Thursday, June 29, 2006

Milwaukee Librarian Retires Amidst Honor Among All

In a time when some public library directors and unions are in conflict it is good to learn that there can be other ways. If Milwaukee can do it, why not Indianpolis?

As Milwaukee's longtime city librarian, Kathleen M. Huston has been lauded almost as often for her persuasive talents as for her administrative skills and dedication to the public library's role in a civilized, free society....After 37 years of working for the city's public library, the last 15 as its chief, Huston is retiring Friday.

The crowning glory of her stewardship is the $8.3 million public-private renovation of the Central Library, an extensive project completed in 2000. The renovation - preservation of the mosaic floors, construction of a grand staircase, new humanities and rare books sections, the whimsical and imaginatively decorated Betty Brinn Children's Room - drew admiring comments from all quarters, even from famed writer John Updike, who came to speak in 1999 at the library's Ben Franklin fund-raising dinner...Almost no one breathes a cross word about her. Those who have worked with her through the years - everyone from Paula Dorsey, president of the library employees union, to library foundation board member Arthur Harrington to former Milwaukee Mayor John O. Norquist - credit her with spotlighting literary programs and modernizing the Central Library and the 12 neighborhood branches at a time of prolonged budget cuts.

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