Whitlatch, Jo Bell


Whitlatch, Jo Bell

Date Updated



University Library

Academic Rank


Year Retired from SJSU


SelectedWorks Profile Page

Jo Bell Whitlatch

Educational Background

University of California, Berkeley, Library & Information Studies, 1987 PhD

University of California, Berkeley, Asian Studies, 1973 MA

University of Minnesota, Library Science, 1966 MA

University of Minnesota, History, 1964 BA

Dissertation Title

Client/Service Provider Perceptions of Reference Service Outcomes in Academic Libraries: Effects of Feedback and Uncertainty

Teaching Experience

School of Library & Information Science, San José State University, 1987-2009

Administrative and Professional Experience

Associate Library Dean, San José State University, 2001-2006

History Liaison, University Library, San José State University, 1992-2004

Extensive library experience covers three academic libraries (College of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN - 1965-1967; Stanislaus State College, Turlock, CA - 1968 - 1972; San Jose State, San Jose, CA - 1973-2006) and many areas, including collection management, acquisitions, cataloging, circulation, reference, interlibrary loan, and library management.


  • Evergreen Education Foundation Board Member of Board of Directors, 2008-Present. Description.
  • Library Research Round Table of the American Library Association Chair, 2005-2006
  • Reference and User Services Association. Ad Hoc Committee on Professional Competencies Chair, 2000-2003
  • Reference and User Services Association President, 1998-1999
  • Reference and User Services Association. Management and Operation of Public Services Section Chair, 1995-1996
  • Reference and Adult Services Division. Evaluation Committee Chair, 1991-1992
  • Reference and Adult Services Division. Research and Statistics Committee Chair, 1989-1991
  • Library Administration and Management Association. Staff Development Committee Chair, 1981-1983
  • California and Academic Research Librarians (CARL) President, 1981
  • California Library Association. State Universities and College Chapter President, 1975
  • California Library Association. Yosemite District Chapter President, 1970

Selected Publications

Publications include three books, Competency-Based Career Planning for Reference and User Services Professionals (2019), The Role of the Academic Reference Librarian (1990), Evaluating Reference Services (2000), and articles in RQ, College & Research Libraries, Journal of Academic Librarianship, and the Reference Librarian.

Personal Commentary

I began my 33 years as a librarian at San Jose State in 1973, following seven years of experience in two smaller colleges, Stanislaus State in the Central Valley and the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. In the smaller colleges, I worked in all library functions, cataloging, circulation, reference, collection development . . . The larger SJSU library had more clearly defined functional assignments, which required some adjustment on my part! However, over time during the years at San Jose, I moved back and forth from one job assignment to another – in cataloging, circulation, collection development, reference and management.

In 1973, as part of the CSU system movement toward faculty status for librarians, a second master’s was required for librarian promotion; I was able to fulfill this requirement by enriching my knowledge of Asian Studies, one of my lifelong interests. I participated in the protracted struggle to obtain faculty status for librarians through activities in UPC (United Professors of California) and CFA (California Faculty Association). Important steps along the path to faculty status were the 10-month option (1976), sabbatical leaves (1983-1986 contract), and finally placement of librarian ranks on the faculty salary schedule (1987-1991 contract).

After arriving at SJSU, I quickly became involved in campus and CSU activities. I enjoyed participating in a wide range of campus activities, including the Academic Senate, California Faculty Association, Center for Asian Studies, and Phi Kappa Phi. I also taught reference and management courses for future librarians in the master’s program (now the SJSU Information School). I particularly enjoyed teaching sessions in the 100W courses in History and Political Science as well as information literacy sessions in other courses in these departments. My contributions to campus life, friendships, and connections definitely enriched my life at SJSU.

With all the changes in technology and the establishment of the King Library partnership between the University and the City of San Jose, I had a very rewarding and interesting career at SJSU. In retirement when I visit the King Library, I am always delighted to see so many SJSU faculty, students, and San Jose residents enjoying the city/university library. Particularly meaningful to me was the establishment in 2006 of the Jo Bell Whitlatch History Endowment Fund, which supports the development of the history collection.

My very challenging and enjoyable career also provided resources for my many retirement activities, for which I am very appreciative. In retirement, I have tried to support SJSU by serving in various offices in SJSU ERFA (Emeritus and Retired Faculty Association) as Secretary, President, and Member-at-Large. Retirement has enabled me to pursue my long term interests in Asian Studies by serving on the Evergreen Education Foundation, a small Bay Area nonprofit that provides educational opportunities to students in rural China through scholarships, teacher development, and information literacy programs. Through the Foundation I have made many trips to China. I have also traveled internationally to all seven continents. I do walking, Yoga, and swimming regularly so that I can continue to travel actively and enjoy events with friends and family for many additional years!

Transitions to Retirement Project Interviews


Whitlatch, Jo Bell