Photo caption: Dr. Sally Webb, a longtime member of UW-Eau Claire’s faculty and staff, and a lifelong lover of books and libraries, is the inaugural donor to McIntyre Library’s new MVP program. The program will help support the library’s programs and spaces, while giving its supporters new opportunities to make the most of all that the on-campus library offers. (Photo by Shane Opatz)
The old saying that the more things change, the more they stay the same is exactly how Dr. Sally Webb feels about the critical role the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s McIntyre Library plays in the lives of Blugolds.
“We have seen libraries change greatly since I arrived at UW-Eau Claire in 1965, but for me the library continues to be the heart of the university and the community,” says Webb, an emerita professor of communication and journalism who worked at the university for nearly 50 years.
Her love of libraries in general and McIntyre Library in particular inspired Webb to become an inaugural member of the university’s new McIntyre Valued Partners program, a program for people who financially support the library on campus.
“My family described me as, ‘Your nose was always in a book,’” Webb says of her lifelong passion for books. “I’ve loved reading and libraries since I was a small child. It's as true today as it was then. Now I enjoy having the opportunity through programs such as the new MVP to support books, libraries and reading.”
McIntyre Valued Partners program
McIntyre Library was preparing to launch its new MVP program shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Just days before the pandemic closed campus, Webb donated to the UW-Eau Claire Foundation to become the MVP program’s inaugural member.
“We put everything on hold, and now are ready to restart the program,” says Jill Markgraf, director of McIntyre Library.
Markgraf is eager to move forward with the program, an initiative she hopes will help ensure the library continues to grow and evolve as new needs and opportunities are recognized.
When McIntyre Library was dedicated in 1960, the student newspaper described it as “the workshop of the mind,” a description that still fits more than 60 years later, Markgraf says. The MVP program will help ensure that it also will be true of the library in the future, she says.
“Support from the MVP program enables us to continue expanding the concept of the mind’s workshop,” Markgraf says. “Libraries aim to provide equitable access to resources. Once primarily through books, that access now includes laptops, 3D printers, sewing machines, laser cutters, cameras, recording studios, virtual reality technology, games and more.”
Despite high demand and changing needs, the library budget has been flat for many years, so McIntyre Library increasingly relies on donor support to enhance its collections and spaces, Markgraf says.
Creating spaces that meet current and future student needs is a critical part of the library’s mission, Markgraf says. Innovative resources, like the Blugold Makerspace and the Digital Studio, expand the ways that Blugolds can explore, learn and create. However, those spaces rely on donor support to operate, she says.
Faculty, staff, alumni and community members also all benefit from innovative spaces and programming, Markgraf says.
“Through the MVP program, we are building connections with McIntyre Library’s supportive community, which values the services, space and resources that libraries provide,” Markgraf says. “We recognize that the McIntyre community extends well beyond current students, faculty and staff. It includes alumni, emeriti and retired faculty and staff, area community members and businesses, and other library lovers.”
Lifelong love of books, libraries
Given her lifelong love for reading, libraries always have been important to her, so she was eager to be part of the new MVP program, says Webb, who taught at UW-Eau Claire for 39 years and then worked in the UW-Eau Claire Foundation for more than eight years.
While Webb enjoys reading for pleasure, libraries also were central to her college studies and to her college teaching. She knows from her own experiences how important it is that students and faculty have the library resources they need to be successful, she says.
“As an undergraduate at Southeast Missouri State University, I was in debate and forensics and all of us spent hours researching in the library,” says Webb, who also taught at a Wisconsin high school before beginning her career in higher education. “Careful research also was important as I prepared my lectures at UWEC.”
Her students always knew the library would be central to their classwork as well, Webb says of the communication courses she taught at UW-Eau Claire. Most semesters, she invited a librarian into her classroom as a guest lecturer to help her students better understand how to best make use of all that the library offers.
“Student research was very important as they prepared their speeches, interviews and research papers,” Webb says. “Students reported that when they went to librarians for assistance, most would go out of their way to assist them. Librarians are important guides to library users. I often wished that I had the knowledge of a librarian.
“Being a member of MVP allows me to pay back at least some of the value that my students and I received from the excellent McIntyre Library and the outstanding librarians over many years.”
While the MVP program is new, Webb has been a longtime supporter of McIntyre Library.
“Sally’s support of McIntyre Library has included everything from our annual giving projects to our library student employee scholarship fund,” Markgraf says of Webb. “She has even scoured thrift sales for jigsaw puzzles to donate to the library, supporting our efforts to create community and offer respite from studying for students.”
Markgraf says that Webb’s support of libraries goes well beyond the campus. A longtime supporter of and contributor to the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire, Webb is a major donor for the public library’s current expansion project. She also has been active in the community’s thriving Give-a-Kid-a-Book program.
“Since before I arrived at McIntyre Library 23 years ago, Sally has been regarded as a true library MVP,” Markgraf says. “It is fitting that she is now the inaugural member of the MVP program.”
MVP program details
People who become part of the library’s MVP program will enjoy access to McIntyre Library, including book checkout privileges and the library’s biannual newsletter. Some membership levels also include opportunities to participate in makerspace workshops and include special access to events featuring library and archival collections.
McIntyre Library has long provided “community patron cards” for a fee that enable community members to check out materials. The MVP program, which includes borrowing privileges, replaces that program.
In addition to scholarly and academic content, MVP members will have access to the campus library’s popular collections, including a robust children’s and young adult book collection, a curated popular reading collection and a board game collection.
The new MVP program will help fund various library spaces and programs, including “honoring and nurturing” future librarians by supporting student scholarships, Markgraf says, noting that today’s library student employees often become the librarians of the future.
Monies raised through the MVP program also will support:
- Library student employee scholarships and appreciation events.
- Student-centered events such as the After Dark welcome-to-campus party, finals week stress-relief and study support activities.
- Workshops, equipment and supplies in the library’s innovative spaces, the Blugold Makerspace and Digital Studio.
- Library furniture and building enhancements.
- Enhancement of library book and media collections.
- Literary, scholarly and archival collections, events and exhibits.
MVP membership levels vary, and member benefits are set accordingly, Markgraf says.
For example, the lowest membership level — $15-$49 per year — will allow members to borrow books, board games and multimedia from McIntyre Library and the UW-Eau Claire – Barron County Library.
The highest membership level, $500 and up, would also allow donors to participate in special private events hosted by McIntyre Library. Events could include things like a private tour of Special Collections and viewing of signature collections such as the Frederick and Joan Christopherson Schmidt Robert Frost Poetry Collection; customized McIntyre Library Escape Room or miniature golf events; a makerspace workshop; or a custom book group featuring a local writer. People in this MVP category also could plan their own private event, such as a customer appreciation or staff team-building event in the library.