Gubbin retires from head library post after 12 years

Gubbin retires from head library post after 12 years
Barbara A.B. Gubbin grins with excitement over the gift of a lifetime membership with the American Library Association on the occasion of her retirement as Jacksonville Public Library director.

You can call her an “Energizer Bunny,” a go-getter, a mover and a shaker, but whatever moniker you put on Barbara A.B. Gubbin, former director of the Jacksonville Public Library, it’s not big enough to describe the accomplishments of the petite 65-year-old Brit.

More than 100 friends, co-workers, Library trustees and Foundation board members, and members of Jacksonville city government turned out June 15 to wish Gubbin well in her retirement and give her the accolades she richly and rightly deserved.

Gubbin spent 12 years with the Jacksonville Public Library, coming on board in 2005 after 30 years with library systems in Texas. She enjoyed two years of relative ease in her new role here – while the new $150 million Main Library was being finished and new branches were being opened – before the economic recession brought out her fighting spirit as budgets were slashed, hours reduced and some branches threatened with closures.

The Fairfax resident’s contributions to the library as well as the greater community were enumerated by several admirers at her official going-away party held, of course, at the Main Library.

After a welcome by Jennifer Giltrop, Library Deputy Director, the podium saw a succession of speakers paying tribute to Gubbin. Ronnie King, Board of Library Trustees chair, and Betsy Lovett, Chair Emeritus of the Jacksonville Public Library Foundation, both noted Gubbin’s contributions to the Jacksonville Public Library.

“She has made this a successful 21st century library that Jacksonville can definitely be proud off,” said King. “The library was recently named Library of the Year [by the Florida Library Association].”

WJCT President and CEO Michael Boylan noted Gubbin’s contributions to the community, while City Council Vice President John Crescimbeni spoke about her contributions to the City.

Crescimbeni also presented the City Council Resolution honoring and commending Gubbin for her exemplary leadership as director of the Jacksonville Public Library.

According to the resolution, Gubbin is “credited with leading the library into the technology age; under her watch, digital materials are now as much at the core of the library’s resources as traditional books; self-service checkout has replaced long lines; in 2015, the library partnered with the Duval Public Schools to introduce ‘virtual library cards,’ a program that provides over 60,000 students with access to the Jacksonville Public Libraries; with its G.E.D. program, the library has become a center for adult learning, community interaction and work force development; in 2015, Project LEAP – the Library Enhanced Access Program – was created to send librarians, armed with computers and other materials, to community centers in underserved neighborhoods to promote literacy for all age groups, and in 2016 the library won acclaim for its Careers On Line program that enables high school students to earn their high school diploma.”

Tributes were also paid via video by Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and by Dr. Julie Todaro, president of the American Library Association, which recently honored Gubbin with the Ernest A. DiMattia Award for Innovation and Service to Community and Profession.

Library Deputy Director Mark Merritt presented a toast after Gubbin was showered with gifts, including a lifetime membership in the American Library Association.

The Jacksonville Public Library has 21 branches, employs about 400 employees, had 3.4 million customers in 2016, and has a $33 million budget.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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