Library Leadership: Directors We Have Known

In honor of National Library Week, we thought we’d take a look at those who have led the Davenport Public Library over the past 111 years.

Even with this brief amount of information, it’s interesting to note how the education, geographical origins, position longevity, and gender-based differences of our directors have changed over the course of a century:

Marilla Waite Freeman
Term: October 1902 – February 1905

The first director of the Davenport Public Library was born in 1870 in Honeoye Falls, New York.   She received her library training at the University of Chicago under John Dewey.  She died in White Plains, New York on October 29, 1961.

Stella V. Seybold
Term: May 1905 – February 1906

Ms. Seybold was born in 1879 in Cincinnati, Ohio and graduated from the University of Cincinnati.   She assisted Ms. Freeman in selecting German books for the Davenport Public library collection before being named Director, a position she held until she married Frank J. Heinl   in February of 1906. She passed away September 28, 1966, in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Grace Delphine Rose
Term: 1906 – March 1920

Ms. Rose was born June 10, 1870 in Pennsylvania.  While Director, she was appointed the president of the Iowa Library Association for 1912 and served as Camp Librarian at Camp Bowie Texas in 1918. After leaving Davenport, she established various library branches at factory buildings and in schools.   Ms. Rose died May 25, 1958, in Kern, California.

Grace Shellenberger
Term:  March 1920 – March 1933

Ms. Shellenberger was born in Bolivar, Missouri, and attended the Carnegie Library School in Pittsburgh, PA.  She taught courses in children’s library work at the State University of Iowa and worked to extend library service to Bettendorf, Eldridge and Buffalo.

She served as our director until her death on March 29, 1933.

Edna Geisler
Term: August 1933 – March 1946

Ms. Geisler was born in Wilton, Iowa, and received her Library degree from Western Reserve University Library School in Ohio.  She was vice-president of the Iowa Library Associate in 1938.  She left Davenport Public Library to marry J. Andrew Davidson on March 14, 1946.   Mrs. Davidson died Alhambra, California, on August 11, 1967.

Elizabeth Martin
Term: April 1946 – December 1954

Ms. Martin graduated from the University of Iowa and worked for the Davenport Public Library for forty years, taking a leave of absence to work with the Library of the U. S. Department of Agriculture, in Washington D.C.  She died May 16, 1983.

Harold Goldstein
Term: February 1955 – September 1959

Mr. Goldstein was born October 3, 1917, in Norfolk, Virginia, and received his Master and Doctorate degrees from Teachers’ College Columbia University.  He married Julia Deutsch on November 4, 1943, making him the first married director as well as the first male director of the Davenport Public Library.  While director, he revamped the building by relocating the circulation department and adopted modern techniques in the circulation department.

He died in Tallahassee, Florida on December 8, 1986.

Oswald H. Joerg
Term: November 1959 – September 1970

Mr. Joerg received his Masters degree from the Columbia University School of Library Service. He was director when the original Carnegie library began to disintegrate and was responsible for securing a $235,000 federal grant for a new Main Library and for hiring architect Edward Durrel Stone to design it.

He passed away August 8, 1996.

Judith Ellis
Term: 1970 – 1982

Ms. Ellis was born in Oskaloosa, Iowa.  She earned a degree in Business Administration from the University of Northern Iowa and received her Master of Library Science from University of Iowa.

She served the Davenport Public Library for seven years as our Administrative Assistant before stepping in as the interim director.  Eventually, she was confirmed in the position.

She passed away in Colorado in 2003.

C. Daniel Wilson
Term: 1982 – 1985

Mr. Wilson served as the associate director of the Birmingham, Alabama Public Library before moving to Davenport.  After leaving Davenport, he served as director of the New Orleans Public Library system.

Kay Runge
Term: 1985 – 2001

Ms. Runge was the Director of the Scott County Library System prior to working for the Davenport Public Library.  She was appointed president of the Public Library Association in 2000 and was later elected councilor to the American Library Association.  After leaving our library, she served as director of Des Moines Public Library.

Meg Sarff
Term: 2001 – 2003

Born 12 April 1946 in Springfield, IL, Ms. Sarff received her Masters  in Library Sciences from the University of Illinois.  She was Assistant Director of our library for twenty years before serving as Director.  In 2003, she became our Customer Service manager before retiring in 2005.

She passed away August 20, 2011, in Springfield, Illinois.  We miss her.

LaWanda Roudebush
Term: 2003 – 2013

Ms. Roudebush first worked at the Davenport Public Library as a reference librarian loaned to the Southeastern Regional Library System.  Later, she was in charge of our Business collection, and spent some years as our HR manager, and then as a branch manager.  She left Davenport in 1992, and, after working at two library systems in the Chicago suburbs and serving as director for the Fort Dodge Public Library, moved back as our director.

During her decade as director, she oversaw the construction of two new branch library buildings and the establishment of new library technology and operating systems during uncertain economic times.

We wish her all the best in her retirement!

And finally, we welcome our newest director, KennethWayne Thompson, who took up the directorship of our library April 8th of this year.   We can’t wait to see how his guidance will shape our library in the years to come!

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