Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Loss -- Personal and Professional

I have spent part of the last 24 hours or so reeling from the news which I received from a couple of my Connecticut friends/colleagues. The Business Manager for the Connecticut Library Consortium died on Sunday. Prior to that she was at the Southern Connecticut Library Council where I worked from 1995 - 2000. Her name was Jan Gluz. I know that when I started there, she and the rest of the staff were very nervous. Among other things, it was the first time that a man had worked there. Since my Connecticut library experience had all been in a different part of the state, I was also an unknown quantity.

The note which went out on the Connecticut lists (and which Executive Director Chris Bradley kindly sent to me) included some wonderful stories and comments about Jan, I am going to past Chris' words, and then add some of my own:

Jan was someone on whom so many of us in Connecticut's libraryland knew we could always depend. Jan started at the old film co-op in Seymour. … Then there came (and went!) the CLSUs, and Jan went to Hamden for two decades with SCLC, which is where I suspect she developed her signature phrase, "I'll give it a shot!" When CLC appeared from the merger of the CLSUs, Jan gave the job of office manager/bookkeeper a really good shot.

In Jan's office at CLC in Middletown sits a Mac, a PC, and a typewriter, and Jan used them all. (Although she never refused to give any new technology a shot, Jan knew enough not to go unarmed into the night!) She did betray her conservative Midwestern roots by voting Democratic, but Jan was always an old-school money manager, keeping the books and the money safe from the big-spenders like yours truly. People who did business with SCLC and CLC during the Jan years always got paid on time, could always count on their paperwork being correct, and had their inquiries answered not only competently and completely, but friendly-like.

Jan had edited SCLC's newsletter for years, and so quality control for CONNtext also fell to her.

It is the last which became part of Jan's and my enduring relationship. When I started at SCLC, I was scared to death about having to create (almost from scratch) a monthly newsletter. I doubted my writing skills, and had never used anything other than a word processing program to "lay out" a newsletter. Jan was "a doll" in getting me started. In addition, I had to transition from a DOS-based PC to a Mac! What fun we had over the five years of doing the newsletter, including two complete re-designs. We "fought" over commas and other punctuation marks, we discussed grammar at great length, we searched together for appropriate graphics and dingbats, and we talked about type size and fonts. In short, we worked really hard together on the newsletter, and had fun doing it. Jan was probably the best editor I have ever had, as well. She often had me re-write for clarity. I am an incredibly better writer for having had her edit me for five years.

Jan is one of the people who remind me why I do not like to use the term "professional" to designate librarians with degrees. Jan did not have an MLS. However, she was always the consummate professional. She treated members and vendors with equal charm. She made sure that the organization was on firm financial grounds and that the reports balanced to the penny! She was a true professional in every single thing that she did.

When I left, I know there was true sadness, and we saw each other frequently at library related events during the remainder of my time in Connecticut.

There is an obituary and information on the memorial service, which I cannot attend, alas. You can rest assured that on Saturday morning, she will be in my thoughts and prayers.

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