The University Libraries’ staff members got together on the morning of September 19 for a farewell gathering to honor a long-standing and proud member of the University Libraries, Mr. Joseph (Joe) Rouhana, Assistant Librarian at the Science and Agriculture Library, who has retired after serving at AUB for more than 35 years.
Joe started working at AUB in June of 1983 as a Library Clerk at the Circulation Department in Jafet Library. When he first applied for a job at AUB, he was offered two options: 1) a library clerk, or 2) an information clerk at AUH. Joe opted to take the library offer, although it was in a lower grade, because he needed more flexibility in the working hours to attend his last few courses at BUC (now LAU) to pursue his BS in Business Management/Auditing.
During his probation period, Dr. Fustokjian, who was the University Librarian back then, congratulated Joe for attaining an outstanding performance and wished that he would keep working at the library after getting his degree, promising him an upgrade and a chance to be sponsored for studying library automation in the United States of America. Unfortunately, Dr. Fustokjian resigned and left the country in 1984 when fighting broke out again in Beirut.
In 1985, the American librarian of the Science and Agriculture Library left the country as well due to the unstable situation in Lebanon. The Science and Agriculture Library was left supervised by a Library Assistant; but a few months later during the war, the Library Assistant was kidnapped at the demarcation line between what was known as Eastern Beirut and Western Beirut. Joe was then assigned to be in charge of the Science and Agriculture Library in February of 1986.
In February of 2012, Salpy Naalbandian was assigned as the librarian of the Science and Agriculture Library after getting her MS in Library Science. Salpy, with her professional background, and Joe, with his long years of experience, combined efforts for the best of the Science and Agriculture Library.
Joe says that he “will never forget the good work and cooperation of the Library Assistants: Aristo, Amer, and Bahaa (who left to the USA two years ago). They have always been doing an excellent job, and have shared the effort and hard work in many, many projects.”
When asked about any special moments or memories at the University Libraries, Joe says that he does not have specific ones, and that he will always remember all the moments spent in the library.
Joe admits that he was not enthusiastic about working at the Library at the beginning, as his ambition was to find a job in his field of study. Yet, he later started liking his library job, especially when he joined the Science and Agriculture Library to work as acting head, where he was able to put his management skills and educational background into use.
Talking about his work, Joe says, “I liked helping students and faculty members in searching for articles for their research. I was also keen on ensuring cooperation with various library departments, which broadened my knowledge about most of the library functions and helped me initiate better strategies and procedures.” Adding, “Being in charge of the Science and Agriculture Library for 26 years gave me self-satisfaction and pushed me to stay enthusiastic.”
For Joe, the AUB University Libraries mean “an enjoyable place for continuous knowledge” and a place where he built a successful, long-term career.
As an ending note, Joe said, “As I say good bye to my colleagues, I will also say, “see you”, and “we will stay in touch””.
From all of us at the University Libraries, we wish you the best of luck, Joe, and we hope that you have a long, peaceful and healthy retirement . . .