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Cynthia Wright Swaine, 1944-2014
Forever in our hearts!
Cynthia first came to the library in 1975, as the Education Reference Librarian in the old Hughes Library (built in 1959) across campus. She helped move the library over to its modern building in 1976. Soon after, she was appointed the Instructional Services Librarian; in this capacity, she served the University for the next 33 years.
During her tenure, she saw a lot of change -- serving under several University Librarians: Brewster E. Peabody, Cynthia B. Duncan, Jean Major, and Virginia O’Herron – and under many University Presidents: Alfred B. Rollins, Jr., Joseph M. Marchello, William B. Spong, James V. Koch, Roseann Runte, and James R. Broderick. She retired in September of 2010.
Cynthia was named Librarian of the Year for 1995, and received the Distance Learning Hero Award in 2009. She was named a second time as Librarian of the Year, sharing the award in 2009 with Karen Vaughan. In 2010, she was awarded the title of Instructional Services Librarian Emerita.
She earned her undergraduate degree in Education from Goshen College in Indiana, an M.S. in Art Education from Indiana University, and her M.L.S., also from Indiana University.
She was The Teacher. She developed and taught classes on library resources and services, directed the library teaching programs, and developed faculty workshops on resources and search strategies. She worked closely with each new library instructor to develop their own teaching and presentation skills. In her own presentations, she set a high standard, using good design, graphics, humor, and well researched content to grab her audience. She generously shared her knowledge of effective presentation, and once conducted a yearlong series of workshops on presentation skills for her library colleagues.
She was The Decorator. Remember the exhibit windows facing out on the front plaza? Cynthia created all those exhibits, and lots of others inside the library.
She decorated her office – her office was colorful and fun – and full of umbrellas! If you needed an umbrella for an emergency, Cynthia was your go-to person! Her office was always full of things, but Cynthia was always organized and knew just where everything was.
Cynthia worked with the head of Reference, Charlotte Millis, to design the first dedicated instruction room. She and Jeff Barry designed the next instruction room, and Cynthia led the design and planning work to outfit the Information Technology Information Center as part of the 1998 renovation of Perry Library.
She was The Communicator. She handled the library announcements and newsletter, and she created many web products for students and faculty – the Idea Generator, Start Your Research Here, and other products popular with library users.
She was The Traveler. She would do her research ahead of time and return home with wonderful tales of sights and experiences – Italy, Great Britain, Sweden.
She was The Editor. If you were working on a report, or article, or any piece of writing, you always knew that you could take it to Cynthia – she would get that wording to work so much better than you had it.
She was our Historian – the keeper of all the names and dates in the library over the years. Who did that? Ask Cynthia. When did we get InfoTrac? Ask Cynthia! She always knew the answer!
She was The Learner - a lifelong learner. At the library, she was constantly learning new skills and techniques, from effective newsletter writing, to public relations, to web product development. She made an annual summer trek to Star Island in New Hampshire for a week of learning. She participated enthusiastically in the Creative Writing program here at the University. She loved to read and could always give you an idea about a new author to try out next. She spent several years walking around downtown Norfolk photographing every interesting architectural detail that she could spot. In retirement, she took painting classes and fell in love with abstract art. She helped all of us fall in love with it too!
Cynthia set our standard for living life to the fullest. She will be remembered fondly and greatly missed.
Her memorial service will be held on Saturday, June 7 at 2pm at the Unitarian Church in Norfolk.