Jack S. Ellenberger

We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Jack S. Ellenberger, former AALL President and one of the leading law librarians of his generation on November 21, 2020, at the age of 90.

Jack S. Ellenberger

During a career spanning more than forty years in law librarianship, Jack Ellenberger led, taught, and mentored a generation of law librarians.  Many of us who had the privilege of working with this luminary remember him for his colorful bow ties, which were matched only by his cosmopolitan charm, sharp wit and oratory style.   Jack loved law librarianship and his other love was AALL – he served the Association in numerous leadership roles, attended countless AALL meetings, wrote extensively, counseled AALL leadership on all aspects of governance, and provided valuable advice on professional growth and service to the global community.

Jack often regaled us with stories of his global adventures, including bike rides through France, trans-Atlantic crossings, (not only on the luxurious QE2, but also aboard a massive container ship), as part of an official delegation to China, and to many other countries around the world.  He encouraged us to travel, explore and to experience other cultures/histories.  At Shearman & Sterling, Jack assembled and nurtured a global library team, provided excellent client service, and left a legacy with many of the original team members continuing in residence there today. 

Jack was a graduate of Columbia University School of Library Science in 1959.  He started his career as Law Librarian at the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare 1957; Librarian at Carter Ledyard & Milburn 1957-60; Librarian at Jones, Day, Cockley & Reavis 1960-61; Librarian at the Bar Association of District of Columbia 1961-63; Librarian at Covington & Burling in Washington D.C. 1963-78; and Director of Libraries at Shearman & Sterling in New York, 1978-94.  

In 1970, the LLSDC published the Handbook & Manual of Procedures, under Jack’s direction as Chapter President, the first of its kind, published by an AALL Chapter.  Also, at the 1970 AALL Annual Meeting in Washington D.C.,  Jack helped host a tea reception at The White House for meeting attendees, serenaded by the U.S. Marine Corps Band.   In 1973, Jack co-compiled, along with Ellen P. Mahar, an 11-volume Legislative History of the Securities Act of 1933 and Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the widely recognized, definitive compilation with royalties going to an AALL scholarship fund.  

Jack served on the AALL Executive Board from 1972-75 and became AALL President during 1976-77.  He was the second private law firm librarian elected as AALL President, following his mentor, Elizabeth Finley.  Both were affiliated with Covington & Burling at the time of their distinguished services.   Jack was Local Arrangements Chair for the 1985 AALL Meeting in New York and also was the recipient of the Marian Gould Gallagher Distinguished Service Award in 1994. In 2010, Jack was inducted into the AALL Hall of Fame.

In 1989, while describing the LLSDC’s accomplishments, Jack expressed his own philosophy and summarized his contribution to law librarianship “It seems to me that any organization like this is finally what its membership brings to it and from which that membership accomplishes things; interlibrary cooperation, publishing, education—— all things at which the LLSDC has traditionally excelled.  So you join and you work and take the lead where it’s needed.”  

Jack would also often tell us “we live in a rarified world,” and our informal motto was “we have all the answers, we’re only waiting for the questions!”

We will miss Jack greatly and will honor his legacy by treasuring his memory and his many significant contributions to law librarianship.

Eileen Dolan
Joseph A. Florio
Deborah Giahos
Eleanor Gonzalez
John W. Lai
Lynn Orfe
Nancy A. Rine
Fred Shanks
Jill Sidford