Amanda Rudd, historic head of Chicago Public Library, dies at 93

Amanda Rudd, history

By Graydon Megan, Chicago Tribune

Amanda Rudd, turned away as a child from the segregated library in her South Carolina hometown, followed her love of learning and books to become the first woman and the first African-American to head the Chicago Public Library.

As library commissioner from about 1982 to 1985, Rudd worked to spread her love of books and learning, said Mary Ghikas, an assistant commissioner under Rudd and who is now senior associate executive director of the American Library Association.

“She was very big on literacy — that was really a big deal for her,” Ghikas said. “She was very keen on getting literacy services, books and reading resources out to all the neighborhoods.”

Rudd also was a strong mentor to younger colleagues, including Carla Hayden, now librarian of Congress. In a letter to Rudd’s daughter, Hayden wrote, “Amanda was a trailblazer in the library field and I benefited greatly from her guidance during my time at the Chicago Public Library.”

Rudd, 93, died of natural causes Feb. 11 in Arbor Terrace Assisted Living in Atlanta, according to her daughter, Loretta O’Brien-Parham. She moved to Atlanta about six years ago, after living in retirement in Washington, D.C., and before that in Cleveland.

She was born Amanda Sullivan in Greenville, S.C. Her daughter said she received a bachelor’s degree from Florida A & M University in Tallahassee and later a master’s degree in library science from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, where she lived from the late 1950s until 1970.

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