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Roll of Honor: Russell Shank
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Russell Shank  

1990 FTRF Roll of Honor inductee Russell Shank (1925-2012)

Russ' family has asked that funds in his memory be donated to the Freedom to Read Foundation.  If you would like to make a donation in Russ' memory, you may do so here.

About Russell Shank

"Russell Shank was undeniably one of the profession’s most distinguished librarians of the 20th century."  - Richard Dougherty

A native of Spokane, Wash., and World War II veteran (Navy), Russ' long and multifaceted career included time spent as a library educator, innovator, and professional leader.   He served as president of the American Library Association from 1978-1979 (by which office he was an FTRF ex officio trustee from 1977-1979) and as an elected Freedom to Read Foundation trustee from 1983-1986 and again from 1989-1991.

Russ may best be remembered as an automation pioneer, in particular for his service as the first librarian at the Smithsonian Institutions and later as chief librarian (eventually the first-ever vice chancellor for library and information services planning) at UCLA.  He served as the third president of LITA (then the Information Science and Automation Division) and then as ACRL president from 1972-1973.  

In 1990, along with the Roll of Honor Award, Russ received the third-ever Hugh C. Atkinson Memorial Award, which recognizes outstanding achievements by academic librarians who have contributed significantly to improvements in library automation, library management and library development and research.

Russ (and his electric scooter, made necessary following a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis) made an appearance at the 2012 Freedom to Read Foundation Annual Conference member reception in Anaheim, days before the fall that led to his death.  There he met Conable Scholarship recipient Steven Booth.  In Steven's report to the FTRF Board, he wrote:

During the conference I was blessed to experience several highlights.  One in particular stands out.  At the FTRF member reception I had the opportunity to meet Russell Shank.  We spoke about my career with Presidential libraries, NARA, and living in D.C.  Even though our conversation was less than ten minutes, Mr. Shank showed a genuine interest in my goals and encouraged me to see them through. ... It was a great honor to meet Mr. Shank and gain his advice.  His impact is one that I will cherish both professionally and personally.

In June 2013, the ALA Council passed a memorial resolution honoring Russ.

News & Features

1968 Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution - featuring sizable article by Shank 

UCLA Daily Bruin obituary

American Libraries obituary

"Russell Shank: Memories" - fellow past ALA President Richard Daugherty's tribute to Russ in Library Journal

"In Memorium of Russell Shank" - Smithsonian Libraries blog obituary

Los Angeles Times Obituary.  Includes this quote:

Barbara Jones, director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom at the American Library Assn. [and Freedom to Read Foundation executive director], said Shank was "one of the real giants in the field of academic libraries."

"He stood for good management practice in research libraries," she said. "He promoted research libraries in this country as the backbone of America's preeminence in the sciences, the social sciences and the arts."

Roll of Honor Citation

THANK YOU, Russ Shank, for your unstinting leadership in the Foundation’s efforts to promote and defend First Amendment rights in libraries.

Thank you, also, for your lifelong commitment to librarians, the library profession, library service, and intellectual freedom. 

For unflagging devotion to free expression, the Freedom to Read Foundation honors Russell Shank, trustee 1977-79, 1983-1986, and 1989-91. 

Robert S. Peck, President
Judith F. Krug, Executive Director 

Chicago, Illinois June 1990