Birdie MacLennan in memoriam

Birdie  Birdie MacLennan

It is still unreal to me. Two weeks ago, on Feb 28, Birdie and the VTDNP Team went to Rutland to visit a local newspaper followed by a taping for ‘Historically Speaking with Jim Davidson’ at the Rutland Community Access Channel. On the way home, she said that she was not feeling well and might be coming down with the flu – she was relating to me also as I just came back from Indonesia the day before. She came back to work on Tuesday, I had a meeting with her but she was still not feeling 100%.

I am glad that I could be there, on her last few days of work. Birdie was a great librarian and her interest in newspaper preservation and project was unrelenting. I drew a lot of my energy with the project from her. She will be missed. Thank you, Birdie.

– Erenst Anip, Project Librarian for the Vermont Digital Newspapers Project and Library Assistant Professor at the University of Vermont


Birdie had a great interest in languages, also the Nordic ones, which was impressive. She used Finnish words in her e-mails to me, for instance – a kind thing to do.

In one of her last messages to me she told that she wanted to learn Swedish.  We discussed an early female Swedish author and her work, that she wished to find out more about in the original language.  Although our paths crossed only for a while, I felt her warmth and kind spirit as well as her professional commitment.

I miss her.

– Minna Kaukonen, Chair, IFLA Newspapers Section


Members of the Newspapers Section first met Birdie in August 2013 at the Section’s satellite meeting and WLIC 2013 in Singapore.  It was, so far as I know, her 1st time at an ILFA conference.  And did she jump into the thick of things!!  I have never seen anyone so enthusiastic about participating in Section activities including volunteering to help organize the Salt Lake City International Newspapers Conference in February 2014.

I knew Birdie less than 1 year.  Nevertheless she impressed me as kind and gentle soul with lots and lots of passion about anything that interested her.  Birdie, I will miss you.

– Frederick Zarndt, Secretary, IFLA Newspapers Section


I only got to know Birdie when we joined the IFLA Newspapers Section standing committee. In the short time I interacted with her, I can see her winning personality that had made her much loved by those she had touched in her life. She had only nice things to say about Singapore. The kind words she showered will remain much appreciated.

– Mazelan Anuar, Information Coordinator, IFLA Newspapers Section & Senior Librarian, National Library Board (Singapore)


I got to know Birdie during the IFLA Newspapers Section Standing Committee meeting, a very short time frame. I can tell she was a very passionate person towards her works and from her contributions to the success of the Salt Lake City conference. I really wish I had the chance to work with her. Miss you, Birdie.

– Cally Law, Information Coordinator, IFLA Newspapers Section & Project Manager, Singapore National Library Board (Singapore)


It is with great sadness that we share that our colleague, Library  Professor Birdie MacLennan, passed away after a brief illness on March 10, 2014.

Birdie began working in the Libraries’ Cataloging Department in 1990,  after working at Harvard University and Merrimack College and receiving a Master of Library Sciences from Simmons College. Since  2008, she served as Director of theUVM Libraries’ Resource Description and Analysis Services Department. Her service to the library profession resulted in widespread recognition from her peers around  the world. She was also an active member of the UVM faculty, with many years of service on the Faculty Senate’s Professional Standards Committee.

In 2005 she received a Master of Arts in French from UVM; these studies greatly informed her teaching and scholarship. She was the  Libraries’ subject liaison to the Romance Languages department, where her growing proficiencies in French and Italian benefited faculty and  students and satisfied her deep intellectual curiosity. Birdie was an accomplished and internationally recognized scholar, with particularly  strong ties to Québec. Her in-depth research on the Grande Bibliothèque of Québec resulted in published works on libraries and cultural identity. She was an active member of the Burlington Italian Club and the Alliance Française Lake Champlain Region Chapter.

Birdie leaves behind a powerful and passionate legacy as a steward of Vermont history. Through projects funded by the National Endowment for  the Humanities, she helped to ensure preservation copies and digital access for Vermont’s historic newspapers. Most recently, she served as Project Director and Principal Investigator for the Vermont Digital Newspaper Project, securing multiple rounds of funding and overseeing the creation of 250,000 pages of digital content, much of which is now available on the Library of Congress Chronicling America website.

Birdie was a devoted colleague and mentor, dedicated to serving students, faculty, staff, and librarians-in-training. She was compassionate, generous, and supportive to all who knew her. She will be profoundly missed in the faculty and staff of the University Libraries and as a valuable faculty member at the University of Vermont. She is survived by her sister Anne MacLennan Perkins, her niece Dominika Perkins, and her brother-in-law Donald Perkins of Nantucket, Massachusetts.

The Libraries are establishing a fund to further Birdie’s work preserving Vermont’s newspapers and will create a local digital collection in her name. Checks can be made payable to the UVMFoundation and directed to the UVM Libraries, in honor of Birdie MacLennan (The University of Vermont Foundation, 411 Main St., Burlington, VT 05401).

– Mara Saule, Chief Information Officer and Dean of University Libraries and Learning Resources

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