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Roy Mersky Remembered

  • Trenell S. Johnson, M.Ed writes:

    I met Professor Mersky when I joined the Law School staff as a Legal Adm. Asst. to several Law School faculty members. Later, upon promotion to Personnel Director, I had more contact with him in regard to Personnel matters and during the Dean's Staff meetings. In my over ten years with the Law School, he was always so helpful, kind, and generous with his wisdom and time whenever I requested information at the Law Library. I truly enjoyed talking and working with him; and, am saddened that we have all lost such a wonderful person. I feel blessed that he was a part of my life.

    Wednesday July 07, 2010, 06:43 P.M.

  • Professor Garrison Nelson writes:

    I never met Roy Mersky personally but I have read most of the books that he wrote and delved deeply into the extraordinarily extensive compilations of materials that he assembled for the legal and academic communities. Last year around the time of his birthday, I initiated an email correspondence with him concerning the ratings of Supreme Court Justices that he had pioneered with Professor Albert Blaustein in 1970. I had coome across an article in the MARQUETTE LAW REVIEW that contained an updated and more numerically sophisticated assessment of their ratings. I asked him why it had not been as widely disseminated as the 1970 work and he honestly and humbly suggested that Professor Blaustein was the statistical member of the duo and that with Blaustein's passing that he did not feel comfortable in releasing them to a wider audience. I sent him various drafts of parts of the manuscript using both sets of his ratings and he always responded with alacrity and wise counsel. What a loss to us all. Professor Garrison Nelson University of Vermont

    Friday November 28, 2008, 09:47 A.M.

  • Luis A. Retta writes:

    I knew him in 2006 at the AALL meeting in St. Louis Missouri . I was immediately attracted not only by his knowledge and professionalism but also by his charisma, kindness, symphaty and generosity. We met again in Buenos Aires International Book Fair in 2007. In this new opportunity I knew an excellent person with a great sense of humor . With his sweet wife Rosemary we walked around the city and he also danced 'tango'. As a bookdealer, under his supervision and suggestions , I had have the pleasure to selelect good law books from Cuba, Venezuela, Paraguay and Uruguay to enlarge the famous collection of the Tarlton Law Library at the University of Texas at Austin. Hope Mrs. Rosemary and family will fell very proud of his trajectory and personal life.

    Friday October 03, 2008, 09:43 A.M.

  • Albert Alschuler writes:

    In late 1964, I went to the office of Charles Alan Wright, then a visiting professor at the Harvard Law School where I was a student. I told him that I had just accepted an offer to join the UT faculty. Charley replied that I'd accepted on a great day for UT, as he had just learned that America's greatest law librarian also had accepted an offer to come to Austin. Charley was not given to hyperbole, and I believe that the title he awarded Roy forty-four years ago was already undisputed. When I began teaching at UT, I learned why the title was justified. Roy was a bundle of energy and a "hands on" librarian in every respect. He and the staff he trained not only met every research need but had an uncanny ability to know what we library users needed before we did. The only difficulty was that Roy kept losing staff, as Tarlton became America's premier "feeder" law library -- the supplier of head librarians wherever one looked. Roy was passionate, enthusiastic, and generous. He loved just about everyone was interested in just about everything. Evenings in his living room were always lively, literate encounters with faculty members from throughout the university and friends from throughout the world. I left UT in 1975, but I never stopped hearing from Roy. He appeared to write a note or call whenever he ran across my name or read one of my publications or discovered a source related to my research that I might have missed. I had many great and wonderful colleagues at UT. But three in particular have always seemed larger than life -- Page Keeton, Charley Wright, and Roy. I imagine a faculty lounge in the sky with great red leather chairs where they now meet every day at 3:00 for coffee -- Roy on the left (I'm talking politics of course), Page toward the center, and Charley on the right. They don't make 'em like those guys any more.

    Sunday June 22, 2008, 07:55 A.M.

  • Keith Ann Stiverson writes:

    I still find it difficult to believe that Roy is gone. When tributes from Tarltonites and other RMM fans were gathered a few years ago for the AALL Gallagher Award, a main theme was how Roy helped those in trouble. Despite Roy's reputation for toughness, he was also extremely compassionate. In 1996, he convinced me to leave a great job at the Library of Congress and move to Texas, where I had 5 memorable years at Tarlton. I will miss him very much.

    Tuesday June 17, 2008, 02:55 P.M.

  • Rob Brian writes:

    I was overseas and have only just learned of Roy's demise. Though small of stature, Roy was a giant among law librarians. I probably met Roy for the first time in 1976. The last time I saw Roy was a few years ago when he and Rosemary were walking along Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia, where my wife and I were also getting our early morning exercise. Roy was quite a frequent visitor to Australia and would be well remembered by those who attended the various International Law Library Conferences in 1981 and 1988. One memorable meeting was the 1991 Conference on the Global Responsibility of Law Librarians, to which Roy had invited me to present a view from 'down under'. It was a memorable conference, not least the very early morning swim in the hot springs and later the swim at the hotel and the sauna whwre absolutely nothing separated us! My warm condolences to Rosemary and Roy's family. Roy will be greatly missed by many.

    Thursday June 12, 2008, 03:19 A.M.

  • Ben Carroll writes:

    Word has finally reached my part of the Pacific concerning Roy Mersky's passing. I worked in the library during law school in the early 70's and came under Roy's spell as did nearly everyone. Somehow, this led to taking his law librarianship course. No easy grade there - I ended up writing (and rewriting and rewriting) an introduction to one of his Classics in Legal History. Although I resisted becoming a librarian, the seed was sown; I am now (delightedly) teaching legal research after 30 years of trial practice. As everyone has noted, he was fair, generous, tough and inspiring. Aloha, Roy.

    Saturday June 07, 2008, 05:33 A.M.

  • Tom Breen writes:

    I have just now learnd of Professor Mersky's passing. I got to know him on a visit to Brazil. He was full of life and energy. His great sense of humor often carried the day with the Brazilians. The Law School community has lost a star and an all around special person.

    Tuesday June 03, 2008, 01:30 A.M.

  • Tom Gilliland writes:

    I have just learned today of Roy's passing. I feel empty. My second year at UT Law was Roy's first. Like most of my professors at that time, Roy was both pleased and surprised that I actually did graduate. Roy loved to bring out of town guests and law school prospects to the restaurant that I opened in Austin several years after my graduation. He seemed quite proud to note to each person to whom I was introduced that I was the UT Law graduate who continued to cater to his whims. He was outside of the Law School, a very special person who never failed to point out that the tenderloin was a little over or under-cooked! I always knew that this wonderful straight-shootingman, as abundant with a compliment as with a constructive criticism, was a giant who would never be forgotten. The staff and I shall miss him greatly.

    Sunday May 25, 2008, 03:38 P.M.

  • George Grossman writes:

    Sometime in the mid-1970s, when UCBerkeley was looking for a law librarian, I happened to sit next to Berkeley's Law Dean at a dinner. Throughout the dinner, the Dean more-or-less interviewed me. When we got through the main points of my career (I was then Director of the Law Library at the University of Minnesota), the Dean asked: 'And when were you at Texas'? I told the Dean that I was among the few young law library directors who had managed to make it without having been at Texas. (I was not invited to Berkeley for a formal interview.) - Even though I never worked on his staff, Roy became a mentor and a friend. Whenever I published something, I got a note from Roy. Since I am an immigrant from Hungary, I got clippings and references related to Hungarians. At conventions, we got together for talks, at other times there were phone calls and emails, about the personal as well as the professional ' and jokes ' and, in later years, delightful visits and trips with Roy and Rosemary. At some point, I realized that, as I was doing things ' publishing, committee work, consulting, whatever ' one of my main motivations was to try to impress Roy. Praise from Roy really meant something, because you knew he would also tell you if he was disappointed. Roy was a demanding friend. But what he demanded was that you do your best ' that you live up to your potential. He set the example by living his life to the fullest. And he did so right to the end. Even when struck by cancer in his 80s, his instruction to the library staff was to hold the fort until his return. With his passing, I lost something precious from my life. And I know many others feel the same.

    Wednesday May 21, 2008, 03:31 P.M.

  • Professor Barbara Bintliff writes:

    Roy was a mentor to me, despite my having only a brief acquaintance with Tarlton after a three-week fieldwork. He followed my career, never hesitated to let me know what I was doing correctly and what I was doing incorrectly--always a conscience in this complicated world. I learned from him as a role model, and he taught me how to mentor others. I am in a state of disbelief that he is gone, as I still have questions that need answering. There is no one who can fill his shoes.

    Wednesday May 21, 2008, 02:28 P.M.

