iSchool alumni Jean Wilkins (MS/LIS '85) and Patricia Boze (MS/LIS '88) have been named Illinois Library Luminaries by the Illinois Library Association (ILA). This distinction honors individuals who have made a significant contribution to Illinois libraries.
Wilkins served as director of the Illinois State Library from 1999-2004, capping a career at the State Library that began in 1980. Through the course of her career, she was a tremendous force for supporting statewide programs to benefit all types of Illinois libraries. Thanks to her vision and foresight, programs that she started continue to this day in part or whole, including the Synergy Leadership Program, Illinois Digital Archives, Project Next Generation, Cataloging Maintenance Center, OCLC Group Services Agreement, and Try-It! Illinois. She also expanded other significant programs such as the Illinois Center for the Book and the Talking Book and Braille Service. Wilkins pursued grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support public library technology initiatives and from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to support the transition from paper to electronic documents in state government.
Wilkins' incredibly warm personality endeared her to many throughout the years, including Illinois State Library employees and state government officials and employees. Especially important is the care that she has taken with each person in her life. While she served as Illinois State Library director, she knew what was going on with every employee, paying special attention to challenging situations in peoples' lives.
Boze, who passed away in 2020, has been posthumously inducted as an Illinois Library Luminary. She was described as a renaissance librarian who valued libraries as places where individuals and communities could come together and work toward a common goal, enriching the lives of Illinois residents. These values were reflected in her work on programs for the Lincoln Trail Library System and at the Illinois State Library, the latter from which she retired in 2018.
Boze's professional experience was wide ranging and challenging. Her strengths included organization, negotiation, staff supervision, policy development, public relations, customer service, and interpersonal skills. She had an innate ability to work with people from diverse backgrounds. She focused on resource sharing for all types of libraries, which resulted in enhanced services such as a new model for automation.
During her tenure at the Illinois State Library, Boze utilized her knowledge and professional skills to help Illinois residents on all levels of service: individuals, librarians, library systems, and trustees. She enjoyed her work and the challenges to help advance libraries and the library community at large.