California State University, Long Beach
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University Library’s DuBois Retires

Published: August 15, 2011

A lot has changed in the University Library since Henry J. DuBois became an assistant humanities librarian in 1967. Although libraries remain essential to learning, ways in which librarians and patrons interact with each other and with materials are changing faster than ever.

Now, after nearly 44 years, DuBois retired this summer, sent off in style with a campus barbecue attended by family and colleagues as well as library supporters.

CSULB is like a second home to DuBois, who earned his B.A. in English literature here in 1965, followed by a Master of Library Science degree from UC Berkeley, and a mid-career M.P.A from CSULB in 1980. Growing up in Orange County, “Long Beach State College was an attractive choice because by then we had relocated to Corona del Mar, so commuting was a straight shot down PCH, it was relatively new and growing fast, and I had several high school friends who had made the same choice, including my future wife,” he recalled.

Working here made sense for the newly minted librarian. “In 1967, library jobs were plentiful and I pursued openings at UCI, UCLA, Anaheim Public and my alma mater, Long Beach State. The reception I got here was unusually welcoming, and the position, working with students doing research in the arts and humanities, was particularly attractive. I started in September 1967, just before our first child was born. I have had quite an array of job titles since then,” he said—eight altogether, including head of the Fine Arts Reference Department, acting associate director, associate dean, and finally, administrative services librarian.

Over the years, librarians have adapted to often-rapid change. “Of course, library roles and operations have been revolutionized by technology since I entered the profession,” he noted. “When I came to CSULB, there were 42 librarians; today there are somewhere around 15. What happened? We had over a dozen catalogers, librarians whose assignment was to examine new books and catalog them so that students using a card catalog could find them by author, by title or subject. At other libraries all over the world, hundreds of other catalogers were doing the same work. Automation allowed that work to be shared worldwide, eliminating inefficient and wasteful duplication. Card catalogs were displaced by workstations; acquisitions, lending, reserve assignments, delivery of documents to the borrower’s desktop, even 24/7 help with research from a librarian—all have been changed for the better by technology. ORCA, the library’s automated retrieval system, is just one more example.”

Moreover, “Libraries have adapted to new expectations from their users also,” he continued. “We noticed that we were losing customers to Barnes and Noble, Starbucks and Borders at nearby off-campus sites. So, we got our own Starbucks and we tried hard to be the same kind of user-friendly, welcoming place that have made those places so successful. Students today like to study in groups, so academic libraries need to accommodate this with areas both for collaborative group study, with conversation expected and ample laptop connections, as well as other areas for quiet, distraction-free individual study.”

Henry DuBois
Henry DuBois

As the realm of books and information delivery continues to evolve, DuBois is proud of his work and his campus. “Our library has become a model for academic libraries, an exciting and challenging place for librarians to work because of our dean’s willingness to take risks and his determination to see that CSULB students and faculty have the newest and best information resources and services. We’ve had great support both from Provost Don Para and President F. King Alexander. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to be part of Dean Roman Kochan’s team, to work among so many talented, dedicated faculty and staff, and enjoy CSULB’s inspiring, enthusiastic students and park-like setting.”

He now has more time to spend with his family, many of whom made Cal State Long Beach their campus of choice, too. “My beautiful wife, Judy (Pacheco), graduated in ’65 with a degree in elementary education and a teaching credential,” DuBois noted. Their oldest daughter, Susan, graduated in 1991 with a B.A. in physical education; middle daughter, Carole (DuBois) Suzuki, earned a bachelor’s and then a master’s in social work in 1993; and youngest daughter, Jenny attends Long Beach City College. And there may be future Forty-Niners on the way: their three grandchildren are growing fast.

–Anne Ambrose