Campus News

Alison Ricker, Former Science Librarian, Dies at 70

Forty-year employee led key library transitions, was active in numerous campus organizations.

May 16, 2024

Communications Staff

Alison Ricker.
Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones '97

Alison Ricker, Head of the Oberlin College Science Library since 1983, passed away May 14 after suffering a fall in her home over the weekend. She was 70.

Ricker retired from Oberlin in August 2023, completing a 40-year career in which she played a pivotal role in the Science Library’s transition from a primarily print-based collection to being an invaluable resource for online research. In 2001, she ushered it into its current space in the then-newly built Science Center.

Also that year, Ricker was honored with the Academic Library Association of Ohio’s Jay Ladd Distinguished Service Award. Her years at Oberlin were marked by extensive involvement in academic initiatives, campus organizations, and social causes.

A longtime member of Musical Union, Ricker took part in the conservatory’s January 2023 tour to New York City, singing in the chorus on Oberlin alum R. Nathaniel Dett’s The Ordering of Moses at Carnegie Hall.

Ricker was a graduate of Alma College and earned a master’s degree in library science from the University of Rhode Island. Before arriving in Oberlin, she was librarian at the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography in Savannah, Georgia.

“Alison was the consummate Science Librarian, steeped in her subjects, always mindful of student and faculty needs, innovative, and collegial,” says Valerie Hotchkiss, Azariah S. Root Director of Libraries. “And she did it all flawlessly while also serving as a leader in several civic welfare organizations and devoting herself to her family. We have lost a remarkable human being.”

Ricker is survived by her husband, Azariah S. Root Emeritus Director of Libraries Ray English, and their sons, John and Michael.

A funeral will be held at Christ Church (Episcopal) Oberlin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 22. It will be followed by a secular celebration of life at First Church in Oberlin (UCC).

Read Ricker’s full obituary in the Chronicle-Telegram.

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