Mary Jo Lynch began working at ALA Headquarters in Chicago during a time when there were no computers, Internet, toll-free number, or any of the other modern-day tools that make service to members easier. No stranger to the Association, Lynch was already a Life Member and had held elected office in JMRT (now NMRT). Now, some 27 years later, the director of ALA's ORS has said farewell to a job that literally became her life's work (AL, Nov., p. 58).
"I had a great respect for ALA to start with," Lynch said in an interview with American Libraries prior to her December departure. "As an insider, I am well aware of ALA's problems, but I have always been impressed with the respect I received from librarians and from people outside the library community when I said where I worked. I saw a story in the New York Times recently about a star player who was retiring from years with the Yankees. He said he was leaving 'the grandest stage' in baseball. That's how I feel about leaving ALA."
Lynch is the eldest of four siblings who are all MLS degree-holders. Her brother Michael is library director at John Marshall Law School; sister Nora, a law librarian who became an attorney, recently retired from the Michigan Employment Relations Commission; and another sister Pat, once a medical librarian, is now a hospital dietitian in Toledo, Ohio. Lynch's late aunt Julia Burns was also a librarian and worked at Detroit Public Library.
Her ALA career started while she served in an experimental combined-staffing effort that involved PLA, ALTA, and RUSA. In 1978, at the encouragement of then--ALA Executive Director Robert Wedgeworth, she applied for …