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

Books Authored

2020 Competency-Based Career Planning for Reference and User Services Professionals. Chicago: American Library Association. (Co-authored with Beth S. Woodard)

2000 Evaluating Reference Services: A Practical Guide. Chicago: American Library Association.

1990 The Role of the Academic Reference Librarian. New York: Greenwood Press.

Articles Published in Refereed Journals

2006 Assessing digital reference and online instructional services in an integrated public /university library. The Reference Librarian 95/96, 149-172 (Co-authored with Lauren Miranda Gilbert, Mengxiong Liu and Toby Matoush). https://doi.org/10.1300/J120v46n95_10

2003 Professional competencies for reference and user services librarians. Reference & User Services Quarterly 42 (4), 290-295. https://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1058&context=slis_pub

2003 Reference futures: Outsourcing, the Web, or knowledge counseling. Reference Services Review 31 (1), 26-30. https://doi.org/10.1108/00907320310460861

2001 Evaluating reference services in an electronic age. Library Trends 50 (2), 207-217.

1995 Customer service: Implications for reference practice. The Reference Librarian49/50, 5-24. https://doi.org/10.1300/J120v23n49_02

1994 Patron online catalog success. College & Research Libraries 55 (6), 479-497. (Co-authored with Rosemary Thorne). https://crl.acrl.org/index.php/crl/issue/archive

1992 Getting close to the customer. The Journal of Academic Librarianship 18 (5), 281-282.

1992 Reference services: Research methodologies for assessment and accountability. The Reference Librarian 38, 9-19. https://doi.org/10.1300/J120v17n38_03

1992 Research topics from the program - Unanswered questions: Gaps in research on reference effectiveness. RQ 31 (3), 333-337. https://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1060&context=slis_pub

1991 Managing business periodicals collections. Collection Management14 (1/2), 99-131. (Co-authored with Sandra E. Belanger and Robert McDermand). https://doi.org/10.1300/J105v14n01_07

1990 Reference service effectiveness. RQ 30 (2), 205-220. https://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1059&context=slis_pub

1989 Unobtrusive studies and the quality of academic library reference services. College & Research Libraries 50 (2), 181-194. https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/items/41264

1985 Academic library services: The literature of innovation. College & Research Libraries 46 (5), 402-417. (Co-authored with Judy Reynolds). https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/items/40829

1983 Library use patterns among full- and part-time faculty and students. College & Research Libraries 44 (2), 141-152. https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/items/40516

1978 Service at San Jose State University: Survey of document availability. The Journal of Academic Librarianship 4 (4), 196-199. (Co-authored with Karen Kieffer).

Chapters in Edited Books/Proceedings

2012 Library instruction as advocacy. In Libraries as Community Education Centers: Proceedings of the 5th Information Technology in Education International Conference (ITIE 2012), Hangzhou, China.

2011 Evaluation of reference services. In R.E. Bopp & L.C. Smith (Eds.), Reference and Information Services (pp.303-321), Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

2010 A new model of library collaboration. In Inspiration from Best Practices: Proceedings of the 4th Information Technology in Education International Conference (ITIE 2010), Lanzhou, China (Co-authored with Mengxiong Liu).

2003 Policies for digital reference. In R.D. Lankes, S. Nicholson & A. Goodrum (Eds.), The Digital Reference Research Agenda. (pp. 84-102). Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries.

1995 Question classification. In The Reference Assessment Manual. (pp. 42-46). Ann Arbor, MI: Pierian. This volume was compiled and edited by the Evaluation of Reference and Adult Services Committee, Management and Operation of Public Services Section, Reference and Adult Services Division of the American Library Association. Jo Bell Whitlatch, who served as the 1991/92 Committee Chair, edited the Manual (p. vi.)

1995 Reference librarian knowledge and search strategy. In The Reference Assessment Manual. (pp. 82-85). Ann Arbor, MI: Pierian. This volume was compiled and edited by the Evaluation of Reference and Adult Services Committee, Management and Operation of Public Services Section, Reference and Adult Services Division of the American Library Association. Jo Bell Whitlatch, who served as the 1991/92 Committee Chair edited the Manual (p. vi.)

