Library Renames Large Conference Room to Honor Library Founder Edwin Hillyer

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WAUPUN — The Waupun Library Board approved the decision to rename the Large Conference Room in the library at their regular meeting last Wednesday. The conference room is now named the “Hillyer Room” in honor of Edwin Hillyer, who served as the first librarian in Waupun.

Last month, the Waupun Historical Society hosted a program at the library on the Library Association’s history, including on the foundation of the Waupun Library Association in 1858 and its early history. The Library Association became the Waupun Public Library in 1895 when Hillyer turned the library collection over to the City of Waupun on the condition that it become a free public library.

OPINION: Waupun Should Do More to Honor Edwin Hillyer

Library Director Bret Jaeger said the idea to rename the conference room came from a conversation he and Mayor Rohn Bishop had after the library history program. Mayor Bishop first suggested renaming the entire library to the Hillyer Public Library, as it had been when it was first established in 1895, but that idea was turned down due to a variety of logistical problems that would cause.

But renaming the large conference room, which until now did not have a name, was much more achievable—and had precedent. The library’s two other conference rooms, the Carnegie Room and the Shaler Room, were previously named when the library added on to the building in 2007.

“At the time we put on this addition we had two smaller meeting rooms,” Jaeger said at the meeting. “I just wanted to give them names, instead of calling them by the room numbers.”

The larger conference room in the southwest corner of the building was named in honor of Andrew Carnegie who provided a grant to build the Waupun Carnegie Library, now Heritage Museum, and the smaller conference room in the main hall, which previously served as the board room, was also renamed to the Shaler Room, in honor of Clarence Shaler.

But the library never named the large conference room used for library programs and events, leaving it open to renaming it now.

The Library Board then voted to approve renaming the large conference room to the Hillyer Room. City Council Alderman Dan Siebers, who was appointed to the Library Board, made the motion.

The Board also agreed that it would be prudent to establish a plaque describing the history of the Library Association and Edwin Hillyer. But the Board did not make a motion on the plaque and requested that the Waupun Historical Society assist in having the plaque designed to be approved at a future meeting.

Edwin Hillyer served in a number of important roles in the early history of Waupun, including establishing several early banks and other organizations, managing the construction of the railroad, working as Deputy Warden at the Correctional Institution, and serving on the State Assembly.