February 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Longtime ALSC Member Floyd Dickman Dies at 76

Floyd DickmanFloyd Dickman, a longtime member of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) and vital member of the library community, died on June 14. He was 76.

Born in 1939 in Cloverdale, OH, Dickman received his Masters of Library Science from the University of Ann Arbor, MI. He became an elementary school teacher and later worked at the Worthington (OH) Public Library and then the State Library of Ohio, from which he retired in 1999 after 23 years of service.

In addition to being a member of ALSC, as well as other divisions of the American Library Association (ALA), Dickman served on the 1986, 1994, and 2002 Caldecott Award Committees and the 2009 Newbery Award Committee. He also taught library science at the graduate level at Kent State University, Ohio Dominican University, and Otterbein University.

A devoted scholar of children’s literature, Dickman was awarded the 1998 Louise Seaman Bechtel Fellowship by ALSC, which provides children’s librarians with an opportunity to conduct four or more weeks of research at the Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature, a division of the George A. Smathers Libraries at the University of Florida, Gainesville. Dickman used the opportunity to compare and contrast versions of the Cinderella story. He was also named Librarian of the Year by the Ohio Library Association in 1990 and was given the Ohio Educational Library Media Association Presidential Award in 2007.

A commitment to youth and inclusivity

Dickman’s commitment to ensuring young people’s access to literature was a hallmark of his career. He was instrumental in establishing the ALSC/Simon and Schuster Maureen Hayes Author/Illustrator Visit Award in 2005, which provides libraries with $4,000 to allow children who have not met a nationally known author or illustrator the opportunity to do so.

Barbara A. Genco, past ALSC president and editor of collection management at Library Journal, underscored Dickman’s understanding of the importance of inspiring a love of literature in all children. “Floyd was passionate that kids, wherever they lived or went to school, should have great libraries and the opportunity to meet a ‘real, live’ writer/illustrator,” Genco says. “He knew that encounter could be life-changing.”

A strong proponent of diversity, Dickman was a lifetime member of REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, and served on the Pura Belpré Committee in 2011.

Hannah Ehrlich, director of publicity and marketing at Lee & Low Books, emphasized Dickman’s passion for inclusivity. “I appreciated how he always took the time to let us know when he liked one of our books, and we always felt like he was a true ally in the fight for more diversity in children’s literature,” she says.

A personable professional

Many of Dickman’s colleagues remembered his warmth and kindness. Caroline Ward, coordinator of youth services at the Ferguson Library in Stamford, CT, noted, “He was such good company that it was always a pleasure to catch up with him at ALA. In retirement he turned his energy and enthusiasm into such worthwhile projects; I was impressed that his love of children’s books remained so strong.”

Dickman is also remembered for his readiness to give back to the community. He endowed several scholarships, including the Floyd and Stella Dickman Librarian’s Scholarship, which assists librarians with the registration fee for conferences at the Mazza Museum, in Findlay, OH, which houses the largest collection of original artwork by children’s book illustrators.

Dickman served on the Visitors Board of Mazza and established the Mazza Museum Children’s Book Center, where he led several professional development workshops each year. He also donated thousands of books to the museum, as well as to other schools and organizations.

Dickman often took the time to offer words of encouragement to those entering the field. Sharon McQueen, assistant professor at Old Dominion University, recalled a touching gesture that Dickman made when the School of Library & Information Science at the University of Kentucky hosted the 2007 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture in conjunction with the school’s annual McConnell Youth Literature Conference. Several of McQueen’s students were volunteers for both events, and Dickman went out of his way to welcome them to the profession.

“I knew Floyd to be generous, supportive, and kind,” said McQueen. “Not only did [he] graciously agree to guest lecture for my class, he arrived with wonderful children’s lit–related gifts for each of them. I will miss this warm and gentle soul.”

Similarly, ALSC vice-president Andrew Medlar recalled fondly how his first interactions with Dickman at an ALA Midwinter meeting set the tone for future conferences. “I met Floyd for the first time at the first Midwinter I ever went to,” says Medlar. “So he was always the first person…I would look for at every conference after that for so many years after that.”

Medlar added that Dickman’s strong presence in the library world indirectly influenced him as a child. “Being an Ohio library kid myself and going to libraries in Ohio, I realize now how much I benefited from his work without even realizing it,” says Medlar.

Dickman is survived by his wife, Stella; their children, Laura, Todd, and Nathan; and their grandchildren. ALSC officials are drafting a memorial resolution to honor Dickman and his impact on libraries and the profession.

Mahnaz Dar About Mahnaz Dar

Mahnaz Dar (mdar@mediasourceinc.com) is Assistant Managing Editor for Library Journal and School Library Journal and can be found on Twitter @DibblyFresh.



  1. Bill Crowley says:

    Floyd Dickman’s outstanding contributions to library development in Ohio come close to matching his striking commitment to youth services. When I was Ohio’s Deputy State Librarian for Library Services from 1986 to 1993 I had the good luck to find Floyd serving as head of the Library Development department. The respect in which he was held by Ohio’s library community, both for his individual work and for the achievements of his department, was incredibly important in helping to develop the state’s public and cooperative library services. There is a southern saying that “we honor ourselves when we honor the best among us.” Floyd was clearly among the ranks of Ohio’s stellar librarians and deserves whatever honor can be accorded him.
    Bill Crowley, Ph.D.
    Graduate School of Library and Information Science
    Dominican University
    7900 West Division Street
    River Forest, IL 60305
    708.524.6513 v
    708.524.6657 f

  2. Jennifer Sivers says:

    I had the pleasure of meeting Floyd and experiencing his love of children’s books. He will be missed.