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Always A Librarian First

Long before I became romantically involved with Lynn, before I even met her, I knew her by reputation.  I was impressed then and have continued to be during these nearly two decades that she's been wife and friend as well as colleague.  Now she's bringing the colleague chapter to a close.  This just out:


IPSWICH, Mass. — May 16, 2014 — Lynn Fortney, Vice President of Medical E-journals and E-Packages at EBSCO Information Services (EBSCO) will retire on July 5, 2014. That date is her 25th anniversary at EBSCO.

Fortney says, “I have had an amazing career, but my successes have been because of the impressive colleagues I have been privileged to work with, librarians and other information industry leaders alike. EBSCO provided me an incredible opportunity to apply my understanding of the unique issues faced by health sciences librarians to what has become the largest suite of products and services in the information industry. Medical libraries today bear little resemblance to those from the early days of my career and neither does EBSCO. 1973 - 2014; my career has been an awesome, Walt Disney World's Expedition Everest roller-coaster ride.”  

Career Highlights

Fortney started her library “career” in the eighth grade, working as an aide in her school’s library, but it was not until she attended Grinnell College that she learned what a librarian could accomplish in terms of finding information. After graduating in 1972 from Grinnell with a B.A. in American Studies (with a minor in studio art), Fortney attended Emory University’s Division of Librarianship where she earned a Master’s degree in 1973 while working at the Central Library of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System.

Her first professional library position was Medical Reference Librarian at the University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences (CCHS) Library in Tuscaloosa. In 1975, she was appointed Chief Medical Librarian of the CCHS, and was instrumental in developing the plans for and eventually moving the library to Druid City Hospital (now DCH Regional Medical Center). In 1982, Fortney accepted the position of Associate Director of Public Services at the Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences/University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she was deeply involved in the selection, implementation and training for the library’s first integrated library system (ILS), the Georgetown LIS.

25 Years at EBSCO

In 1989, Fortney was recruited by EBSCO to become the company’s first Medical Library Marketing Manager, and subsequently became Vice President/Director, Biomedical Division. In this role, she provided a biomedical library focus for the company by monitoring trends affecting academic medical center and hospital libraries, recommending new services specifically designed for health sciences librarians, and participating in product development and business planning.

She started her tenure at EBSCO at the dawn of MEDLINE on CD-ROM and the early days of email as we know it. In her 25 years at EBSCO, Fortney experienced the impact of the rise of the Internet, the World Wide Web, and electronic journals. A major focus of her career was working on  tools for collection development/assessment and journal price studies, specifically the Index Medicus Price Study (IMPS). In 1999, the Medical Library Association Collection Development Section awarded Fortney the first Daniel T Richards Prize For Writing Related to Collecting in the Health Sciences, for the “Index Medicus Price Study, 1998-1999”, which she co-authored with Victor Basile.

EBSCO Information Services President Tim Collins says Fortney has helped EBSCO shape its ever-expanding medical resources and provided EBSCO with a very valuable medical librarian perspective. “We have been fortunate to work with such a strong advocate for medical libraries for so many years.  Lynn has been a key member of our team for a long time and we believe medical libraries have benefited significantly from the guidance she provided."

Conferences, T. Scott Plutchak and The Bearded Pigs

Fortney has presented at events and conferences across America and around the world, including delivering the keynote address at the Australian Library and Information Association “Specials” Conference, Melbourne, Australia, 2001. She met her future husband, T. Scott Plutchak (at the time, Director of the St Louis University Health Sciences Library), in 1992, when she invited him to speak at a seminar for academic medical library directors she was organizing in Birmingham. Their wedding was the “featured entertainment” of the Midcontinental Chapter’s Welcome Reception in Kansas City in 1995. Plutchak (currently Director, Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences/University of Alabama at Birmingham), Fortney and several of their musically talented friends in the medical library field formed a band, “The Bearded Pigs,” that played for many years at the MLA Annual Meeting (with incidental proceeds to the MLA’s Grants and Scholarship Fund).

Professional Associations

Fortney has been active in professional associations throughout her career, most especially the Medical Library Association (MLA); teaching MLA continuing education courses and speaking at symposia, serving on various MLA committees and task forces, and in leadership roles of several sections. She was a founding member and first president (1980-81) of the Alabama Health Libraries Association, Chair of the Southern Chapter/Medical Library Association in 2001 – 2002, served on the national MLA Nominating Committee three times (1997, 2004 and 2010), and was elected to the MLA Board of Directors for a three year term, 2000-2003. She says her greatest honor came in 2011 when she was named a Fellow of the Medical Library Association, which she describes as, “a rare tribute for someone who did not work in a library.”  Fortney has always refused to be referred to as “a vendor who used to be a librarian”. For 25 years, she happened to work for a vendor. But she has always been a librarian first.




