Joan Ruth Giesecke, 65, emeritus dean of the University Libraries, died Oct. 9 in Sarasota, Florida.
Giesecke spent 25 years with the University of Nebraska–Lincoln libraries, including 16 as dean. During her tenure, Giesecke tripled the library’s endowment, oversaw renovations to enhance the libraries in size and service, developed relationships to help colleges advance teaching and research, and enhanced the diversity of the libraries’ faculty.
Improving diversity within the libraries was a priority for Giesecke. Under her leadership, the University Libraries developed a long-term commitment to promoting and supporting diversity. For her work in this area, Giesecke received the American Library Association’s Equality Award in 2011.
Giesecke joined the University Libraries in 1987 as an associate dean, advancing to the dean position in 1996. In 2009, she became interim director of the University of Nebraska Press and, in 2010, Giesecke was named interim associate vice chancellor for extended education and outreach. From 2012 until her retirement in 2014, Giesecke served as special assistant to the chancellor and coordinated campus-wide accreditation efforts. Upon retirement, Giesecke was recognized as dean and professor emeritus.
During her career, Giesecke taught several graduate and undergraduate classes and workshops at Simmons College in Boston, and Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas. She also wrote seven management books.
Her professional involvement, in addition to the Association of Research Libraries, included the American Library Association, the Greater Western Library Alliance, the Nebraska Library Association and the Virginia Library Association.
Giesecke was born in Aberdeen, South Dakota, on Dec. 11, 1951. She earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the State University of New York at Buffalo, a master’s of library science from the University of Maryland, a master’s in management from Central Michigan University, and a doctorate in public administration from George Mason University.
Prior to coming to Nebraska, Giesecke was associated with George Mason’s libraries for 10 years. And, in 2016, she was recognized as a distinguished alumna by the University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies.
Giesecke’s civic leadership activities included membership in Lincoln Rotary Club 14, and helping establish then chair the Women in Philanthropy section of the United Way of Lincoln/Lancaster County. She also chaired the university’s annual combined campaign fundraiser and was a strong supporter of the Food Bank of Lincoln’s Backpack Program.
Giesecke is survived by her sister Anne Grace Giesecke.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked for donations in Giesecke’s honor be made to United Way/Women in Philanthropy or the Lincoln Food Bank Backpack Program.
Memorial services will be private.