In memory of Dr Josip Stipanov (1939-2021), 2002-2007 Director General of the National and University Library in Zagreb
At the age of 82, Dr Josip Stipanov, a former long-time member of the staff of the National and University Library in Zagreb and subsequently its 2002-2007 Director General, passed away. One of the most distinguished figures in the Croatian library community over the last several decades, Dr Stipanov was a great human being in every sense of the word. He always thought of the Library as his second home, adding great affection to his professional enthusiasm, and receiving the same affection in return. It was a pleasure to work in a library headed by someone who so epitomised empathy, since Dr Stipanov’s evincing of this noble quality in his communication with everyone always inspired one to work better, faster and in a more creative way, and in that way contribute to the building of a better society, a society based on togetherness, compassion and humanity. Commemorating Dr Stipanov is impossible without remembering that only such society, so unselfishly striven for by him, may bring social change desired by everyone.
Even after he went into retirement, he attended most of the Library’s events. He continued to be a vital part of Croatia’s library sphere, vitalising it in return with his lively character, open-mindedness, free spirit and great affection for people in general.
Dr Stipanov was born on 18 November 1939 on the island of Dugi otok, Croatia. After finishing primary school, he went to Zadar, where after completing his classically-oriented secondary education he studied theology. He subsequently studied philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where he obtained his doctorate degree in 1971. After teaching for several years at a gymnasium and theological college in Zadar, he started working at the National and University Library in Zagreb in 1972, mostly on the compilation of the Croatian retrospective bibliography. From 1975 to the end of the 1980s he headed the Library’s section for the development and advancement of librarianship (Služba za razvoj i unaprjeđenje knjižničarstva). From then until 1997 he was the Library’s Deputy Director General, and in 1998 he took up the post of the Library’s Acting Director General. He became the NSK Director General in 2002, in which position he worked until his retirement, in February 2007. For twenty years he took active part in activities aimed at the construction of the Library’s new building and was overjoyed to finally see it open in 1995. He advocated the inclusion of the National and University Library in Zagreb in The European Library network, of which NSK gained full membership in 2005, during his term as its Director General.
Owing to Dr Stipanov, the National and University Library in Zagreb started using modern information and communication technologies as well as the related new media on a larger scale, as a result of which its services started becoming available in the online environment. As the main Croatian library, NSK thus directly and indirectly contributed to the development of all other libraries in Croatia and their integration into a functional national library system.
Dr Stipanov authored over 50 research and scientific papers, studies and articles published mainly in Croatian journals, but also in foreign professional journals. He received a number of awards, two of which particularly stand out – The Kukuljević Charter, which was presented to him by the Croatian Library Association for outstanding contribution to the development of library profession in Croatia, and The Order of the Croatian Star with the Effigy of Marko Marulić, which he was awarded by the President of the Republic of Croatia for his extraordinary services to culture.
Standing as the lasting reminder of how important Dr Stipanov held libraries are his two most well-known books – his 2010 overview of the sociological, communicational and cultural aspects of the historical development of libraries from the time of Mesopotamia to the digital age which also presented their role in the future (Knjižnice i društvo – od potrebe do mogućnosti), and a detailed presentation of the development of libraries and library profession in Croatia against the background of different social and historical conditions, published in 2015 (Povijest knjižnica i knjižničarstva u Hrvatskoj – od početaka do današnjih dana). The two titles have become popular with LIS students, everyone interested in books, libraries, and their development throughout history.
We will have a hard time accepting that we will no longer be seeing Dr Stipanov and an even harder time in missing him. However, his physical absence will forever be compensated by the many traces and lasting results of his professional efforts, great work and knowledge inscribed in the making of the history and a distinguished position of the National and University Library in Zagreb, in the context of both the Croatian and international library community.