University News

Obituary: Page Ackerman, Former UCLA University Librarian

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Page Ackerman, former UCLAuniversity librarian, died of congestive heart failure on Feb. 28 at Royal OaksManor in Duarte, Calif. She was 93. She served as universitylibrarian during 1973–77 and was the first woman in the United States to head such a largeand complex library system.

 

"It was with great sadness that Ilearned of Page's death," said UCLA University Librarian Gary E. Strong. "Amongher countless other contributions, the management structures and processes sheput into place and the staff she hired and trained enabled the UCLA Library togrow into one of the top five research libraries in North America. As one of the nation's leading experts in librarymanagement and personnel, she had a lasting impact both at UCLA and atlibraries across the country, and she will be sorely missed."

 

Born in Evanston,Ill., on June 30, 1912, Ackerman enrolled inthe first class to attend the new Westwood campus of the then-named SouthernBranch of the University of California in 1929.She transferred to Agnes Scott Collegein Decatur, Ga., on a physical education scholarship asa junior and earned a bachelor's degree in English in 1933. She earned herbachelor's degree in library science from the Universityof North Carolina at Chapel Hill in1940, then worked as a cataloger at the Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur during 1942–43.

 

In 1943 Ackerman became the postlibrarian at the U.S. Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, where the atomic bomb wasdeveloped. While there she began a lifelong friendship with the eminentastronomer Edwin Hubble, who was head of ballistics, and his wife, Grace. WhenAckerman left that position, she was given a full regimental review and ameritorious service citation.

 

Ackerman came to UCLA in 1949 fromthe Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Va., where she had been anassistant librarian since 1945. She was hired by then-Associate UniversityLibrarian Robert Vosper as a reference librarian to serve needs of students andfaculty in the School of Social Welfare.

 

In 1954 Ackerman was appointedassistant university librarian, with responsibility for personnel and budget,and in 1965 she became associate university librarian. In 1973 she succeededVosper as university librarian, a position she held until her retirement in1977.

 

Ackerman's main focus was on staffdevelopment and personnel administration. She was a leader in developing theLibrary's innovative administrative network, which became a model for librarymanagement systems across the country, and she played a key role in getting theUCLA Library staff covered by the public employees retirement system. One ofthe major developments during Ackerman's tenure as university librarian was theincreasing coordination of efforts by the libraries of all UC campuses, whichwas initially brought about by state budget problems. The issues she worked onthen, including a universitywide catalog, coordinated selection strategies andregional storage facilities, are a reality today, and these shared efforts formone of the UC libraries' great strengths.

 

The Library also acquired severalsignificant collections during her tenure. Gilbert Harrison, a UCLA alumnus andlongtime editor of The New Republic, gave his extensive collection of materialsby and about Gertrude Stein, which he developed over the course of theirlifelong friendship. The family of Ralph J. Bunche, UCLA alumnus and NobelPeace Prize winner, gave his papers, tracing his remarkable career as a scholarand a United Nations peacemaker (an online exhibit of selections from thecollection is available at http://www.library.ucla.edu/bunche).The papers of Anais Nin were acquired from Nin's estate, joining those of herfriends Lawrence Durrell and Henry Miller.

 

Following her retirement in 1977,UCLA chancellor Charles E. Young and the Friends of the UCLA Librarycommissioned "Usilia," an ornamental tapestry by James Bassiler, in her honor,which today hangs in the lobby of the Charles E. Young Research Library.

 

Ackerman was a professor in UCLA's Graduate School of Library & InformationScience during 1973–77 and 1982–83, where she was instrumental in the creationof the Frances Clarke Sayers Lectureship. She was also a visiting professor atthe School of Libraryand Information Studies at the Universityof California, Berkeley, during 1978and 1980 and a consultant for university libraries in Santa Cruz, Calif.; Arizona;Florida; and Hawaii.

 

While she was UCLA's universitylibrarian, Ackerman became very involved with the Association of ResearchLibraries (ARL). Both during her years at UCLA and following her retirement,she served the association in a number of capacities, including as the firstwoman on its board of directors.

 

"Page was anintegral force in the evolution of ARL's capability to prepare talentedlibrarians for leadership in research libraries," said ARL ExecutiveDirector Duane Webster. "Almost thirty years after I first met her, I am struckby the still-resounding consequences of her  pertinence and poignancy ofthought and wisdom."

Among other honors, Ackermanreceived the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of North Carolinaand the Status of Women Award from the American Association of UniversityWomen, both in 1973; the UCLA Alumni Association's Award of Distinction in1977; Agnes Scott College's Outstanding Alumna Award for Distinguished Careerin 1978; and a Distinguished Career Citation from the Association of Collegeand Research Libraries in 1989. She wasmade an honorary member of Gold Shield Alumnae of UCLA in 1976 and served aspresident of both the UCLA Faculty Women's Association and the UCLA EmeritiAssociation. She was also very active inPhi Beta Kappa, both at the UCLA chapter level and in the society's Southern California association.

 

A service willbe held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 18, at Royal Oaks Manor in Bradbury, Calif.,and a UCLA memorial service will follow later in the spring.

Contributions in Ackerman'smemory can be made to the Page Ackerman Staff Opportunities Fund, UCLA Library,21520 Charles E. Young Research Library, Box 951575, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1575. Contributions can also bemade to the library at Agnes Scott College, Office of Development, 141 EastCollege Ave., Decatur, GA 30030; and tothe Employee Appreciation Fund at Royal Oaks Manor, care of Herbert Russell,1763 Royal Oaks Dr. North, Bradbury, CA91010.

 

-UCLA-

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