Memorial For My Mom At The ALA Annual Meeting (Gail Schlachter Hauser 1943-2015)

P6283760-225x300At the ALA Annual Meeting in San Francisco at the end of June, we had a memorial session for my mom. I think about 100 people showed up.

The session started with the current ALA president, Courtney Young, presenting us with a framed resolution from the ALA Executive Board (see photo). The text reads:

The ALA Executive Board recognizes Gail Schlachter:

– For her decades of service to the library and information fields as a reference librarian, library administrator, library educator, author of library-oriented reference works and reviewer of reference resources;

– For her service as president of the American Library Association’s Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) — 1988-89;

– For her five terms on the ALA Council, as well as numerous committee appointments;

– For her service on the ALA Executive Board;

– But most importantly, for her mentorship, friendship and infectious smile.

Gail’s contributions will long be remembered, her presence sorely missed.

[signed by Keith Michael Fiels, ALA Executive Director, and Courtney L. Young, ALA President]

This touching tribute meant a lot to us.

We then opened up the microphone for everyone to share their remembrances. Over 15 people came forward to share their stories spanning five decades. There were a lot of laughs, and some tears were shed. Although I’ve been living with my mom’s death every minute for the past 2 months, her sudden loss still felt fairly raw in the library community. I think the memorial helped the community with a little more closure.

At the memorial, my sister Sandy Hirsh kicked off the open-mike session with another eulogy. You may recall that she gave a eulogy at our prior celebration in May, but this one was targeted more at the library community. Her remarks:

Sandy Hirsh’s Eulogy for Gail Schlachter
Delivered June 29, 2015
American Library Association Annual Conference, San Francisco

My mom knew that I was destined to be a librarian — long before I did. I always said that I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I knew what I didn’t want to be –- and that was a librarian! But my mom never lost faith.

It was her always-sage advice that was a key factor in my choosing library and information science for my career. I was at a cross roads when I was completing my political science degree at UCLA, as I didn’t know what I wanted to do next. She was undeterred by my previous declaration, and suggested that I consider going to library school. She made very compelling points that appealed to my sense of pragmatism. She said: “You will always be employable with a library degree and you can always apply whatever you learn in library school to anything else you choose to do in the future.” And with this, she launched my career into this remarkable field.

Sandy Hirsh and Gail Schlachter

Sandy Hirsh and Gail Schlachter

My mom and I enjoyed being in the profession together. Some of our favorite stories to tell were how we taught the same class (reference, of course) at the same time for San Jose State University — although she taught it on the main campus and I taught it at their satellite campus in Fullerton. She involved me in her publishing company’s, Reference Service Press, work too; I co-edited a couple of Reference Service Press’s Directories of Financial Aid with her. This year, we both were invited to serve on the Credo Advisory Board and we traveled to Boston together for the board meeting in September. Over the last 5 years, she was absolutely bursting with pride that I was the director of the School of Information at SJSU University. I am sure many of you have witnessed this! She loved to tell people how funny she found it that she was now known as “Sandy Hirsh’s mother” rather than me being called “Gail Schlachter’s daughter”. She enjoyed how I had become chair of committees she had previously chaired. In fact, she became the ALA Executive Board liaison to the ALA American Libraries Advisory Committee that I was chairing this year and she attended our meeting at the Midwinter conference! She was especially excited that I was running for IRRT (International Relations Roundtable) ALA Councilor and had asked, if I were to win, if I would be her Council buddy and let her sit next to me. I did win, but she never heard this news.

My mom was a wonderful role model — through her passion for the profession, her work ethic, her caring for others, her interest in everyone’s success, her mentorship, her focus on quality, and her generosity. Throughout my life, my mom was always ready to listen, provide thoughtful advice, help in any way, celebrate every accomplishment, and cheer me on. I have learned over the years, and the point was made again and again after her untimely death, that while she might be expected to extend herself in these ways as my mother, she actually was like this with lots of people! While I thought she was my own personal cheerleader, she actually was cheering on numerous other people in the profession, other members of our family, and many of her friends and acquaintances.

In fact, as I reflect on her life, I think one of my mom’s greatest super powers was the gift she had for building relationships and friendships. She had the ability to make everyone feel like she was their special friend — and this empowered them and helped them feel confident and helped contribute to their success. I don’t know how she had enough hours in the day to run her own publishing company, take care of her family, manage her real estate, and engage with so many people in such a caring, supportive, and engaged way!

She used to talk about how she was “small but mighty”. How true this was! She leaves a big legacy through her numerous professional contributions to ALA, her reference publications which have helped countless people advance their education, her generosity through the Reference Service Press scholarships and awards she gave through ALA RUSA and the California Library Association, her family whom she loved and devoted so much of herself to, and her friends, colleagues and acquaintances who she valued and made feel special. She leaves a huge hole in both my life and in the field. I try to remind myself that she is still at our side – coaching, mentoring, cheering, caring, celebrating, listening, helping, encouraging, smiling, laughing, and inspiring us. I know she has left a lasting legacy and her contributions will not be quickly forgotten. May her love for ALA, reference service, and the library and information science profession live on and continue to inspire us to be impactful and accomplish great things!

Blog Posts About Gail Schlachter Hauser’s Death

* Patricia Schuman’s Remembrance of Gail Schlachter Hauser (1943-2015)
* Dimi Berkner’s Eulogy For My Mom (Gail Schlachter Hauser 1943-2015)
* Remembrance From My Mom’s Lifelong Friend, David Weber (Gail Schlachter Hauser 1943-2015)
* Remembrance from Sumyyah Bilal
* An Example of How My Mom’s Books Helped Students (Gail Schlachter Hauser 1943-2015)
* My Sister’s Eulogy For Our Mom (Gail Schlachter Hauser 1943-2015)
* My Eulogy For My Mom (Gail Schlachter Hauser 1943-2015)
* From my wife: Gail Schlachter, My Mother-in-law, Remembered
* Selected Remembrances of Gail Schlachter Hauser (1943-2015)
* My First Mother’s Day Without My Mom (Gail Schlachter Hauser 1943-2015)
* Signs That My Mom Is Still Thinking of Us (Gail Schlachter Hauser, 1943-2015)
* My Mom’s Idea of a “Really Good Day” (Gail Schlachter Hauser, 1943-2015)
* Initial Reflections on Losing a Parent (Gail Schlachter Hauser, 1943-2015)
* My Mom Died: Gail Schlachter Hauser, 1943-2015