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Obituary – Tibor Horvath

By Kerry Smith 25 March 2011 Vale No Comments »

—–Original Message—–
From: Zsolt Banhegyi []
Sent: Thursday, 24 March 2011 7:57 PM
Subject: [IFLA-L] Obituary – Tibor Horvath

 *Obituary: Tibor Horváth (1935-2011)*

 This is to communicate the death notice of the doyen of Hungarian librarianship to IFLA and, beyond that, to the international community of librarians. A mournful duty fallen on us, representatives of the profession in Hungary, we hereby announce the loss of Tibor Horváth, erstwhile president of the Association of Hungarian Librarians, the retired director of the National Educational Library and Museum, professor in the LIS  department of Eötvös University, to name but a few of the leadership positions he held.   

It was quite recently that we celebrated his 75th birthday and were preparing to greet him on his 76th, on April 15, when the news reached us that our beloved teacher, tutor, fellow-librarian, and friend had died and set out upon the way of all flesh. Tibor Horvath’s personage was inseparably bound up with librarianship – or rather with LIS. It is safe to say that his expertise was embodied in a perfect blend of library science-cum-information science. His doctoral dissertation addressed the problem of clustering. He was a dedicated professional with responsibility and serious stance, while at the same time he was ever out to detect the humorous, playful aspect of a situation, his eyes glistening in impish fashion. He was prone to become electrified any time a fine conversation or debate was afoot.

He lived his life with incredible vigour and verve. He was our quintessential professor – and a fountainhead of knowledge and erudition to several cycles of generations. He taught us how to master logical thinking, how to assert ourselves, how to analyze a complex problem and insisted we embrace system-based thinking in any situation. His personality was profoundly engaged in the profession of teaching. A superb and eloquent educator, Tibor frequently employed visual demonstration by telling us stories and anecdotes in the classroom as well as in everyday life. Throughout his life, he was an enormously – and deservedly – popular person. In any role he played during his grand life course he would create perpetual values.

 Tibor Horváth was born in Érsekújvár (today: Nové Zámky, Slovakia) in 1935 – a telling coincidence that the ssociation of Hungarian Librarians was founded in the same year. When Horváth’s native town became once again part of Czechoslovakia after World War Two, his family fled to Hungary in 1946. After his university degree of double majors, Hungarian and Librarianship, he embarked upon his librarian’s career. From 1959 through 1977 he worked in various posts at the Center for Library Science and Methodology of the National  zéchényi Library.

 From 1977 on, he had a tenure in the Department of  Library Science of Eötvös University (ELTE). The students were enchanted with his incredible range of knowledge, theoretical and practical, equally versed in the natural sciences. He advocated the school-based instruction and, while fulfilling his duties at the library chair of ELTE, he was instrumental in setting up several college-based library schools, in Eger and in Debrecen, among others.

 In 1984, he was appointed deputy head of the National Educational Library and Museum. His accomplishments here include the adaptation of PRÉCIS to Hungarian. To help the evolvement of teacher training he induced the publication or republication of the classical works of famous Hungarian educators of the past, Ernö Fináczy, Lajos Prohaszka and others. He served the Library as its director general until his retirement in February 1999.

 He was elected president of the Association of Hungarian Librarians in 1990 and held the position for one cycle long. His report to the general meeting of the Association in 1994 emphatically called for the elevation of the librarian’s societal status – an issue still very topical today.  

Tibor Horváth was a prolific writer of scholarly research: the number of publications of seminal importance amounts to more than fifty, he authored some twelve books as well. Still, the single most important scholarly undertaking in his career was the Handbook of Librarians, a five-volume work edited with another iconic figure on the stage of Hungarian library science, István Papp, published in the span of 1999-2003.

 This monumental work, which supplanted the legendary and remarkable ’Sallai-Sebestyén’, so nicknamed after the two authors’ surnames under the title The Librarian’s Manual published several decades before – actually in 1961, will surely be the authoritative work, ’The Source’ of library matters in Hungary for many years to come.

 He was awarded several times: apart from the Széchényi Ferenc Award conferred upon him in 2004, he  particularly appreciated that he had been picked to be the first recipient of the Füzéki István Memorial Medal.

István Füzéki was Tibor Horváth’s fellow fighter in the 1956 Revolution whose martyrdom inspired his brother to found the award.  

Once again, Tibor Horváth was a towering figure in the profession of library and information science. From among the human qualities, he particularly valued faithfulness. Faithfulness to principles, the family, the friends, and the Association – he remained a member of the Association of Hungarian Librarians unto his death. His thoughts and ideas continue to live in us and with us. Tibor’s death left a gaping hole in our midst, never to be healed. In our mourning we’ll keep his memory forever. Let him rest in peace.

 *To see a photo of Tibor Horváth and the Hungarian version of the obituary, visit the webpage of the Association of Hungarian Librarians:

 * A conference is being organized by the National Educational Library and Museum, to pay homage to Dr Tibor Horváth, erstwhile director general. Tentative date: June 6 2011.  

* On behalf of the Association: *Mrs Baráth Ágnes Hajdu* 

English version: *Zsolt Bánhegyi* 

March 24 2011


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