Joseph F. Shubert, 1928 - 2010
December 30, 2010
To: Colleagues in the New York State Library Community
From: Jeffrey W. Cannell, Deputy Commissioner for Cultural Education, New York State Education Department
I am sorry to tell you that Joseph F. Shubert, New York State Librarian and Assistant Commissioner for Libraries from 1977 to 1996, died November 24, 2010, in Plano, Texas. The family has communicated that there will be a memorial service in Mr. Shubert's memory at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany, New York on Saturday March 12, 2011, at 10:30 a.m.
Joe Shubert began his professional career as reference and documents librarian at the Nevada State Library in 1951, and also served as State Librarian of Nevada and Ohio. From 1962 to early 1966, he was Assistant Director of the American Library Association International Relations Office. His tenure at the New York State Library was exceeded only by that of James I. Wyer, who was State Librarian from 1908 to 1938. Mr. Shubert was the 19th State Librarian since the founding of the Library in 1818.
Continuously Improving New York's Library Services for All
Mr. Shubert's 19 years included continuous improvement of the nation's most comprehensive library system and the nation's most respected State Library. Under his expert leadership, State funding for library development programs and statewide library services increased by $56 million, from $26 million annually in 1976 to $82 million annually in 1996.
Library development programs that were instituted or greatly expanded during Shubert's tenure included:
- State aid for award-winning public library outreach services which touch the lives of people who are homebound, unemployed, incarcerated, speakers of languages other than English or persons struggling to overcome disabilities and disadvantages.
- State aid to library systems for database development and technology for resource sharing and broader access to information among all types of libraries -- academic, public, school and special.
- State aid to library systems for a stellar program of resource sharing resulting in New York's consistent record in out-distancing all other states in public library interlibrary loan.
- Establishment of school library systems based in the Boards of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES) and the Five Big City school districts, leading to greater school library participation in resource sharing than in any other state.
- Establishment of the first comprehensive State-funded program in the nation dedicated to the ongoing conservation and preservation of rare, unique and fragile library materials for use by future generations.
As State Librarian of Ohio, Mr. Shubert was one of the three founders of the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies in 1973. He was Chair of that organization and also chaired the legislative, statistics and other committees at various times. He also chaired the Legislation Committee of the 50,000-member American Library Association and was instrumental in advancing improvements in the federal Library Services and Construction Act.
For the Library of Congress, Mr. Shubert served on the Advisory Committee for the Center for the Book (1979-82) and as a member of the Network Advisory Committee (1981-96). He was a trustee of the Ohio College Library Center and OCLC Inc., served on the Depository Council to the Public Printer and was a trustee of the Northeast Document Conservation Center.
President Ford appointed him to the Advisory Committee for the 1979 White House Conference on Library and Information Services and he served on a planning group for the 1991 conference.
Awards, Honors and Recognition
Mr. Shubert received distinguished alumnus awards from the University of Denver (1979), the SUNY College at Geneseo (1985), and the Distinguished Public Service award and medal from the Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs at the University at Albany (1987). The American Library Association division, the Association for Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA) honored him in 1985 with the Exceptional Achievement Award for "distinguished service in strengthening the role of the state library on the national level."
In 1991, the Ohio Library Association designated him for the Ohio Library Hall of Fame. In 1996, he received both the New York Library Association’s Distinguished Service to Libraries Award and the New York State Association of Library Boards’ Velma K. Moore Award.
On the occasion of his 1996 retirement, The New York State Board of Regents named him State Librarian Emeritus and adopted a resolution at their meeting expressing thanks for "distinguished leadership in library and information services for all New Yorkers."
In his post-retirement years, Shubert worked with others to continue The Committee for the State Library (now the Friends of the New York State Library), a not-for-profit group of readers, library users, scholars, historians, and others whose mission is to stimulate government and public support for the nation's greatest State Library. He continued to be active with that organization for many years.
Recognizing Shubert's Contributions
In recognition of Mr. Shubert's many contributions to statewide library service, the Regents Advisory Council on Library Services established the Joseph F. Shubert Library Excellence Award, which is presented annually to recognize achievements of small, medium, and large libraries and library consortia in New York State. The Friends of the New York State Library provides $1,000 for the winner of the Joseph F. Shubert Library Excellence Award in honor of Mr. Shubert's leadership and his tireless advocacy and unwavering commitment to high-quality library services for all New Yorkers.
Those interested in honoring Mr. Shubert's memory are invited to make a donation to the Friends of the New York State Library in support of the Joseph F. Shubert Library Excellence Award. Please send donations to the Friends of the New York State Library, PO Box 2247 Empire State Plaza Station, Albany, NY 12220 or give online.Please identify that the donation is in support of the Joseph F. Shubert Library Excellence Award. The Friends of the New York State Library is a private nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organization. All donations are tax-deductible.