Dr. Sam Rothstein (1921-2014)

It is with sadness that we let you know that Dr. Sam Rothstein, the original Director of the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies (then the School of Librarianship), passed away on Tuesday of this week. The biography that Dr. Rothstein — Sam —  wrote for his fonds at the UBC library is below … but we have to add what a lovely human being Sam was — charming, generous, and innovative. In honour of Dr. Rothstein, in 1989, the School established an entering scholarship for those with promise of success in librarianship, and for the 50th anniversary of SLAIS in 2011, the School established the Sam Rothstein Award for a graduating student who exhibits the innovative spirit that Sam had when opening the School in 1961.

He will be missed.

/Caroline Haythornthwaite on behalf of all at SLAIS

Caroline Haythornthwaite
Director and Professor
SLAIS, The iSchool at UBC


Sam Rothstein was born on January 12, 1921, in Moscow, Russia and came to Canada in 1922. He earned a BA in French and English from UBC in 1939, an MA in French and English from UBC in 1940, a BLS in 1947 from the University of California and a PhD. in Librarianship from the University of Illinois in 1954, becoming the first Canadian to hold a Ph.D. in Librarianship.

He started as a reference librarian at the UBC Library in 1947. He was subsequently promoted to Head of Acquisitions (1948); Assistant and Associate University Librarian (1954); Acting University Librarian and Founding Director of the School of Librarianship (1961); Director and Professor of Librarianship (1970-1986) and Professor Emeritus in 1986. He served in many professional associations and learned societies: as president of the American Association of Library Schools (AALS), the British Columbia Library Association (BCLA), the Pacific Northwest Library Association (PNLA), and the Canadian Association of Library Schools (CALS); as officer of the American Library Association (ALA), the Canadian Library Association (CLA), the Bibliographical Society of Canada and the Canadian Council of Library Schools (CCLS). He also was a consultant for the Science Secretariat of Canada (1969); a Visiting Scholar at the University of Hawaii (1969); a Visiting Professor at the University of Toronto (1970) and at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1973); a consultant for various libraries (1970-1977); the Librarian-in-Residence at the University of Toronto (1979); and a Research Fellow at the University of Toronto Centre for Research in Librarianship (1981-1982).

He is also listed in biographical dictionaries and encyclopedias such as the Canadian Who’s Who, Who’s Who in America, ALA Yearbook of Library and Information Services, and Who’s Who in the World. His monographic publications include The Development of Reference Services (1955); Training Professional Librarians for Western Canada (1957); co-author of As We Remember It (1970); The University — The Library (1972) and Rothstein on Reference (1989). He wrote for several encyclopedias, contributed many articles and reviews to professional journals, gave lectures and talks and served on editorial boards of several encyclopedias and journals.

His awards include the ALA’s Beta Phi Mu Award for distinguished service to education for librarianship (1988), the Carnegie Corporation Fellowship (1951-1954); the BCLA’s Helen Gordon Stewart Award (1970); an honorary D. Litt. degree from York University of Toronto (1971); the CLA’s Outstanding Service to Librarianship Award (1986); and the ALISE Award for Outstanding Professional Contributions to Library and Information Science Education (1988).

Outside of the academe, Rothstein’s record of public service includes his involvement as Councilor of the BC Medical Library Service, President of the Vancouver Public Library Trust (1987-1988), Board member and President of the Vancouver Jewish Community Centre (1962-1972); Board member of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver (1993-1999) and Divisional Chairman of the Vancouver Combined Jewish Appeal (1992-1995). Sam Rothstein retired from UBC at the end of 1986 after a 50-year association with the UBC as student, teacher, librarian, researcher and administrator.

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