Former Clintonville librarian honored
By Erik Buchinger
Former Clintonville librarian Jane Billings was among five members to be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame Thursday, Oct. 27 in Milwaukee.
Billings was nominated by UW Library School Professor Emeritus Charles Bunge. The award is granted to individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the statewide improvement of library service in Wisconsin.
Billings died in 2004 at 88 years old, and current Clintonville Public Library Director Jamison Hein and his wife Sara Schultz were in attendance to represent Billings along with Mary-Beth Kuester and former library director Harriet McCauley, who knew Billings her whole life.
“When I came to Clintonville, she was the one who helped me at the public library,” McCauley said. “She was a wonderful person and did so much for libraries.”
According to the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center’s website, Billings served as the librarian of the Clintonville Public Library from 1939-49. From 1949 until her retirement in 1982, she was high school librarian and later coordinator of library media services for the Clintonville public schools.
Billings was the president of the Wisconsin Library Association from 1947-49 after serving as the secretary from 1946-47. She was named Wisconsin Librarian of the Year in 1963.
Among the accomplishments, McCauley pointed out that Billings had a big influence locally as she made the decision to add a children’s section to the Clintonville Public Library.
McCauley also noted while Billings was working for Clintonville public schools, she always tried to include the parochial schools that did not have a library.
Although she was not alive to receive the award, Billings would have been proud to receive the award, according to McCauley.
“She would have done it very graciously and been very proud to be with the other people who have gotten this award,” McCauley said. “I can’t tell you exactly what she would have said, but it would be done right.”
Billings published several books in her life, including “Some Movers and Shakers of Clintonville and Points North” in 1997.
“She was a mentor, and she was a person I looked up to,” McCauley said. “I tried to emulate her as much as I could in professionalism in the library, and I turned to her a lot.”
The Clintonville Public Library will be given a plaque for Billings’ award.