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Remembering Moritz Librarian Paul Gatz

January 22, 2020 | College

Reference librarian and respected member of the Moritz College of Law community, Paul Gatz, passed away on January 18, 2020. He was 39. Paul taught both Advanced Legal Research and Legal Analysis and Writing I courses and provided research assistance to Moritz students, faculty, and staff. He presented regularly at state and national law library meetings and was a contributor to the RIPS Law Librarian Blog.

Paul earned his JD from the University of Illinois College of Law and served as the reference and student services librarian at the Texas Tech University Law Library before coming to Moritz in September of 2015. He also worked at the Albert E. Jenner, Jr. Memorial Law Library at the University of Illinois while pursuing his library science degree. Paul was also a trivia master who enjoyed traveling and reading. A devoted father and husband, he loved his family more than anything else.

There will be a celebration of life for Paul on Saturday, February 22 at the Grove Lodge in Scioto Grove Park. It will be open house style from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. In lieu of flowers, Paul’s family has asked for donations to help offset various expenses in addition to sharing messages and memories about Paul.


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Memories from our faculty, students, staff, and alumni

From: Sara Sampson
Paul’s passing, especially at such an early stage of his law library career, is a real loss to not only the Moritz community, but also the law librarian profession. Paul was a librarian’s librarian. He was incredibly smart, curious, and helpful. Paul had this ability to think deeply, including grappling with the existential issues facing the profession of law librarianship. In his piece, What Time Does the Library Close? Avoiding an Answer he confronted the question of what a library really does and why they should exist. He concluded, “It is the presence of the human in the library – in the systems we create, the collections we curate, and the relationships we build – that facilitate the transformation of the torrent of information into the clear skies of understanding… It is the caring that is the work of librarianship – that is what it means ‘to library.’ And that is what makes the library necessary.”

From: Genevieve Tung
I worked with Paul as part of RIPS. He was a wonderful colleague and such an outstanding writer! I am heartbroken that he is gone too soon, but I know that his memory and legacy within the law library community will continue far into the future.

From: Stacey Hauff
During my 1L summer, I served as a research assistant to two of my professors. Daunted by the task ahead of me, I followed Professor Kelly’s advice to start with the librarians. I remember knocking on his office and admitting defeat. He stopped what he was doing and spent several hours walking me through my assignment, never faltering in his kindness, patience, or knowledge. We never stopped being friends and I was always excited to share things I had learned with him.

From: Ingrid Mattson
Paul loved learning, and that love extended to his interactions with colleagues and students. He was always willing to lend an ear to bounce ideas around about how to best teach a topic. But he also sought input to determine the best way to help his students learn. Those who had a chance to work with him and learn from him are very lucky.

From: Matt Cooper
I will miss Paul greatly. He made many substantial contributions to our work in the library and to the law librarian profession. He thought deeply about the issues important to him, including how to effectively teach legal research to students, and the broader purpose of libraries and librarians. I respected his intellect and judgment. I found myself wanting to share ideas with him so I could see what he thought. Knowing that he was part of our reference team gave me confidence. I’ll miss our conversations, which ranged from libraries to politics, sports, philosophy, family, and more. Following his interview with us, I remember really wanting him to accept our offer. I’m so happy that he did. I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to work with him and know him.

From: Susan Azyndar
Paul was my office neighbor for several years.  I am lucky to have benefited from his thoughtfulness, curiosity, and reading recommendations.  I am also glad so many librarians and researchers can continue to learn from his blog post series.  And I will think of him whenever I look at my bookshelf and see Borges’ Labyrinths.

From: Megan Avellana
Paul was always so kind and helpful whenever I needed him. Thank you, Paul, for your wonderful attitude and being so welcoming to our students. You will be very missed at Moritz.

From: Katherine Anton Van Hest
I met Paul in Austin at AALL. It was my first time attending the conference, and because I work for a vendor, I was a bit intimidated. I somehow struck up a conversation with Paul at an event and we became friends. He has always been one of the first people I have reached out to for advice when trying to better understand the needs of the librarian community. I am extremely saddened to hear of his passing and I send my thoughts and prayers to his family and colleagues. He will be missed.

