Tributes to Sarah How

ESS Newsletter

2022, Vol 2

I joined CIFNAL in 2015, soon after I started my position at the University of Florida. Sarah was Chair at the time. She made me feel so welcome. I did not know anyone, as I was just starting out as a librarian, and she took time to answer all of my questions, pushing to become Chair of the Collection Development Working Group. Little did I know that this would lead to so many amazing collaborations and projects. Going to my first ALA Conference, she encouraged me to attend the social event organized by WESS at the time ( I believe it was a cruise). Once more, she made me feel welcome and part of the group, even though I did not know many people then.

Sarah, if you read this, I wish you all the best. Thank you for everything. Merci.

Retirement of ESS Stalwart, Sarah How

    Near the finish of February in the Year of our Calendar, 2 thousand-zip-and-22, Sarah How (essential and quintessential apotheosis among ESS-pertinent exemplars of collegiality mingled with equanimity and mega-super-coolness) shuttled off her daily toils at the academic knowledge emporium of Cornell, having performed her wisdom and wisdom-adjacent labors of biblio-bidding largesse not too sparsely, not too overbearingly, but in the manner of Goldilocks. Just right. 

    For over three decades, Sarah has been a support at the Ithaca Ivy to the Romance Studies Department, the French Studies Program, the Cornell Institute for European Studies, the Mario Einaudi Center for European Studies, the undergraduate Fulbright Program, and, more recently, a co-chair of the Cornell International Education Network and a Fellow at the Bethe House. That is quite a list of where she will be missed. And yet, as her supervisor and admiring colleague has noted, the latter expects to still bump into the former at the plant nursery, bookstore, or someplace else “wonderfully random.” Sarah is, notes her boss-lady, always ready with a book recommendation, a recipe to share, or a good pet story. 

    Sarah’s talents may now guide her to journeys of self-realization and expeditions of camaraderie with others… or to binge-watching Emily in Paris on Netflix (my words, not hers). The choice is open, thanks to her newly obtained freedoms of time and space.

    The following poem honors Sarah and her deeds, including the semi-recent Frankfurt Symposium. Like Dr. Pepper, this tribute — set in second person — may be misunderstood, since allusions elude us and mere words fall short of disclosing the full blossom of her awesomeness.

What a Sarah… and How

Fine framed by libations (hydrations of water and sodium),
You faithfully graced your so well-deserved place at the podium
Promoting Ambrosian well-chosen words of encomium
As maker and shaker and expert at Frankfurt’s Symposium.

That’s one small example, a sample of how you, dear Sarah,
Collegially, gleefully journeyed with us through an era
Of sharing and biblio-caring in wide ways (not narrow).
But now we say “Ciao.” It’s a real deal we feel to the marrow.

Amassed years of life cast your raft to the lake from the river.
A treasure of memories flood through the mind (and the liver):
Your choice, soothing voice with some smooth words of truth to deliver,
Yes, words that we heard not conferred by a taker, but giver.

Your mythical Ithaca… it is a town not to miss,
But “Viva Geneva!” Don’t leave it alone to the Swiss.
When you are in Rome or at home, you can come back to this:
Please do not dismiss our fond wish for your calm, quiet bliss.

Our non-final “Ciao,” Sarah How, (if correctly we read ya)
Won’t finally stop till you drop us from your social media.

Richard Hacken

Sarah How is retiring – we will miss her! 

After a full career, Sarah How is retiring as Cornell’s European Studies Librarian. 

Sarah has been a constant presence at ALA, WESS and then ESS,  and CIFNAL, and I always look forward to catching up with her. Her strong leadership, organization, and communication skills, sharp sense of humor, and generosity to her colleagues have put her at the center of European librarianship. Sarah has been an active member and fearless leader in WESS and ESS, serving as WESS chair and heading up many committees and discussion groups. She has been busy behind the scenes, too, as a member of multiple conference planning, fundraising, and the Coutts-Nijhoff award committees. Planning for international conferences has kept her busy as well; she understands that professional travel creates better librarians and provides meaningful shared experiences that benefit us all.. 

Beginning in2015, CIFNAL members elected her for two 3-year terms as chair, during which CIFNAL strengthened international relationships with ENSSIB and AIFBD, expanded consortial e-resource licensing, and provided a much-needed discussion space for members and vendors. 

Sarah is a world traveler who has lived in Switzerland and Japan,  and perhaps elsewhere. She understands the importance of political, social, and cultural knowledge of other cultures and societies.  I first met her at the WESS conference in Paris in 2004, and have looked forward to hearing about her travels, discoveries, and book recommendations ever since. Memorably, with her co-organizer Heidi Madden, she was instrumental in planning the immensely successful 2017 Frankfurt symposium New Directions for Libraries, Scholars, and Partnerships. Her skilled diplomacy and warm communication were both an inspiration and a learning opportunity for many of us, and this international symposium forged the way for the New Shape of Sharing forum a few years later.

But in addition to all of her activities in WESS and ESS, and her role at Cornell, Sarah has been a tireless supporter and generous mentor to librarians just starting out in the field, a creative thinker and straight-forward problem solver, a bridge to colleagues and institutions in Europe. She is the quiet person in the room who raises her hand to ask the most pertinent question, or to offer an idea that at first seems crazy, but after some consideration just seems right. I’m sure that all her colleagues and friends in the European librarianship sphere join me in wishing her a happy and well-deserved retirement, full of good books, exciting travels, and the pleasure of her family and friends.

I’ve tried to summarize Sarah How’s participation in European studies librarianship, but have surely left out many contributions:

Research and Planning committee 1994
Publications committee chair 2005-2006   
Conference Planning chair 2007
WESS Chair elect/Vice chair 2008-2009 
WESS Chair 2009-2010 

CIFNAL Chair 2015-2020

Sarah How, Cornell University. “Contemporary Mediterranean Studies: What We Could Do,” in Association of College and Research Libraries, Thomas D. Kilton, and Ceres Birkhead. Migrations in society, culture, and the library: WESS European Conference, Paris, France, March 22, 2004. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2005. 

European Studies Statement on Collection Development, Access, and Equity in the Time of COVID-19, Issued by CIFNAL, GNARP, and SEEMP

Sarah Sussman