Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.


Shattered: John Iliff, RIP

On Monday, I found out that John Iliff, the Library Technology Consultant for Palinet, died over the weekend. John and I co-presented at last month's NJLA Conference, and we became friends as we worked on our presentation together. Indeed, it was impossible not to become friends with John: he was such a lively, friendly force of nature, and so passionately interested in and supportive of other people that you just got carried away on the tide of his genuine goodness and charm. It's a testament to what a powerful, but not overpowering, personality he had, and what a professional he was that even though we collaborated via telephone & e-mail and did not actually meet in person until the day of our co-presentation, that the whole thing went perfectly smoothly. He was a gem of a person, a pleasure to work with, and I am lucky to have known him.

Remembrances of John may be posted here, or submitted via podcast, here.


  • At 10:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    REMEMBERING JOHN ILIFF - One day I was at home messing around with
    my "Family Life" FidoNet BBS when I got a call from John Iliff. That
    was in the summer of 1992, and the beginning of the friendship that
    taught me more about the internet than I ever imagined. John had seen
    a post of mine about librarians joining together in group email on a
    BBS conference that had been forwarded to The Well from High Tech
    Tools for Librarians, a BBS out of the northwest somewhere, maybe
    Washington State or Oregon. He was happy to hear someone in his
    current home town, St. Petersburg, FL, was also interested in
    librarians telecommunicating and exchanging information, and he added
    me to a distribution list of librarians on his home computer that
    eventually became PUBLIB. He invited me, just a library student at
    USF at the time, to the first meeting of the Suncoast Freenet
    Organizing committee, and the rest is history. We worked together
    helping to publicize the Freenet and get it online with some
    wonderful folks from the Tampa Public Library. John taught me all
    kinds of information, and often invited me to the library to see the
    LAN he was building for Pinellas Park Public Library.
    When the Tampa Bay Computer Society had an first had an Internet SIG,
    we met around my kitchen table. I asked John and he agreed to teach
    us about the internet. I will never forget the day we told him 8 or
    10 folks would be showing up at the Pinellas Park Public Library to
    learn from his expertise. Sixty-five people showed up! John talked
    the library into giving us a large "quiet room" to hold an impromtu
    meeting where he could speak to all who attended. After that we
    always met in public libraries. John was our speaker in March 1994
    when he introduced us to "gopher". The following month, he brought in
    the Oldsmar Public Library and an internet service provider named
    Intnet. We saw our first look at the World Wide Web in Mosaic browser
    thanks to John, and it was John who had showed me the text based web
    in the previous months.
    John spent several years working with Jean Armour Polly, of NYSERNET,
    whose 1992 article in a professional library magazine coined the
    term "surfing the internet". Their project to spread the internet to
    rural public libraries helped many small libraries go online in the
    early days, when rural folks has less than average access to
    information. I watched for several years as he built the internet
    access system at the Pinellas Park Public Library from a curiosity on
    one computer to a lab that had folks waiting for their turn to use
    the many online computers.
    John wrote a couple chapters for the book "The Internet Unleashed" in
    about 1993. We were all amazed at how the book, a SAMS publication,
    was put together online, with authors submitting their chapters in an
    early form of online collaborative knowledge building. John was
    always at the forefront of technological change, and always wanting
    to help every day folks get information. I remember him saying often
    his now famous saying "information wants to be free." Thanks to the
    pioneering efforts of John Iliff, people from all over can use the
    internet in public libraries. Thank you, John, I will miss you!

    Sharon Centanne
    Librarian and Internet Trainer


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