Library Educator Brooke Sheldon Dies

Posted Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - 12:35
Brooke Sheldon

Brooke Sheldon, 81, 1983–1984 president of the American Library Association, died February 11.

Sheldon earned her BA degree from Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, her MLS degree from Simmons College in Boston, and her PhD from the University of Pittsburgh.

Her distinguished career spanned a wide range of roles. She served as young adult librarian at Detroit Public Library; special services librarian for the US Air Force and Army; branch librarian at Albuquerque (N. Mex.) Public Library; adult services librarian at Santa Fe (N. Mex.) Public Library; head of library development at New Mexico State Library in Santa Fe; associate director of the Leadership Training Institute, US Office of Education in Washington D.C.; head of technical services and training at Alaska State Library in Juneau; professor, dean, and acting provost of the School of Library and Information Studies at Texas Woman's University in Denton; professor emeritus and dean at University of Texas, Austin's School of Information; and interim director and professor at the School of Information Resources and Library Science at University of Arizona, Tucson, until her retirement in 2004. Post-retirement teaching positions included service at San José (Calif.) State University and the School of Library and Information Studies at University of Alberta, Edmonton.

Sheldon's honors included being named Distinguished Alumna of Simmons College and the University of Pittsburgh, and awards from San José (Calif.) State University, the Association of Library and Information Science Educators, and the Arizona Library Association. The Brooke E. Sheldon Endowed Professorship in Management and Leadership was established at University of Texas, Austin. She was also granted an honorary Doctor of Civil Laws degree from Acadia University.

An advocate for diversity in librarianship, Sheldon worked to promote and secure funding for minority hiring. She was a long-time supporter of Reforma and opened her home in Austin, Texas, to those attending the first Reforma conference in 1996.

Sheldon served in leadership roles in ALA for over 40 years. In addition to being a past ALA president, she was on the Executive Board and Council, chaired the Committee on Accreditation, and served as president of the Association of American Publishers-ALA. As ALA president, she traveled to Taipei, Taiwan, to be keynote speaker for the 30th anniversary of the Library Association of China. She also co-founded the Continuing Professional Education Round Table in the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.

Speaking to Public Library Quarterly (Winter 1985/86), Sheldon shared thoughts on librarianship that revealed her dedication to the profession and its impact on the world. "As I've been visiting the state associations and talking to members, I've said to them: Let's remember who we are. We are the gatherers, the organizers, the disseminators, and the analyzers of information. We are also the custodians of and the guides to recorded knowledge--knowledge which is far less ephemeral and less transient than much of what passes for information in today's world."

She is survived by her brother John; her sister, Barbara (Mrs. Eugene Hunter); and her sister-in-law Charlotte (Mrs. Leonard Earle); sons and their families, Scott and Susan Sheldon and Stephen and Maria Sheldon; grandchildren Matthew, Brooke, and Skyler; and many nieces and nephews. The family has asked that contributions in her memory be sent to the Brooke E. Sheldon Endowed Professorship in Management and Leadership at the University of Texas, Austin, and the New Mexico Library Foundation.