Martha Jane Zachert

February 7, 1920January 10, 2018

Martha Jane Koontz Zachert, retired professor emerita, died January 10, 2018 at Westminster Oaks Health Center. She was born February 7, 1920, in York, Pennsylvania, daughter of Elizabeth Lau and Paul Rodes Koontz, grew up in Baltimore, Maryland where her Father served a parish. She received a bachelor’s degree from Lebanon Valley College, a master’s from Emory University and her doctorate from Columbia University. She also held a certificate in archival management from the Georgia Division of Archives and History and a certificate in medical librarianship from the Medical Library Association with membership in the Association of Health Information Professionals. In 1946 Martha Jane married Edward Goneke Zachert with whom she moved to Atlanta, Georgia. They had one daughter, Elizabeth. After initial work at Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, and in school libraries in Georgia, Martha Janes’ career as medical librarian began at Mercer University College of Pharmacy in Atlanta. She moved into teaching, especially for medical and other special subject librarians, at Florida State University and at the University of South Carolina. A secondary teaching field was related to the book arts and history of books. In addition to being active in local and regional library associations she was a life member of the Medical Library Association, the Special Libraries Association and the American Library Association. She was president of Beta Phi Mu (Library Science honorary society) and a founding member of the Miniature Book Society and the Oral History Association. She held leadership positions related to professional continuing education. Martha Jane also consulted with numerous libraries and engaged in long term projects for development of federal libraries such as the Army Corps of Engineers library systems. She published numerous articles and books in her research field; she edited the Journal of Library History and several books. She several times taught short courses in England and served six-months as consultant to a research project of the British Library. Among other honors, Martha Jane was elected to the SLA Hall of Fame, and as a Fellow of MLA. She received the SLA President’s Citation, citations from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy and the Southeastern Library Association, including the Rothrock Award, SELA’s highest. In retirement Martha Jane returned to Tallahassee where she became active at St. John’s Episcopal Church and in the Tallahassee Literary Club while enjoying her family: Daughter Beth (and Don) Hagler, Granddaughter Carrie Pignato (and Jeff), and Great-grandchildren Jacob, Elisabeth and Lydia Pignato, and her sister Miriam Drucker (who predeceased her). She traveled as long as Zach, the love of her life, constant companion and support, was able. He predeceased her in 2005. A memorial service will be held at 2:00pm, Saturday, February 3, 2018 at the Maguire Center at Westminster Oaks, off Dempsey Mayo Rd. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to St. John’s Episcopal Church, 211 N. Monroe St, Tallahassee FL 32301 or to a charity of your choice.


  • Memorial Service Saturday, February 3, 2018

Martha Jane Zachert

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Sybil Fain

February 7, 2018

I was fortunate to have Dr. Zachert as a professor at the University of South Carolina School of Library and Information Science. She was an excellent and innovative teacher. I recall that our medical reference exam was an individualized, timed, hands on experience at the medical library. We were able to demonstrate what we had learned rather than spit back info. I also recall her humanness as she shared her acupuncture experiences. My sincere condolences to her family, friends, and former colleagues.

Thank you Dr. Roper for sharing her obit.

Sybil M. Fain, ML 1978 USC

Martha Zachert

February 4, 2018

I remember fondly and with appreciation, Martha Jane, my old teacher and mentor. I came from Alabama in 1964 to begin my master's work in the Library School at FSU. I was immediately impressed with her ability as a knowledgeable and innovative teacher. During the next year and a half, I took all her classes regretting that she was away one term working on her doctorate at Columbia.

She became my mentor. When I graduated, she was instrumental in my getting my first professional job (and at a salary considerably higher than most new job seekers that year). That was handy as I had college debts to pay, but I did that in a three years and was ready to begin doctoral work on my own, with her letters of reference. But first, she arranged to get me into the very competitive Georgia Department of Archives and History's month long Archives Institute. She also guided me through the process of publishing my first article in a peer-reviewed journal, the coin of the realm for a successful academic. I completed my doctorate at Rutgers and went on to work at SUNY/Buffalo again with her strong letters of reference. I'm sure I asked for her support, even 10 years since I last took a class with her, for my successful application for a Fulbright grant teaching for half a year at the University of Iceland.

And, her support wasn't unique for me. I recruited an old girlfriend and classmate from Alabama to come to FSU. She also took Martha Jane's classes and decided to become a medical librarian. Martha Jane mentored her too, using her connections with the Medical Librarians' Association to get her a first job in Utah, then a better one in Baltimore, and later in Tennessee where she retired a couple of years ago as Director of Libraries for a medical school.

And, it was not just the two of us. One of my classmates, from 53 years ago, became the Director of the Diet Library in Tokyo (the Japanese equivalent of our Library of Congress). Another became the State Librarian of Kansas, and still others became professors in the schools preparing our students for the coming Information Age changes in old public, academic, and special libraries. We all owe our successful careers, in substantial part, to Martha Jane's guidance and support.

In 1977, my wife tired of Buffalo's winter weather and I applied for a teaching job at FSU. I was hired and looked forward to joining her on the faculty to be disappointed to learn that she was moving to teach at the University of South Carolina.

When she retired and returned to Tallahassee, we reestablished our old connections, having lunches from time to time at her favorite middle-eastern restaurant. That continued until her health problems made that too taxing, but even then I would occasionally ask if I could bring exotic take-out to share with her here at Westminster Oaks, until even that became difficult for her.

I will miss her and be forever grateful for the mentoring she gladly provided me throughout my career. There are others of us now in our mid-70s, recently retired all over the country who would say the same thing today, if they could be here with us.

Charles Wm. Conaway, February 3, 2018

Bill Nichols

January 19, 2018

So long, Dr. Zachert. Many thanks for your guidance as a professor & friendship as a colleague.

Her "biography" is her students, many of whom continue her mission of education still, 40+ years later. One could ask for a worse legacy. :)