News & Events

Advocates Advance Library Cause

They hail from across the nation and a breadth of backgrounds, but members of the Library Board of Advocates stand united in their love and support of the University Library.

Created as the five-year “With Illinois” fundraising campaign opened in 2017, the board supports the priorities of the university librarian, as well as builds networks both inside and outside of the university. More recently, members helped launch the Library’s massive building project by directing a lead gift for the Special Collections vault (see Gift Launches Library Transformation).“This is a high-powered group with the wind in its sails,” Dean John Wilkin said. “They are true advocates and allies of the University Library, and they are entirely committed to preserving its excellence and expanding its relevance.”

Comprising past or present professors, librarians, journalists, entrepreneurs, attorneys, engineers, and business executives, members bring unique experience to their advisory role. And their appreciation of the Library is obvious.

“It is truly a world-class library, as befits a worldclass university, with a marvelously helpful staff,” said retired accounting professor Joan Friedman, MAS ’93, of the university treasure. “It would be impossible to build a library like the U of I’s, which has been carefully constructed for over a century, at this date.

“It would be a crime to let it deteriorate, or fail to grow and change with the times.”

Just such library excellence can be attested to by retired CEO Mike VanBlaricum, ’72 ENG, ’74 ENG, PHD ’76 ENG, who recalls searching for a French mathematical paper while completing his dissertation in electrical engineering. “While I was able to find the formulas in a modern text, I wanted to see the original paper,” he said. “I wandered into the Mathematics Library in Altgeld Hall, and they actually had the paper—not a copy, but the original 1792 French journal containing the paper.”

For some advocates, libraries are woven into their DNA. Jim Fessler’s ’85 LAS, mother worked as a librarian and later served on the first Library Friends board. The family created a library endowment in its name, and Jim practiced library law for a decade.

In addition to their personal appreciation of the Library, board members recognize its critical role in maintaining the university’s pre-eminence. “Sometimes, the presence of an excellent library at a university enhances [its] quality . . . in an ever-increasing spiral,” said Chair Marjorie Stinespring, ’61 LAS, MS ’63 LAS, PHD ’68 LAS, pointing out that a renowned library may draw key faculty members, enhance the institution, and attract more and better students.

Members also strongly back the Library’s user-service mission. Megan Shebik, ’80 LAS, who acknowledges that the Library “helped to make my husband and me who we are today,” wants to pass that opportunity to all students. The board vice chair says she takes on that role as another way of supporting the students and the University of Illinois.

Former Chicago Tribune journalist Marla Krause, ’73 MEDIA, has always been in love with libraries and the written word. She worries, however, that libraries may become outdated, and that readers and researchers may not appreciate “their history and use and majesty.

“So, of course I said yes when asked to be on this board,” she said. “The printed word on paper might become just another search on Google, but the historic documents that the Library collects and maintains will always be there.”

Current members of the Library Board of Advocates are:

  • Marjorie Stinespring (chair), ’61 LAS, MS ’63 LAS, PHD ’68 LAS, Chicago, Illinois; professor emerita of mathematics, Chicago State University
  • Megan Shebik (vice chair), ’80 LAS, Wheaton, Illinois; formerly of Kemper Insurance Co.
  • James ( Jim) Fessler, ’85 LAS, Brookfield, Illinois; vice president/operations, senior counsel and adviser, SPEC Engineering LLC; senior counsel, SCHOLD Manufacturing
  • Douglas Fitzgerald, ’76 BUS, Elmhurst, Illinois; retired executive vice president/communications, RR Donnelley
  • Guy Fraker, ’60 LAS, JD ’62 LAW, Bloomington, Illinois; attorney and author
  • Joan Friedman, MAS ’93, Urbana, Illinois; retired assistant professor of accounting, Illinois Wesleyan University
  • Marla Krause, ’73 MEDIA, Wilmette, Illinois; senior instructor, College of Communication, DePaul University
  • Lawrence (Larry) Krupp, ’76 BUS, Northbrook, Illinois; director, Wipfli LLP
  • Janet Patzer, ’75 LAS, MS ’76 LIS, La Mesa, California; mortgage loan officer
  • Michael (Mike) VanBlaricum, ’72 ENG, ’74 ENG, PHD ’76 ENG, Santa Barbara, California; principal, Dogged Research Associates and retired CEO, Toyon Research Corporation
  • Dan Whaley, ’90 LAS, San Francisco, California; founder and CEO,
This is a high-powered group with the wind in its sails."

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