Meet the Board of Directors and Staff

The Friends of UW-Madison Libraries is governed by a Board of Directors, all of whom are volunteers. They come from many walks of life but share a love for libraries. Monthly board meetings are held during the regular school year. One part-time administrator supports the board, works with committees, and assists with the implementation of programs developed by the Board.

2021-2022 Board of Directors

PAT BENDER is a teacher and lifelong student, and the Libraries represent to her a permanent repository of knowledge. Membership in the Friends is a way to help ensure that this knowledge is preserved for future generations. Pat values her membership in the Friends because it provides her with a community of thoughtful and dedicated readers, and provides a practical way to assist the development of the Libraries for the coming generation. “Working together we can make a real contribution to the advancement of knowledge.”

ADAM BLACKBOURN is a writer, teacher, and photographer. During his years as a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he founded a humanities journal, Illumination, and worked in the UW library in Special Collections and the Office of Scholarly Communications. Since 2006, he has worked with the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude as archivist, editor, and writer, most recently co-authoring a special edition art book as well as an exhibition catalog for the artists’ most recent work in London, England: The London Mastaba. In addition to his writing and editing work, he co-founded Bacon Translations in Taipei, Taiwan, a translation studio that works with museums, auctions houses, artists, and authors to provide high-quality Chinese to English/English to Chinese translations in the humanities. The UW library has been a sanctuary, employer, and resource for Adam; he serves on the board of the Friends to give back to an institution that he regards as the heart and soul of the university.

JOSHUA  CALHOUN, immediate Past President of the Friends, is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who was awarded the 2022 Distinguished Teaching Award. He specializes in Shakespeare, 16th- & 17th-century poetry, and the history of media. He also teaches occasional courses in the environmental humanities and is a Faculty Affiliate at the Nelson Institute’s Center for Culture, History, and the Environment (CHE). In his teaching and research, he gets to explore three things he loves (and thinks everyone else should love, too): Shakespeare, old books, & nature.

MICHAEL CHAIM was in the book business for almost 25 years and books continue to be an interest and passion for him. His involvement in the Friends provides him with an opportunity to support the Libraries’ goal of making the knowledge of the campus libraries available to the scholarly community and the general public. Michael states, “I also benefit from the Libraries because they give me the opportunity to read long out-of-print books, hear rare recordings, and experience many other treasures of the Libraries.” He thoroughly enjoys working with an organization that advocates for this incredible institution.

SARAH DAY is a Madison native and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a member of the Core Company of actors at American Players Theatre in Spring Green, Wisconsin and a founder and member of the Advisory Company of Forward Theater in Madison. In 2018 she was inducted as a Fellow of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters. She has always been quite content to be in a library and is honored to be a part of the Friends.

JOHN DILLON  Formerly European Humanities Bibliographer at Memorial Library, John retired from the UW–Madison Libraries in August 2012 as Distinguished Academic Librarian Emeritus. He continues to have a scholarly interest in aspects of medieval and early modern literary writing in Latin. The campus libraries are important to him as a scholar because their collections and services offer irreplaceable assistance in his scholarly work. And they are important to him as a citizen inasmuch as they constitute an extraordinary public resource supporting higher learning and discovery across a great multitude of disciplines. John is involved with the Friends of the Libraries because it provides him an opportunity to continue service on behalf of the remarkable libraries at UW–Madison.

ERIC ELY is a life-long lover of books (in all their evolving forms). Some of his earliest memories are of his dad pulling him in a wagon to visit the public library in Beaver Dam, WI, his hometown. Fast forward twenty years and, upon graduating with a B.A. in history from UW-Madison, he had to make a career choice and decided to continue his studies in the Information School. He has continued his studies to the present day and is currently a PhD candidate. While his research focuses on academic libraries, his love of all types of libraries contributes to his desire to support the Friends and campus libraries.

JIM FLEMING has loved books and libraries for as long as he can remember. He has fond associations with the Carnegie Libraries of his youth and of all the time he spent in the stacks at the UW Memorial Library when he was a student. He has worked at Wisconsin Public Radio where for twenty-five years was the host of the Peabody Award winning program To the Best Our Knowledge. He has recorded books for WPR’s longest running program Chapter A Day for almost forty years, and hosted other programs including the morning classical music on WPR. He counts himself fortunate to have been able to make a career out of something he loves.

KEN FRAZIER is the director emeritus of the UW–Madison Libraries and continues to be a strong supporter of Wisconsin’s academic and public libraries. The Libraries, together with the Wisconsin Historical Society Library, are important to him because they serve as our state’s deepest resource for people who have scholarly, historical, or scientific interests. “I’m a member of the Friends because I’ve seen what a difference it makes when a university community has a great library and library services. At the end of the day, we in the Friends are ‘book people’ and whatever technological format books may have in the future . . . we know that reading and the ‘printed word’ can transform a person’s world at all stages of life.”

KATHRYN JONES, the current board treasurer, is the registrar at the UW Zoological Museum (UWZM). She maintains and manages information concerning those collections and she prepares accession records for animals which come to the Museum from research programs, Department of Natural Resources, or local zoos. She also works with the UWZM Galapagos Collection and makes regular trips to those islands. Kathryn is an avid gardener and maintains a beautiful residence in Stoughton. She has served on the Friends board since 2009. Kathryn values the importance of accessible and comprehensive scholarly collections whether they are skeletons or books.

