Paula Wolfe, 1950-2010

Paula Wolfe, a UA librarian known for her service to the University and to her profession, has died.
Aug. 4, 2010
Paula Wolfe, who was devoted to elevating connections between the UA Libraries and the greater campus community, has died.
Paula Wolfe, who was devoted to elevating connections between the UA Libraries and the greater campus community, has died.

Paula J. Wolfe, a University of Arizona associate librarian credited with years of service to the campus community, has passed away. 

Wolfe had spent seven years battling cancer when she died July 28 in Phoenix. She was 60.

Most recently at the UA, Wolfe curated the "Josias Joesler: Tucson Architect" exhibit, involving University students in the process – a common practice for her. 

The exhibition, located at Special Collections, is considered one of the most successful for the UA Libraries to date.

"We were all inspired by her and admired her. We're all deeply saddened," said Carla Stoffle, dean for University Libraries and the Center for Creative Photography. 

"The whole library – there's just a big hole," Stoffle said.

Wolfe, who joined the UA Libraries in 1999 as a science and engineering librarian, served as a liaison between the library and the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture

"At the fundamental level, she was a resource for our college, but she added another dimension – a relationship with students," said R. Brooks Jeffery, the Drachman Institute director and collaborator with Wolfe on the Joesler exhibition.

Jeffery and others said Wolfe was particularly drawn to working with both faculty members and students, believing that such connections were not only a vital part of the UA's mission, but also strengthened the academic community.

"She was a tremendous resource and a colleague," he said, noting that Wolfe taught courses on how to properly conduct research. 

"She was really instrumental in her service and, often, advocacy for providing the teaching and learning resources our students and faculty needed," Jeffery added. "That was invaluable." 

A regular painter herself, she also collaborated with the College of Fine Arts on various projects. Additionally, Wolfe has been involved in the digitization process of a number of key projects, including the Homer L. Shantz Collection and interactive maps of sites built in Arizona after New Deal programs were enacted.

Over the years, Wolfe also was an instrumental contributor to the library system's planning and organizational efforts, Stoffle said.

Additionally, her efforts have been essential in helping the library boost its online digital collections, which have greatly expanded access to information for those both on and off campus.

Stoffle said Wolfe's contributions serve as a "model" for others. 

"Her dedication in making the library an active and vital part of our educational program serves as a model for librarians," she said.

"She saw that it was a part of a librarian's job to enrich students' education while preparing them to go into careers," she added.

Previously, Wolfe worked for the University of Wyoming Science Library, the California Academy of Sciences and the University of California-Santa Cruz, Boston Museum of Art and the Moss Landing Marine Lab Library.

She earned two undergraduate degrees – one in sociology from Central Connecticut State University in 1972 and in biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1985. She later earned a master's degree in marine science, also from Santa Cruz, and a master of library and information science from San Jose State University.

A trained marine biologist who worked as a field biologist for 16 years, Wolfe also trained dolphins while working in Hawaii. 

"Paula Wolfe was a personal inspiration to me," said Laura Bender, a UA associate librarian and Wolfe's life partner.

"She taught me the meaning of courage, kindness and fun," Bender added. "In short, she was the best personal and professional partner a person could have." 

Wolfe is also survived by her mother, Elaine Wesoski; aunt and uncle, Janet and Ranol Hemingway; and numerous other relatives.

As Wolfe requested, inurnment will occur at Paradise Memorial Gardens in Scottsdale. Also, a memorial is being planned to be held in October.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations be sent to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Southern Arizona Office, 4574 E. Broadway Blvd., Tucson, Ariz., 85711.