Genesee Community College Library Director Retires

In August of 1971 Apollo 15 returned to Earth, construction began on the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, The Who released their critically acclaimed album Who’s Next, and Judy Sikora began her career at Genesee Community College. It was bittersweet when Dr. Stuart Steiner, Genesee’s President, received and reluctantly accepted her retirement notice as of July 1, 2007.

“Genesee Community College’s first president, Alfred C. O’Connell, was an advocate for a strong, vibrant library. Throughout the years and the decades, and through a very dynamic technological evolution, Judy has continued this tradition with a firm commitment,” Dr. Steiner said. “While I hesitate in seeing her go, I also realize she leaves behind a powerful asset to our institution.”

Judy was the College’s first full-time Reference and Instruction Librarian and later served as Library Director from 1990-2007. She has made a multitude of improvements to the Alfred C. O’Connell Library during her tenure, including bringing the library into the automated world, in 1985, coordinating everything from the RFP (Request for Proposal) to becoming the first ever Systems Librarian.

“I think that the automation project and the library renovation were the two greatest challenges I faced over the years,” Judy said. “They are also the two accomplishments that give me the greatest satisfaction. I had a lot of support from the College and was given the freedom to make decisions as necessary.”

Judy oversaw a masterful renovation of the library in 2000, updating the layout and usability of the space while obtaining warm classic library furnishings which is appreciated by students, staff, faculty, and community visitors alike.

“When people walk into the library for the first time they always have a wonderful reaction,” Robert Knipe, Dean of Learning Technologies said. “Part of the warmth comes from the décor, which is very much a reflection of Judy’s welcoming personality and her unending attention to detail. And when they start using the library and fully recognize all its resources online, on the shelves, and through the reference librarians —then they really understand why Genesee’s Library is so widely acknowledged, respected, and emulated. ”

The success of the Alfred C. O’Connell Library project lead to a front page featured article in the CHOICE: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries magazine in September 2002, which is published by the Association of College and Research Libraries.
In addition to her energy and leadership within the library, Judy has been an active member in the SUNY community through her work on the SUNYConnect Advisory Council, SUNY Council of Library Directors, and the Western New York Library Resources Council, where she served as President of the Board of Trustees. She is a highly regarded colleague admired for her professional accomplishments as well as for her amiable personality.

“Judy’s enthusiasm, passion, and collaborative leadership style have set the tone for the entire library,” Knipe said.
Judy received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Librarianship in 1990, which recognized that she performed her librarianship duties superbly in a creative and innovative fashion, was generous with her personal time, kept current on developments in the field, and was among the top people in her profession.

True to form, Judy is enthusiastically helping to lay the groundwork for the next big project at Genesee’s library. She’s a sponsor of the Information Commons Task Force, a multi-disciplined group within the college that is examining the next steps to advance both technology and service offerings within the library. Judy is also looking forward to continuing her work on the College’s Tale for Three Counties committee and with the International Student Organization.

“I’ve loved working at Genesee Community College. It’s been a supportive work environment and I’ve had the freedom to grow immensely,” Judy said. “I’ve enjoyed a challenging career and I’ve had the opportunity to work with amazing people. Who could ask for more?”

Judy lives in Batavia, and is an enthusiastic gardener, world traveler, movie-goer, cat-fancier, and of course, an avid reader. 

Editor’s note: A photograph of Judy Sikora, soon to be retired from her 36 year career with Genesee Community College, as she stands with other Genesee retirees (and long-time friends) Dolores Chiocco and Mary Platt at the College’s recent 40th Anniversary Convocation Ceremony is available at: