John Baky, Director of La Salle University’s Connelly Library, has been named the 2012 recipient of the University’s Distinguished Lasallian Educator Award. Presented annually at the University’s opening faculty meeting, the award honors outstanding members of the La Salle community who exhibit in their daily lives a commitment to Lasallian priorities and traditions.
“Those who know me probably recognize my reputation for a fairly jaundiced view of the world—but, you know, in this case, I find I’m really quite moved by this recognition,” Baky said upon receiving the award.
Baky arrived at La Salle in 1980, when the University’s library resided in the Lawrence Building (now the Lawrence Administration Building). He expected to stay only two years and move on, but soon the University was in the midst of planning for the new Connelly Library, and the chance to help plan and design the library, which opened in 1988, was just too great to pass up.
“The Christian Brothers have an extraordinary commitment to the notion of physical libraries as very important to the formation of the mind and as an essential marker for the definition of liberal arts education,” Baky said. “(The Christian Brothers) provided me with the unparalleled autonomy to create unique scholarly resources, the ability to choose promising professional staff to grow them, and then have the confident common sense to simply let these talented librarians do what they were hired to do.”
Prior to being named Director of Connelly Library in 1991, Baky served as Head of Acquisitions, adding 130,000 volumes to the library’s collection. A trained rare book librarian, Baky developed many of the library’s special collections, including The Imaginative Representations of the Vietnam War, The Imaginative Representations of the Holocaust, The Susan Dunleavy Collection of Biblical Literature, and The Life and Work of Bob Dylan, among others. More than 100 scholars from around the world have used La Salle’s special collections in their research.
Regarding The Imaginative Representations of the Vietnam War, Baky said, “There are other huge collections of the historical, factual side of the war, but La Salle’s is the largest collection of its kind in the world.”
His contributions to education also include traveling with La Salle students to Vietnam on travel/study trips and assisting in grant writing to support various University initiatives. Outside of La Salle, Baky has worked with the special Veterans’ Court in Montgomery County and supported MANNA, an agency that provides home-delivered meals to people with life-threatening illnesses.
Baky earned his bachelor’s degree in English literature from Gettysburg College, master’s degrees from Columbia University and Wesleyan University, and a certificate from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.
‘Time and time again, John Baky has been a shining example of a publically, socially, and charitable active educator who is clearly following in the footsteps of St. John Baptist de La Salle. He has not remained an educator holed up in an ivory tower; he has left that tower to engage the greater communities with which the founder would have us interact,” said Margaret McGuinness, La Salle’s Executive Director of Mission Integration, who presented Baky with the Distinguished Lasallian Educator Award.