Miss M. Alice Isely loved books. She passed on this passion to her nieces and nephews, often presenting the youngsters with their very first books. Miss Isely would join the Fairmount College staff in 1911, becoming head librarian of Morrison Library. At the time, her twin brother W. H. Isely was the first dean of the college. When Fairmount College became the University of Wichita, she continued as chief reference librarian until 1944, when she retired. While at Fairmount and WU, she went beyond her duties as librarian, assisting and encouraging hundreds of students.
Following her death in 1969, her nephew Charles, and his wife, Mildred, began enlisting the help of others to contribute to a memorial fund. The M. Alice Isely Memorial Book Endowment was created in 1979 honoring the lady and continuing her passion for books.