In Memoriam: Robert L. Clark, Jr.

Sad news. Former ODL Director Bob Clark died on May 26. He had been suffering from Post Polio Syndrome for the past several years, but his wife Audrey says he remained active despite his physical difficulties. In fact, he remained active until five days before his death.

Below is the brief paragraph we shared with the national library press, which has very limited space for such announcements. If we had had room, we would have also mentioned that he was instrumental in establishing the Oklahoma Center for the Book, the fourth such center established under the Library of Congress program. It’s always good when Oklahoma is not at the bottom of a list.

Memorial donations may be made to:
ACLU of Oklahoma
3000 Paseo
Oklahoma City, OK 73103
https://www.acluok.org/


Robert L. Clark, 72, director of the Oklahoma Department of Libraries (ODL) from 1976 until his retirement in 2000, died May 26. During his tenure as State Librarian he headed two Governor’s Conferences on libraries and led a strategic planning process that redefined Oklahoma’s state library and its role in the information age. He championed preservation programs, government openness laws, and library and information services for institutional populations.  A staunch supporter of Intellectual Freedom, he and the agency made news in 1997 when a federal judge granted ODL intervener plaintiff status in the strange obscenity case of the Academy Award winning film “The Tin Drum.” When an Oklahoma County judge ruled the film contained obscenity, VHS copies of the movie were confiscated from the Metropolitan Library System and area video rental stores. The Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) sued and ODL was granted standing in representing access and censorship concerns on the local level. The VSDA prevailed in the case and the film was ultimately returned to library and store shelves. Clark received the Oklahoma Library Legend Award from the Oklahoma Library Association in 2007.