Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Remembering Gail Schlachter

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Remembering Gail Schlachter

Article excerpt

Gail Schlachter served as editor of RUSQ from 1997-2000, as editor of reference book reviews in RQ (RUSQ's previous title) from 1977-88, and as president of RUSA, 1988-89. It was with great sorrow that we heard of Gail's all too early death in April of 2015. Gail was a passionate and tireless advocate for libraries and for reference publishing, and her commitment to both of these areas inspired and influenced many in the profession, including me. Gail took great delight in mentoring those new to librarianship as well as in discussing with anyone how to better serve our users. What I will miss most about Gail though is her smile, and how it lit up any meeting or program session when I would see her at ALA, regardless of how early in the morning or late at night it was, or how busy she must have been, for she was always busy. I learned from Gail that taking joy in your work is the best way to enjoy that work, to inspire colleagues, and to accomplish great things. The memories below come from some of Gail's colleagues in the library and publishing worlds.--Editor

I first met Gail in New York at the 1980 ALA Annual Conference. During the next annual conference we talked at length about reference reviewing. Starting with the 1982 Midwinter she and I always had dinner together. It was my responsibility to select the restaurant, a process that depended upon concierges to tell me which restaurants had the best chocolate desserts. They would tell me about other foods, but the standard by which Gail judged a restaurant was that it served at least two decadent chocolate desserts. We always ordered and shared both.

During our January 2014 dinner in Philadelphia she received a phone call informing her she had been elected to the ALA executive board. She was sure that call would deliver different news. I had assured her that she would be elected because she offered the range of experience and knowledge as well as her keen intellect that would make her a significant contributor to the EB. She wanted to serve because, in addition to all she had given to that point, she had even more to give to ALA.

She was a justifiably proud but never boastful mother, evident when she introduced me to her children while they were in their teens, years before their very significant professional achievements. Sandy, Eric, and their children have much to mourn and much more to celebrate in Gail's life and her love for them.

We librarians develop long-term friendships we would never have had but for our involvement in ALA. I have lost the best of my ALA friends and one of my best friends ever. Our profession and her many friends in the library, publishing, and education realms have lost the contributions she would have shared with us had she been with us longer.

All of us will ever remember and miss her warm welcoming smile.--Jim Rettig

I first met Gail Schlachter at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago 2005. Xrefer, Ltd. (which would eventually become Credo Reference) was just stepping forward into the limelight. Previously we were considered to be an interesting little reference product for public libraries with mostly British "ready reference" content. But we'd just signed a distribution deal with Thomson/Gale. At that ALA I was appearing on the RUSA President's Panel along with Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia and speakers from Thomson, Library of Congress, and others. And we'd just received our first invitation to attend the 1ndependent Reference Publishers Group, which was then an invitation-only group of reference publishers specifically independent of the behemoths like Elsevier and Thomson.

I ended up sitting next to Gail at the meeting and we immediately connected. She stayed after the meeting to look at a model 1'd developed to show how uses of reference information served very different needs depending on the user's goals and state of mind. She immediately challenged me to learn more about the body of work that had been developed over the past many decades on the "reference interview. …

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