Early Years at Northern: 1971-1982
Roberta’s formative experience abroad was the foundation for her professional success at Northern Michigan University (NMU). In January 1971, NMU hired Roberta as a reference librarian. She also taught select Library Science courses. In typical Upper Peninsula fashion, a snow day welcomed Roberta as she arrived in Marquette. The library was constantly expanding in order to accommodate the needs of the students and the surrounding community. Helvi Walkonen directed the Lydia Olson Library and John X. Jamrich was president. In 1966, the Library had moved from its cramped building adjacent to the Peter White Hall of Science into the new Edgar L. Harden Learning Resources Center. Soon after, the librarians began teaching courses for the new Library Sciences minor. Roberta was instrumental in library orientation and worked closely with Freshman English classes. She also helped develop LS 101, the introductory course in library science and Olson Library resources. In this course, Roberta emphasized instruction in critical thinking skills. Initially, Roberta felt lonely; to overcome this, she took courses at NMU to continue her education and to familiarize herself with the academic community. These classes ultimately led to a Master’s degree in English in 1975.
By 1980, Roberta Henderson’s professional work ethic was reflected in an ASNMU opinion poll report on the Library and Learning Resources Center. The report found that sixty-eight percent of students believed that the Library staff was doing a good job. Only two percent felt the staff was not doing its job. As a result, the ASNMU recommended that “the library staff should be commended for doing a good job. The students have indicated their pleasure with the staff’s great performance, both in assisting students and in maintaining the collection.”