Remembering Bill Reiser


The Monroe County Library System is saddened by the loss of our friend and colleague, Bill Reiser.

Bill passed away on December 18, 2021, at the University of Michigan after experiencing multiple cardiac events.

A longstanding giant in the Monroe County Library System, Bill offered leadership and management at the Ellis Library & Reference Center. His dedication to excellence and an eye for detail were reflected in all aspects of his life, as were his humor and showmanship. As a cultural Renaissance man, Bill held a passion for movies, fine arts, and music.

Bill began his career in 1987, and quickly became a contributing force in the growth of the Library. He was a fierce defender of intellectual freedom and First Amendment rights. His commitment to the Ellis staff was unwavering, and he dedicated himself to providing support and direction to the best of his abilities. Bill was also instrumental in the development of the Ellis Library & Reference Center’s renovation in 2011. As part of the project, an expansion to the building was added to provide a sweeping panoramic view of the River Raisin, along with study rooms, public access to upstairs reference collections, and a dedicated multimedia programming room.

Bill is perhaps best known throughout the community for the production of the Annual Black History Month Blues Series, which he affectionately dubbed “the Monroe County Library System’s award-winning history lesson with a backbeat.” Under his careful guidance, the Blues Series has grown to become the state’s longest running annual blues celebration, with awards from the Public Library Association, the Michigan Library Association, and the Rhythm & Blues Foundation. The Blues Series was also awarded The Blues Foundation’s 2009 Keeping the Blues Alive Award for Education—the blues world’s most prestigious honor available to non-musicians.

For friends and colleagues here at the Library, the void left by Bill’s absence runs deeper than words can adequately express. Bill will be missed for his hearty laugh, comradery, and insight. His passing is truly a loss, and we join family and friends in the mourning and memory of a life passed too soon.

The Library will be accepting donations in memory of Bill, with plans to dedicate them towards programs that he was passionate about.

Information regarding a celebration of life will be announced in the New Year.