  • Kjell Moder writes:

    I first met with Roy in Lund at the Annual Meeting of the International Association of Law Librarians in 1997. And I immediately was attracted not only by his knowledge but also by his distinct charm and charisma. We kept in touch since then. When I visited Austin at the Annual Meeting of the American Legal Historians in October 2004 he was the great host not only for a reception but also for a private lunch at the Tarlton Library.It was a fine reunion. And last but not least, he supervised and wrote the foreword to the Auction Catalogue of Gustavus Schmidt, published in the Tarlton Law Library Legal History Series a couple of years ago, with articles by Michael Widener, Michael H Hoeflich and myself. Roy also was supportive in the publishing of more articles on Gustavus Schmidt. I miss an excellent colleague and a kind friend on the other side of the Ocean.

    Tuesday May 20, 2008, 06:18 A.M.

  • Carolyn Grimes writes:

    I became a Tarlton veteran in the spring of 1980, when I took Roy's law libraries class during my last semester of library school. Yes, 'veteran' is the correct term, because everyone who enlisted in the Mersky army gained special experiences and life-long friendships like those who jointly survive wartime. My life was in chaos that semester, as my lawyer husband decided he wanted a divorce. I had a library assistant job at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and two practicum at the Barker Texas History Center and the LBJ Library. Roy's class and required internship not only rounded out my social science background, but it almost drove me out of my mind. The semester was a blur, but somehow I graduated, fled the state, and took my first professional job as a government document and serials librarian at New York Law School. I used Roy as a reference, where they not only knew of him, they considered NOT hiring me because of the connection. I soon found out why, as he was brought in to the very same library to restructure it in typical Mersky 'Shock and Awe' fashion. No, I wasn't a scout for Roy at New York Law School, but I soon learned that it was to my great advantage to be part of his assault team. He promoted me to Acting Head of Technical Services and shortly afterwards to Head of Technical Services. The challenges were fast and numerous, and I credit Roy for giving me the ability and self-confidence to tackle anything. I returned to Texas in 1984 a stronger person and a signficantly better librarian. Like a proud father, he always took great satisfaction in my professional accomplishments in the distinguished law firm libraries of Jones Day Reavis & Pogue and Locke Purnell Rain Harrell and later in marketing, business development, and sales enablement roles at Dell and IBM. He never forgot to send me articles or a birthday card, to invite me to 'free' cocktails or dinners, or to remind me of things I should do or should have done. Roy Mersky was my mentor and my friend for almost 30 years. My thoughts go to Rosemary, his family, and to all of the many friends whose lives he touched in so many ways. We will always remember him.

    Sunday May 18, 2008, 03:46 P.M.

  • Jolene Faber writes:

    I just wanted to send my condolences and tell Rosemary how special Roy was to my brother and I. Although we did not know him for as long as you did his vibrance and zest for life left an impression on both of us that we will never forget. He was such a special person and an inspiration to me on so many levels. I will forever remember and appreciate how both of you welcomed me into your home and gave me an opportunity that was so beneficial. I hope that, as sad as you may be Rosemary, you are coping non the less and rembering the special times you shared with Roy. Please send my regards to the rest of the family and know that you are all in my thoughts and prayers.

    Friday May 16, 2008, 11:20 A.M.

  • Donna M. Tuke writes:

    I was not fortunate to have worked for and trained under Roy, but years ago, I asked him if I could come to Tarlton for a couple of weeks as an "intern" to learn from him and his staff. He said yes, of course, and then for the next few years, whenever I would see him, he would ask me when I was coming. For one reason or another I could not find the time. Finally, as I looked at my calendar for this summer, it looked like I could finally do this. My kids would all be gone and I was settled into my new home. So imagine my shock when I called to see when would be good to come and I learned that he was so ill! A lesson learned too late of missed opportunities! Roy sent frequent notes to us saying that he liked this article or that one in Legal Information Alert and to keep up the good work. We were honored when Roy and Rich Leiter asked us to take on the publication of the second edition of the Spirit of Law Librarianship book and to sponsor the award. I will miss him so much!

    Thursday May 15, 2008, 01:10 P.M.

  • Horst Dippel writes:

    I met Roy in December 2007 in Adelaide, Australia, when no one would have thought that he had only half a year to continue. We just started an exchange on Texas constitutional history, and it is sad to continue without his advice and expert knowledge.

    Thursday May 15, 2008, 11:28 A.M.

  • Ralph Brill writes:

    I remember a conference on Legal Research Roy put on at SUNY-Buffalo in 1978 or 1979. It was amazing. He had sessions from morning to night, through meals. He had one on How Librarians Should Dress For Success. He took attendance and awarded diplomas at the end of the conference. I didn't get a diploma because, as he reported, 'Dean Brill had missed too many sessions.' (I was no longer dean, but once a dean always'.) I was probably the only non-librarian there. At some point, Michael Richmond and a gal from one of the California schools went over the wall (literally'.SUNY is an enclosed campus, and we were staying at a dorm) to go to a local disco, and then Michael and I wound up throwing Frisbees on the lawn at 3 a.m. Roy had comments about that the next day too. He took us all up to Niagara Falls/Buffalo, but not really to see the falls, but to tour William Hein & Co. Yes, he definitely was a person you couldn't hate even when he was being outrageous. He really loved books. And his library was truly unique and great.

    Thursday May 15, 2008, 11:07 A.M.

  • Linda Will writes:

    I have many fond memories of Roy. After taking his course at UT and graduating, (there were no legal jobs) I moved to El Paso, sight unseen, and became a branch librarian at El Paso Public Library. Fast forward two years, and Roy took a gig as a Consultant for Kemp Smith at the time the largest law firm in the city. Although I hadn't spoken with him in two years, he had kept up with me and called me telling me, here was the chance I needed to get into my true calling. Roy not only talked Kemp Smith into hiring me, (at a generous salary) but managed to make sure that they sent me back to Austin for a week of legal research refreshing! And then he managed two more trips out West to check on my progress, all including at least two trips across the border for the cigarette and alchole run. Years later, I was in Miami and he called me up to say he was coming for an ABA event and would I like to take him to dinner. Of course I said yes, knowing my firm would pay. Then he called to say there was a free buffett at the meeting and to meet him at the Intercontinental and he would provide dinner! So there we are qued up in the buffett line...I in front of Roy, when suddenly my plate is taken away from me by Roy. "What are you doing filling up on cheese," he said, "there is shrimp at the end of the line!" The art of buffett grazing by RMM! He has been a mentor and a true friend for over 30 years. He has left a foot print not just on my resume but my soul.

    Wednesday May 14, 2008, 11:30 A.M.

  • Mimi Greenwood writes:

    Prof. Mersky led a SWALL group down to Barton Springs early one morning. Unfortunately it was raining, but I got another chance to go there during the trip. I wonder how many people he introduced to this wonderful place!

    Tuesday May 13, 2008, 05:41 P.M.

  • William D. Bader, Esq. writes:

    Roy Mersky was the greatest academic lawyer, and one of the finest human beings I have ever had the privilege of knowing. As a collaborator and friend, who was already a legal legend, he always astonished me with his kindness, consideration, and generosity. I was most impressed by Roy's true-liberal, indeed, classical-liberal spirit; he always kept an open mind, and was persuaded by sound legal arguments, even when they resulted in unfashionable conclusions. Roy was "courage" personified, and I will miss him very deeply.

    Tuesday May 13, 2008, 03:20 P.M.

  • Gretchen Feltes writes:

    Late in the summer of 1982 I was ready to leave Washington and move to New York to work for Roy at New York Law School. My family wondered if I could be happy in the City, my law librarian friends wondered if I could survive Roy. I did both. He assembled a great staff, who learned to work together and work very hard for him. I was proud to be part of his team. Many of them are still good friends. I learned a valuable lesson from Roy, and it was to put as much energy into my personal life as I did my professional life. He was a man of great passions, who stayed true to the people and things he believed in. His was a life well lived.

    Tuesday May 13, 2008, 01:52 P.M.

  • Don Carleton writes:

    Only a few weeks after I arrived on campus in December 1979 to administer what was then known as the Barker Texas History Center, Roy called to welcome me to the University's amazing world of special library collections and to invite me to lunch. That was the beginning of an enriching professional relationship and a warm friendship extending nearly 30 years. During those three decades I have benefited greatly from Roy's counsel and I have enjoyed his enthusiastic encouragement. When my book, Red Scare, was published in 1985, Roy (the old lefty!) worked harder to promote it than my publisher. Throughout the years, as the Barker evolved and grew into the Center for American History, Roy sent me a steady stream of notes and emails urging me onward. I know that he pushed, promoted, and encouraged many others. He was a decent, learned, highly gifted, gentleman. He will be much missed. Good bye my friend.

