It is with great sadness that I share the news that Mary Jane MacDonald, the first professional librarian hired by Sangamon State University, passed away on Monday, March 1, 2010. Ms. MacDonald began work at Sangamon State as an assistant librarian on February 1, 1970 and retired in 1989. However, like many emeritus faculty, she found it difficult to leave completely, and kept coming back to the library to help out for another decade after her retirement. A member of the Library Instructional Services faculty, Ms. MacDonald achieved near legendary status for her skill as a reference librarian. Reflecting the esteem in which she was held by the Brookens Library and on the UIS campus, the lounge on level one of the library was named in her honor. Recently, the MacDonald Lounge was renamed Mary Jane’s Café when it was transformed into the library coffee shop.
Mary Jane MacDonald was a Springfield native who earned three degrees from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, including a library science degree in 1948. She held a number of interesting library positions before coming to Sangamon State, including a first job at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, one of the nation’s great public libraries. After her retirement, Ms. MacDonald volunteered with the Papers of Abraham Lincoln, bringing her keen organizational skills to that important project.
Sometimes one encounters a person who seems to embody the best of a profession. For librarianship, Mary Jane MacDonald was such a person—she was the essence of a good librarian.