Mildred Batchelder was educated as a librarian and came to Evanston in 1928 to serve as librarian at Haven Middle School. The school library also functioned as a library for the community, later becoming the North Branch library. She joined the staff of the American Library Association in Chicago in 1936 and worked there for 30 years. She was head of the Children’s Services Division and the Young Adult Services Division. While at ALA she developed several pioneering programs, including addressing the unequal access to school libraries by many black children. She also fought for inclusion for other minorities and women in the ALA and the larger profession.
She wrote a book that envisioned the “Library of Tomorrow” imagining things we now find commonplace – interlibrary loan, media access and borrowing, libraries as access points for materials beyond books, etc. She also worked to encourage multiculturalism in libraries. The Batchelder Award was established to honor her by the ALA for a children’s book translated into English.
She died in 1998 at the Swedish Retirement Home. Her lifelong partner was Margaret Nicholsen.