History of Beta Phi Mu

by Kathryn Luther Henderson
GSLIS Faculty Liaison to Beta Phi Mu

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Beta Phi Mu, an international library and information science honor society, was established at the Graduate School of Library Science, University of Illinois, in 1948. Today there are over 47 active chapters of the organization. More than 30,000 individuals have become members.

The Greek letters of Beta Phi Mu signify that "Libraries are the guardians of knowledge. The dolphin and anchor insignia of the organization represents the printer's mark of Aldus Manutius (1450-1515), a Venetian printer whose press made classical manuscripts available to scholars. To further illustrate the service concept of the society, the motto became: I am consumed in serving others.

Likewise, membership in Beta Phi Mu stresses more than grade point average'”service and professional promise are also considerations. The international organization limits nominations to membership of 25% of any graduating class in any school with an active chapter. A grade point average of 3.75 (on a 4-point scale) is required for membership. At the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the faculty selects from that group of students the 25% to nominate for membership.

Throughout its existence, the international organization has sponsored professional and scholarly activities. Beta Phi Mu awards three scholarships:  for a master's student, for continuing education, and for international study. Through the American Library Association, an annual award is made to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to library and information education. (Three GSLIS faculty members have received this award: the late Rolland E. Stevens was the first GSLIS recipient;  Kathryn Luther Henderson received the award in 1993 and Donald W. Krummel in 1999.) A publications program has been pursued over the years by the international organization.

Local chapters carry out many special projects such as programs for their membership, local scholarship awards, emergency funding and mentoring programs. Alpha Chapter at UIUC makes an annual award to the person who, by vote of the faculty, is considered the most outstanding student. Contributions have also been made to the Library and Information Science Library and the Building Addition Fund of GSLIS in the name of the organization. Programs for the local library and information science community are also a part of the local chapter's contribution to scholarly endeavors.

July 2000

Editor's note:  Prof. Kathryn Luther Henderson was awarded the Beta Phi Mu Golden Anniversary Award for Alpha Chapter in 1998.