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Barbara Blake

Barbara Blake is the author of A Guide to Children’s Books about Asian Americans (England: Ashgate Publishing Co., 1995).  She is co-author of Bridging Cultures (New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc., 1994 [with Tom Kruger]), and Creating Newsletters, Brochures and Pamphlets (Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc., 1992 [with Barbara L. Stein]).  Barbara also authored “Cultural Diversity Resources” [chapter 13], Children’s Media Market Place, 4th ed. (Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc., 1995), and has written various articles and newspaper pieces.  Barbara is a frequent presenter, and has given workshops on various topics including:  newsletter design and content; collection development; genealogy resources; cultural awareness; using folklore and music to promote language development skills; developing story time plans for toddlers and pre-school aged children; programs for teens, adults, intergenerational and family literacy; marketing your library, and becoming a community centered library. 

Barbara holds a Master of Science in Library and Information Science degree from the University of North Texas where she graduated with a 4.00 GPA.  In 1994 she was named an Outstanding Alumnus of the School of Library and Information Science.  She holds a Master of Arts in American History from the University of Central Arkansas where she worked as a graduate assistant with lecturing responsibilities in the Department of History.  Her Bachelor of Science degree is from the University of Central Arkansas.  She majored in history, graduating with honors, and minored in library science.  Barbara served as in officer in Alpha Chi National College Honor Society, Beta Phi Mu International Library & Information Studies Honor Society, and Phi Alpha Theta National History Honor Society.  Barbara is a member of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. 

Barbara has a long and varied career in the library field.  Her first library position was as a library assistant in the university library where she was an undergraduate.  She particularly enjoyed her book repair and shelving duties.  “I can still remember the first time I pulled the rod on the file draw to drop the cards,” she said with pride.  “I can distinctly recall hearing an enraged Tyrannosaurus Rex roar a challenge in the background at the young up-start homo sapient that had the temerity to invade its sacred territory.  Fortunately, I am a fast runner and lost my pursuer in the 523s.”

While working on her Master of Arts degree, Barbara was Records Administrator in the Corporate and Securities Division of the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, Arkansas, the oldest law firm west of the Mississippi.  She worked down the hall from Vince Foster; Hillary Rodham was one floor down.  “I photocopied documents, faxed things, proofed legal agreements, filled in on the PBX when needed, filed things, brought my boss coffee, and developed a remote filing system based on an alpha-numeric code.  Regarding anything unrelated to my specific duties, I know my 349s. ”

After doing a stint as an Actuarial Assistant with the Watson Wyatt Worldwide Actuarial Firm in Dallas, the oldest actuarial firm in the world, Barbara took a position as a subject specialist librarian with the Nicholson Memorial Library in Garland, Texas. Of her time at Wyatt, Barbara says, “Me head hurts; 100 column spreadsheets by hand; crashed whole computer system with one stroke; must rest; make the 510s go away!”

While working full-time as a reference librarian at Nicholson, Barbara attended night school at the University of North Texas, then known as North Texas State Library.  She received her M.S.L.I.S. in 1987 after many long drives to and fro.  Barbara states, “Yes, grasshopper, this was in the days before on-line courses…one had to actually go to a classroom and sit and listen to real live professors without the benefit of text, tweets, or YouTube.  Coffee, much coffee, peruse 641s.” 

After completing her library and information science degree, Barbara spent time as an Information Specialist for a large insurance company in Dallas where she provided information service to 100 safety engineers in a five-state region.  Barbara says, “OSHA that.”

From there she took a position as a faculty associate at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center working for the National Library of Medicine’s (NLM) South Central Regional Medical System as Information Coordinator.  Barbara coordinated the resource sharing activities of 200+ medical and hospital libraries in a five-state region.  She also exhibited at national medical conferences for NLM.  “My claim to fame, I once crashed MEDLARS worldwide.  This coming on top of crashing Wyatt’s Visi-calc accounting software leads me to believe I have a talent for computers-just call me 000.”     

Barbara moved on to Amigos Bibliographic, Inc., where she had a dual position working for Amigos and OCLC.  For Amigos/OCLC she served as a marketing representative for automated collection analysis systems.  Her territory was the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico.  Barbara worked primarily with academic libraries although she was an exhibitor for OCLC/Amigos at specialized as well as national library conferences.  Barbara comments, “I knew I had been doing this long enough when I looked around the airport to find out what city I was in; it was O’Hare.  I opened my bag, riffled through the items there and pulled out my 917.7311 Michelin guide to Chicago.”

Barbara left Amigos to become the Director of Library Services for the Rowlett Public Library.  She served there for close to 11 years and in addition to her duties as library director, was the project manager for the construction of a 15,680 square foot library facility.  Laura Bush was the speaker at the 1996 Grand Opening of the library.  Of her time in Rowlett Barbara says, “The library staff was the best; I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people.  I didn’t even need to consult the 658s.”

After a short stint as Director of Library Services in Weatherford, Barbara decided a change for health reasons was necessary, and accepted a position with the Chinati Foundation, a contemporary art museum in the high desert of far West Texas where she had a small vacation casita.  The four years she spent as Administrator of the foundation dramatically improved her adult onset asthma allowing her to discontinue all four prescription medications she was on to control the symptoms of the disease.  Her duties at the museum included serving as the chief financial officer and human resources manager.  Grant management was an important aspect of the position as the foundation typically raised around $1.5 million a year in operating funds.  “I really got to know the 658s!” Barbara exclaimed.

With her health improved, she returned to public libraries, accepting a position with the Lubbock Public Library as a branch manager.  A year later the opportunity arose to serve as the Assistant Coordinator of the West Texas Library System (WTLS), a Texas State Library and Archives Commission regional system.  Barbara worked with 32 libraries in 47 locations during her time with WTLS.  “The wind really blows on the Llano Estacado.  I found myself becoming interested in wind power; there are quite a few wind turbines in the region.  The 333.92s can be fascinating to read!”

In 2010 Barbara was recruited by Dr. Herman Totten, then Dean of the University of North Texas College of Information, to be the Outreach Coordinator for the University’s newly grant funded PEARL project.  “Dr. Totten was my professor for a number of courses at NTSU when I was working on my library science degree and has been an inspiration through the years.  I have maintained a connection with NTSU/UNT serving as adjunct faculty off and on and guest lecturing there on occasion.  I am thrilled to be a part of this project and am looking forward to what the future brings.”

Barbara’s year round hobbies are writing science fiction and painting (expressionist, acrylic on canvas).  During the winter she knits badly and in the spring and summer attempts to grow flowers and vegetables.  She lives with her two cat babies, Leilani and Malana.

Contact Information

Email: Barbara.Blake {at} unt.edu