Selected Remembrances of Gail Schlachter Hauser (1943-2015)

Gail Schlachter, Palo Alto

Gail Schlachter, Palo Alto

As word of Dr. Gail Schlachter’s death spread through various communities, there was an outpouring of love and respect that overwhelmed us. We knew her death would impact many communities, and our hearts ached as we heard from so many folks feeling that impact. All of the comments and sentiments meant so much to us, but I thought it would be helpful to collect a few into a single post.

Robert Karatsu, President, California Library Association:

Gail was a true icon in our profession and will be deeply missed. Many librarians I admire and respect specifically pointed to Gail as their professional role model and personal inspiration, and this as much as anything illustrates the kind of person Gail was.

Besides her work as a member of ALA’s Executive Board, I had the pleasure of getting to know Gail through the Reference Service Press Fellowship which is coordinated in California by CLA. This Fellowship has been awarded continuously since 1992 and encourages college seniors, college graduates, and beginning library school students to prepare for a career in reference/information service librarianship. Just looking at some of the past recipients of the fellowship (i.e. Heather Cousin, Evelyn Shimazu Yee, Amy Sonnie, Susan Trujillo, etc.), this was just another way that Gail had an impact on our profession and how she demonstrated through her actions the importance of giving back to the library community.

Roy Tennant, the Digital Shift:

Gail was the kind of person who was always glad to see you. If she ever didn’t smile I don’t know about it.

She was giving to a fault. When my mentor Anne Lipow retired from UC Berkeley and started a consulting business, Gail was there with advice and assistance on how to start a successful publishing business. Anne credited Gail with providing essential guidance and support. They were steadfast friends until Anne’s untimely passing from cancer.

Later I came to know Gail’s daughter, Sandy Hirsh. Sandy is an accomplished librarian in her own right and now Dean of the library School at San Jose State. If you know Sandy you know that Gail clearly did something right.

Yesterday the Twitterverse and Facebooklandia were abuzz with anguished cries from librarians all over. There are good reasons for that. Gail was a giant in the profession, and active in so many areas, from professional publishing to ALA governance. To say that she will be missed is a serious understatement.

Dena from Eureka:

EUREKA has lost a close partner. Dr. Gail Schlachter, founder of Reference Service Press, died unexpectedly yesterday.

EUREKA started using Gail’s scholarship and financial aid data in the Macintosh and Windows versions of EUREKA in 1996. In 2008, we moved her data to the online version of EUREKA and her own website, RSPFundingFinder. Her data in books, EUREKA and other online resources has helped generations of students get scholarships and awards to help pay for school….

Gail was passionate that her financial aid data and filter be the best. We spent many hours on the phone talking about the data and filter and how to improve the results for our users. She never compromised the integrity of her data and strove for perfection in what she did. We have lost a good friend and business partner and will miss her greatly.

Jim Rettig:

I first met Gail in New York at the 1980 American Library Association Annual Conference. The next year at the San Francisco conference we spent some time talking about reference reviewing. She had to miss an Annual Conference or a Midwinter now and then, albeit rarely. Starting with the 1982 Midwinter she and I always had dinner together, dinners made more enjoyable those times my wife was able to join us. They shared a birthday date (different years) and loved to talk about real estate with each other. It was always my responsibility to select the restaurant, a process that depended upon concierges to tell me which restaurants had the best chocolate desserts. They would try to tell me about other foods, but the only thing that mattered and the standard by which Gail judged a restaurant was that it offered at least two decadent chocolate desserts. We always ordered and shared both–or all three when my wife was with us.

The highlight during our dinner in Philadelphia in January 2014 was the phone call she received informing her that she had been elected to the ALA Executive Board. She was sure that it would be a call telling her she had not been elected. In her conversations with me leading up to that meeting as she prepared her candidate’s presentation and biographical form, I kept assuring her that she would be elected because she offered the range of experience and knowledge as well as a keen intellect that would make her a significant asset to the board….

We librarians all 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. It hasn’t really sunk in yet. I am just one of many who misses her.

Sarah M. Pritchard:

I still remember exactly the first time she and I met: It was about 1981 or 82, and I was a young reference librarian at the Library of Congress, newly appointed as their first women’s studies subject specialist. I had been compiling the first LC reference guide to resources in women’s studies, when one day this woman patron came up to the desk to request a pass to the stacks. I just happened to be on duty, and people who wanted stack passes needed to consult a librarian; the patron had no idea who I was or what was my own area of expertise. She was filling out our form and indicating why she needed to browse the stacks (and not just request books based on the catalog entries), and I looked over and saw what name she had written, and exclaimed, “Oh, are you *the* Gail Schlachter?” Because I already had identified her book about financial aid for women as one of the sources I was listing in my guide. We immediately became great friends; she often joked with me later how secretly flattered she was to be “*the* Gail Schlachter!”…Your mother was a truly smart, caring, interesting person; she and I shared many stories of our lives, families and jobs over the years. She was always supportive, encouraging, confiding, optimistic, inquisitive. I moved around the country (including out to California for a while), and always caught up with her at ALA meetings; it will be sad indeed not to see her at our conference in SF this June.