    Monday May 12, 2008, 05:47 P.M.

  • Fred Shapiro writes:

    Roy would probably have told you that he was responsible for my quotation books, my citation studies, who knows what else. This would have been a bit of an exaggeration, but there is no doubt that he had a profound influence on my life. I had a much better idea of what I was capable of after working for him than before that. I worked for Roy, not at Tarlton, but at New York Law School when he was visiting library director there from 1982 to 1984. I won't tell any of the wild anecdotes about that period here, but his reign there was certainly one of the most remarkable chapters in the entire history of world librarianship. I'm proud to be a law librarian, and a lot of that is because of the example Roy set of dedication, energy, imagination, ambition, chutzpah, and just plain having a good time. If there's a law library heaven, they've got a new director now.

    Monday May 12, 2008, 05:08 P.M.

  • Doug Laycock writes:

    The story of Roy acquiring the statutes of other states is one I had not heard before. It is a stunning tale -- stunning that we had not been keeping them current before he arrived. If we were to pick a single moment when we decided to become a national law school, this may be it. My own view is that the climb to greatness was slow, gradual, very long term -- and never ending. But however long the process and however widely the credit should be shared, certainly Roy was a critical part of building UT Law. You cannot have a great law school without a great library. And he was the greatest. I'm not sure his library was ever adequately funded -- and if it ever were, he would never have admitted it. He leveraged resources with the force of his personal efforts. His capacity to train librarians and place them in important positions elsewhere enabled him to hire talented and hard-working staff, often for less than they were really worth. We benefited from that implicit subsidy. He built the collection, first in law, then in allied disciplines, then in computerized resources -- with every new challenge thrown up by new developments in legal education, Roy rose to meet it He also did the little things well. Many people have told stories of things he did for them. One of the last things he did was to personally buy a new book on religious liberty, imprint it in memory of my recently deceased mother, and send me an image of what he had done with a personal note. The Jamail Center is his monument, and amidst all the other pressures on the Law School, we must find the funds and the commitment to maintain its greatness.

    Monday May 12, 2008, 04:49 P.M.

  • Blair Kauffman writes:

    Roy often expressed fond recollections of his early days at Yale, perhaps especially when in the company of other Yalies. He began his career as a law librarian here shortly after graduation from the University of Wisconsin, in the early 1950's, working as the head of circulation. He set high standards for excellent service and quickly became known as the go to librarian. Everyone who crossed paths with him has a story. Former Yale Dean Guido Calabresi says that while Roy was never the head librarian, he was the operating force in the law library. When he left Yale to be the Supreme Court Librarian in Olympia, Washington, the faculty here thought he had gone on to be the U.S. Supreme Court Librarian, and of course this seemed the perfectly natural trajectory for a person with Roy's ambition and energy. Later in Roy's career, then AALL President Claire Germain referred to Roy as the King Bee. Roy said he'd prefer to be known as the Sting Bee. With Roy's passing we've lost the sting bee who was there keeping the rest of us on our professional toes. We'll miss him.

    Monday May 12, 2008, 04:48 P.M.

  • Adam Loewy writes:

    I met Prof. Mersky after entering UT Law in 2000. I had just graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was very excited to learn that UT's famous law librarian had earned 3 degrees from UW-Madison. Prof. Mersky always enjoyed reminiscing about his days in Madison and was one of the kindest, warmest people I met at UT Law. He was a great Badger and he will be sorely missed. G-d bless him and his family.

    Monday May 12, 2008, 10:48 A.M.

  • Charles R. Dyer writes:

    My parents moved our family to Texas in the mid-fifties so that their children would have a better opportunity to get a college education. I got three of my four degrees from the University of Texas at Austin. I was a work study student in the Tarlton Law Library while getting my J.D., but Roy Mersky gave me a full-time job upon graduation until I completed my M.L.S. in 1975. My immediate bosses at Tarlton were Lance Dickson, now retired Director of the Stanford Law School Library, Harry S. (Terry) Martin, III, soon to be retired Director of the Harvard Law School Library, and Frank Liu, still Director of the Duquesne Law School Library and the Allegheny County Law Library. There were others there as well, such as the wonderful Donald Dunn. It was no wonder that I was, and still am, impressed with being a law librarian. Two years later, I was the Director of the Law Library and a law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. (Roy liked to mention to others he was recruiting then that I had tripled my salary in two years, while we teased that a salary is easier to triple if it isn't that much in the first place.) But it was when I chose to go into public law librarianship as the Director of the San Diego County Public Law Library (1987-2005) that Roy's lessons on our obligation to provide access to legal information really took root. I especially remember his 1991 Conference on the Global Responsibility of Law Librarians which gave me insights that I often used in legislative advocacy on behalf of funding public law libraries: 'Totalitarian regimes don't need public access to the law, so they don't have law libraries.' Through the years, Roy visited my wife and me when he was in San Diego, and he graciously hosted me when I was in Austin, which was very often until my father passed away last year. I learned something whenever I saw him. My wife and I will miss him terribly.

    Sunday May 11, 2008, 08:05 P.M.

  • Alex Wilson Albright writes:

    I was a TQ in 1979--one of the 3d year students who taught legal research and writing to 1st year students. Roy Mersky was our boss, and frankly, we were terrified of him. But one day he took us on a "special" tour of the library--this was the old library in Townes Hall. We went up into parts of the library that we certainly didn't know were there, and Roy opened a locked door. He told us that this was a very special collection called "Litigated Literature." We walk in and find stacks of Playboy and Penthouse magazines! With a twinkle in his eye, he told us that quite a few members of the faculty were on the routing list! We learned then that he did have a sense of humor! In the 20 years that I have worked at the law school, I often saw his tenacity, his humor, and his heart. He fiercely protected the library and his librarians. He expected excellence. He was feared, but he was loved. The library seemed strangely empty when I walked in there last week. He is greatly missed.

    Sunday May 11, 2008, 05:30 P.M.

  • Chief Justice (Ret.) Marilyn Aboussie writes:

    I met Roy Mersky in about 1972, a few months after I began law school at UT, and we remained friends throughout the years. Regardless of the occasion, he was always the same - - warm, friendly, and outgoing, with that quick smile and twinkle in his eye. Roy had a zest for life and a lively sense of humor, and he always treated others with the utmost respect. His professional accomplishments are without equal, and I cannot imagine the law school without his presence. Roy Mersky was truly a gentleman and a scholar, but I will miss him most as a friend. My sincere sympathy to Rosemary and Roy's family.

    Sunday May 11, 2008, 03:02 P.M.

  • Charlene Urwin, UT School of Social Work writes:

    I met Roy Mersky at a family event in 1977. He learned of my research interest in single mothers and sent me articles with handwritten notes. Once I watched him try to light a barbecue grill, and it was clear that was not his expertise. He was thoughtful and gracious to the son of a visiting friend--he gave him a tour of the law library. Later I had one, too. Roy was bright, charming, rarely understated, and usually with a story to tell. He did nothing without a flair, and I never saw a bad picture of him. I consider his three daughters some of his finest accomplishments. It has been nice to read how valued and impactful he was at the Law School. His presence will be missed by many.

    Saturday May 10, 2008, 09:30 P.M.

  • Mary Lynn Rice-Lively, UT School of Information writes:

    Roy Mersky (RMM to many of us too respectful to actually refer to him as "Roy") brought me into the Tarlton family shortly after my family and I moved from Dallas to Austin in 1988. After years of public librarianship and work with Annette Strauss during her Mayoral service, working in the splendor of Tarlton was awe-inspiring. RMM's standards for all of us were high: irreproachable public service and support of an impeccable and fully functional facility. More importantly, however, he taught me once and for all that librarians are not the mousey, shy, passive professionals. Thank you, RMM, for modeling a principled and fervent approach to the profession for the dozens of UT iSchoolers who worked and studied with you.

    Saturday May 10, 2008, 04:27 P.M.

