A portrait of an alumna who left the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) over $1 million for student scholarships is now hanging in the SILS Library.
Jane Iris Crutchfield spent her career as a teacher and school librarian teaching in the Danville, Va Public Schools and later at the Richmond Public Schools. She came to SILS after 19 years of teaching to pursue a degree in library science, graduating with a bachelor of science in library science in 1955. She was the librarian at Patrick Henry Elementary School in Arlington, Va from 1960 until her retirement in the late 1970s.
Crutchfield's gift of $1.12 million is in memory of her mother, Janie Gammon Crutchfield, who always encouraged Iris to pursue her education. Her gift is now part of the School’s Susan Grey Akers Scholarship Fund “that assists deserving students admitted to the Master of Science in Library Science (MSLS) degree program and distinguished by evidence of professional promise, character, leadership and high scholastic achievement.”
The portrait was donated to the School as part of Crutchfield's estate. It was delivered earlier this summer by Mary Kay Lanzillotta, Crutchfield's neighbor who described Crutchfield as an elegant lady who was always on the go and actively involved with children’s reading.
“Miss Iris thought if she could engage children in exploring through reading, they could do anything,” said Lanzillotta. “If they couldn’t yet read, she would offer reading hours. She would make studying fun and interesting by bringing in artifacts from her many travels to relate to her stories or the book they were reading. She wanted everyone to read, to appreciate and enjoy reading. As a children’s librarian, she always had suggestions of books to read or things to explore for my siblings and me. Each birthday we received a book that had been carefully selected and was meaningful for each of us.”
“With her lifelong advocacy for children's reading, it is fitting that the portrait of Miss Crutchfield now hangs in the library where one of the state's richest collections of children's literature is housed,” said Dr. Barbara B. Moran, interim dean of SILS. “It will serve not only as a reminder of the great value she put on reading, but also as a devoted educator and librarian who exhibited extraordinary generosity through her gift that will benefit future generations of SILS students.”
About the Susan Grey Akers Scholarship Fund
The SILS Alumni Association established the fund upon Dean Susan Grey Akers' retirement to provide a fellowship that assists deserving students admitted to the MSLS degree program and distinguished by evidence of professional promise, character, leadership and high scholastic achievement.
Akers was the first dean of SILS from 1932 to 1954, and she was the first female dean at UNC. Akers spearheaded the foundation of the library school at North Carolina Central University. She was noted for her work, Simple Library Cataloging. Akers maintained an interest in the School, its faculty and its students until her death in 1984 at the age of 95.
Portrait courtesy of the Jane Iris Crutchfield Estate.