Carolyn Robison: Turning a Page for Library Staff

Behind every great librarian is a great book. No one has read this situation better than Carolyn L. Robison (Ph.D., 1982), who in 31 years at Georgia State’s library rose from circulation director to head of internal operations.

While Robison could afford the books and materials for her doctorate, she noticed that many bright librarians on the staff were bypassing a graduate degree because they lacked funding for the same. “I saw many staff who were so competent,” she recalls. “They would be excellent librarians if they had the opportunity.”

When Robison retired in 1998, students, alumni, friends and colleagues stepped up to fund the Robison Library Award in her honor. When funds reached $25,000, the award became the Carolyn L. Robison Scholarship for library staff pursuing graduate degrees in library science.

Recent recipients Amanda Pellerin (B.A. 2005, M.A. 2009) and Melissa Perez (B.A. 2005) say the funding has added to their personal libraries and the education from that funding has helped boost their confidence in a field rapidly changing from digitization. Meeting Robison over lunch was a bonus.

“I was grateful for the opportunity to sit down with her and for her to weigh in on my goals. She gave me reassurance,” Pellerin says. “Libraries, until the recent past, have been seen as more of a feminized profession, but there can still be a struggle in the leadership ranks to make your voice heard.” Adds Perez, “Her experience and knowledge of librarianship helped clear up some of the early confusion I felt toward my future [possibilities for] employment.”

To further raise awareness and funds for library resources, Robison and other retired faculty have helped form the Library Ambassadors Board, which she chairs. The board comprises GSU alumni and staff as well as GSU’s first lady, Laura Voisinet, and Carolyn Curry (M.A., 1979, Ph.D., 1987), wife of Panther Football Coach Bill Curry.

“The best we had in 1967 were typewriters and a manual checkout system,” Robison says. “Today, computers and automated access are very exciting, but access to databases can be tremendously expensive. Increasing library support is a way for all of us to broaden our knowledge.”

—By Michelle Hiskey; Contact Kim Cretors, (404) 413-3424