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?
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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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