SUNY Canton Remembers Librarian and Archivist Mary L. Bucher

Mary BucherA kind-hearted and dedicated member of the SUNY Canton family recently passed away.

College Librarian Mary L. Bucher, 59, of Canton, died on June 6th following an illness. She was a 34-year employee of the College and much revered for her wisdom and helpful nature.

She joined SUNY Canton in in 1978. She was recognized with the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Library Service in 1990, and SUNY Canton President Joseph L. Kennedy appointed her as university archivist in 1994.

“Mary is deeply missed by all of us,” said Vice President of Student Affairs Molly A. Mott, who oversees the Southworth Library. “She revered our campus and its unique history and she would light up at the chance to relay the stories and reflect on the personalities that made the campus what it is today.”

She was a member of the SUNY Librarians Association and the Eastern New York Chapter of the Association of College and Research Libraries, in addition to serving as secretary for the College’s chapter of United University Professions.

Mary was an active and dedicated member of the St. Lawrence County Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW).  She was chair of the committee for their AAUW Endowed Scholarship with the Canton College Foundation.  The scholarship is awarded to a SUNY Canton female student from St. Lawrence County who is planning to transfer into a four-year academic program.

This scholarship program was very close to her heart as she was a strong advocate for its promotion and support of SUNY Canton students.  Those who would like to make a gift to the scholarship as a tribute may do so by donating to the Canton College Foundation, Inc., 34 Cornell Drive, Canton, NY  13617.  Checks may be made payable to the Canton College Foundation. Please note in the memo section, “In Memory of Mary L. Bucher for the AAUW Endowed Scholarship.”

A complete obituary is available at North Country Now.

We invite the campus community and anyone who knew Mary well to leave comments below.


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9 Responses to “SUNY Canton Remembers Librarian and Archivist Mary L. Bucher”

  1. Michelle Currier Says:

    There are so many things I could say about Mary that it is difficult to put down in a few words just how important she was – to the institution, to the library, to the students, to her colleagues, and personally – to me. In the past few days, many people have stopped in to the library to remember Mary, and inevitably the conversation always either began or ended with an “I’ll always remember the one time that Mary,” comment, to which I almost never had a follow-up. But I soon realized that there was no one particular memory of Mary that stood out for me, because I was fascinated by her on a daily basis in countless ways. It is not enough to say that Mary spent a year of her life in law school before heading to library school, or that she once ate kangaroo meat on one of her adventures in Australia – both things that I would speculate not very many people know! The intimate environment of Southworth Library offered me the unique opportunity to see Mary in so many ways; a single memory or impression just isn’t possible. Although intensely private, she would on occasion entertain with a tale or humor us with her wit; she was a wonderful storyteller with an endless supply of amazing stories to tell and a lifetime of experiences to go with them. It was pure pleasure to see Mary’s face as she recounted some of her grander tales. But anecdotes she shared from her life or that others have recounted about her still do not do justice to who and what she truly was. And with all of the things that I could say about Mary, I still do not know how to adequately express how much she humbled me as a librarian, as a professional, as a woman. In the few short years that I knew her, I came to understand Mary as a woman of courage and depth, of wisdom and principle and skill, who loved libraries and everything they stood for, who would not rest until she had fulfilled your request, found your answer, located your item or exhausted every last avenue in its pursuit — because to Mary, when something mattered, it truly mattered. For those of us at Southworth Library, Mary herself truly mattered, each and every day.

  2. Lisa Furnace Says:

    Mary was everything that Michelle has mentioned. Although I didn’t know Mary the way her co-workers did, I feel a strong connection to her as a student at SUNY Canton. The first time I met Mary was after I sent a complaint regarding the noise that existed daily in the library. Being a non-traditional, commuter student lead me to the library on a daily basis to complete my homework assignments. When I returned to college in the fall of 2010, the library had become more of a social meeting place than a quiet study area. I met with Mary to explain my frustrations and she listened attentively and took notes about the suggestions I made. Mary did offer me some advice and assured me that she would work with the committe to address the issues. I didn’t have much hope that the library would return to a quiet study area but I did feel comfort that I was being listened to. My next experience with Mary was as a student in her on-line class “Library Literacy”. I have to say that she was a very tough teacher and the assignments were not easy, however I learned so much about the tools available to us in research. Mary was always avilable to me when I had a question. She was complimentary and provoked thought in responses to my submissions. I complained about the amount of work required for a 1 credit hour course and she listened patiently. I finished the class with an “A” which I worked dilligently for. I received a 100 on the final exam, which she told me was the first ever in the course. When I submitted my final project Mary told me that when I graduate I should reward myself with the wonderful trip that I had researched. In the past year I ran into Mary in the “new” library setting many times. Since the fall of 2011, new rules were put into place and we now have a very serene quiet study area. I believe this was due to Mary although I have not been told this as a fact.

    The last time I spoke with Mary this year was just before spring break. I was asking about the book being offered for the SUNY Canton book club. The book was “The Help”. Mary gave me a copy to read over spring break even though I was not a member of the book club. She asked what my future plans were since the semester was drawing to a close and knew that I’d be graduating. I responded that I’d be continuing in the Legal Studies program if I could acquire enough grants and scholarships. She was very quick to encourage me to apply for the AAUW scholarship. I told her that I would surely do so. After spring break I learned of Mary’s illness and began praying for her recovery. It is with great sadness that I write this note about this truly magnificent and gentle soul. Mary will be greatly missed!

