Dr. Orvin Lee Shiflett

August 1, 1947May 27, 2016
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Greensboro - Orvin Lee Shiflett, 68, of Greensboro, NC, died on May 27, 2016, after a five month battle with small cell lung cancer. Dr. Shiflett was a professor of Library and Information Studies at UNCG-Greensboro. He was born on August 1, 1947, in Melbourne, Florida, the son of James Winfield Shiflett and Elsie May Davis, now both deceased.

Lee grew up in Malabar, Florida, and was a 1965 graduate of Melbourne High School. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Education from the University of Florida in 1969, a Master of Library Service from Rutgers University in 1971, and was awarded a doctorate in Library Science from Florida State University in 1979.

Dr. Shiflett launched his professional career as an Acquisitions Librarian at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse in 1971. In 1976, he became Coordinator of Technical Services at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse library. After receiving his PhD, he began his work in library education as an Assistant Professor at the Louisiana State University School of Library and Information Science. He was awarded the rank of Professor in 1994 and retired from LSU as Professor Emeritus in 2001.

While in Baton Rouge, Dr. Shiflett was active in the American Library Association, serving on various ACRL and Library Research Round Table committees and as Chair of the Library History Round Table. He also served the Association for Library and Information Science Education in various capacities, including co-chairing the 2002 ALISE conference. He was an active member of the Louisiana Library Association and a frequent presenter at its annual conferences.

Dr. Shiflett was a scholar, a researcher, an editor, and an author. His curriculum vitae shows numerous journal articles and book chapters as well as an extensive list of book reviews. His first book, The Origins of American Academic Librarianship, is recognized as a classic text on the history of American academic libraries and has been noted as the primary source for information on literature and research on this topic published prior to 1980. He has authored three additional books, the most recent being William Terry Couch and the Politics of Academic Publishing, released in the fall of 2015.

After retiring from LSU in 2001, Dr. Shiflett became Professor and Chair of the Department of Library and Information Studies at UNCG and served until 2009 when he returned to teaching full time. In 2014 he became interim chair of the department and was serving in that capacity when he became ill. He was planning to retire at the end of the 2015-16 school year.

Lee was a gentle and unassuming man, the ultimate Southern gentleman -- quiet and soft-spoken, totally devoted to his wife, children, and grandchildren as well as the many students he served and mentored during his 37 years as a library educator. He is remembered for his kindness, his caring, his generosity, and his dry sense of humor. He loved to read and always had a book, or two or three, in hand. He enjoyed playing the trumpet and had fond memories of his days with the South Brevard County Hurricanes Drum and Bugle Corps under the direction of Mamie Barnes. He loved car travel, particularly on the backroads away from the bustle of today’s busy world.

He is survived by his wife of 26 years, Mary Ellen Hebert Shiflett; his two children, Christopher Benton Landry, married to Valerie Gover, and Lauryn Landry Schenker, wife of Christopher Kurt Schenker; and his grandchildren, Khalen Brooks Landry, Bianca Morgan Gover, Brooklyn Kate Schenker, and Christian James Schenker. He has one sister, Judy Millar, of Palm Bay, Florida, and two nephews, Stephen Millar and Michael John Millar.

A funeral service will be held on Saturday, June 4, 2016, at 1:00 p.m., at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Greensboro. The family will receive friends after the service. Hanes-Lineberry North Elm Chapel is assisting the family.

Memorial gifts may be made to the UNCG Library and Information Studies Alumni Endowment, which was established to honor Dr. Shiflett upon his retirement from the university. Contributions should be mailed to LIS Alumni Endowment in honor of Orvin Lee Shiflett, University Advancement, P.O. Box 26170, Greensboro, NC 27402.


  • Memorial Service Saturday, June 4, 2016
  • Visitation Saturday, June 4, 2016

Dr. Orvin Lee Shiflett

have a memory or condolence to add?

Shavon Stewart

July 15, 2016

Dr. Shiflett was the greatest mentor while I was a MLIS student at UNCG. He was a wonderful professor and librarian.

Donna Fruge'

June 9, 2016

Deepest sympathy to you and your family, Mary Ellen. Lee's was my first graduate class at LSU in the late 80's, and I remember his wit, kindness and smile with fondness. You are all in my thoughts and prayers.

Jody Mosteller

June 9, 2016

Dr. Shiflett was the essence of what it means to be a Southern gentleman. He was involved in all practical matters to the UNCG graduates seeking their degree in Library and Information Studies. Especially to this one as he shared rides from Greensboro to Charlotte for his cataloging class, which is only one example of his service to us all. For a couple of hours each week, this busy student was able to relax and clear her head to the next day's challenges! My condolences to his family and friends for your loss.

Emily Porter-Fyke

June 8, 2016

I worked with Dr. Shiflett as a graduate assistant in the Library and Information Studies department at UNC Greensboro, and I will miss him very much. Not only was he intelligent and a great professor, but also very kind. He always had a warm word for everyone, and was always ready to lend support for anything the faculty or students needed. I hope that everyone's lovely memories of him will lend comfort to his family and friends in their time of grieving and beyond.

Touger Vang

June 7, 2016

I have the pleasure of working with Dr. Shiflett for a short time as his administrative assistant before I left to venture into the world of public librarianship. I got to know him for over 3 years as I worked in the Department of Library and Information Studies at UNCG. He was a great man, humble professor and most of all, a kind person. I will forever missed him! How sad that I am not in North Carolina to pay my respects for a professor that I will forever remember and inscribed into my heart for getting the chance to have met him, taught by him and worked for him and gained so much through his soft spoken wisdoms! - Touger Vang, West Sacramento, CA

June 6, 2016

Lee's family and friends are in our thoughts during this difficult time. Lee touched many of our lives through his work at UNCG and the North Carolina Library Association where he was an active member. He will be greatly missed in the NC Library Community.

Rodney Lippard, NCLA President

Brandy Hamilton

June 6, 2016

Dr. Shiflett went on several library advocacy trips to Washington DC and was always such a pleasure to be around. He was such a great supporter of libraries and will be missed. God Bless the family-

June 6, 2016

I was Lee's major professor for his dissertation completed at Florida State University in 1979. It is with a heavy heart I write this acknowledgement of Lee's illness and death. As we can see by these testimonials, he was both a respected professor and fine individual. I remember thinking at the time of his graduation the library world has gained a fine historical researcher and scholar and I have gained a great friend for the future. Through the years we have stayed in touch and I will miss his gentle spirit and quiet sense of humor. He always provided great advice when needed.
For Mary Ellen, I wish her great contentment at this time in her knowledge that he was beloved and admired by friends and acquaintances and she was the major figure in his life.
Sincerely, Dr. Ronald Blazek

Clark Vega

June 4, 2016

Sorry to hear about Lee's illness and passing, Mary Ellen. Know that God is with you in this time of need.

Amy Ralph

June 4, 2016

We were very sad to hear about Dr. Shiflett's passing. My sister Sara and I both had him as a professor at UNCG. My father inlaw Randy also worked with him in the LIS department. We are sorry for the loss of this wonderful man. In this time of sadness please remember that Lee had a very strong influence on us all. He was a great teacher and alway greeted us with a smile and kind word. I will always remember him as a teacher who made a major impact on my life and made me the professional I am today. I will pray for your family in this time of loss.


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