February 17, 2018

Obituary: Brooke E. Sheldon

Brooke Sheldon

Brooke Sheldon

Brooke E. Sheldon, dean and library educator, passed away on February 11 after a long and courageous battle with uterine cancer. She was born in Lawrence, MA, on August 29, 1931, but spent most of her childhood in her beloved Nova Scotia.

Sheldon earned her BA from Acadia University in Nova Scotia, her MLS from Simmons University, and her PhD from the University of Pittsburgh. She began her library career as a young adult librarian at the Detroit Public Library, and then became branch librarian of the Albuquerque Public Library. She served at the Santa Fe Public Library as Children’s Coordinator and then became Head of the Children’s Department, and Director of Library Development at the New Mexico State Library. She was Head of Technical Services and Training at the Alaska State Library, and Associate Director for Training for the Leadership Training Institute at Florida State University under a grant for the U.S. Department of Education.

Sheldon began her library education career as Dean, School of Library and Information Studies at Texas Woman’s University, where she was also Acting Provost. She subsequently accepted a position as Dean and Professor at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Texas at Austin. After her retirement from Austin, for three years she served as Interim Director and Professor, School of Information Resources and Library Science at the University of Arizona. She continued teaching in the Executive MLIS program at San Jose State University, and ended her teaching career as Visiting Scholar and Lecturer, The University of Alberta, School of Library and Information Studies.

Sheldon served as President of the American Library Association from 1983-1984. She chaired ALA’s Committee on Accreditation and was co-founder of the Continuing Professional Education Round Table in the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. She also served on the Board of the Tocker Foundation, and was an advisor and Board Member of the American Library in Paris.

As an advocate for diversity, Dr. Sheldon recruited and supported minorities for the profession through her successful efforts to get funding as well as to hire minority faculty. She opened her home in Austin to those attending the first national conference of REFORMA and was always supportive of REFORMA’s activities and efforts.

Sheldon’s overwhelming characteristic was her strength of personality vis-à-vis her friends, students, colleagues, and mentees. She expressed her heartfelt thanks to the many students and colleagues who recently wrote to her describing how her leadership and mentorship was instrumental in advancing their careers.

Her love of travel was interwoven with her professional interests and demands as she gave speeches and consulted in numerous countries, including China, Taiwan, England, France, Argentina, Romania, Sweden, Germany, and Japan. One of her great pleasures in retirement was to travel with friends to exotic locations around the world.

She was known for hosting spectacular parties for friends, students, and colleagues, garnering her a reputation as a fun-loving, free spirit who had an instant rapport with anyone she met.

Sheldon received many honors, including an honorary doctorate from Acadia University, the Professional Service Award from the Association of Library and Information Science Educators, the Outstanding Lecturer Award from San Jose State University, and the Library Leadership Award from the Arizona Library Association. The Brooke E. Sheldon Endowed Professorship in Management and Leadership was established at the University of Texas, Austin, in her honor.

Her publications include: Interpersonal Skills, Theory and Practice: The Librarians’ Guide to Becoming a Leader, The Portable MLIS: Insights from the Experts (with Ken Haycock), Leaders in Libraries: Styles and Strategies for Success, Delivering Lifelong Professional Education Across Space and Time (with Blanche Woolls).

Sheldon was preceded in death by her parents, Leonard Hadley, Sr. and Elsie Ann Sutherland Earle; her husband, George; brother Leonard Earle, Jr.; and sister-in-law Eleanor (Mrs. John) Earle.

She is survived by her brother John and sister, Barbara (Mrs. Eugene Hunter); her sister-in-law Charlotte (Mrs. Leonard Earle); sons and their families, Scott and Susan Sheldon and Stephen and Maria Sheldon; grandchildren George Matthew, Brooke Barrera, and Skyler Sutherland Sheldon, and many nieces and nephews.

The family has asked that, in lieu of flowers, contributions in her memory be sent to the Brooke E. Sheldon Endowed Professorship in Management and Leadership at the University of Texas at Austin and the New Mexico Library Foundation.


Blanche Woolls retired as Director of the School of Library and Information Science at San José State University in August 2005. She is a past president of the American Association of School Librarians and the International Association of School Librarianship.


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  1. Kathleen Hensman says:

    I was sadden to learn about the passing of Dean Sheldon. I attended TWU in the eighties when Brooke was the Dean of the School of Library & Information Science. I remember wearing my Brooke Sheldon for ALA President button at the 1983 ALA Conference in Dallas. We, her students were thrilled when Dean Sheldon won the Presidency. Dean Sheldon always made time to speak to her students, no matter what was going on in her life. I’ll never forget Dean Sheldon’s great sense of humor, warmth and unforgetable smile. I too, I’m proud to have Brook Sheldon’s name on my two diploma’s from TWU: 1982 Bachelor’s of LIbrary Science & 1986 MLS. Rest with the angels Dean Sheldon and you will never be forgotten by all the lives you touched.