Patricia Schuman’s Remembrance of Gail Schlachter Hauser (1943-2015)

Gail Schlachter, Palo Alto

Gail Schlachter, Palo Alto

This remembrance is from Patricia Glass Schuman, who was President of ALA, 1991-1992; Treasurer of ALA, 1984-1988; and President, Neal-Schuman Publishers, 1976-2011. Pat’s remembrance is a selection from a collection of memories by librarian and publishing colleagues that will be published in Reference and User Services Quarterly (RUSQ) (volume 55, issue 1, Fall 2015). Gail was editor of RUSQ from 1997-2000. RUSQ is the scholarly journal of the American Library Association’s Reference and User Services Association and is available at Many thanks to Pat and RUSQ for sharing.

An ALA friend says: “ALA conference is like Brigadoon. It is a small town that happens twice a year, and then disappears until the next time.” How true that is for me–having attended close to 100 conferences. And, like the inhabitants of most small towns, there were friends I bonded with almost immediately.

Gail Schlachter was a “Brigadoon” friend. Oh yes, we occasionally ran into each other at another library conference. And yes, we always meant to get together outside of conference, but only managed that once or twice. As we both became more involved, busier and busier (probably my fault mostly), we rarely even found time for a drink in later years. Nevertheless the connection was there. There were smiles (hers was always radiant), hugs, and a quick catch-up–husbands, friends, children, business, ALA politics.

The first time we met we talked for hours. We were both from similar cultural backgrounds, divorced, transitioning from work in a library setting to publishing. We were young, active and passionate librarians–convinced of our profession’s power to make a difference. The conversations got shorter as we both founded businesses, became more enmeshed in ALA, and took on greater time obligations–but it never stopped. Neither did the smiles or the hugs. And we both talked fast! We called each other “mentors” because advice was free-flowing, one librarian/publisher/businesswoman to another.

I have many fond memories of Gail, personal and professional. What I remember most is her unstinting encouragement. One example took place at the California Library Association debate for ALA President. This was the first of several debates with my opponent, Patrick O’Brien. I was VERY nervous. Gail rehearsed me, and she cautioned; “Let your passion shine through–be a GREAT ALA President–let them see that.” I believed her and calmed down. She sat in the front row and smiled her glorious smile at me during the entire debate.

When Gail asked me to speak at her RASD (Reference and Adult Services Division, now RUSA) President’s Program about Technology and the Future of Libraries…I asked “why me?” Gail had arranged to show Steve Jobs on video, and for others to demonstrate innovative technologies. I was the only “live” speaker. Gail said: “I want an overview, a perceptive look at the human and societal implications”. When the time came and I arrived to speak I found that the room had all the bells and whistles available in the late 80’s–but there was no microphone or podium for me! The people in charge said it was too late. I panicked, but Gail, with her sweet smile, and her determined “don’t take no for an answer” attitude, had the podium delivered in time for my speech! That speech, which Gail inspired, led to articles in Library Journal and the Whole Earth Review.

A wise friend told me that when someone close to you dies you lose not only that person, but that person’s view of you. Very selfishly–I miss both terribly.

There will be another memorial service for Gail Schlachter at the ALA Annual Meeting in San Francisco, June 28, 5 pm.

Blog Posts About Gail Schlachter Hauser’s Death

* 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