Sunday, January 03, 2010

Donna Cohen 1943-2010

This is a terribly sad way to start the new year, but I have to report that Donna Cohen, my predecessor as Director of the Olin Library at Rollins College, died on January 2nd, after suffering a stroke on December 30th, 2009 while on vacation with her family in New Mexico. Her husband, Dr. Ed Cohen also of Rollins College, was with her. A private funeral will be held in Washington, D.C. I understand a memorial service will be held at Rollins later in the spring.

Donna received her BA from the University of Maryland in 1964, her Masters in Education from Rollins in 1972, and her MSLS from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 1982. She became Acquisitions Librarian at Rollins College in 1986. She became Library Director in 1999 and served until her retirement in 2006. She was a valued member of the Rollins senior leadership team and was elevated to emeritus status on her retirement. Donna was active in numerous professional associations including the American Library Association, the Florida Library Association, the Association of Central Florida Librarians, and the Beta Phi Mu International Honor Society. She published in the areas of acquisitions and the history of Carnegie libraries. Her publications include:

"Andrew Carnegie and Academic Library Philanthropy: The Case of Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida," Libraries & Culture, Vol. 35, No. 3 (Summer 2000), pp. 389-413.

"Endowed Book Funds: The Book-A-Year Fund at Rollins College," Acquisitions Librarian, No. 22 (1999), pp. 171-177.

"Serials Review as a Collection Development and Acquisitions Tool," Issues in Collection Management: Librarians, Bookseller, Publishers, ed. by Murray S. Martin, Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, 1995, pp. 57-63.

"The Role of the Acquisitions Librarian in the Accreditation of Academic Libraries," Acquisitions Librarian, 12 (1994): pp. 27-35.

"The Present State of Education for Acquisitions Librarianship," Library Acquisitions: Practice & Theory, Vol. 15 (1991), pp 359-364.

"A Recent History of the Library Criterion of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools," Southeastern Librarian 39 (1989), pp. 9-12.

Amongst many other achievements in her career Donna was responsible for revitalizing the library's Book a Year program and for opening the Bookmark Cafe in the Olin Library, but I think the greatest professional impact she had was as a mentor to librarians and staff both within and beyond Rollins.

On a more personal note, I could not have wished for a better predecessor as a director. Donna was unfailingly supportive and discrete. It is never easy to watch someone else take the reins of an organization you have directed, but Donna found the right balance between withdrawing to let the library grow and develop and being supportive and available to answer questions and provide information. Even though I did not have the privilege of knowing Donna for long I will miss her and I know many others in the library, who enjoyed knowing Donna and working with her for decades, will miss her greatly.

Since the program was so important to Donna, it seems only fitting that we set up a Book a Year memorial in her name. Contributions to this fund should be marked "Book a Year, Donna Cohen" and sent to

Erin Hodge
Rollins College
1000 Holt Avenue - 2750
Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 647-1196

Contributions can also be made to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer Research.


Janet Ramirez said...

I cannot even express how sad I am to have heard this horrific news yesterday. I'm truly blessed to have worked for Donna for 6 years and have known her like I did. She was a true gem, a wonderful supervisor and friend. I have wonderful memories of Donna. I will deeply miss her and my thoughts are with Ed and their sons and the rest of the family.
Thanks for posting this Jonathan.

Terry said...

My deepest sympathy to Donna’s family and friends. She will be missed.

Terry Metallo Grim

Anonymous said...

Donna was a wonderful mentor, colleague, and friend. I will miss her more than I can say.
My thoughts are with Ed and their family.

Ginger Young said...

Donna was a gracious and lovely lady. I enjoyed being her colleague in the Oberlin Group.

Ginger Young, Randolph-Macon College

Kim Nordstrom said...

Thank you for posting this, Jonathan.
You have expressed my feelings, too.
She has been a true friend to Alan and me. Our lives have been made more joyful by knowing her. She was an absolutely gracious person.

Diane said...

I am so sad to read this! Donna was a fabulous colleague and friend, and we power-shopping women in the Oberlin Group missed her when she retired. We missed Ed, too, as he had become a regular at our meetings.
My condolences to the Rollins community and to Ed in particular.

Diane Graves
Trinity University

Deanna said...

So sad that you left us so prayers to Ed, Andrew & Jonthan....Cousin Deanna

Anonymous said...

I was so sad to hear this news. Donna was my first supervisor in a library. She was a tremendous mentor and was one of the reasons I became a librarian. She was a wonderful person.

TR said...

I remember when I first started at Olin I went to meet Donna in her office. She was very welcoming and supportive. One time she came up to me and told me that she hoped my time at Olin would benefit my career. She was such an important part of The Rollins Community and I am sad to hear this news.

Leland said...

I was sadden to learn of Donna's death. She was a first rate librarian and a first rate friend.
Jonathan's comments were so poignant and special. Seeing her and Ed at the Obegroup meetings was always special. My sympathy to Ed, to the Rollins library staff, ... and may she rest in peace.

Leland Park
Director Emeritus
Davidson College (NC)

Anonymous said...

I don't know what compelled me to Google Donna K. Cohen's name this morning. For some reason I had been thinking of her a lot in the past few weeks, though I had not been in touch for probably 30 years. Perhaps I had a premonition that something was not right, but I did not expect what I found. I was saddened to learn in this way of Donna's death. She was a high school friend and one of my very best friends in college. She was always loyal, true and very smart. I see that she made a great contribution to Rollins College and am glad that her life was filled with so many accomplishments and so much meaning. My sympathies to her husband Ed, whom I also knew from college days. May Donna's memory be for a blessing.

Phyllis Franck Tauber, St. Petersburg FL

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