UC Berkeley News


Charles Shain

12 January 2006

Charlie Shain

It was recently learned that Charles H. "Charlie" Shain, the campus's longtime City and Regional Planning Librarian, died of natural causes in August 2005.

Shain, a Pennsylvania native, was born Aug. 6, 1928. He attended high school in Philadelphia, graduating in January 1946. Later that year he joined the Army, from which he was discharged in 1948. He worked his way through Berkeley starting later that year, ultimately receiving two degrees: a B.A. in economics and political science in 1956 and, in 1963, an M.L.S. He began his campus employment in June 1963 as City and Regional Planning Librarian, replacing Holway Jones, serving in that position for 26 years until his retirement in July 1990.

When he was hired the profession of city planning was still in its infancy, and the literature was dispersed, ephemeral, and even more difficult to obtain than it is today. Shain, noted for his reference skills, managed to acquire much of this material, and created and disseminated to faculty and graduate students a series of "Reference Bulletins," or mini-bibliographies, on new resources in the specialized topics of planning.

Shain helped create the "Urban Planning Depository Libraries" program through which 12 key U.S. planning libraries received 24,000 HUD program reports and plans. Every American city or metropolitan area that applied for federal funding under this program had to submit a comprehensive plan. The Berkeley collection, which documents city planning nationwide during four decades (1955-1981), is available to city-planning and urban-studies researchers at the Environmental Design Library and libraries throughout the country.

Perhaps Shain's most noted accomplishment, however, was the development and coordination of Bibliography 1, a course that became widely known in the late 1960s and '70s, and had a major impact on the development of bibliographic instruction at higher-education institutions nationwide.

During the time of campus ferment following the Free Speech Movement, Shain became an ardent advocate for library instruction and developed an ambitious curriculum proposal for a credit course in the use of the library, to be taught by Berkeley librarians under the general guidance of a faculty member in the Library School. The radical (for its time) proposal was approved and a course syllabus developed by a committee of librarians, with Shain as the course coordinator. Beginning in Fall 1968 as Bibliography 1-X, the course was very successful, with as many as 16 sections in the late 1970s; it was offered continuously until the mid-1990s, when the School of Library and Information Studies was closed and then re-established as the School of Information Management and Systems.

Actively involved in the Council of Planning Librarians (the professional association for U.S. and Canadian city-planning librarians), Shain also was an active leader in the AFT Local 1795 (representing librarians at Berkeley), from the earliest days in the mid-1960s until the late 1980s. He also served as president at two critical junctures: in 1970, when librarians' status and pay were being actively re-examined and LAUC was being developed, and in 1983-84, when the first collective-bargaining contract was being negotiated. He was a delegate to the Central Labor Council of Alameda County from 1970-1992, and a critical liaison during the major strike against the campus carried out by the Central Labor Council in 1972, which resulted in a university commitment to a pay-equity increase for librarians. He was a member of the statewide bargaining team of the University Federation of Librarians, which negotiated the first MOU covering librarians in 1984.

After he retired from ENVI, Shain volunteered at the Berkeley Jewish Community Center Library. Helen, his wife of 30 years, died in 1984. His second wife, Odessa Crudup, a longtime library staff member in ENVI, then later the Social Sciences Library, died in 1995.

Donations in his memory may be sent to the Charlie Shain Memorial Fund, Environmental Design Library 210 Wurster Hall, Berkeley CA 94720-6000, attn. Elizabeth Byrne.

- Elizabeth Byrne and Bill Whitson