  • Mike Widener, Yale Law Library writes:

    I owe my career as a rare book librarian to two people. Roy Mersky hired me fresh out of UT's library science school in 1992, and my wife Emma inspired me to follow her footsteps as a librarian, and urged me to work for RMM when others were advising me not to. I'm glad I listened to both of them. RMM was a great library administrator and a "bookman" to boot. He promoted rare books for law libraries and legal scholarship in several concrete ways. The conference that inaugurated the Tarlton Law Library's new building in 1981 (with a splendid rare book facility on the 6th floor) was dedicated to "Collecting and Managing Rare Law Books." He organized a workshop on rare law book librarianship presented by Joel Silver of the Lilly Library in 1995, and "Collecting Law Books and Manuscripts: A Short Course," taught by the London barrister and collector Anthony Taussig in 2001. The Tarlton Law Library Legal History Series and the annual Tarlton Law Library Rare Books Lectures have made important contributions to the history of legal literature. Several of the core collections in Tarlton's rare book collection -- law dictionaries, John Selden, the Tichborne trial, and works on the Inns of Court -- were RMM's ideas, and I had lots of fun building them. Today I doubt they have equals anywhere in the world. His interest in rare books grew partly, I think, out of his passion for linking the study and practice of law with the broader culture, a passion that also gave rise to the Law & Popular Culture Collection. RMM was obsessed with oral history, and commissioned over a dozen oral history interviews with leading UT Law faculty and alumni. It's a shame that his own oral history interviews were never completed. Thanks to his leadership, the Tarlton Law Library is a great institution in several ways: a well-designed and beautiful building, an outstanding and dynamic collection, a staff utterly devoted to serving its patrons, and a far-flung but tight-knit family. From RMM I learned how to be a *professional* librarian. And, he was the best sort of friend, loyal and honest. Emma and I loved him dearly and will miss him. Memory Eternal...

    Saturday May 10, 2008, 12:44 P.M.

  • Julie Hardwick, History Dept. writes:

    I want to note too the wonderful service the Law Library provides to faculty and students across campus. I always note to my students that the Law Library provides hands down the best service on campus - welcoming, engaged, embracing curiosity from allcomers whether undergraduates to faculty, and from the information desk to special collections. Alas not all our campus libraries share this attitude! Our thanks to Roy Mersky for modelling powerfully this role for a university library that embraces all constitutents in the campus community.

    Saturday May 10, 2008, 08:11 A.M.

  • Ebem, Christiana writes:

    ADIEU CHIEF MERSKEY! I met Chief Merskey for the first time during the fall semester. I was at the circulation desk with one of the librarians when Chief Merskey came out of his office to join us. I was introduced to him as one of their current LLM students. He extended a hand of friendship and inquired which country I came from. When I mentioned Nigeria, he was quite pleased and did not hesitate in telling me he was a Chief in Nigeria. He invited me into his office and took me to the area where he kept all the pictures he took during the ceremony. He told me about all the friends he had in Nigeria and how long ago it was. We walked around his office and I was trilled at the treasure he had built for the University of Texas Tarlton Law Library. Subsequently, our paths have crossed many times and at such opportunity I called him Chief and he always responded with a compliment. He has quietly departed but his presence will forever be felt at UT Law Library and his office immovable. I am very proud to be one of those that had a pleasant encounter with him at the tale end of his life. We will all miss you. Adieu Chief Merskey.

    Saturday May 10, 2008, 01:22 A.M.

  • Ian Holloway writes:

    I first met Roy when he spent a sabbatical with us at the Australian National University. It was my delight to host him, and Rosemary, to a dinner shortly after he arrived, And during the remainder of his time with us, among the nicest parts of my day were those I spent with Roy talking about everything from the art of law librarianship to legal history to the Battle of the Bulge, to Tex-Mex food. Roy was a special person in every imaginable way. A kinder man I have never met.

    Friday May 09, 2008, 03:53 P.M.

  • Simone Abel writes:

    I first met Professor Mersky during a tour of the phenomenal Tarlton Law Library at the commencement of my student exchange from the University of New South Wales (Australia) to the University of Texas. From that day forward, Professor Mersky has been a constant source of inspiration and guidance, generously giving of his time to act as a mentor to me. I feel a deep sense of gratitude for his ongoing support and tutelage. At critical points in my short career, Professor Mersky has provided me with wise and well-considered advice. I will cherish Professor Mersky's autographed legal research book, and the valuable lessons I learned from him. His integrity, courage, wit and wisdom will be missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to Professor Mersky's family and friends.

    Friday May 09, 2008, 03:17 P.M.

  • Yvonne Chandler, Associate Professor, UNT/SLIS writes:

    I just celebrated my 15th year with the University of North Texas School of Library and Information Sciences. When I arrived, new to the state as a green professor directly from the doctoral program, one of the first people to welcome me was Professor Roy Mersky. As I had done my doctoral research in the area of law librarianship, I knew of the great Professor Mersky. In fact, he had participated in my dissertation where I used the Delphi research technique, as an expert in law librarianship education. Shortly after I began at SLIS, he invited me to Austin and pledged to support my program and my development as a professor and scholar. Over these next 15 years he sent students to the program, including probably one of his favorite people - Holly Lakatos; he provided internships for UNT/SLIS students at Tarlton; he recruited and hired our graduates; he included me in all events and programs at UT, and he even initiated me as an honorary member of the Tarlton group. When I came up for promotion and tenure, Professor Mersky was asked and agreed to serve as an outside reviewer by my tenure committee. The letter that he wrote supporting my tenure was instrumental in a successful promotion and tenure process for me. As an Alabamian, I grew up hearing the stories of the civil rights movement, and particularly the events that occured in my state. When I learned of Professor Mersky's involvement and committment to the movement, I was even prouder to know this man. Last year I attended the 100th anniversary of the University of Wisconsin Library School where he was honored as one the top alumni of the School in its first century. I was again proud to tell all in attendance, he is my friend and colleague. Our friendship and professional relationship has grown stronger over the years. I appreciate everything he ever did for me as an educator and as my friend. I will miss him so very much.

    Friday May 09, 2008, 02:51 P.M.

  • Addy Sonder writes:

    Professor Mersky always kept you on your toes. During my last year at Tarlton, I was in charge of organizing our annual rare book lecture. That year, the subject of the lecture was witchcraft literature. While in his office one day, he instructed me to go into the men's restroom and "look around for something." Not knowing if this was a joke, and also uncomfortable at the thought of running into one of my male colleagues at the urinal, I never followed through. Later in the week, I learned that some of my other female colleagues had been given the same assignment. None of them had followed through, either. Finally, while eating ice cream at one of the many Tarlton get togethers, he asked us about what we had seen in the restroom. We all looked at each other nervously until finally, he gathered us together and we all marched into the men's restroom. There, hanging on the wall, was a poster about a witchcraft literature exhibit. He had wanted to point it out to us in his great tradition of keeping people informed. I will miss Professor Mersky and his strange assignments that always seemed to serve a purpose in the end.

    Friday May 09, 2008, 01:58 P.M.

  • Patricia Hansen writes:

    It has been my great privilege to know and work with Roy, who made me feel genuinely welcome at UT from the first day I met him 14 years ago. He has left all of us a remarkable library, and an even more remarkable library staff. I will find it impossible to go to the library without feeling Roy's presence. His personal warmth, kindness, humor and generosity are all things I will deeply miss.

    Friday May 09, 2008, 12:11 P.M.

  • Melissa Bernstein writes:

    I first met Mr. Mersky at the AALL meeting in 2006 and then had the good fortune to begin my professional career at Tarlton. Mr. Mersky was a good friend of another law librarian legend and my uncle, Julius Marke. Working for Mr. Mersky was never dull. He was a wonderful mentor and story teller and would often regale me with tales of himself and Julius. I am sad that I will not get the full benefit of his guidance but am grateful that he touched my life.

    Friday May 09, 2008, 11:34 A.M.

  • Jonathan Pratter writes:

    Roy Mersky hired me, on reflection a key event in my life. He fostered, I might almost say, fathered, my career. I worked under him and with him for 23 years. It has already been said, he was a mensch. When I was coming up, there was a bumper sticker seen frequently -- Chutzpah is not hubris. Roy Mersky had the chutzpah to be a great man; he made it a matter of pride to be a law librarian. I am grateful to him for that and much, much more.

    Friday May 09, 2008, 10:51 A.M.

  • Becky Fillinger writes:

    I first met Roy when I moved to Austin in 1993 - he was always kind to me and freely gave his counsel in the past 15 years. It was always a joy to see him at conferences and to catch up on his adventures in law librarianship. His passing is a loss to us all.

    Friday May 09, 2008, 09:32 A.M.

  • Carolina Hardigree writes:

    I worked with Roy Mersky as a Library Assistant at Tarlton Law Library from 2001-2003. It was my first "real" job out of college. It was there that I decided to pursue my MLS and make it official. Professor Mersky was always so supportive of young librarians' careers, including mine. I believe everyone that "graduated" from Tarlton Law Library has left it a better person because of Roy's vision. When I visit I am always struck by how lovely a place it is, with the Hyder Collection materials. I will remember Roy's sense of humor. Once while in his office, I was admiring the many collectibles on his walls, and he asked me what I thought this one object was, a backscratcher? No, it was a Torah page-turner. I was looking forward to getting to know him better as my professional career matured, and in more recent years as a friend. He will be greatly missed.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 11:19 P.M.

