Betsy Park’s colleagues and friends are saddened to hear of her death on Sunday 18 January 2015 from complications of a bone marrow transplant.
Betsy’s distinguished 32-year tenure at the University Libraries at the University of Memphis was an inspiration to the faculty, staff, and students she served enthusiastically first as a reference librarian, then as Head of Reference, and finally as Assistant to the Dean for Planning and Assessment.
Betsy modeled the characteristics she expected in other Libraries faculty: Intellectual inquisitiveness, service to others, and the drive to contribute meaningfully to the profession. In addition to her oft-cited publication, “Status of the Profession: A 1989 National Survey of Tenure and Promotion for Policies for Academic Librarians” (College and Research Libraries, May 1991, 275-289), Betsy authored a book chapter and many journal articles, regularly presented her work at state and national conferences, and was active in a variety of professional organizations.
She was a respected colleague; Libraries faculty and staff actively sought her advice and counsel. Her door was always open, and she went out of her way to welcome and mentor junior faculty members. In her role as Head of Reference, Betsy was a strong and charismatic leader; she was always available, fair, and encouraging to members of the Department. She was a dedicated chair of the Libraries Tenure and Promotion Committee and created a writing group to facilitate and support the scholarship of Libraries faculty.
Betsy lived to teach, and in addition to her innumerable presentations in classrooms, often invited students and faculty to her office to help with research-related questions. Colleagues nearby could often hear exclamations of delight as Betsy shared with her visitors new perspectives, research skills, and ways to use technology.
Betsy never shied away from challenges, whether professional or personal. She was an innovative, insightful, and reliable collaborator. She was among the first librarians at the University to present online instruction to distance learning students and to be embedded in online classes, and became the go-to person for questions about RefWorks, the citation management software.
Her adventurous spirit led her to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in Gossas, Senegal, from 1966-1968; more recently, she and her husband reveled in the cultures of South Korea, Japan, France, and Hawaii. A fabulous chef and hostess, Betsy was known for dishes inspired by the culinary experiences she had while traveling. She threw great dinner parties, made pots of homemade applesauce with her granddaughters (one of her favorite traditions), and amassed an impressive collection of cookbooks.
Betsy routinely shared produce from her bountiful garden, was often spotted at the Symphony and the Overton Shell, and was an avid golfer at one time. The songs of love birds filled her home, and she loved–and adopted–many dogs over the years (each a character, it seemed!).
Everyone who knew her has a favorite “Betsy story.” Won’t you share yours?