Mary Lynch

Mary Jo Lynch

June 3, 1939 February 26, 2020

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Obituary for Mary Jo Lynch

Ann Arbor, MI- Age 80, passed away on February 26, 2020 at Glacier Hills Senior Living Community. She is survived by three siblings: Michael (Lisa) of Atlanta, GA; Nora (Mark Rubin) of Ann Arbor, and Gulfport, FL; and Patty (Tom Cavallo) of Pittsfield Township, MI. She is also survived by five nieces and nephews and many loving cousins and friends.

Mary Jo was born in Detroit, MI, and attended St. Theresa grade school and high school. She received a BA from Marygrove College, an AMLS degree from the University of Michigan, and an MA in English from the University of Detroit. Mary Jo served as reference librarian at the University of Detroit from 1962-1969, and at the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) from 1969-1971. She was an assistant professor in the School of Library Science at the University of Michigan from 1971-1973. From 1973-1976 she attended Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey where she received a PhD in Library Science.

From 1976-2003, Mary Jo worked at the American Library Association (ALA) in Chicago, IL, where she served as Director of the ALA Office for Research and Statistics. An authority in the area of library statistics and the author of more than 80 professional articles, she was a major force in the establishment of the Federal-State Cooperative System for Public Library Data and directed the ALA Survey of Librarian Salaries. She was a leader in the library profession and in 1994 she received the Distinguished Alumna of the Year Award from the Rutgers School of Communication, and Information and Library Studies.

Mary Jo loved Chicago but following her retirement she came home to Michigan to be closer to her family and friends. She chose to live at the Glacier Hills Senior Living Community in Ann Arbor and was always happy with that decision. For many years she was co-editor of the resident newsletter, The Lark. Her main duty for the newsletter was obtaining and editing biographies of new residents. She made an effort to meet all new residents and enjoyed connecting them with other residents who had similar interests or backgrounds. For many years, she organized and hosted the Friday night programs in the Hanson Room. This involved identifying, inviting and introducing musical groups and educational speakers. She was also part of a group of residents who managed the Glacier Hills Library and for many years served as a resident member of the Board of Directors of the Glacier Hills Foundation.

Mary Jo lived a full, happy and productive life in spite of many challenges resulting from her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis at the age of 24. She loved books and by using Google expertly she continued to act as a “reference librarian” for her friends at Glacier Hills. Her sister Patty liked to tell people that Mary Jo had been a “human Google” in her early professional life as a reference librarian.”

Her family wishes to extend special thanks to Dr. Eleanor Sun, Dr. David Irani, Dr. Edmund Chadd and Mr. Scott Filion (University of Michigan Wheel Chair Seating Services) for caring for Mary Jo since her move to Ann Arbor. They would also like to thank the staff at Glacier Hills for their exceptional care and friendship as well as the caregivers from Senior Helpers who gently helped Mary Jo face her progressing disability.

Gifts in memory of Mary Jo Lynch may be directed to the Glacier Hills Foundation at 1200 Earhart Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48105 or the National Multiple Sclerosis Society P.O. Box 4594, New York, NY, 10163-4594.

Funeral services will be private. Condolences may be sent to Nie Funeral Home A memorial service will be scheduled soon at Glacier Hills.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Mary Jo Lynch, please visit our Heartfelt Sympathies Store.
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Service Details

  • Interment

    Forest Hill Cemetery
    415 South Observatory
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email |

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Michele Farrell

The library world has lost one of the earliest data leaders in the field. I remember attending many statistics meetings and appreciated her knowledge, attention to details, and warmth. Also, her leading by example and working despise health issues. She was a truly amazing woman. My sincerest sympathy to her family.
Comment | Posted at 05:24pm via Condolence


When I think of Mary Jo Lynch, my mind is filled with examples of her energy, her optimism, her ability to lead while at the same time listening and incorporating ideas from the scores of people that she worked with at any given time. Mary Jo approached her work with confidence, enthusiasm and brilliance. Mary Jo really enjoyed working with people and she brought out the best in all of the people she worked with. She always found time to talk over an idea or a problem when I and others would call—making strong contributions to clarify what had been fuzzy or unresolved before the call. And she appeared to really enjoy the process of helping researchers and librarians improve their research. Mary Jo was so much fun to be with. It was a delight to share a meal with her—but at conferences those had to be quick because she was in such demand.

Mary Jo never complained about her disability—or anything for that matter. If there was a problem, Mary Jo would work to solve it. I learned so much from her and her approach to living with a disability. Early on she learned everything she could about MS and more than once had to help a medical provider understand the disease.

She was an incredible leader in helping people see that just because you can’t walk doesn’t mean that your brain doesn’t work brilliantly. I remember standing beside her once as she hailed a cab and when the cabbie balked at taking both us and the Amigo she drove, Mary Jo told him firmly and clearly exactly how the Amigo should be placed in the trunk of the cab. And, sure, enough, it fit beautifully and off we went. Years ago, when hotels were lax with making public bathrooms accessible, when she saw a problem she would ask to see the manager and give him a lecture on accessibility explaining how many folks, some of them with disabilities, ALA brought to his city. She was very effective in opening people’s eyes and helping them change their practices.

Mary Jo was a wonderful friend. It was a delightful experience to be able to stay once with her in her apartment on one of the upper floors in the ALA building with a nice view. She was able to take the elevator from her office up to her apartment to avoid twice daily commuting hassles.

I had the opportunity to visit her periodically at Glacier Hills Retirement Community in her retirement years. In typical Mary Jo fashion, she worked diligently to make Glacier Hills an even better place, by editing a newsletter and interviewing new residents for the newsletter—thereby introducing them to the community. She also did an amazing job of coordinating a lecture series at Glacier Hills. She brought in great speakers from the University and around the community. She even helped liven up the library. I really enjoyed talking with her about all the stuff she was doing. Throughout her life, everything she touched became better. Typical Mary Jo.
Comment | Posted at 02:02pm via Condolence

Betty J. Turock

As a master’s student at Rutgers I met Mary Jo Lynch. She was concluding her doctoral studies by which time she had already published with Ralph Blasingame, a seminal article moving public libraries from traditional formulaic standards to community-based measures of effectiveness.
She had a bright mind that looked for new answers to longstanding library issues. She shared her passion for public library service with her students, her colleagues at ALA, and the members of the Association. When she retired from ALA, many missed the advice and assistance she was always ready to give to
the traditionalists and the rabble rousers alike.
I will remember her as a woman who made a difference in the life and culture of our Association.

Comment | Posted at 04:42pm via Condolence

Holly Willett

I knew Mary Jo in her capacity as the ALA advisor to the Library History Round Table. She was a fount of wisdom as the group worked on its various projects and problems and brought great energy and optimism to her work with us.
Comment | Posted at 12:08pm via Condolence

Jane B Robbins

She was a consummate colleague! And an accomplished scooter driver. My favorite memory of Mary Jo is her racing through one underground garage to another to get from one ALA meeting to the next. She had mapped out routes before we arrived in whichever city research expert in action!
Comment | Posted at 08:44am via Condolence

Why light a candle?

This is why you should light a candle..

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