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Memorial: Joe Hewitt, 1938–2018

Joe Hewitt, image courtesy of UNC Libraries

Joe A. Hewitt, University Librarian Emeritus at The University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, died on December 19, 2018, at age 80.

Hewitt served as associate provost for University Libraries, or university librarian, at UNC–Chapel Hill from 1993 until he retired in 2004. Under his leadership the libraries launched the renowned Documenting the American South project, initiated a publishing partnership with the UNC Press, and founded the Carolina Academic Library Associates program in partnership with the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS). Hewitt also oversaw, and helped raise $2 million toward, a full renovation of the R.B. House Undergraduate Library.

Hewitt’s career in libraries originated from an unexpected source. When he was an undergraduate at UNC, Hewitt interrupted his studies to enlist in the US Army Security Agency and graduated from the Russian program at the Army Language School. He was posted to Lübeck, West Germany, along the East German border, where he worked as a Russian voice intercept operator. He later re-enrolled at UNC and took a student job in Wilson Library, assisting in Slavic acquisitions. His library experience inspired him to enroll in the SILS. After earning a doctorate in education from the University of Colorado, he returned to UNC as associate university librarian for technical services in 1975.

Hewitt was active in the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), serving on the ARL Board of Directors in 1998–2001. He also chaired the Research Collections Committee in 1997–1998 and 1999–2000 and the Special Collections Task Force in 2001–2006. The task force developed an agenda to promote the visibility and use of rare and unique materials.

In accordance with Hewitt’s wishes, there will be no public memorial service. However, he will be remembered at a service for his wife, Susan Nutter, on Friday, May 31, at 10:30 a.m. at the the James B. Hunt Jr. Library at NC State University, Raleigh, NC. Contributions may be made to the Joe A. Hewitt Librarian’s Opportunity Fund at the UNC University Libraries.

Visit the memorial webpage honoring Joe Hewitt to learn more about his life and career and to share memories of him. Also see Hewitt’s obituary, published on April 21 in the Raleigh News & Observer.