Phyllis Bischof, University of California at Berkeley
Phyllis Bischof has served as Librarian for African and African American Collections at the University of California, Berkeley, California, since 1973. At UC-Berkeley, she has been a member of the African Studies Center Faculty Committee since 1986 and was the recipient of the Distinguished Librarian Award presented by the Librarians Association, University of California, Berkeley, in 1999. Because of her cooperative efforts for the former Title VI UCB-Stanford Joint African Studies Center, she was given the Bridge Builders Award in 1997 by the U.C. Berkeley – Stanford Joint Center for African Studies. At the national level, Phyllis has been a member of the Africana Librarians Council since 1974. She was elected ALC Chair in 1990-91, and she served as Chair of the Bibliography Committee from 1984-1990.
Phyllis also has a distinguished list of publications, bibliographies, and book reviews. She was the co-editor of the American Library Association’s “Guide to Reference Works – African Section,” and a co-editor of “Bibliographies for African Studies, 1987-1993” published by Hans Zell Publishers, a premier publisher of Africana reference works. She was also one of the editors of “Africana Reference Works: An Annotated List” which appeared in the African Studies Association newsletter, ASA News from 1982 to 1985, then subsequently, every year, in the major journal, African Book Publishing Record.
Phyllis is known for her kindness, collegiality, and commitment. A quote from the African American Studies Fall 1999 newsletter (UC-Berkeley) describes this very succinctly: “Bischof’s love for Africa, its history, and its people all over the world, is most evident on her face and in her voice when she is asked about her job. “I am really lucky to be able to do something that I like so much…” She has always been a strong voice within the ALC, an eloquent advocate for the right cause. As her friend and colleague Gretchen Walsh describes it: “A certain indescribable way she sets her shoulders and presses her lips together as she sets out on a campaign – lobbying for the LC West African office, or just doing the right thing. A strong ally and good friend.”
Helene Baumann, Duke University
Before moving to the U.S., Helene Baumann obtained a book-trade certificate in Switzerland and, after moving to Philadelphia with her husband, she started working in a college library. Following the family’s move to North Carolina, she got a BA in Anthropology from Duke University and an MLS degree from North Carolina Central University. She first worked as a cataloger in the Duke University Libraries in 1979, became head of Bibliographic Searching in 1981 and later, in 1985, she moved on to Collection Development as General and African Studies Bibliographer. She has been the librarian for African and Western European Studies at Duke University since 1988. She retired from the African Studies part of her position in July, 2005, and continues in her position of librarian of Western European Studies.
Helene has been a long-term ALC member since she took on responsibilities for Duke’s African Studies collection in the early 1990s, and she has served in various key roles ever since: as Chair of the Bibliography Committee 1993-1995, as ALC Chair 1996/97, as CAMP Chair in 1998/99 and as member and secretary of many other committees. She hosted the ALC spring meeting in 1994, and she gets “a pedestal for organizing and updating the long-neglected ALC bylaws” (Greg Finnegan). She has also been an active member of the West European Studies Section (WESS) of the Association of College and Research Libraries where she is currently completing a term as WESS Chair.
Helene has published articles in newsletters and book reviews, among them most recently a review of Victoria K. Evalds’ and David Henige’s edited volume on “Africanist Librarianship in an Era of Change”, which was published in the March 2006, no. 2 issue of College & Research Libraries.
In 2004, Helene was selected to receive the Coutts Nijhoff International West European Specialist Study Grant for her translation of the subject thesaurus of the Pictorial Archive of the German Colonial Society (Bildarchiv der Deutschen Kolonialgesellschaft) from German to English. In the words of committee chair Gordon Anderson, “Her work with the Frankfurt University Library and its German Colonial Society Archive will make more accessible to English-speaking scholars this extremely valuable source of documentation about an important period in African and European history.” She has since completed the translation and presented her findings at a conference on “Images of African Peoples” in March 2006. Her article will be published in the conference proceedings, edited by Toyin Falola.
Apart from her various leadership roles within the ALC, Helene is appreciated for her sense of humor and her kindness. Helene is a caring colleague who has always reached out to the newcomers in the group, making them feel welcomed, and she is a wonderful friend to many of us. It is difficult to imagine future ALC meetings without her serene and kind presence!
“One could write volumes about both of them…” (Gretchen Walsh).
Best wishes to both Phyllis and Helene for their retirements – we look forward to meeting you often at future conferences!
(Thanks for contributions and recollections from Gretchen Walsh, Karen Fung, Greg Finnegan, Al Kagan).
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