpose of promoting better library service. Upon the recommendation of a Library Study Committee, the Dodge County Library Service was established and began operation on July 1, 1964, with the Williams Free Library serving as headquarters and Ruby Roeder, Williams Free Library Director, serving as Administrator. Roeder remained Administrator of the Dodge County Library Service until September 1970 when a full-time position of Dodge County Library Director was established. Roeder continued to strive for improved library service for the people of Beaver Dam and Dodge County, and she championed membership in Wisconsin’s state funded public library systems. On January 1, 1975 Dodge County joined with the Fond du Lac County Library System to form the Mid-Wisconsin Federated Library System.
During Roeder’s working years, District Library Associations held Spring meetings around the state to keep librarians informed about modern library practices, the work of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission, later the Division for Library Services, and the Wisconsin Library Association. Ruby served as Chairman of the Second Congressional District Library Association in 1956. The Second Congressional District Library Association evolved into the Capitol District Library Association, and Roeder served as Chairman in 1966 and 1973.
Shortly after beginning her library career, Roeder became an active member of the Wisconsin Library Association. She began her commitment to the Association as a member of the 1950 Membership Committee. She went on to serve additional terms on the Membership Committee, as well as the Nominating Committee (member and chairman), Awards and Honors Committee, Committee on Work with Senior Citizens (member and chairman), Scholarship Committee, Adult Services Section (Vice-Chairman/Chairman-Elect and Chairman), National Library Week Committee, and Wisconsin Association of Public Librarians (Secretary-Treasurer). Roeder was twice elected to a position on the Wisconsin Library Association Board, serving one year as Secretary and two years as Treasurer. In 1956 total membership of WLA reached the 500 mark. Roeder’s roll as Secretary in 1956-57 and the work of the Membership Committee were credited with helping to reach this mark. The 1959-60 WLA Committee on Work with Senior Citizens was chaired by Roeder and played a statewide role. The Committee sent out a questionnaire to libraries called “How Do the Public Libraries of Wisconsin Serve the Aging?” The results were tabulated and presented at the Third Governor’s Conference on Aging. The Conference was in preparation for a 1961 White House Conference on Aging.
Roeder’s unflagging leadership responsibilities in the Wisconsin Library Association span nearly three decades make her a welcome member of the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame.
This Hall of Fame entry in adapted from content provided by Pat Pawl.