Congratulations Lynn!

Ginger Carden

Lynn, Congratulations! You have always been a wonderful light in the MLA world!


My dear friend, Lynn, we have traveled many roads together. I met you in Birmingham in 1987 when I went to work for EBSCO and you were a guest panelists at my first sales meeting. I was extremely impressed with you and was delighted when you went to work for EBSCO. We celebrated your 50th birthday in New Orleans with Scott and friends. I hope you enjoy your retirement as much as I do; it is the promised land. Congratulations dear friend on 25 years with some wonderful people and a wonderful company. All the best always--stay in touch. Love, Wilba

Terry Burton

Congratulations, Lynn. It has always been a pleasure working with you in all the many ways we have connected.

Rajia Tobia

Congratulations, Lynn! You will be missed in our field but I somehow think you will stay connected. Best wishes on a happy and healthy retirement.

Rajia Tobia

Regina Lee

WOW! It has been quite a ride Miss Lynne. You have always been a delightful addition to any program, class, or social event. Speaking of class you have always had plenty of that. Fabulous and fun...keep it going. Congratulations! Have a roaring good time in retirement. Regina "Reggie Mae" Lee


A while back someone asked me when I first met Lynn. I couldn't honestly remember. I know that I didn't know her when I moved to Texas in late 1981 and then all of a sudden, I did know her! Lynn, it's hard to think of MLA, SCC, (or any chapter) or EBSCO without you. May your retirement be only as busy as you want it to be but somehow I don't think you will be sitting at home! Congratulations, Lynn! Susan Bader

Lynne Fox

Wow! Congratulations! What a terrific career. We are all so lucky to have this calling, but you really have made things better for all of us. Have a wonderful 'retirement' - I can't picture you in a rocking chair on the front porch, hence the ''!

Faith Meakin

Congratulations Lynn! I never knew you went to Grinnell- I went to Coe. So many places where our paths crossed during our exciting careers. Now you will have an equally interesting second chapter. Enjoy!

Barbara Shearer

Congratulations, Lynn! I remember with fondness our time together during the 1980's in AlHeLA! I recall well your presentation at the AlHeLA meeting in Gulf Shores. I was impressed with your enthusiasm and poise, both just two of your enduring qualities. Thank you for your many years of service which benefitted all of us.


James Pat Craig

Dear Lynn,
How can one describe the "eclat" that you brought to the medical library world! I can only say that I have treasured your friendship and that you certainly be missed--another wonderful friend retires. Have fun in your retirement--I certainly have. Don't overload yourself; relax and enjoy life. Best to Scott.
Pat Craig

Jeff Williams

Congratulations Lynn! You should be proud of your career and all you've accomplished. I'll miss seeing you at conferences.

Linda Walton

Congratulations Lynn! I have always admired your perspective on libraries, your great sense of humor and your interpersonal skills when some of us could get grumpy about EBSCO:)

Best wishes! Linda

Liz Lorbeer

Lynn- I bought you the best retirement card. I will give it to you at MLA. - Liz
p.s. I have always wanted your job. It's probably good I have this new gig now.

Tom Singarella

Thanks, Scott.

Lynn, your retirement from the medical library field is like trying to check out from the Hotel California. Nice try.

Seriously tho, EBSCO lost the greatest ambassador they'll ever have.

And you are one classy lady.

Looking forward to seeing you and Scott in Chicago.


Ruth Riley

Dearest Lynn - Many congratulations! What in the world will we do without your wonderful, witty, highly intelligent, gracious, and elegant presence in our profession? Thank you for your mentorship and support throughout the years. I'm hoping and assuming that you will continue to be part of our lives at Southern Chapter and MLA meetings. We need you! Warmly, Ruth

Tom Roper

May I add a small note of appreciation? If anyone ever doubted the versatility of people with a librarian's education, I would point them in the direction of Lynn


Wonderful post on an incredible career! Congrats Lynn!

Ginger Saha

Lynn and Scott,
Congratulations to you both as you transition to new chapters. I can report that life beyond Libraryland continues to be exciting and challenging, and that those skills honed over 40+ years are applied in ways one never imagined. It made me smile to read through the comments posted by [y]our colleagues -- that Happy Band!
Ginger Saha

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