  • Chris Parton writes:

    On my first day of class, a young professor who was also new to the law school was extolling the virtues of the University of Texas and referred to the law library as 'one of the best' law libraries west of the Mississippi. On the second day of class, he opened his lecture by rather sheepishly apologizing for the implication that the law library was anything less than the greatest library in the US. I was out of law school ten years before I felt comfortable referring to Professor Mersky as 'Roy'. In the seventeen years that I knew him he evolved in my life from teacher, to mentor, to father figure to friend. He is the last of the great cowboy librarians and there will not be another one like him.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 11:06 P.M.

  • Nathaniel Gold writes:

    Roy Mersky was my great uncle (my grandmothers brother) I was never close to him in fact in my 29 years on this planet I saw him maybe 10 times and spoke to him maybe 15. Most recently he sent my newborn baby a few books to start her career as a librarian as he said in the card. I never really new how accomplished he was until now after his death doing some Internet research. My hart goes out to everyone whose life he touched and of course my grandmother Bernice who also did not see him much and is now devastated.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 08:13 P.M.

  • Ronald E. Day writes:

    I was one of Roy's notorious failures, never having become a director. He hired me sight unseen fresh out of Columbia's Library School in 1975. After one year of boot camp I fled to the University of Pennsylvania, where I subsequently went to its law school and became Head of Reference. I even committed the unpardonable (and stupid!) sin of never asking Roy for help in finding a job, which probably hurt his magnanimous spirit and diminished my career options. Nevertheless, he was always supportive of me. During boot camp he even sent me home to bake bread, my hobby, for a whole day in preparation for Tarlton's famous holiday party. He knew that I collected fountain pens and would keep me informed of news items about them for over 30 years. So, for all you greats out there, remember that he was faithful even to those who done him wrong.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 06:59 P.M.

  • Laura Bedard writes:

    I met Roy Mersky only once, and I have never forgotten him, the setting, the discussions, how he laughed, and what he said. I can still see him walking with us, a bunch of very young law librarians, at an AALL meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. He was intensely interested in rare books and legal history, and I knew something of the former, and little of the latter. He proceeded to tell us rare books stories, Texas style, legal history anecdotes, and heeped advice on us, all the while pointing out the flora of the garden where we were walking, and asking questions about what interested us, and what were our aspirations as librarians. It was a rapid stream of questions and answers, seemingly random, yet all leading towards a final lecture on law librarianship careers, how to embrace the profession, and life, with enthusiasm, and share the knowledge, and end the day with a joke. I am a poor jokster, still, I'm afraid, but he knew how and when to laugh. There's only one Roy Mersky, and there always will be. I am so sorry: UT and the law library profession has lost a giant, and I am sorry for the loss to his family and friends.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 04:28 P.M.

  • Nelson R. Block writes:

    During the almost two years I worked for RMM as his student assistant, I distilled the following secrets of his success: Have a vision. It should include things you are incapable of doing by yourself. Share your vision with those who have the intellectual, spiritual, physical or financial capacity to participate in its success. Shepherd these people toward achieving what has now become their vision. Expect the best from your friends, colleagues, employees and students. Be understanding, but unrelenting in your expectations, if they do not perform. Help everyone you encounter.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 04:23 P.M.

  • Richard Leiter writes:

    I first met Roy at my first annual meeting of AALL, in San Diego, about 1984 or 1985. He spoke at program called "The future of law librarianship." I was interested in that because I had just been accepted to three library schools (after law school) and was deciding which school to attend. I thought perhaps the speaker could help me decide where to go. He did; but not how I expected: In his program, he said that the age of JD/MLS's for library directors was over. In the future, he said, directors would have MBAs and MLS's. I was crushed, and patiently awaited my turn to talk to him after the program. There was a huge crowd around him, full of many people whom I later came to recognize as the leaders of the profession at the time. (There was lots of grey hair in the crowd....) When my turn came, I told him my predicament. I wanted to know what school he'd recommend, I said, but was he really suggesting I pursue an MBA?! He looked me square in the eye and asked me, "Well, what are your goals?" (He had a look that could penetrate steel.) I stammered out something like, "I want to be a law library director." He looked back at me with one finger raised, and said, "Well, if you want to be the best, come and work for me!" I remember thinking, "huh?" Who is this guy? To make a long story short. Some time later that day or the next, he offered me a job with 24 hours to accept. Site-unseen. In my panic I called up the only person I knew at the time who was a director of an academic law library. He happened to be the president at the time. I called his room and told him my dilemma. He didn't have time to talk to me then, but he quickly got me together with four or five people who were directors of law libraries who had worked for Roy. They shared their stories with me for half the afternoon over margaritas by the pool of the convention hotel, about "boot camp" at Tarlton. They clearly had all enjoyed themselves and were a tight-knit group who loved the place. They had all learned a great deal, and all went on to successful careers. It was inspiring. Going to UT to work with Roy for three years was the best decision I ever made. There, I learned what it meant to truly "be" a librarian. Roy's standards of excellence were higher than high, and he made us all strive to that seemingly impossible level. And he relished our accomplishments when we did achieve them. Roy was a ruthless mentor, coach and great friend. It's hard to imagine a world without Roy.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 04:20 P.M.

  • Jane O'Connell writes:

    I first met Professor Mersky when I took a legal informatics class he oversaw. I had recently left practice to attend UT's School of Information with the long term career goal of working at Tarlton someday. Little did I know how soon that day would arrive!! Shortly after the semester ended, I was called in to Professor Mersky's office and offered the position of Head of Student Services, which I immediately accepted. It truly has been a privilege to start my career as a librarian working under Professor Mersky and I have learned lessons in the past four years that I will carry with me throughout my professional life. It is truly strange to realize that he won't be urgently summoning me into his office for a new assignment tomorrow.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 04:12 P.M.

  • Norma Cantu writes:

    To the library staff: You have been fortunate to have been hired by someone who saw in you the potential to play an important role in the lives of students across the country. My UT law students, LBJ masters' students, and College of Education doctoral students have frequently expressed their praise of Roy Merksy and the library staff. You all helped them complete their research and be able to teach others. I will miss Roy deeply. From my very first week at UT, he let me prowl around the law library, looking for the perfect place to conduct an interview with the Austin Statesman. When I asked Roy whether we could check out the roof to the library, he didn't blink. Roy generously handed me the keys to the roof, begging me not to fall off the edge. I suspect we have all benefited from Roy handing us the keys to learning, giving us a chance to look at the vistas around us from our vantage point at UT, and merely asking us to be careful as we explore. God bless his family.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 04:01 P.M.

  • Calvin Johnson writes:

    Roy Mersky was an amazing entrepreneur, an empire builder in the good sense. The stereotype is that Marion the Librarian went into the library field to avoid the world, and then there was Roy who grabbed the world in large chunks. He was the Mark Yudof of librarians. Or perhaps Mark Yudof is the Roy Mersky of Universities.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 03:56 P.M.

  • Sanford (Sandy) Levinson writes:

    I have for many years described my feelings vis-a-vis the Library (and its staff) as similar to those of a kid in the candy store (and all of you know how much I like candy). Ask and it shall be given unto you seemed the operative ethos that Roy instilled. Like most people, I probably didn't do enough to thank Roy directly for the almost literally endless contributions that the institution he created and managed made to my own flourishing at UT. Fortunately, Scot and I had the pleasure several weeks ago of proposing to him an idea for a symposium in his honor, in the fall of 2009, on judicial biography. He took up the idea with alacrity and started suggesting some names, but he made it absolutely clear that he had no intention of retiring or otherwise leaving an institution that he clearly loved and was completely devoted to. We assured him that we well understood, and that the symposium would only a marker of his continuous service. We will, obviously, plan the symposium with even greater dedication and, alas, it will necessarily be a memorial. But there will be nothing at all contrived about about memorializing someone who himself contributed so much to judicial biographies and helped countless scholars navigate what was available in our remarkably rich collection of materials. Similarly, Bob Abzug and I met with Roy only in the past couple of weeks to talk about the possibilities of strengthening the materials involving Jewish law, and one of the ideas that we batted around (with Larry) was the possibility of setting up a recurrent Mersky lecture on the great themes (and challenges) raised for the contemporary world by Jewish and Islamic law. But, as with Christopher Wren, Roy will need no statues or lecturerships to be properly memorialized. All one has to to do is to "look around" as one enters, with pleasure and anticipation, the Library and know that there is literally no more user-friendly (and physically attractive--thanks to Roy's work with Elton and Martha Hyder) such facility in the country.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 03:51 P.M.