RICH LEFFLER is an editor emeritus of the Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution at UW–Madison, which publishes all of the debates that took place over ratifying the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in 1787–1791. The UW Libraries are important to him because his academic life has consisted of research that is made possible on this campus by the magnificent collections of the Wisconsin Historical Society and Memorial Library. Rich became involved with the Friends because, “It gives me an opportunity to give back to the Libraries all they have provided to me and to help during these fiscally challenging times.”

JOHN MAGNUSON is an Emeritus Professor in the Department of Integrated Biology and Emeritus Director in the Center of Limnology. He is an aquatic ecologist and limnologist with a BS and MS from the University of Minnesota-St. Paul in fish and wildlife management and a Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia, Canada in zoology and oceanography. He has been an active researcher of long-term regional ecology of lakes, climate change and lake ice seasonality, fish and fisheries ecology, and lakes as islands. He joined the faculty in 1968, mentored many graduate students, and taught both Limnology and Ecology of Fishes for 32 years until he retired in 2000. He has been active in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Waters of Wisconsin with the Wisconsin Academy, and led several National Research Council projects on marine fisheries and biodiversity. He has greatly loved and appreciated libraries and books since he was a young man.

LAURA MONAHAN, the current vice president of the Friends, is the Curator of Collections at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Zoological Museum. Laura has a bachelors degree in Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a masters degree in Anthropology with a focus in Archaeology and a minor in Museum Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  After training at the Milwaukee Public Museum, she worked at the San Diego Natural History Museum for a couple of years, before returning to Madison for a position at the Zoological Museum in 2006. In addition to her responsibilities as curator at the Museum, Laura also teaches a course entitled Introduction to Museum Studies in the Natural Sciences.  Laura sees libraries and museums as having similar goals and opportunities, and she considers them to be integral to teaching and learning.  As an essential part of the Zoological Museum, she has encouraged expansion of the small specialist library serving that organization and their students of biological systematics.

RICK PIFER retired in 2015 as Director of Public Services for the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Library and Archives after 35 years as an archivist and librarian. In addition, he taught archival methods for 22 years at the UW-Madison’s School of Library and Information Studies. Now, as a freelance historian he takes great pleasure in using the resources of the UW Libraries and the Wisconsin Historical Society, two of the greatest libraries in the nation. Recently he has focused on the Wisconsin experience during World War I. Dr. Pifer is the author of The Great War Comes To Wisconsin: Sacrifice, Patriotism and Free Speech in a Time of Crisis (2017), as well as A City at War: Milwaukee Labor During World War II (2003).

MARIA SAFFIOTTI DALE is the current President of the Friends. She has recently retired from her position as curator of paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts at the Chazen Museum of Art at UW–Madison. Maria has an expertise in medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts and a passion for old books. “Understanding how books were made—the archaeology of the book—can lead to a better understanding of history and culture.” Maria believes that the Libraries play a crucial role in preserving that history and the Friends help support campus libraries in this important mission.

DEBRA SHAPIRO is a graduate of the School of Library & Information Studies at UW-Madison (now the iSchool) and has been an instructor at the School since 2000, first teaching continuing education courses and teaching in the Masters program since 2005. Prior to library school Shapiro was a screen printer and textile artist. As a graduate student she pursued interests in paper preservation, art libraries, photo archives, and worked in the Memorial Library Conservation Lab with Jim Dast. Debra’s teaching areas include website design, organization of information, digitization of cultural heritage materials, and photo archives. She writes a blog at that features food and photography of food. As a long time UW employee, Debra supports the Friends work to steward the rich collections in UW-Madison Libraries and has come to agree with Jim Dast, who always says there’s nothing like opening a box of books.

SUSAN STRAVINSKI is a retired librarian, after a 42 year career in cataloging and Special Collections at UW-Madison Memorial Library. Her relationship with libraries began at Eager Free Public Library in Evansville, Wisconsin, when she was old enough to print her name on a library card. After graduating from UW-Madison with an English degree and then from Library School, Susan became a cataloger for the Rare books Department, later renamed Special Collections. She worked with and handled the incredible materials housed there, from early and modern printed books and manuscripts to archival collections and other formats. She enjoyed assisting students and scholars with their work and observing the many ways they could interpret written and printed materials. “What is impressive about UW Libraries is the range of materials and knowledge across all of the campus libraries. I feel honored to be a part of the Friends, supporting the Libraries.”

VICKI TOBIAS has lived in Madison since 1999. A 2003 graduate of the UW-Madison iSchool, Vicki’s career has focused on supporting individuals and organizations that collect and preserve local history. Most recently, she worked for WiLS and Recollection Wisconsin, managing grant-funded projects to build community and expertise around local history curation. Since 2016, she has provided genealogical research and archives consultation through Tobias History Research, a side gig that satisfies her genealogy bug. She previously worked as a digital projects manager and media archivist for the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections Center and the UW-Madison University Archives, and as graduate student staff for the Wisconsin Historical Society library-archives division supporting web-based and digital projects. She also teaches part time for the iSchool. Dogs, biking, hiking and gardening are things she loves.

Meet the staff

Libby Theune, the Friends administrator, has a degree in social work and practical experience in libraries. She worked a decade in international adoption and then a dozen years in public libraries in Colorado. While coordinating adult and senior programming for the library, she experienced the support of a tremendous Friends organization and appreciates the impact an active group can have on both their libraries and their communities. She loves summertime, book groups, travel, and is an active lifelong learner.