Professor Emerita Selma Richardson passed away on July 10, 2019, in Urbana. An authority on school library media services, Richardson worked in a number of school libraries, including Oak Park and River Forest High School, before joining the University of Illinois in 1974. For over a decade, she was responsible for multiple editions of the American Library Association publication, Magazines for Children: A Guide for Parents, Teachers, and Librarians. She was also a historical children's book scholar whose research focused on public library services to children in Illinois. Richardson was an alumna of St. Olaf College, Minnesota, and held advanced degrees, including a PhD, from the University of Michigan.
Pat Mathews (MS '96), recalls Richardson as one of the most influential people in her life.
"After we moved to Illinois, I began taking some graduate classes at the University of Illinois so I could get re-certified in music education with a goal of doing some substitute teaching. Instead of taking music classes, I chose children's literature classes, and Selma was my professor. I thoroughly enjoyed her classes, as she was an engaging teacher and a fascinating person. One afternoon I was passing her office, and she called to me to come in for a chat. She asked about my future plans and suggested that I pursue a master's degree in library science. She basically told me that she thought that I was meant to be a children's librarian and had what it took to do so. At the time I was a busy wife and mother of four active children and was very involved in church, so it seemed like an impossible idea. It wasn't. Two years later, I earned my master's, and later that summer when the new school year began, I was hired as the librarian at Dr. Howard Elementary in Champaign. I was the librarian there for seventeen years and always referred to it as 'the best job in the school' because it was."
An avid and far-reaching traveler, Richardson set foot on all seven continents. She played the flute and sang, and she supported music, education, and the arts in Champaign-Urbana and elsewhere. She belonged to numerous local organizations including the Twin City Garden Club, The Illinois Club, Krannert Art Museum Council, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts Marquee Circle, and the University of Illinois Foundation President's Council. She was a member of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Champaign.