Joseph John Cali, head librarian of Antioch College, died Feb. 13, 2007 at his home near Yellow Springs, Ohio at the age of 78.
His last day was spent keeping the library open during a winter storm that closed the rest of the campus. This was typical of his dedication and his conviction of the library’s essential role in student learning.
In his 53 years at the Olive Kettering Library, Joe earned the affection of generations of Antioch students, staff, and faculty. His sense of humor was often expressed in phrases that became legendary on campus. His gruff exterior was always tempered by the twinkle in his eye, and his kindness and concern for the people around him were never in doubt. He will be profoundly missed.
Born on Oct. 17, 1928, Joe spent his early years in Amsterdam, New York. He received his undergraduate degree in science and German from Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., in 1950. In 1952 he received his master of library science degree from Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
Joe began his career at Antioch College as periodicals and music librarian in 1952. Shortly afterwards, he was drafted and served in the U.S. Army for two years in Germany, attaining the rank of Sergeant. After discharge from the Army in 1954, he returned to his position at Antioch.
Joe’s career spanned more than half a century from printed word to the electronic revolution in libraries. He became director of the Olive Kettering Library in 1983 and oversaw many changes, including the conversion of the library’s card catalog to an online catalog in 1998. At the same time, he was steadfast in preserving traditional values in research and librarianship. The extraordinary depth of the library’s collection of periodicals and other serials is a testimony to Joe’s meticulous attention to research needs. Over the years, many Antioch graduates went on to careers as librarians, inspired by Joe’s own commitment to the profession and his support of scholarly and intellectual endeavors.
Joe’s dedication to the Olive Kettering Library was matched by his passion for classical music. His master’s thesis was “A Bibliography of Biographies of Musicians,” which allowed him to combine his love of music with library science. The depth and breadth of his knowledge of recorded music was one of the strengths that he brought to his work in the library. On a playful note, he always saw to it that the library observed the birthdays of Beethoven and of Joe’s particular hero, the conductor, Arturo Toscanini.
Another of Joe’s enthusiasms was sports. He was a talented athlete, especially on the basketball court. He could be found on occasion in the campus gymnasium, impressing opponents with the accuracy of his half-court shots.
Arrangements are being made for a private family service in Joe’s hometown of Amsterdam, N.Y. The college is planning a memorial service in Yellow Springs at a later date.
Greene County, Ohio