The Office of the Gender and Women’s Studies Librarian Celebrates 40 Years of Feminist Librarianship

April 22, 2017

In 1977, as faculty, staff, librarians, and administrators across the University of Wisconsin System recognized the need to identify and organize resources in the emerging field of women’s studies, a new system-wide position — women’s studies librarian-at-large — was launched as a two-year trial. This exciting new role needed to be filled by someone with expertise both in feminist/women’s studies and in library and information science. Esther Stineman, hired that year, became the first systemwide women’s studies librarian not only in Wisconsin but in the country.

College week for women (S09391 / UW-Madison Archives)

That two-year pilot program has been a 40-year success! The librarian’s office gained permanent status and has been housed continually within the UW–Madison’s General Library System ever since. Esther Stineman was followed by Linda Parker, Sue Searing, and Phyllis Holman Weisbard; Karla Strand, the current librarian, arrived in 2013. This office remains the only systemwide program in the United States dedicated to gender and women’s studies scholarship and librarianship.

We hope you will help our office celebrate our first 40 years and honor the roles played by the previous women’s studies librarians in its evolution! Please join us at a reception at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, April 28, in the Pyle Center, in conjunction with the annual 4W Summit on Women, Gender, and Wellbeing. Hors d’oeuvres and cake will be served and a cash bar will be available; we will also be unveiling the brand-new look of our office. At 7:00 we will show the film Step by Step, which details the women’s rights movement in the Midwest. We are excited to be joined by Sue Searing and Phyllis Holman Weisbard, who will introduce the film and share a story or two from their time in the office.