Compiled by Claudine Burnett, following a conversation with Jim Jackson 12/22/2017
Jim Jackson was head of the Science/Social Science Department at the Main Library for many years. Jim, the youngest of 7 children, received his degree in Education from Auburn University. In 1956 he left Alabama and began teaching English and History in Tehachapi, California. In 1960 he left and moved to Long Beach to pursue a degree in Library Science at USC. He started at USC in 1961 and graduated in 1965. For a while he did substitute teaching to support himself, but was later hired by Blanche Collins to be a substitute librarian, without a degree, substituting at Bach, Burnett and Main as a substitute librarian. Upon receiving his degree he became head of the Bret Harte Library where he worked for several years with clerk Olivia Hicks. He later moved to the Main Library and became Government Publications Librarian, which was part of the Science and Industry Department. When Alice Titus retired as head of the department Jim took over and remained head of that department at Carnegie Main, Atherton Main and New Main.
He well remembers the battle fought by Blanche Collins over the attempt by John Birch Society members to remove the book The Last Temptation of Christ from library shelves. He also remembers Blanche Collins refusing to let the FBI have access to books checked out by library patrons during the Nixon Administration (1969-1974). He retired from LBPL on December 13, 1985.
Many librarians got their start working under Jim’s supervision—Chiz Boyea (now 98), Mary Hegdale, Doris Soriano, Dennis Okuji, Barbara Quinn, Charles Vestal, Barbara Davis, myself and many more. It was a difficult department to work in because it covered so much. At Carnegie Main Jim’s department was just responsible for the 300, 500, 600 Dewey classifications and Government Publications. At New Main, Government Publications became its own department, as did the Social Science Department which was responsible for 100, 200, 300 Dewey classifications. Following cuts forced by Proposition 13, Jim inherited the Social Science Department headed by Doris Soriano. The Social Science Department was incorporated into the Science Department, Doris went back to being a branch librarian. Jim was now responsible for 6 librarians, 3 clerks, and ordering books and answering questions related to Dewey classifications 100, 200, 300, 500 and 600. In addition he supervised the Directory Desk, staffed by clerk Loretta Sundstrom, who answered questions related to addresses and telephone numbers.
Jim has liked trailer life since moving to Long Beach in 1961. For many years he lived in a small travel trailer while attending USC; he later bought a mobile home and lived in North Long Beach across from Shady Acres golf course. In 1975-1985 he purchased another mobile home in Desert Hot Springs, California, where he still lives. For 10 years he would go there on weekends and return to work at LBPL during the week. He kept his trailer in North Long Beach for about 3 years after retirement, but then sold it and moved to the desert permanently.
As of this writing (2017) he is still in Desert Hot Springs, but suffering from macular degeneration (he can’t see), sciatica and high blood pressure. For several years he couldn’t get his blood pressure in control (it was over 200) and he was in and out of the hospital, then nursing homes. His blood pressure is now OK.