July 21, 2016
Barbara Smith, professor emerita and long-time reference librarian, died on July 11, 2016, in Potsdam, NY. She was 89.
Born in Menominee, MI, the daughter of Enid and Leslie Eggleston, Barbara grew up in Marinette, WI. She attended Maryville College in Tennessee, graduating with highest honors and serving as valedictorian. She worked in the library at Maryville and other campuses where her husband, Bob Smith, was teaching. After Bob joined Skidmore’s Government Department, Barbara served as an art reading-room assistant and then catalog librarian at Scribner Library. When she earned a master’s degree in library science from SUNY-Albany in 1967, she joined the Skidmore faculty as a reference librarian.
She enjoyed assisting faculty and students in their research, and spent one sabbatical researching British government documents and another at the U.S. Government Printing Office. She published journal articles and presented conference papers comparing American and British government document distribution and was invited to lecture at British universities. She led committees and consulted for advisory groups regarding the GPO and the federal depository service in New York State. Her work on government-documents committees for the American Library Association earned her an ALA Documents to the People Award in 1985.
Library retiree Alvin Gamage remembers that Barbara’s document collection “was always beautifully organized; she had a library within the library.”
Every other January, Barbara offered a Skidmore winter-term course on how to access and use government documents. She organized and brought to campus an international conference of government publishers, librarians and users in 1982 as well as a regional workshop on government documents in 1985. She was also active on many of Skidmore’s faculty and collegewide committees. She retired in 1989.
Library retiree Mary K. O’Donnell says, “The library was a family and always had great parties and lots of laughs.” For Barbara’s retirement party, Mary wrote a little poem describing her as a role model. One verse went: “She’s smart and professional,/A trooper to the end./And her sense of humor didn’t hurt./To us all she’s been a friend.”
Mary Ann Cardillo Fitzgerald, who worked with Barbara during the 1980s, agrees: Barbara was intelligent, sensitive to those around her, and a whole lot of fun.” She recalls that Barbara felt “every day was like Christmas, because of the daily shipments we received from the Government Printing Office.”
Outside work, Barbara loved camping and hiking with her family in the Adirondacks, biking and swimming, and music, theater and movies. She and Bob enjoyed travel, including a year at Oxford University, extended periods in London and car trips throughout Europe.
Her survivors—along with Bob, her husband of 66 years—include sons Michael Smith (Gina) and Kevin Smith (Lynn) and a granddaughter.
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