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Obituary
Anne Lipow

14 October 2004


Anne Lipow
Anne Grodzins Lipow, who worked in the Library for nearly three decades, passed away on Sept. 9 at the Belevedere home she shared with her husband, Stephen Silberstein. Lipow, who had been battling breast cancer, was 69.

Lipow began her career at Berkeley’s Library in 1961 and spearheaded innovations in the system until her retirement in 1991. She worked in the Library’s acquistion, systems, and cooperative services departments from 1961 to 1984, typically holding “newly created” positions that explored new developments in librarianship. She was appointed to the Library Education Office as the director for Library Instructional Service in 1982.

Lipow’s long list of firsts helped make Berkeley’s Library a national leader in the 1970s and 1980s; many of her ideas were adopted by research libraries across the country. Pivotal in helping the Library move into the digital age, she was also a key player in instituting the Baker document delivery service, the Berkeley/Stanford Cooperative Program (allowing use of both campus libraries), innovative methods for teaching library skills, and a virtual reference service.

Lipow’s publications and training classes earned her a national reputation. She found time to co-author the Directory of California Campaign Activities in 1982 and the California Almanac for 1984-85. She also created a faculty seminar series at the Library and many workshops for staff, including “Public Service Under Pressure.”

“We have many leaders in the profession, but no one has the heart, the humanity, the joy that was Anne’s,” said Patricia Iannuzzi, associate university librarian. “Anne lives in the hearts and minds of a generation of librarians around the world.”

Born in Manchester, N.H., and raised in Springfield, Mass., Lipow earned her undergraduate degree at American International University in Springfield, Mass. She married her first husband, Arthur Lipow, in New York, and they soon moved to Berkeley to attend graduate school. Lipow received her MLS at Berkeley in 1960.

When she retired from the Library in 1991, Lipow was awarded emeritus status for her exemplary service, the first such award for a staff member at Berkeley.

“Her achievements and contributions to the library profession are legendary,” said Suzanne Calpestri, librarian in the George and Mary Foster Anthropology Library and a longtime friend of Lipow. “Anne saw the importance of new ideas long before most other librarians did — she thought ‘outside the book.’”

A social activist, Lipow had stong convictions about the ideals and values of librarianship. Calpestri says her friend wanted to be remembered for her expert testimony against using mandated filtering systems on Internet terminals in public libraries. For more than three years, she served as an expert witness, helping bring the case to the Supreme Court (United States vs. the American Library Association). During the 1960s, she was a founder of the UC Berkeley Librarians Union, and in the 1970s she wrote a report on discrimination against women in the UC Berkeley library system, resulting in an upward adjustment in librarian salaries.

After leaving Berkeley, Lipow in 1992 founded and directed the Library Solutions Institute and Press in Berkeley, where she devoted herself to training, publishing, and consulting on library technology and management issues. For her contribution to “Question Point,” the Library of Congress’ global collaborative reference service, in 1994 she received the prestigious Isadore Gilbert Mudge Award, which noted her “distinguished contribution to reference librarianship.”

Calpestri tells a story of how her friend was a doer and innovator in many aspects of her life. For Hannukah, she says, “Anne didn’t want her kids to have plastic dreidels, so she and several of her friends began making them from redwood.” The project led Lipow to a 20-year stint selling the wooden dreidels on Telegraph Avenue and at crafts fairs.

Lipow is survived by her husband, Stephen Silberstein; her children, Jenny, Stephanie, and Nicholas Lipow; her sister, Ethel Grodzins Romm; her brother, Lee Grodzins; her former husband and friend, Arthur Lipow; and two granddaughters. Funeral services were held on Sept. 13 in Oakland.

Memorial donations may be made to the Library of the University of California, Berkeley, 188 Doe Library, Berkeley, CA 94720-6000; The Berkeley Public Library Foundation, 2090 Kittredge St., Berkeley, CA 94704; Freedom to Read Foundation, American Library Association, 50 East Huron St., Chicago, IL 60611; or Belvedere-Tiburon Public Library, 1601 Tiburon Blvd., Tiburon, CA 94920.