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Remembering Carolyn Forsman

Posted By Jonathan M. Kelley, Monday, February 11, 2013

It was right before the Midwinter Meeting that we heard of Carolyn Forsman's untimely death.

Conferences were the primary forum via which most of us connected with Carolyn.  Her booth at all the ALA Annual Conferences - and most of the Midwinter Meetings - over the past decades gave her longtime colleagues and customers a chance to catch up, see what new goodies she had to offer at her jewelry booth, and thank her for her tremendous generosity and service.

(Carolyn also loved knowing where the fun events were going to be - it was never "just business" with her! One of my fondest memories will always be her dancing at the final performance ever of the Rock Bottom Remainders at the 2012 Anaheim conference.)

Conferences were also the venues where Carolyn first made a name for herself, as one of the earliest movers and shakers in the "social responsibilities" movement that shook up ALA in the late '60s and early '70s.  Her work as a librarian transcended the traditional walls of the physical buildings so often associated with librarianship, and her seminal article "Up Against the Stacks: The Liberated Librarian's Guide to Activism" was a guiding force in the creation of ALA as we know it today.

The 2001 Annual Conference in San Francisco was where Carolyn stood on the stage to receive her prestigious FTRF Roll of Honor Award (before listening to the wonderful Opening General Session remarks by Studs Turkel); following which she joined fellow Roll of Honor members John Horany, Gordon Conable, Candace Morgan, and Judith Krug at a dinner celebrating her and Horany's additions to the Roll.  (Check out the great picture of them all reprinted in this American Libraries article.) The next day, of course, she was hard at work all day, selling her jewelry and raising thousands of dollars for the Foundation.

Finally, it will be at the 2013 Annual Conference in Chicago where we will create a memorial resolution for Carolyn, and where we can come together again to honor her contributions to this world.

We have created a new Roll of Honor page for Carolyn that includes a list of resources about her life and work.  We'll also have an article about her in the March issue of FTRF News.  If you have memories (or photos) you'd like to share, please feel free to comment here or send them to me at  And if you would like to make a donation in Carolyn's memory, you may do so on our Donations page.

Tags:  Carolyn Forsman  Roll of Honor 

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