Sunday, March 18, 2012
Generosity: Women's History Month
Upon being introduced to a librarian recently, I was asked, "Did you know Edith?" I did. We could go on then, knowing that we were members of the same "club." Many people are part of that club who were taught by or worked for Miss Edith Siegrist.
She was an excellent teacher--firm and demanding, but also kind and encouraging. My friend and I worked for her in the university library during our years as students there.
After graduation, Miss Siegrist and I exchanged annual Christmas greetings. I enjoyed hearing about her travels,the books she was reading, playing in the church bell choir, and special luncheon dates. In return, seemed to enjoy hearing about mine. Every year, she offered encouragement to help me make the most of my abilities.
Born in 1925, Edith was an independent, professional woman in a time when that was not an easy way of life. She received many well-deserved honors including the Mountain Plains Library Association's Distinguished Service Award, the South Dakota Library Association's Librarian of the Year Award, and the American Library Association's Extraordinary South Dakota Librarian of the 20th Century Award (with her co-worker and friend, Elaine Meyer).
Her generosity of spirit went beyond Christmas card notes and academic guidance, however. When she passed away last summer, big news revealed that she bequested monetary gifts toward several organizations, including a large donation to help the Vermillion Public Library reach its fundraising goal to begin constructing an addition. This expansion and renovation will provide space for materials and programming for generations to come.
I'm thankful to be a member of the "club" of Miss Siegrist's students and am happy to meet others from that club. We know now that her most important lessons reached far beyond classroom walls.