  • William M. Sage writes:

    In my comparatively brief time at UT, I had several opportunities to chat with Roy on topics ranging from politics to ancient medicine. I most remember the welcome he extended me on my arrival, including lunch at the UT Club where he asked me all manner of things about my library experience at my former institution and my suggestions for UT. I offered what I could, but realized immediately that he already knew far more about learning resources, including new technologies, than I could hope to discover in another three decades of teaching.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 03:49 P.M.

  • Hans Baade writes:

    In 1971, I had to decide between Duke, Toronto, and Texas. In the Ms. of my memoirs (p. 167) I find the following: As for scholarly creativity in general, I had been inhibited by the library offering of Toronto but remembered one event in particular, during my Texas stint in summer, 1967. One of the 'middlebrow' monthlies had just published an article of some interest to me, and I had mentioned that at coffee in the Texas faculty lounge in the presence of Roy Mersky, the law librarian. We went out to dinner that night, and on our return, that issue of the journal in question was on the living room table of our apartment. Roy's magic did much to help me decide.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 03:49 P.M.

  • Guy Wellborn writes:

    Roy and the First Transformation To have enjoyed for so many years the respect and friendship of Roy was always a source of deep pride for me. Such was his stature. A number of years ago, probably a few years before he became dean, Bill Powers and I were discussing what has been called the First Transformation of U.T. Law--from a very local school into a national one. Many individuals constituted this event; but to us four early figures stood out as pillars: Page Keeton, Charlie Wright, Roy Mersky, and Hans Baade. Bill perceptively mused that the appointment of Doug Laycock was another watershed. Doug led, attracted, inspired, and mentored a next generation that became the Second Transformation--from a solid, prestigious school into a veritable fountain of cutting-edge scholarship. Indeed, not long after, as Bill was readying to be dean, all were aware that this Second Transformation was entering its maturity. The importance of Roy cannot be gainsaid. By the time I arrived in 1974, Roy and Tarlton were legendary. My only large law library experience had been Harvard, in which the Law Review incarcerated and tortured me. Harvard had more books and more money--but Tarlton put it to shame in terms of service, utility, and stunning professionalism. Roy was a true child of Moses: he could make bricks without straw like nobody else. The fabled excellence of Tarlton, especially its amazing staff and culture of indefatigable service, was a potent recruiting tool. To me, Roy was one of those individuals I was always happy to see. He was never passion's slave. He was always plain fun to spend time with; a great conversationalist with joy of knowledge of all kinds. I had known Roy for years before I learned that this diminutive intellectual had been a warrior against Hitler, earning a Bronze Star as a seventeen-year-old infantryman in the infamously brutal Battle of the Bulge. I'll close by sharing a story that captures Roy's often self-deprecating charm. He recounted that as his unit was about to enter the battle, each truckload of G.I.s was given a bottle of whisky to pass around. Poor little green Roy dropped and broke the bottle when it came his turn. I will truly miss him.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 03:46 P.M.

  • Ernest Smith writes:

    My first meeting with Roy and its immediate aftermath still come vividly to mind. I joined the faculty in 1963, and the following year began research on comparative statutes in the two dozen or so principal oil and gas producing states. To my dismay, I discovered that the statutes of virtually all of the states, other than Texas, had no pocket-parts and had not been updated for 10 or 20 years. The librarian told me that so few people were interested in the statutory law of other states that "it isn't wothwhile to update them.". Frustrated, I was trying to decide how to change my research when Roy arrived. Almost upon meeting him I grumbled something about this major failing of the library. If memory serves correctly, every state had up-to-date volumes and pocket parts in less than a month - and I contentedly completed my research and article.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 03:45 P.M.

  • Louise Weinberg writes:

    When I came to the law school in 1980, bravely leaving my family behind in Cambridge (I wonder how I had the guts), one of the things that made Texas so special for me was the law school library and its great director, Roy Mersky. The law library was the fifth largest law library in the world. Roy Mersky was the greatest law librarian in the world. I also had a special appreciation for the then faculty library. I had done my visit to the law school in 1979, and to me, in those pre-computer days, it had been delicious to have the luxury of a handsome, well-stocked law library just for faculty use. Shortly after I took up my new job at UT, Harvard attempted to recruit Roy. He visited Harvard and then, thank heavens, he came back. I asked him about the episode. He told me that his hosts at Harvard had taken him into a room stacked from floor to ceiling with unfiled Korean law reports (or perhaps Japanese reports ~ my recollection is cloudy). "Louise," he confided, "Harvard is totally out of control."

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 03:45 P.M.

  • Michael J. Churgin writes:

    I have been at a law school clinic meeting the past few days away from Austin, and reports of Roy's fall and imminent death circulated among the attendees. The news brought forth an outpouring of stories from some of our alumni as well as our clinic colleagues about how helpful Roy and the library had been to the law school clinics and Austin legal services entities over the years. On a personal note, I have known Roy since 1975. Having read the comments of colleagues written earlier today, I concur in the sentiments expressed. Roy was a truly remarkable individual.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 03:45 P.M.

  • Robert Peroni writes:

    I met Roy in 1989 when I did my first summer visit here. He could not have been more welcoming and supportive of both me and my research. He was a force to be reckoned with'intelligent, funny, well-read, and full of stories about both his interesting life and what was going on at other law schools in this country and around the world. I cannot tell you what a positive impression he left on me concerning both the terrific library that he had built and the Law School more generally. As others have noted, he revolutionized the law library profession and mentored many individuals who are now law library directors and deputy directors around the country. He has built here at UT an incredibly talented and supportive library staff, strong collection, and attractive library physical plant that have made our library the envy of the academic world. During his time on this earth, he lived life to the fullest, touched in an incredibly positive way the lives of many thousands of students, alums, faculty, and Tarlton current and former staff members, and had an immense impact on his chosen profession that will be a lasting legacy of his great life. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to get to know this amazing man and to have been his colleague (counting my many visits over the years) and friend for almost 19 years.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 03:44 P.M.

  • Jay Westbrook writes:

    I'm sitting at the moment in the Codrington Library thinking of our Librarian. The thought of returning to find Roy gone is almost like imagining the building itself to have disappeared. In our enormous country and a globalizing world, it is increasing difficult to be The Best at anything. That someone should have been The Best and also a warm and caring human being without pretention seems almost miraculous.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 03:43 P.M.

  • Steven Goode writes:

    Many years ago, Justice Byron White came to the Law School to deliver a lecture. Afterwards, Roy, together with a student leader and me, gave Justice White a brief tour of the library. When we arrived at his office, Roy handed the student a camera: 'Would you please take a picture of Justice White and me'? The student took the picture and then handed the camera to Justice White: 'Could you please take a picture of Mr. Mersky and me'? Although clearly somewhat bemused by this request, Justice White graciously took the picture. At the time, it seemed like the student was having a bit of harmless fun. But in retrospect, it appears that the student got it exactly right. Roy was a towering figure, the absolute best at what he did, and we are all richer for his having been part of our lives.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 03:42 P.M.

  • Antonio Benjamin writes:

    It's early morning here in Brazil. A very sad day for all of us, Roy's Brazilian friends and admirers. He was a big fan of Brazil and opened the doors of the UT library to a whole generation of Brazilian legal scholars. More recently, after consultation with and encouragement from Larry Sager, he sent Jon Pratter to Rio and Brasilia for pre-signing a series of exchange agreements with major law libraries, including the Library of Congress. Every time I would arrive in Austin, Roy was one of the first persons I would visit. He always treated me in Roy's style ' warm, charming and interested in 'exotic themes', like deforestation in the Amazon region. I will miss him deeply.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 03:41 P.M.

  • Michael Sharlot writes:

    Some of you may know of the following anecdote re: his service as an infantryman with Patton from his own lips. Roy's telling made me think of him as an American version of the good soldier Schwiek. The eponymous hero of a novel written after WWI about a Czech soldier in the Austro-Hungarian army who was utterly uninterested in the war, its origins or purposes and happily inept as to any task assigned him. The Roy's story concerned his travel at the very end of a truck full of infantry being move north to help relieve our forces at Bastogne in Belgium in a howling snow storm. Roy had been placed at the end because it was the coldest place. An officer cam up and handed him a bottle of Scotch with instructions that he was to pass it around to his fellows. It slipped from Roy's fingers and broke. That Roy was spared by his comrades and permitted to fulfill his destiny is a tribute to the best and brightest. There was a time early in our nation's history that Virginia was called the mother of presidents because so many came from there. On Roy's watch our law library might fittingly carry the sobriquet, the mother of first class law librarians. He took many aspirants under his wing and then, prepared by his lessons, they flew off to other schools to bring their libraries up to Roy's standards. He built a remarkable treasure of admiring acolytes and grateful deans and faculties.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 03:40 P.M.

