Beta Phi Mu celebrates 70 years

Beta Phi Mu, the library and information studies honor society, celebrates its seventieth anniversary this year. It was founded at the University of Illinois in August 1948 by a group of leading librarians and library educators to recognize and encourage scholastic achievement among library and information studies students.

Beta Phi Mu first initiation, 1948
Beta Phi Mu first initiation, 1948

The name Beta Phi Mu comes from the initials of the Greek words Bibliothekarios philax mathesis, meaning “librarians are the guardians of knowledge.” The society’s motto is “Aliis inserviendo consumor,” which when translated from Latin means “consumed in the service of others.” Eligibility for membership in the honor society is by invitation of the faculty from institutions where the American Library Association, or another accrediting agency, has accredited or recognized a professional degree program.

​Professor Emerita Kathryn Luther Henderson (MS ’51) was a founding member and the first secretary of the Beta Phi Mu Alpha Chapter at Illinois. Later she served as the chapter’s faculty advisor. In the spring 2008 issue of The Pipeline, a Beta Phi Mu publication, Henderson reflected, “My greatest joy has been to welcome into membership many of the outstanding students I have been privileged to work with and to see them take on leading roles in Beta Phi Mu at the national and Alpha Chapter levels.” Her husband, William T Henderson, served as president of the Alpha Chapter in its twenty-fifth year and was the chapter’s secretary-treasurer for many years.

Today there are 38 active chapters of Beta Phi Mu across the country, and more than 30,000 individuals have become members.

Alpha Chapter will hold its annual meeting on Saturday, October 27, 2018, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the iSchool. The initiation ceremony for new members will be held at 11:00 a.m. with a luncheon at noon, followed by a talk by Lynne M. Thomas (MS ’99), head of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Illinois. Thomas’ talk, “The Accidental Time Traveler,” will explore the intersection of time travel and rare books. The meeting and talk also will be available online. A renewal and invitation notice will be sent in September. Any alumni who have received an invitation to join at any point in time but who are not yet members are welcome to join now by contacting Professor Linda Smith, Alpha Chapter secretary/treasurer.

To celebrate the seventieth anniversary, Beta Phi Mu members are asked to consider making a donation, in a multiple or division of seventy, to the Alpha Chapter Beta Phi Mu Award Support Endowment Fund. To contribute to the fund, visit the iSchool’s online giving page or contact the Advancement Office at (217) 300-5746 or

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