By James Hanlon
Leader Staff Writer
“Judy Doublestein will perhaps most be remembered as a leader who fostered an environment for productivity and excellence in library services,” proclaimed a special tribute to the retired library director from the Michigan State Legislature in 2008. The document was signed by 46th District State Rep. Jim Marleau, State Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop and Governor Jennifer Granholm.
Judy “served as a true public servant would, by placing the needs of her community before those of her own. Throughout her 29 years of service to the residents of Oxford, Ms. Doublestein displayed an endless level of dedication, professionalism, and commitment to her community, her staff, and her profession.”
After a brief battle with cancer, she passed away at her home in Goodrich on May 10. Her legacy lives on in the community and institutions she spent her career serving.
She co-founded Addison Township Public Library in 1978 in the back room of the township offices, which, at the time, were located at 3 E. Elmwood St. in Leonard.
At the same time, she served as the director of children’s services at the Oxford Public Library until she became director of the entire library in 1984. She continued in that position until her retirement in 2007.
Juggling both roles for many years, she worked 40 hours a week in Oxford and 10 in Addison, before resigning as Addison’s library director in 1998.
During her tenure, Judy oversaw the design and construction of the new 24,300 square foot facility Oxford Library now occupies at 530 Pontiac St, completed in 1996.
Her daughter, Jennifer Snable, remembers her dreaming of building a new library for Oxford. “She felt as if the former library was outdated and did not offer the necessary resources to keep up with the area as it became more developed,” she said.
Once when Jennifer was visiting home from college, she remembers her mother had the blueprints for the new library rolled out on the worktable in the old library. “She was thrilled that this new building would offer so much to the community and had the ability and room to develop as the community needed,” she said.
At the time, committing to such infrastructure seemed daunting to much of the community, “but my mom knew the community would grow into the library that it is today and saw the potential that Oxford had as an up-and-coming town.”
Judy’s daughter Holly Helder noted, “before her passing she was looking forward to seeing expansion and remodel of the current Oxford Public Library.”
She took pride in being a librarian – especially in her role in the children’s department, and always kept up to date on children’s and young adult authors.
As a librarian, of course, she loved to read and she instilled a love of reading in her grandchildren and took great joy in discussing the things that they were reading.
“To her, storytelling and library science was more than a profession,” Jennifer said. “She saw the impact it made on the lives of her loved ones and the Oxford community.”
As an adult reader, she loved James Patterson mystery novels and historical fiction, especially books that take place in the 20th century, particularly World War II. But, “she never turned down a good read and saw the beauty that was between the lines,” Jennifer said.
“It has truly been an honor and a privilege to have considered Judy a friend and a colleague,” said Bryan Cloutier, who took over as Oxford Public Library Director after Judy retired in 2007. “I have only the highest-level of respect and admiration for her many years of commitment to public service. Her kind spirit and humanitarian efforts were selflessly extended to the people around her.”
Judy was also active with Rotary International, where she was named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Oxford Rotary Club. As a fellow Oxford Rotarian, Cloutier said she lived by Rotary International’s motto: ‘Service Above Self.’
“Judy was an amazing person and an even more beautiful human being. Her legacy remains a significant part of our culture at OPL, where her exemplary commitment to public service influences what we do and who we are at the Oxford Public Library. She will be greatly missed,” he said.
Addison Township Library’s current director, Jaema Berman first met Judy in 2005, when she was hired as an adult reference librarian at the Oxford Library.
“Judith’s warm management style inspired the staff to strive for excellence in every aspect of service to the community,” Berman said. “Judith fearlessly steered the technological transformation of our two libraries into the computer age and developed internet services for patrons of all ages. Judith was a tireless, dedicated professional, who cared for and supported her patrons, her loyal staff and community by bringing an exciting level of excellence in everything she did.”
The Addison Library is creating a memorial brick to honor Judy Doublestein, Berman said.
To read Judy’s obituary, please click here.