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Our dear friend, library doyenne, WWII parachutist(!), mentor, and great supporter of FGI Anita Schiller passed away on the night of January 23, 2021. Anita had an outsized impact on libraries and many people’s lives. Long-time American Library Association (ALA) members will no doubt know Anita and her long history as a powerhouse within the library world — including the fact that she served on the California Council for the Humanities in the 1980s and received the ALA Equality Award and ALA lifetime honorary membership, ALA’s highest honor. Her work on equality for women in librarianship was ground-breaking. She had an early and lifelong interest in computers and their use and misuse in libraries, and was instrumental and influential in getting data into libraries. You can read her obituary in the San Diego Union Tribune.
She also had an outsized impact on us. We’ll always remember sitting at the dining room table of Shinjoung’s and James’ apartment in San Diego soon after writing our article “Government Information in the Digital Age: The Once and Future Federal Depository Library Program” (2005). We were passionately discussing libraries and government information and ways to get our article out to a wider audience when the idea for FGI came about. Though she would never take any credit for it, she was and will always remain a driving force for what we do at FGI (the “mother of FGI”!). She was a tireless advocate for public information and protecting it against privatization and commodification, privacy, and most of all of libraries as inherently democratic institutions.
We continued our almost salon-style discussions with her over many brunches, dinners (with more than a few fights over restaurant checks in which Shinjoung almost always won until Anita found a workaround), email and phone calls for almost 20 years. Our visits would never be complete without her giving us hand-ripped NYT article clippings of interest and import and we would frequently receive in the mail books from Warwicks she thought we should read.
We will sorely miss Anita’s advice, support, and friendship. She was instrumental in both FGI and our work toward public information and libraries. We hope to honor her by continuing our work and maybe even creating a digital government information library in her name.
Anita always ended our phone calls with “lots of love” and that’s how we will always feel about her.
–Jim Jacobs, James Jacobs, Shinjoung Yeo