From: Katie Doniva
I met Paul in 1994 in high school.  He was in a geometry group with me freshman year.  Paul was witty and kind.  Senior year we both went on a trip to Europe.  I opted out of walking up the stairs to see Michelangelo’s David, but Paul trekked up to see it.  Rest In Peace old friend.

From: Donna Shelley
I was Paul’s private music teacher.  He was a very good Trombone student and a more amazing piano student. He took to the piano very quickly and was able to play Clementi Sonatinas by the time he went to college. I was very pleased with him and enjoyed his cheerful and humorous personality through his high school years.  He performed in our little band made up of students called “The Wandering Wind Machine” which my husband, Guy Shelley, directed. I’ve never known a better group of kids. We had fun together and played concerts all over the area. He will be sorely missed.

From: Stephanie Hoffer
Paul always greeted me with a smile– he was kind and helpful and thoughtful, and he made the College a better place to be.  We were lucky to share a part of his life.

From: Deborah Merritt
Paul was kind, smart, thoughtful, and always fun to talk to. He kept those qualities even while battling for his life, coping with difficult symptoms, and enduring burdensome treatments. He was even able to discuss death eloquently and reassuringly with the rest of us. Paul, you remain an inspiration to us as a teacher, scholar, friend, family member, and human.

From: Kate Federle
Paul and I worked together on a project that required some not inconsiderable sleuthing to locate sources. He was so helpful and quite thoughtful in his approach. He was a gentle soul and he will be missed.

From: Peter Shane
Over the years, I’ve been woefully unimaginative in thinking about how to avail myself of the skills of research librarians. Having discovered Paul’s particular interest in legal history, however, I enlisted his help a few years ago in tracking down evidence regarding an obscure topic I was exploring, namely, how the early states dealt with the appointment and removal of administrative officials. Paul’s assistance directly to me and to a student research assistant was invaluable. It is the first time I had the occasion to thank a research librarian in the acknowledgments footnote of a law review article.

From: Katrina Lee
I had the privilege of collaborating with Paul on research brown bag sessions for  Moritz LL.M. students. Paul was so smart, patient, curious, and thoughtful. Although I was in on the planning, I always still came away amazed at what he could fit into a 50-minute session. I’m grateful I had the opportunity to work with Paul and learn from him. I miss him. He was a great colleague. What a heartbreaking loss for the Moritz community.

From: Matt Somogye
Paul was always the first person I went to with a research question. Kind, intelligent, patient, and willing to drop whatever he was doing to help. He was an educator in the truest sense. I always left with either an answer or a smile.

From: Marin Dell
During our time together at TTU Law, Paul was a wonderful colleague, scholar, and person. I was fortunate to know him and experience his professionalism, generosity and intellectual curiosity. He will be missed. All my thoughts and prayers to his family.

From: Dan Tokaji
Years ago, I asked Paul for his help with a paper I was just starting, on a subject I didn’t know that much about.  Paul was incredibly helpful and patient, doing research that got me started on a path I’ve continued following to this day. What I remember most about Paul is his intelligence, kindness, and generosity.  He always seemed to find joy in helping others. During his illness, Paul embodied the courage that we should all hope to find when facing difficult circumstances.  He remains a model of how to live, how to fight, and how to come to terms with our mortality. To Paul’s family, please know how much all of us at Moritz love and miss him. He will always be part of you, and of all of us who were lucky to know him.

From: Ellen Deason
Paul and I collaborated on a project for my civil procedure class on researching, interpreting, and applying state long-arm jurisdictional statutes. He was a delight to work with. I shall remember his wry smile and gentle good humor. He excelled in teaching the students the techniques they needed for the research. He cared deeply about his role in helping others and this value was apparent in his interactions. He was willing to share even until the end, with an eloquent essay about our potential for making a contribution on earth. His contribution was certainly meaningful, even though so sadly cut so short.