News & Events

Grainger Librarian Bill Mischo Steps Down

William H. Mischo, a longtime fixture at the University of Illinois, retired in June after four decades of serving the campus.

Perhaps best known as a moving force behind the planning, construction, and world-class status of the Grainger Engineering Library Information Center (GELIC), Mischo stood at its helm from its opening in 1994 until this year. The five-floor structure, the nation’s largest library dedicated solely to engineering, encompasses all engineering disciplines and is a significant landmark on the north side of campus.

Mischo, who has served as a faculty member at Illinois since 1982, earned a reputation for developing innovative systems to make data accessible to end users. He created the campus’s digital portal and the “Easy Search” gateway software, a cornerstone of the Library’s search and discovery strategy. His expertise led to his being named a 2015 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for “research relevant to the development of new digital library technologies.”

Upon Mischo being named the inaugural holder of The Berthold Family Professorship in Information Access and Discovery in 2015, Dean John Wilkin said, “He embodies the Jeffersonian ideal, sharing his efforts generously in ways that advance the work of his colleagues without diminishing his own research agenda.”

Mischo earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Carthage College in 1971 and a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1974. In 2009 he received the Frederick G. Kilgour Award for Research in Library and Information Science from the American Library Association; in 2017, he took on additional leadership duties for a year as acting dean of libraries and university librarian when Wilkin became interim vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost designate.

Having stepped down as GELIC’s head this past summer, Mischo will serve as an emeritus professor and bibliometrics and information research librarian and as The Berthold Family Professor Emeritus in Information Access and Delivery.

Taking Mischo’s place at GELIC is Megan Sapp-Nelson ’01 LAS, MS ’03 LIS, who returned to her Illinois campus roots in August. SappNelson earned a UI undergraduate degree in English and a master’s degree in library and information science. She worked as a graduate assistant in GELIC, and in what was then called the Map and Geography Library as an undergraduate.

Sapp-Nelson comes from Purdue University Libraries, where she served as a science and engineering data librarian since 2004 and as associate head of the School of Information Studies since 2021. Her extensive leadership and administrative experience includes developing courses on data management, sharing, and literacy. In 2016 she received the Homer I. Bernhardt Distinguished Service Award from the American Society for Engineering Education Engineering Libraries Division.

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