Many library administrators will tell you that a keen business and legal sense is essential to successfully run a library. Harriet Skogh, Superintendent of the Illinois State Library’s General Library Division, certainly had both.
Skogh was born in Moline in 1882 and began her career at a young age, serving as assistant director of the Moline Public Library from 1898 to 1914. She left Moline for a civil service appointment at the State Library, where she remained for 37 years. Skogh’s first assignment at the State Library was the classification and shelf-listing of Illinois state documents. 1
Her educational background prepared her for a successful library career. She attended an eight-week library-training course at the University of Wisconsin in 1904 and a similar session at the University of Iowa Summer Library School in 1909. In her work, she found a need for an understanding of legal terminology, which led her to enter night law school. She graduated from the Lincoln College of Law in Springfield in 1922, and in 1924 she was admitted to the Illinois Bar Association. 2
By then, she had already spent three years in her new role as superintendent of the State Library’s General Division. In this position she was known for keeping precise records, and never missed the opportunity to promote the needs of her division. She also became among the most respected of state librarians, serving as President of the National Association of State Libraries in 1930-31. Elected President of the Illinois Library Association in 1925 and 1926, Skogh was also honored in countless editions of “Who’s Who in America” and “Who’s Who in Library Service.” 3
Described as compassionate and caring, Skogh also possessed a sense of humor and a loyal nature. In addition to her love of books, she was also known for her appreciation for music, art, drama, and travel. 4
On Jan. 8, 1951, Skogh was hospitalized with a “very severe back injury” after falling while getting into a taxi, which may have prematurely ended her tenure at the Illinois State Library. Her retirement on March 16, 1951, was celebrated with a large reception of over 300 staff members and friends. Skogh spent her remaining years in Springfield, where she died on March 29, 1964. 5
- Illinois Libraries April 1951, 151; State Journal-Register March 30, 1964.
- Illinois Libraries April 1951, 152.
- Illinois Libraries January 1951, 70, April 1951, 152, May 1951, 236; State Journal-Register March 30, 1964.