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Retired, Longtime Reference Librarian Cynthia Swaine Remembered

Cynthia SwaineCynthia Swaine

Cynthia Wright Swaine, a retired reference librarian who served Old Dominion University for 35 years, died Sunday, May 18. She was 69.

Known at the ODU University Libraries and throughout campus for having a passion for learning and teaching, Swaine was cherished by colleagues for her creativity, organization, productivity and enthusiasm.

A tribute to Swaine, written by library colleagues, is on the Perry Library website at: http://www.lib.odu.edu/blogs/blog6.php/2014/05/19/cynthia-wright-swaine-1944-2014#more718

Swaine arrived at Old Dominion University in 1975, as the education reference librarian. Her first year was served in the old Hughes Library (built in 1959). Swaine participated in the move to the modern library building in 1976. Soon after, she was appointed Instructional Services Librarian and served the university in that capacity for the next 33 years until her retirement in 2010.

During her tenure, Swaine served under several university librarians - Brewster E. Peabody, Cynthia B. Duncan, Jean Major and Virginia S. O'Herron - and under university Presidents Alfred B. Rollins, Jr., Joseph M. Marchello, William B. Spong, James V. Koch, Roseann Runte, and John R. Broderick.

Swaine was named Librarian of the Year for 1995, and received the Distance Learning Hero Award in 2009. She was named Librarian of the Year a second time in 2009, sharing the award with Karen Vaughan. In 2010, she was awarded the title of Instructional Services Librarian Emerita.

Swaine earned an undergraduate degree in education from Goshen College, in Indiana; as well as master's degrees in art education and library science from Indiana University.

"Teaching is my calling," she said, in an interview for the "Friends of the Libraries Newsletter," in 2007. From her first role as a public school teacher to her long career as a librarian, she focused on that calling.

At Old Dominion, Swaine developed and taught classes on library resources and services, directed library teaching programs and developed faculty workshops on resources and search strategies. She worked closely with each new library instructor to develop their own teaching and presentations skills. She shared her knowledge on effective presentation, and once conducted a year-long series of workshops on presentation skills for library colleagues.

Swaine possessed a unique set of characteristics: extreme organization and attention to detail along with a creative, innovative mind. As a result, she played many roles for the University Libraries.

She worked in the 1970's to design the new library building's first instruction room. She worked with the Systems Librarian to develop the new Information Technology Instruction Center in Perry Library's renovated space and on the design, equipment and furniture for the current instructional space in the Learning Commons@Perry Library.

Swaine chaired many library search committees and, for years, created all the exhibits in the library. She developed web products to help students learn about library services and use its resources - including the "Distance Education Handbook," "Start Your Research Here," and the "Idea Generator," which remains a popular site for its lists of research paper topics.

As a bibliographer, Swaine contributed significantly to building many research collections, conducting assessments in art, medical laboratory science, environmental health, women's studies and occupational and technical studies. She co-created the hybrid (online + face to face) "Research in the Information Age" credit course and co-directed the libraries' project to create and implement an information literacy program as part of the campus general education program.

For a story in ODU's newsletter, "The Courier," Swaine asked 100 faculty members across campus what book was most influential in their lives, and what book was their favorite. Twenty-five faculty members responded, telling her stories about their choices. Those books and stories were displayed in Perry's lobby in the summer of 2006.

Funeral arrangements are forthcoming.