  • J. Blake Miller writes:

    Many words can be used to describe being in Roy Mersky's life; dull is not one of them. In the 12 years I knew him, I never met a more remarkable man. Rest in peace RMM.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 01:41 P.M.

  • Emmanuelle Legrand writes:

    I never took a class with Prof. Mersky but I will always remember his kindness and humor toward my LL.M. fellows and myself, always joking when you would meet him at the library... I still remember him joking about tacos when the LLMs met in the library for a private brunch... I left UT and the US one year ago and learnt this sad news just by visiting the UT Law website.. We will all miss him, but there is one thing that comes to my mind when I think of him: Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened. Thank you for crossing my life path, Professor Mersky. You will be missed but not forgotten.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 01:16 P.M.

  • Nancy Rapoport writes:

    Roy was always kind to me--reaching out to me when we had a library director search at the University of Nebraska College of Law and again when I joined the University of Houston Law Center as the Dean in 2000. Soon after I came home to Texas in 2000, Roy gave me his patented tour of his outstanding law library (especially his law and popular culture section). Roy was a true mensch in his dealings with me, and I'll miss him greatly.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 01:14 P.M.

  • Michael Horn writes:

    Among the many eminent resources of the Law Library is the Hyder Collection of legal art and antique furnishings. Most of the Collection is displayed within the Library's precincts. It is a superb array within a superb institution, and the additive combination of Collection and Library is formidable and unique. Prof. Mersky was a great friend of Martha and Elton Hyder and one of the strongest supporters of their Collection. Part of his genius was to recognize genius in others and to offer them an opportunity to expand their creativity. He saw clearly Mrs. Hyder's gift for design and composition and he was deeply touched by the purity of Mr. Hyder's wish to give something wonderful back to the Law School in appreciation for what it had given Mr. Hyder in his legal career. As a man of taste, Prof. Mersky recognized the inherent quality and historical value of the pieces in the Collection. Moreover, as anyone can see from visiting his office, he shared the Hyders' interest in art, culture, and warm, humane surroundings. As in all things, he was the perfect host: he was there to smooth the Hyders' way and make them feel welcome; he was supportive, courteous, solicitous, and humorous; he was never officious. Above all, he was never territorial, never considered the Hyders rivals for the space, but saw everyone as members of the same team with the common goal of benefiting the law students and other Library users. His unexcelled service ethic embraced the Hyders' effort as it did so many facets of his career as a librarian. It is of course true to say that the Hyder Collection would not exist without Martha and Elton Hyder. And it is just as true to say it would not exist at the School of Law without Roy Mersky.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 12:32 P.M.

  • Fred Cohen writes:

    Some of you with long enough memories may recall that I managed to lure Roy to Austin from Boulder shortly after I joined the UT faculty. "Miss Helen" was retiring as the librarian and Dean Keeton wanted to reinvigorate the law library. Roy cut a terrific deal with Dean Keeton, one that promised sufficient resources for Roy to begin the long process that culminated in the magnificent faculty that now exists. Roy became the pre-eminent figure in his field and he continued to support and work with me long after I departed Austin. During the politically hectic days of the 1960s, Roy extended his friendship and collegial support to my efforts to enhance legal representation for political dissidents. I loved Roy's ambition, intelligence and sense of mission. He made me a better teacher and writer. His departure is a huge loss to his field and to that shrinking universe of people committed to human rights. I will miss him.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 12:11 P.M.

  • Frank Houdek writes:

    Roy is justly praised for training and mentoring law librarians at the Tarlton Law Library and then sending them forth to become leaders of the law library profession (and frequently directors of important law libraries) in their own right. Perhaps less known--or at least less frequently mentioned--is the mentoring he did of others (like myself) who never worked a day for him and yet felt that he was always in their corner. How many times after publishing a book or article or speaking at a conference did I receive a note of congratulations from Roy, often long before receiving similar recognition from those in my own institution? How, I wondered, did he find time to keep track of such things--let alone go the extra step of personally acknowledging them--when I knew he had far more important responsibilities to his institution and the larger profession. But what I ultimately came to understand was that for Roy, encouraging law librarians, whether they were Tarlton alums or not, was, in his mind, one of his most important responsibilities. Thus, when one thinks of Roy's legacy to the law library profession, you really must think beyond Tarlton. So many of us are beholden to him, not just for his professional contributions but for his friendship and support.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 11:45 A.M.

  • Harold Billings writes:

    Roy and I shared all the years he was at Texas -- labor, debate, comradeship, competition and collaboration in library development. He provided me many kindnesses ... as well as a stream of Friday e-mail humor after I retired! I believe he was most at ease and satisfaction with the world and what he had accomplished after his marriage to Rosemary. He had already been a diminutive giant for many, many years. Never another like him. Bless.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 11:20 A.M.

  • Ed Askelson writes:

    What a privelage to have known Roy, "our" Professor Mersky! Over the last 12 years I was Roy's Real Estate Advisor and Agent, a business relationship that became a cherished friendship. He had a profound impression on my career and I saw how he relentlessly advocated those within his circle of influence that he respected. Not just a Giant in Academia, but to many of us in other walks of life. A man who expected excellence and was sure to express his gratitude for a work well done. Always the first to congratulate a success. Always interested in the details of your career and family, often sending articles pertaining to your endeavors. I will miss him. I wish I could take him to lunch one more time and I will always repeat my phone number twice when leaving a message.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 11:15 A.M.

  • Jonathan Bush writes:

    Almost all of Roy Mersky's other 'constituents' and communities seem to have paid tribute to him ' his UT colleagues, institutional leaders, foreign colleagues, fellow law librarians, staffers and proteges. Maybe I can add a short word, however, from yet another of Roy's circles ' his short-term former colleagues. I was a visiting prof at UT in 1998-2000 and still have many friends there. But nobody has been a more faithful correspondent over the years than Roy, even though I hadn't seen him face-to-face in the better part of a decade. Hardly a month has gone by since 2000 without a friendly email or xerox from RMM telling me of some new book, or a document discovered in the UT manuscripts or at the Ransom Center, or of somebody I should talk to in connection with my research, or of an angle for an argument. Maybe Roy lavished special interest on my work because it concerns civil liberties and World War II, two subjects he had deep personal experience with, or because I used a reasonably obscure manuscript collection in Tarlton, or maybe we just hit it off because of friendly lunches. But I bet there are dozens of other scholars far from Austin who have similarly been the recipient of Roy's continuing scholarly and personal kindness. Speaking as one member of that diaspora, I will miss my friend Roy, the unelected dean of American law librarians and, as Inga says, a real mensch.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 11:05 A.M.

  • Bill Cohen writes:

    I am in shock. I communicated with Roy no more than 10 months ago, and he was as vibrant and positive as when I first met him some 25 years ago. He was an exuberant, self-described "Godfather" to The Haworth Press, in terms of his encouragement and positivism for our entire librarianship program. Roy encouraging viewing law librarianship literature as unique and separate from other arenas in the library world, and helped us immeasurably with establishing the "Legal Reference Services Quarterly." He is someone whose passing leaves one with a shocking sadness that will last for the rest of one's lifetime.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 08:21 A.M.

  • Dean Michael Coper writes:

    Roy was my host when I visited the UT law school for a week in the spring semester of 1997, and I enjoyed a wonderfully warm and enriching friendship with him in the decade that followed. He was so generous with his time, with his help (he frequently assisted me in tracking down obscure references), with his sometimes gossipy but always interesting information, and with his impish, if somewhat corny, sense of humour. He visited my law school at the Australian National University a number of times, and I always valued his advice, especially (but not only) in relation to our library collection. He sent me a birthday greeting only 10 days ago, and I asked him whether he was coming to ALI this year. Sadly, now he is not, and I shall miss him very much. Indeed, he will be very much missed by all of his many friends in Australia.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 06:49 A.M.

  • Barbara and Michael Fredericks, Sydney Australia writes:

    Roy and Rosemary came to stay with us at our B&B at Bondi Beach Sydney Australia and we became very close friends. Over the years they visited us on several occasions the last being in January 2008.At is sad to know that we will not again see Roy, striding off to the beach, just wearing swimming shorts, with his towel slug over his sholder and his cheap crime thriller in his hand.He really enjoyed the relaxation of a holiday at the beach in Sydney. We will miss him. Vale Roy, it was a joy to know you.

    Thursday May 08, 2008, 12:05 A.M.

  • Stephanie Patterson writes:

    I'm sorry to hear about the passing of Mr. Mersky. I worked for three years as a serials assistant at Tarlton, and I remember the pride took in his library and the standards he required. We always made sure we were busy when "RMM" was around. As I prepare to take my own first professional library position, I can say his influence will reach beyond the law library community and even into a small public library in rural Missouri.