Laura McClanathan (emailed to my sister Sandy):

Words cannot express how sorry I am about the loss of your mother, Gail. I was absolutely shocked by the news and heartbroken for your family. I have been thinking about her every single day and the generosity and warmth she showered on me as a Fellowship recipient. She will remain a steadfast inspiration throughout my program, and throughout my life. Though I didn’t have a chance to get to know her as well as I truly wanted to, when we did meet (such as the moment at ALA last summer when she threw her arms so wonderfully around me), it was magical. I felt she was someone I had always known, and that she really saw in me my love of not only reference work, but excellence in service and hard work. Thank you so much for helping me find her that day. Seeing the two of you together, such incredibly powerful and dedicated women, is a moment I won’t forget. Her Fellowship has not only inspired me but it has rewarded me in ways that I hope to be able to give to others. Gail and I were in the midst of an email exchange to find a time to talk about my first class using the Fellowship, and I was excited to tell her about my plan for a thesis but didn’t have a chance to tell her. My thesis will be dedicated to her.

K.G. Schneider:

…feeling drenched in grief and wishing I could just spend a few minutes with her again, even in one of those charmless windowless conference rooms where Gail spent so much time so patiently, so cheerfully sharing her gifts with others. Just to watch her walk up to me and tell me how happy she was to see me. Just to see her smile, as bright as the sun, and listen to her wise and funny comments on all things LibraryLand. Gail had the gift of making every person she encountered feel special and welcome and the smartest kid in kindergarten. She was smart and witty and kind and beautiful and entirely her own person. She had a heart the size of our galaxy, and so many of us will miss her.

Gail was way above soba noodles and special shoelaces. Gail was that sort of person that if you knew her even slightly, she was more than equal to the best oysters on the half-shell you ever had, or that special dress you will remember forever. She had the knack for saying things so kind, things I so needed to hear at just that moment, that I would fold her comments into a small square and tuck them forever in my heart. Gail was powerful and astute, but I don’t know if she fully realized how much she meant to so many people.

Richard Moore:

Gail was always the most alive person in the room. She’s the one I went to when I needed a dose of happy to get through the day. Every time I saw her at a conference she said hi and asked about family. That smile, mentioned by most people here, was a great dose of warmth constantly on loan to anyone who needed it. I loved Gail. I am in tears.

Scott Ebrahimi:

I told my daughter we meet many people in our lives. Some of those people are nice, smart, kind and some are not.. Then [there] are those few people, if you are lucky enough to meet who are rare gems, and we treasure them… They are the ones that set the bar… I told her of how your mom started, was self made, disciplined, loving, well educated and in a time when it was even more difficult for women to get ahead, she lead the way. Your mom is what dads dream their little girls can grow up to be.

Vee Friesner Carrington:

Gail was a remarkable person and a guiding light to many librarians. She was a pioneer in an important segment of the profession. She knew no strangers at ALA.

Shubha Gokhale

I was obsessed with your mother, Ms. Schlachter’s, books in high school! Her writings helped me understand and apply for many scholarships and financial aid.

Coming from a low income background, with a single mother and three sisters, I did not think that I would ever have a chance to get a good university education. However, these books in the local library helped my sisters and I apply to and graduate from well ranked universities. I was even able to dream of law school because of my low undergraduate debt!

I feel so grateful towards your mother! She truly changed my entire family’s life. Despite my father’s untimely death, our family was able to overcome what seemed to be insurmountable financial challenges. Thank you so very much!


I also wanted to include this Facebook post from my niece Leah:

Grandma Gail, you have always inspired me to reach for greatness. Your generosity and kindness have been a guiding force in my life. You have never failed to make me feel special and that I am capable of changing the world. It has been an honor to be able to call myself your granddaughter, and I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better grandmother. Thank you for supporting me through every important moment of my life. I know you are worried about missing out on the rest of my life, but I promise you’ll be with me every step of the way. You will not be forgotten. I love you, and you will always remain in my heart.


Also, I’ve posted her 2 page resume that she used when running for the ALA Executive Board.

We will be celebrating Dr. Gail Schlachter Hauser’s life on May 17 in Los Altos Hills. Click here for details and to RSVP.

Blog Posts About Gail Schlachter Hauser’s Death

* 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