“There’s something in my library to offend everyone.”

So read a favorite t-shirt of Dorothy Broderick, a legend in YA librarianship, a great defender of intellectual freedom, and an unforgettable personality. Dorothy died Saturday, Dec. 17, at 8:45 p.m.

Dorothy ‘ was an active member of ALA, including YALSA. Her work was recognized repeatedly in the library field, from the prestigious Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award in 1987 to the Grolier Award from ALA in 1991 and the Freedom to Read Foundation’s Roll of Honor Award in 1998.

Dorothy’s greatest contribution to YA librarianship, however, is the mentoring and personal guidance she gave to hundreds of librarians throughout her career, as a librarian in the field, a professor at five major library schools, an author, and through her work as editor of VOYA (co-founded with her partner, Mary K. Chelton, in their home in 1978).

YALSA and YA librarianship wouldn’t be what it is today without Dorothy. The YALSA Board of Directors offered a resolution in her honor in 2007, calling her “the glue that that bound many of us together in earlier YALSA years,” and noting her “wicked wit,” which belied a “a heart of gold, a brilliant mind, a love of librarianship, [and] a strong sense of right and wrong.”

In my early days in YALSA, in the 1990s, Dorothy was still attending conferences. It was always a delight to see her, and to hear her asides about whatever was going on at the time. Dorothy was also one of the first editors to publish my writing—articles and reviews in VOYA–so I am personally grateful to her. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to know her and work with her.

She will be missed, but never forgotten. ‘ The Board of Directors, and all of YALSA, are grateful to Dorothy for everything she gave to YA librarianship. Our thoughts are with Mary K. and their family.

Sarah Flowers, YALSA President

About Sarah Flowers

Sarah Flowers is a YALSA Past President and former Deputy County Librarian for the Santa Clara County (CA) Library. Currently she does writing and speaking on topics related to teen services and teaches online courses for California's Infopeople Project.

6 Thoughts on “In Memoriam: Dororthy Broderick

  1. This is lovely, Sarah. Thanks so much. I remember the delight of discovering the independent voice that was VOYA. It still is and, thankfully, its example has since “infected” many other of the voices that keep our profession vibrant.

  2. Beth Yoke on December 20, 2011 at 9:31 am said:

    Thank you for sharing these great memories of an amazing person. For those who may be interested, I have learned that memorial donations can be made to the Freedom to Read Foundation, http://bit.ly/3gdZ1M

  3. Isaac Gewirtz on December 21, 2011 at 4:55 pm said:

    I would like to know the names of the institutions at which this remarkable woman taught and worked. How odd not to include this in an obituary.

  4. Mel Rosenberg on December 21, 2011 at 5:28 pm said:

    During my years as coordinator of YA Services for LA Pub Lib, I enjoyed writing articles for VOYA. Both Dorothy and Mary K. Were always great editors and publishers. And I also enjoyed hobnobbing with them at conferences. Dorothy contributed mightily to a great profession.

  5. Sarah Flowers on December 21, 2011 at 7:22 pm said:

    This was not meant to be an obituary so much as it was a tribute. For the official obituary, see http://www.voya.com/2011/12/19/dorothy-m-broderick-1929-2011/.

  6. Betty J. Turock on January 2, 2012 at 2:18 pm said:

    Dorothy Broderick was an uncensored voice for our profession throughout the years she was one of its foremost leaders. A fearless woman of enormous capacity for rational although passionate thinking, Dorothy, with her beloved partner, Mary K. Chelton, became the voice of youth advocates long before they created their award winning journal of that name. Together they battled for intellectual freedom that freed the nation’s youth from the ill-advised “protection” of those who would limit access on the basis of age. As President of the American Library Association in the mid-1910s I appeared on Brian Lamb’s C-Span morning show to debate the Director of The Family Research Council on legislation before the Congress that would limit their access. I was subjected to a particularly withering attack from this lobbyist for socially conservative policies against LGBT rights, abortion, divorce,and pornography as they discerned it. My best moment came when the debate ended and Dorothy and Mary K. reached me by phone to praise my performance. If it was good enough for them, I felt it had to be good for libraries and librarians. I will remember Dorothy as a role model for professional courage who taught so many of us not to confuse what was professionally expedient with what was just, fair, and ethical.

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