1995 Library Users and Reference Services. NY: Haworth. (Edited entire volume).

1992 Research in Reference Effectiveness: Proceedings of a Preconference Sponsored by the Research and Statistics Committee, Management and Operation of Public Services Section, Reference and Adult Services Division, American Library Association. Chicago: Reference and Adult Services Division, American Library Association. (Edited the proceedings with Marjorie E. Murfin).

1990 Access services. In M. J. Lynch & A. Young (Eds.), Academic Libraries: Research Perspectives. (pp. 67-105). Chicago: American Library Association.

1984 Staff Development in Libraries: A Bibliography. Chicago: Library Administration and Management Association. (Contributed several sections and edited entire volume with Susan Tarr).

1982 Management and Staff Development: CARL Workshop Proceedings. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries. (Compiled with Celia Bakke and Judy Reynolds).

Other Publications

2014. Oral History Project Handbook. Information Technology in Education (ITIE) Conference (Co-authored with Faith Chao, Lauren Kata, Nancy MacKay and Zhang Yu). Evergreen Education Foundation. https://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1092&context=slis_pub

1998-1999 From the President of RUSA (column): Enhancing the quality of reference services for the 21st century, parts 1-4. Reference & User Services Quarterly 38 (1-4), 15-16, 131-132, 233-234, 339-340.

1995 Administrator stereotypes. Library Journal 120 (18), 8.

1995 Serving the Difficult Customer (book review). The Journal of Academic Librarianship 21, 212-13.

1991 Automation and job satisfaction among reference librarians. Computers in Libraries 11 (8), 32-34. https://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1047&context=slis_pub

1991 Training of Technical Services Staff in the Automated Environment. Washington, D.C.: Association of Research Libraries, Office of Management Services. (SPEC kit 171 prepared with Celia Bakke).

1990 Reference data requested. Library Journal 115 (8), 10.

1988 Encyclopedia of Asian History (book review). RQ 27(4), 573.

1988 United States Japan Foreign Trade (book review). RQ 27 (4), 579.

1987 Companion to Chinese History (book review). RQ 27 (2), 274.

1981 San Jose State University Library Services: Results of the Spring 1980 Faculty and Student User Surveys. San Jose, CA: San Jose State University. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 206 279).

1980-1981 LAMA Newsletter. Contributed to a staff development column, regularly appearing in this quarterly publication.

1979 Government publications: Government information. RQ 18 (4), 391-397.

1979 Government publications: Human rights. RQ 18 (3), 290-295.

1979 Salary Equity. San Jose, CA: San Jose State University Library. (Co-authored with Judy Reynolds). https://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1013&context=slis_pub

1979 Use of newspapers on microfilm. College & Research Libraries 40 (5), 461-462.

1978 Government publications: Extraterrestrial intelligence. RQ 17 (4), 345-347.

1977 Government publications – resources on drug information. RQ 17 (2), 171-177.

1977 Government publications: Asian Americans in federal and state government publications. RQ 17 (1), 5157.

1977 Government publications: United States government publications in area studies – East Asia. RQ 16 (4), 316-329.

1976-1979 Editor of Government Documents Column in RQ.

1976 Experiences with faculty status in academic libraries. California Librarian 37: 32-35. (Co-authored with Judy Reynolds). https://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1045&context=slis_pub

1976 Government publications: Health effects of environmental pollutants. RQ 16 (3), 243-245.

1976 Government publications: Women and work. RQ 16 (2), 168-174.

1976 Government publications. RQ 16 (1), 70-74.

1975 East Asian Language Works in San Jose State University Library. San Jose, CA: San Jose State University Library. (Co-authored with Simon Chen).

1973 Eyewitness reports of politics in the People's Republic of China: A bibliographic essay. Bibliographic Information Center Bulletin 3, 2.

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