    Wednesday May 07, 2008, 09:23 P.M.

  • Cyril D. Robinson, professor emeritus writes:

    In the early 1950s I was manning a table at a university campusextolling the merits a student radical organization. Roy came by and from then on we have been life-long friends. When Roy was graduating from Wisconsin University Law School (while I was at Northwestern) I asked him what he intended to do after law school. He said he wanted to head a law library. To me, a budding lawyer, I couldn't understand why any new law graduate would want to be a "librarian." I toldd him I thought he was crazy. Hows wrong I was!

    Wednesday May 07, 2008, 07:51 P.M.

  • Professor Linda Mullenix writes:

    Dear Colleagues, I was asked very early this morning to write a commemoration about Prof. Merksy for the law school release on his death. I submitted the following: The news of Professor Mersky's passing is devastating and a very sad day for the University of Texas School of Law, and for the profession at large. Roy Mersky has been singularly associated with this law school for decades, and it is universally acknowledged that Professor Mersky built the most extraordinary law library in the country. As the beneficiary of this law library, I can attest to the unparalleled achievement Professor Mersky accomplished in building this library and support staff. He has supervised and trained generations of law librarians, who are now dispersed throughout the United States, and who carry on his unstinting standards of professionalism. He is one of the few persons of whom it truly can be said that he is irreplaceable. Professor Mersky will be mourned widely, as thousands of law professors, librarians, practicing lawyers, law students, and judges all have worked with Prof. Merksy over his long career. He was a world traveler and active in all professional organizations. He loved language and the law. He has touched all corners of this profession and our lives. I knew Roy as a warm, interested, involved, and dedicated friend. I am personally indebted to him for a very close friendship and mentorship spanning two decades. Roy was always ready to assist me in any request in my personal and professional life. I will miss him greatly, and hope that the outpouring of love and appreciation for Prof. Merksy will console his family and wife, Rosemary.

    Wednesday May 07, 2008, 06:58 P.M.

  • Linda Elford writes:

    Gosh, it seems like only yesterday Roy was visiting here at the ANU College of Law in Australia, and we were trying to assist him in the Law Library with services and resources that surely pale in comparison with the Tarlton Law Library! When Roy returned home I made him a farewell card (on behalf of the ANU Law Library Staff) which pictured him seated on a kangaroo ... to match the one of him seated on a horse in his office! Roy will be greatly missed, especially by the Library Profession ... he achieved so much!

    Wednesday May 07, 2008, 06:44 P.M.

  • Professor Loukas Mistelis writes:

    I have known Roy as a great supporter of the UT Semester in London programme and hopefully a dear friend. When in England he tried to come and visit us at Queen Mary. He has always been a warm host to visitors from London,supportive of international programmes and keen to encourage students to think outside the box, to travel and gain life experence and valuable comparative sensibility. He has always been eager to discuss legal literature and other good literature with a youthful intellect and enthusiasm. Always an internationalist, he has created a library which is admirable and a welcoming space for study and intellectual work. His work has been visionary and has such enduring role that for many years to come people will consider Tarlton Law Library Roy's Library. He has had a major impact on UT and beyond and will be fondly remembered.

    Wednesday May 07, 2008, 05:37 P.M.

  • Professor Inga Markovits writes:

    Roy was also a good and honest and warm man. He knew of and acknowledged someone's personal interests and provided me with unexpected bits of information about Germany. He was communicative and insightful. He could admit to his own mistakes. He was, quirks and all, a real Mensch. Our last exchange, only about a week ago, concerned his anxious question whether I had seen an article by one of our kids in an English paper. He knew what parents are like. And he knew, of course, that books are an important part of not just being professional but human. I wish I had thanked him more when we said good bye for the summer last week.

    Wednesday May 07, 2008, 05:21 P.M.

  • Professor John Deigh writes:

    I did not know Roy well, but well enough to stop and chat with him at law school functions, in the atrium, in the parking lot. He never seemed in a hurry and loved to talk about lots of different things, but especially old books and the library's special collections. His accomplishments and standing in his field were great, and yet he impressed me as being utterly unaffected. I will miss him.

    Wednesday May 07, 2008, 05:19 P.M.

  • Professor Scot Powe writes:

    When Roy took over the library, most law librarians viewed their job as one of hoarding and protecting books. They didn't want people to use their libraries. Roy changed everything with his dedication to helping all patrons, but especially the faculty, in meeting their needs. Few people have as great an impact on their profession as Roy did.

    Wednesday May 07, 2008, 03:46 P.M.

  • Professor H.W. Perry writes:

    One thing that may be less well known about Roy is how wonderful he was to the non-law school community. Many university law libraries are unwelcoming to the general university community. This library under Roy's guidance treated all serious scholarly inquiries with respect and an eagerness to serve. I have had countless graduate students and undergraduates who have been helped immensely by Roy and the library. This is not only a great loss to the law school, it is a great loss to the University of Texas.

    Wednesday May 07, 2008, 03:46 P.M.

  • Professor John Robertson writes:

    In addition to Roy's dedication to serving the law faculty and making the library a pinnacle of excellence, he was a staunch defender of free speech rights on campus at a time when doing so rubbed high officials the wrong way, but he stuck with it.

    Wednesday May 07, 2008, 03:45 P.M.

  • Michael Esposito writes:

    While many in the Law School community know Roy for his dedication and success with the Library, he was also an extraordinary ambassador to alumni and the practitioner community. Roy was a great conversationalist; he remembered past students, many of whom now have children at the Law School; and was always a hit with visiting members of the judiciary and out-of-state speakers. He often left the room with five or ten business cards, a set of new or renewed friendships, and it was common for everyone who crossed his path at these events to receive personalized notes, often facilitating a request for information about some aspect of the University. He was a dear friend and a wonderful supporter of our programs -- we will miss him deeply.

    Wednesday May 07, 2008, 03:40 P.M.

  • Professor Russell Weintraub writes:

    Roy and I arrived the same year, 1965. I taught summer school and arrived a few weeks before Roy. One Sunday, after dropping my children off at Sunday school, I came in to finish an article. My passkey did not open the door to the library. The next day I told Dean Keeton's secretary that there must be something wrong with my key'I could not get into to the library. The secretary told me that the librarian did not allow anyone in the library except during library hours. Roy quickly brought an end to such nonsense and created a staff and a collection that is second to none in assisting faculty research.

    Wednesday May 07, 2008, 03:39 P.M.

  • Professor Jordan Steiker writes:

    One of the most amazing things about Roy was his extraordinary interest in and dedication to our mission -- I can't count the number of times I found a pile of interesting materials in my box following a casual conversation with Roy where I had no expectation of a follow-up. Roy did this not merely to be helpful but because of his genuine delight in academic and legal inquiry. His immense knowledge spanned numerous fields in law and other disciplines. Roy was also a warm and supportive colleague. I cannot imagine the law school without him.

    Wednesday May 07, 2008, 03:39 P.M.

  • Professor Bernard Black writes:

    What I became aware of most strongly when I arrived here was the extent to which Roy Mersky ran a hugely successful training school for law librarians. I rather suspect that there are more alums of the UT law library now running law libraries at other law schools around the country than of anywhere else. Certainly my prior schools had no similar successes, nor ambitions.

    Wednesday May 07, 2008, 03:37 P.M.

  • Professor Sarah Buel writes:

    Roy was one of the most supportive and resourceful colleagues I've ever known. He went out of his way to include me in meetings with visiting scholars, conferences, and communications on issues in which he knew I had an interest. Roy's astute memory, coupled with a keen desire to help, resulted in his forwarding articles and books on topics we'd discussed months previously. In lively conversations about race, politics, domestic violence, and our children, Roy never failed to brighten my day. I was once railing about an adverse court decision and he told me a humorous story of visiting dignitaries in London who shared inside details of an impending scandal, noting that perhaps our errant judge was headed for a similar fate. I will miss Roy immensely.

    Wednesday May 07, 2008, 03:37 P.M.

  • Professor Mitch Berman writes:

    The Director of the University of Michigan Law Library (which, like ours, is recognized as one of the nation's best) once told me just the same. Contrary to the practice at many libraries, she assured me, theirs was dedicated to helping patrons, not to hoarding books. And she specifically credited Roy both with highlighting for her the nature of the difference in orientation and with making clear'both to her and to others in the profession'what the library's proper mission is.

    Wednesday May 07, 2008, 03:36 P.M.

  • Professor Julius Getman writes:

    It is sad to think of the UT Law school without Roy. He was a man of courage, intelligence, vision, and dedication. He was always interesting to talk with. In the world of legal education he had become an adjective standing for service, innovation, and competence. He assembled a great staff.

    Wednesday May 07, 2008, 03:36 P.M.