Tuesday, November 23, 1999 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Dr. Margaret Chisholm, A Leading Librarian

Seattle Times Staff Reporter

Dr. Margaret Chisholm, former director of the University of Washington's Graduate School of Library and Information Science, who was instrumental in changing the role of librarians in the United States, died Sunday (Nov. 21) of cancer. She was 78.

When Dr. Chisholm began her tenure as director in 1981, librarians were overwhelmingly women, relegated to desks in public and school libraries where their primary role was to help students and researchers locate books and delve into card catalogs and encyclopedias.

But under her 11-year leadership of the UW's library school, she promoted the idea that librarians should become proficient in information technology, so that their expertise could be utilized outside of academia, where they could assist in culling information for companies, government employees and community agencies.

"The focus was on librarians' taking an active role," said Mike Eisenberg, the school's current director and a student of Dr. Chisholm's for 15 years. "It was realizing that the information world was their playing field and that every aspect of human endeavor is information work in which librarians can be leaders."

Dr. Chisholm was the author of seven books and over 30 articles, and was the recipient of numerous honors and awards. She served as vice president for University Relations and Development at the UW from 1975 to 1981 - the university's first female vice president - and was also president of the American Library Association from 1988 to 1989. She was a longtime board member of KCTS-TV.

"The last thing that we did together is take a cruise from Sydney, Australia, to Cape Town, South Africa," said her daughter, Dr. Nancy Lane of Canberra, Australia. "She was teaching creative writing and leading book discussions on board the Island Princess Cruise ships."

Lane said she will spread her mother's ashes over the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, where her mother had snorkeled in 1996.

"Of course, we're sad," said Lane, "but we know that she enjoyed life to the fullest."

According to Eisenberg, Dr. Chisholm's motto was: "motivate, inspire and lead."

Dr. Chisholm is also survived by a daughter, Dr. Janice Bonnet of Saratoga, Calif.; sons-in-law Paul Bonnet and Dr. John Cook; and five grandchildren: Michael and Anne-Marie Cook of Canberra, Australia; Kerry and Jenee Fawson and Kacy Bonnet, all of Saratoga.

Her daughters request donations in their mother's memory be sent to a new fund bearing her name at the UW's School of Library and Information Science. At Dr. Chisholm's request, there will be no funeral or memorial service. ------------------------------- Joshua Robin's phone message number is 206-464-8255. His e-mail address is

Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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