Dr. Barbara J. Stites, Interim Dean of the Wilson G. Bradshaw Library at Florida Gulf Coast University, Ft. Myers, Florida is retiring on December 24, 2019 concluding a 44-year career in education and libraries. Barbara began her career as an
elementary school teacher, moving to management of high school library media centers, then business and law libraries. In 1989 she was hired as Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Library Consortium where she led the implementation of the first access to the internet for Florida’s public libraries. In 1999 she assumed the Executive Director’s position at the Southwest Florida Library Network and sponsored the area’s inaugural library leadership program, precursor to the Sunshine State Library Leadership Institute, before moving to Florida Gulf Coast University in 2006. She also engaged in many years of service to the profession, including serving as President of both the Florida Library Association and the Special Library Association, Florida and Caribbean Chapter as well as the Treasurer of the Florida Association for Media in Education.
In recognition of her career accomplishments Barbara was named the 2008 recipient of the University of South Florida School of Information Distinguished Alumni Award, the 2015 Alice G. Smith Lecturer, and in 2019 was awarded Florida Library Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 2016, we were honored to have Dr. Stites speak at our Moving on Up Conference. In her heartfelt and eloquent speech, she imparted countless nuggets of wisdom from her years of multifarious career experiences, or as she phrases it, being in “club zig-zag” (working in different types of libraries). We’ve compiled some of our favorite snippets from this speech, from her tale of hitchhking in Alaska, to the relationships she built through Suncoast Information Specialists and TBLC, and what she does every day to be the best version of herself she can be. We hope it inspires you as much as it inspired us. Thank you for everything, Barbara!