Profile of the new State Librarian: Joseph F. Shubert
from the State Library's Staff Information Bulletin, August-September 1977
Joseph Shubert, newly appointed State Librarian and Assistant Commissioner for Libraries, thinks it's great that he's coming back to New York State. Born and raised in the Buffalo area (his first library job was at the North Collins Public Library, where he worked as "librarian" while still in high school), he is a graduate of State University at Geneseo (Bachelor of Science, his M.A. in library science is from the University of Denver). Since then he has had a wide range of professional experience, including 10 years at the Nevada State Library, a 4-year stint as Assistant Director of the ALA International Relations Office, and as State Librarian of Ohio since 1966. The 49 year-old Shubert will begin work in New York on October 5th.
SIB phoned Shubert earlier this month to learn more about the man and his work. Asked what he considers his major accomplishments in Ohio, he cited the following: "a new law governing the State Library in 1969, a complete reorientation of services to state government, a new library development program (which benefited greatly from the experience of New York), and exemplary programs for institutions and the handicapped." He is proud of their staff development program, carried out in conjunction with the state's universities and library schools. A major accomplishment during his tenure has been improving funding for the State Library itself, which had been 60% federally supported. In Ohio and elsewhere, he has had a strong commitment to intertype library cooperation.
He looks back on his work at Nevada and at ALA as valuable learning experiences. Of his years at Nevada, where he worked successively as reference and documents librarian, as extension consultant, and as State Librarian, he says "the operation was small enough that I had to be interested in everything and got to do everything -- it gave me a practical understanding of how libraries function." By contrast, his focus at the International Relations Office of
ALA was worldwide. Here he gained "insight into how change is accomplished, and learned how many different ways there are to see the same situation." He pointed out that we often "are appalled or cynically amused by something we
see in a foreign culture. and then realize that back home the same phenomenon exists in a form we've taken for granted."
Shubert feels he has learned as much from his association responsibilities as from his jobs. These have included the ALA Legislative Committee, the Advisory Council to the Public Printer, the board of CLENE (Continuing Library Education Network and Exchange), and the National Advisory Committee for a White House Conference, the Ohio College Library Center Board of Trustees, and Ohio's Committee for Public Programs in the Humanities, which channels NEH money to local projects. The list is not exhaustive.
By reputation a hard worker, he doesn't really have any hobbies. He is oriented to work and to family (a wife and two children), copes with his garden, enjoys music (''as background -- not a dedicated listener"), and likes to read (latest book read: Whom the Gods Destroy by Nearing -- "about, two years old, as are most of the books I get to read"). His strongest interest is in people.
Asked to list the most important challenges facing State Library agencies today, Shubert sees these as similar to those facing all libraries. They are: "competition for scarce resources; making clear the relationship between our services and the priority concerns of state and local governments; using technology, and evaluating and restating our objectives in terms compatible with current technology; making library services more visible to potential users; and arriving at new sources of support that enable us to improve services, meet new needs, and make full use of available resources."
Joe Shubert is looking forward to returning to New York State. "There are large areas of New York I've never seen or visited," he said, and he wants to remedy that.
He is looking forward to working with the staff of the State Library. We'll be looking forward to him.