A Tribute to Paul A. MacKenzie by Janet M. Hurlbert
April 16, 2004 — Phi Kappa Phi
Paul MacKenzie has a very special place in my heart, but also in the heart of the library. Even before I was asked to say a few words, Paul was on my mind. It was always about this time when the academic year was winding down, that Paul started his summer research conducted mainly through interlibrary loan. The Caspar Houser requests would start to come in. These requests were always a bit of a struggle because of the foreign language and the exotic places we needed to use to secure them. We never minded because of the absolute bibliographic joy that Paul expressed when they arrived. He not only cared about the materials themselves and how they related to the information he already had, but he was fascinated about where they came from. Through the years, among the faculty, Paul was one of the most consistent researchers we have had the privilege of serving. He always had a project or an intellectual question on his mind and he had a special way of making us feel part of it.
Paul served many years on the Faculty Library Advisory Committee. When I think of someone that has a love of learning, I think of Paul. His love of learning definitely required all the materials the library could offer. He was always on a search.
Lest you think that Paul and I had only intellectual conversations, I must confess that one of our main topics was gardening. Paul always had the best insights into what was being offered at various greenhouses, and where the best prices would be. He used to save rabbit jokes for me because I was always complaining about my frustrations with them in my garden. Paul just knew a lot about everything and I can't remember ever coming away from a conversation with him in which I didn't learn something. How many people can you say that about?
My best memory of Paul is that upon my return from a sabbatical I was required to give a presentation. I had spent quite a bit of time on the presentation and organized a PowerPoint, but I didn't expect many to attend. I was right - not many attended, in fact, no one attended, except Paul. I looked out at my audience of one, and knew that I had secured the best.
Let the love of learning rule mankind may not have a lot of immediate significance when it appears in the Phi Kappa Phi ritual. When you see it woven into the fabric of someone's life, as it was Paul's, it's inspirational. It is a real privilege to be able to take part in a celebration of Paul's scholarship and love of learning.