University Libraries' staff members gathered for lunch on September 27, 2019, to bid farewell to a long-standing, very influential and proud member of the University Libraries, Ms. Rudaynah Shoujaa, Head of Serials and Electronic Resources, who retired after serving at AUB for 41 years.
Library staff also held a previous gathering, inviting librarians and colleagues from other institutions in Lebanon, where they played a moving, celebratory video for Rudaynah, which can be viewed below.
Rudaynah joined AUB libraries on July 1st of 1978 and recalls attending the “Library Institute", which was a month-long training event held back then to train library staff members from different Lebanese and Arab institutions.
On November 17, 1978, she “officially" joined the library for a permanent job at the Serials Department.
Rudaynah got promoted and filled several positions in the department until she was in charge of the Serials and Electronic Resources Department and then retiring in September of 2019.
Reflecting on her long-standing career at Jafet, Rudaynah said, “Working in the Serials Department was a challenge, especially during the civil war, where shipments were delayed. . . sometimes we ended up with piles of packages delivered at the same time due to the interruption of mail for several months. . . We faced many problems, especially with the ever-changing nature of working with Serials, but we managed."
She remembers so many memorable incidents, describing some as happy and others as painful. She remembers how during the war, two of her colleagues were kidnapped and killed, while another had a shrapnel injury and died because of it, and a few other colleagues were injured.
She recalls, in particular, the College Hall Bombing incident that happened on the early morning of November 8, 1991, and the building almost collapsing. She remembers how much the damage was in Jafet Library, adding that “most of the staff members engaged in cleaning and reorganizing the scattered records. In no time, the library services resumed to normal".
She also recalls attending many interesting conferences and training events throughout the years and mentions a particular one that she attended towards the beginning of her career, in June of 1985 at the University of Jordan-Amman, recalling that it lasted for 40 days.
Rudaynah also speaks about the big changes that occurred once the library acquired the first electronic library system. She describes it as being a “new experience" back then and remembers how, after the training sessions, library staff started transferring manual records to a computerized catalog. Electronic resources were a new field and AUB libraries were one of the first libraries that acquired these resources. Her work required adaptability and flexibility when it came to challenging change, and she was always up for the fight.
With time, developments were introduced, and the libraries started enriching holdings with e-resources and allocating the budget to take care of subscriptions and purchases.
During 2004-2005, another development started with the concept of Open Access.
“I cannot forget that week when Ms. Fatmeh Charafeddine
Associate University Librarian for Research and Academic Collaboration Services) and myself, spent hours exploring what it was. .
. It was a time that I treasure most because I learned a lot and built an excellent relationship with vendors from all over the world, some visiting AUB many times, others communicating over the phone, and many whom I met during conferences."
On another level, Rudaynah was an active member of the Lebanese Library Association (LLA), which she joined in 1991 to be later elected as a board member and then as the secretary. For several years, she was also the editor-in-chief of the quarterly LLA newsletter.
This period was very fruitful for Rudaynah, where she met with many the local Librarians, as well as leading librarians from different nationalities; especially that LLA is affiliated with IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions).
When talking about her LLA affiliation, Rudaynah says that she “enjoyed being in the field, meeting other colleagues, and learning new developments in the field, but was always happy to be originally affiliated with AUB because AUB libraries gave [her] the opportunity to excel and to give most of [her] attention to this field, which nourished and developed to be essential to the advancement of research."
When asked to comment about her achievements at Jafet, Rudaynah said, “During my 41 years of service, I held various positions in the Serials and Electronic Resources Department, but the last 7 years were the culmination of all, as I handled this department, and had a big role in enriching our holdings of electronic resources and of the Arabic print collection." Ending with the emotional note of “AUB libraries will always remain to be my home."
Best of luck, Rudaynah, and may you have a long, peaceful and healthy retirement. . .