Eugene Sheehy, Former Columbia University Libraries Head of Reference Department, Passes Away at 90
NEW YORK, March 12, 2013 –

Eugene Paul Sheehy, head of the Butler Library Reference department at Columbia University from 1967 to January 1987, passed away February 26th, 2013 in a nursing home in Bethlehem, PA. 


During his time as head of Butler Library reference, Mr. Sheehy continued the tradition established by his renowned predecessors Isadore Gilbert Mudge and Constance Mabel Winchell of editing the Guide to Reference Books, published by the American Library Association, an annotated listing of useful sources. He supervised the three supplements of the 8th edition and the 9th  (1976) and 10th (1986) editions.  According to Columbia Libraries staff who worked closely with Mr. Sheehy, he was always careful to say a listing in the Guide was not a recommendation, and that there were many fine works which just did not fit the guidelines.

“His memory and his meticulous attention to details made him an outstanding reference librarian, and his help has been widely acknowledged by researchers,” said Mary Cargill, reference librarian and reference selector at Columbia University Libraries who worked under Mr. Sheehy.  “He was especially proud of being saluted as a colleague by Jacques Barzun in The Modern Researcher.”

He also continued the Columbia Libraries tradition of editing a twice-yearly column in College and Research Libraries summarizing recently published reference works from 1963 to 1987.  Other works include literary bibliographies of Joseph Conrad, Marianne Moore, Sherwood Anderson, Frank Norris, and Yvor Winters.

He was awarded the American Library Association’s Isidor Gilbert Mudge Citation for distinguished services to reference work in 1981.

Mr. Sheehy was born on October 10, 1922 at Wendell, MN and was the sixth and last child of Thomas J. and Roxy O. (Vincent) Sheehy.  He attended public schools in Wendell and Elbow Lake, MN, and served in the U.S. Marine Corps from December 1942 to June 1946, when he was discharged with the rank of sergeant.

He went to college on the G.I. Bill, and received a B.A. degree from St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN in 1950, an MA. from the University of Minnesota in 1951 (both in English), and a B.A. in Library Science in 1952 from the University of Minnesota.  He worked as a reference librarian at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. 1952-53, and joined the Butler Library reference department of Columbia University in 1953, becoming the head of the department in 1967. 

Mr. Sheehy is survived by one sister, Ruth Beckman of Fergus Falls, MN and one sister-in-law, Marlys Sheehy of Bismarck, ND, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

Columbia University Libraries and the Sheehy Family invite you to a memorial commemorating the life of Gene Sheehy.  Please join us for remembrances by family, colleagues and friends of Mr. Sheehy.  A reception will follow the memorial.

Friday, April 26, 2013
3:30pm
Columbia University
Butler LIbrary, Room 523

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 11 million volumes, over 150,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, and graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 22 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 500 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources: library.columbia.edu.

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3/12/13 CUL