Joseph Forte led Newman Library through good times and bad

May 01, 2014

Joseph Forte, M.L.S. has learned how to adapt quickly to the ever-expanding development of technology.

As Library Director at Newman University, Forte introduced the requisition/purchase order process at Newman and participated in the original Title III grant that provided for the automation of the library and the campus. He started the first TV studio at Newman and recorded and edited the first nursing videotapes sent to Western Kansas.

JoeForte-72WebForte also led the Newman library through tough times, when the discovery of structural problems at the university’s former library building forced its immediate closing and subsequent demolition. Under Forte’s leadership, the library operated in temporary quarters in Sacred Heart Hall for four years while a successful capital campaign led to the building of the Dugan Library and Campus Center. Forte then led the transition to the new building.

“I began the library’s involvement in the first outreach programs in Western Kansas,” Forte added. “I set up library resources areas in our Dodge City office and at Pratt Community College. Newman was the first to initiate direct library service to its outreach students.”

After these and his many other accomplishments, Joseph Forte is retiring this spring after 28 years as Library Director at Newman University.

Forte started working in libraries in 1967, and came to Newman in 1986. Before Newman, he worked seven years in public schools in Arkansas and spent 13 years at Phillips Community College, part of the University of Arkansas system.

Forte received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Central Arkansas, his Master of Library Science from the University of Mississippi and has had additional graduate study at Emporia State University.

Forte, originally from Lake Village, Ark., has been married since 1967 to his wife, Sylvia. He has three children – Justin of Wichita, Jonathan of Maui, Hawaii, and Tony of Austin, Texas. Forte is also granddad to three, soon to be four, grandchildren and one great grandchild.

During his free time Forte enjoys playing the guitar, biking, exercising, fishing, and vegetable gardening.

“I also enjoy languages and have taken several classes in Italian, Arabic and Spanish,” he said. “These are things I like to do. Unfortunately, most of my time is taken up with things I do not like to do – home maintenance, routine chores, and feeding the inevitable cat.”

During his time at Newman, Forte made many professional presentations, and received several awards and honors. He has served as president of the Private Academic Libraries Section of the Kansas Library Association, and of the College and University Libraries Section of the Kansas Library Association. He has also been treasurer of the Wichita Area Libraries Association.

Forte said the influence and presence of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ at Newman, and his coworkers have been very important to him.

“The sisters taught me perseverance, patience, tolerance, and the value of cooperation,” he said. “I have been blessed with an excellent library staff, however small it may be. I know I am leaving the library in good hands when Steve [Hamersky] takes over.”

During retirement, Forte plans “to enjoy a life of leisure for about a week and then get serious about projects that need to be done, and probably seek some kind of part-time employment.” Forte also intends to travel with his wife, who is also retiring at the end of May.