  3. Drew Urbanek Says:

    A good library doesn’t have individuals. Service and assistance is uniform across whomever happens to be helping out. It’s how librarians build a sense of trust; So when a patron walks in they know they’ll be helped, regardless of person or time or resource used.

    But a great library does that, and keeps its individuality, too. It develops a feel, or a flavor, or a sense of quirk – of identity. Southworth does that. And more importantly, Mary did that. And it makes a library into a living novel. There are characters, and chapters, and histories, and personalities that spice the service and support.

    To borrow a somewhat clinical term, Mary was what we librarians call the personification of institutional history. That means she’d been at Canton “since the Earth cooled”. She knew the stories, knew the characters, knew the lessons that time and experience had yet to teach the rest of us. Mary never lit up as much as she did when she was asked for advice – it was the chance for all those experiences and history to matter again in the moment. It gave us a broader understanding, but it also gave her the credence she was due. Mary was a fighter, too. If she was in the right, if she was sure of what she was arguing, and if what she was arguing against was something unfair, she simply wouldn’t back down. She was a woman of principle when it would have been more expedient not to be, and even though she was run down from her illness and allergies she would nevertheless be tireless in the fights she chose. She was a great ally and a tough opponent, both. And in that, she earned respect.

    It’s not the professional stuff that I’ll think of when I think of Mary, though. It’s the singular courage to go it alone. I’m something of a stymied traveler. In everything as grand as a European trip to things as simple as going out to dinner, I find that I cannot go it alone. There’s something missing in the experience if you don’t have someone to go with. And to be honest, that hesitation has kept me from some discoveries, I’m sure. But Mary had no such hang-ups. She wanted to go see Germany, so she went, fellows or not. She wanted to go to a museum, so she went, alone or not. A dinner out by herself was no obstacle. She had a boldness and confidence that let her explore and learn and go it alone. Courage is the better word.

    I’ll miss her courage. I’ll miss her stories. I’ll miss her principles. I guess ultimately it comes to this: Each of us want to know we mattered, we made some change, we eased some burden, we left our friends and family and community a better place. I knew Mary for a few years, and in that time, I can attest that she did just that as both a professional, but more importantly as a person. We’re less for the loss, but have an understanding of what it is to aspire to.

    Rest well, Mary. And thank you.

  4. Loreen Murphy Says:

    It is not often that one is privileged to know someone like Mary–and it was indeed a privilege to know her. A friend and often-times foil, Mary lived her life with the courage of her convictions. Hers was a principled life and an example to everyone she knew.

    Mary taught us so much, and still we are unprepared for her absence. I am unprepared for her absence.

    She is well-known as the go-to librarian for the really tough reference questions. Drew, you must remember the time I was trying to remember the singer Aaron Neville but could not find him in spite of every combination of keywords we tried? I thought it would be easy because of his distinctive mole, yet we gave up the search, totally defeated. Mary listened to our efforts, mildly amused, I think. An hour later she provided the name and her source. Funny, and impressive. Pop culture could not defeat her, neither could a request for material held by an institution that normally does not circulate any materials, much less that which is hard to locate and impossible to replace.

    And “girl” could tell a story!!

    Mary was a force of nature. I miss her every day.

    Thank you Mary.

  5. J. Rebecca Thompson Says:

    While I knew little of Mary personally, for more than 20 years she was a professional colleague. She had one of the most difficulty jobs an academic librarian could have – working at a small college with limited staff and limited resources. I was always impressed with how much she accomplished and how hard she worked to make sure her small library was on the cutting edge of new trends in library services. For her, lack of resources was a challenge, but not an obstacle. She was a CAN DO person who really DID.

    SUNY Canton and the library community have lost a person of extraordinary commitment and courage.

  6. Carole Melchior Says:

    I was deeply saddened to hear of Mary’s death. She was so patient with my students when she gave them a library tour. I knew her well because of her UUP activities, also. The Canton College community has lost one of its finest staff members. RIP, Mary.

  7. Molly Mott Says:

    As I read everyone’s posts and tributes to Mary, I can’t help but smile and repeat the chuckle I would often hear from Mary herself. I can still see her now- a tilt of the head, a wave of the hand, each in precise rhythm as she would quip “Well, let’s see, Molly, I may be able to find that for you.” And she did; she always found that obscure resource, that out of print, out of country, out of this world book or article.

    Mary was an unassuming but fierce detective— the ultimate literary sleuth. Her travel adventures only confirmed her truly adventurous, curious, and generous spirit. Everyone should know a Mary.

    Thank you Mary for adding to my life, to other people’s lives, for committing your heart and soul to what you believe in, and most of all, for teaching people how to value and appreciate one another. I will miss you…

  8. David Butler Says:

    Mary was a pillar of UUP, the labor union that represents Professionals and Academics at SUNY Canton. She was deeply involved in the union and served as chapter Secretary for as long as I can remember. She is sorely missed.

  9. Julie Parkman Says:

    Mary was a wonderful woman. Even before I came to SUNY Canton, I knew Mary from St. Mary’s Church. I had a young and often vocal child at the time and often sat near the back in case I had to walk out. Mary was always so kind and reassuring that she enjoyed the antics of my daughter. When I came to Canton, she again welcomed me with such warmth, kindness, and compassion.

    When I ever need to find justification information for Honorary Doctorate candidates – Mary was my go to person – my ally. Her detective skills are the reason we at SUNY Canton were able to successfully nominate Pete Heffering for our first alumnus receiving an honorary degree from SUNY. I miss her quiet strength and quick mind.