Librarian Gurnek Singh, who retired on July 31, 2008, was recently awarded emeritus status by the University Senate in recognition of many years of outstanding service to the Syracuse University Library and to the Syracuse University academic community.
Before coming to the Syracuse University Library, Mr. Singh earned a B.S. degree (1955), a degree in Library Science (1958), and a B.A. in English and Bengali literature (1965) from Calcutta University. He received an M.L.S. from Syracuse University in 1975. Mr. Singh joined the Library in 1971 as Asian Studies Bibliographer and subsequently served as head of the Area Studies Department (1973-1989) and Asian Studies Librarian (1989-2008).
Mr. Singh began his career at SU as Asian Studies bibliographer, working closely with Maxwell’s South Asia Program. His initial tasks related to managing SU’s participation in the PL-480 Program , a federal government program that supplied books in 18 languages published in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. His next few years were spent in establishing a productive relationship with the South Asia Program’s faculty and students, discerning their teaching and research needs and providing a range of library services, including library instruction, research consultation, and guest lectures. He worked especially closely with faculty teaching history of India and Hindu courses and also taught a Punjabi language class for the South Asia Center. As a result of Mr. Singh’s efforts, Syracuse University’s South Asia Center, jointly with Cornell, has been recognized as one of the National Centers by the US Department of Education, on the basis of its academic program and library collections.
As Asian Studies librarian, Mr. Singh has had an active professional life, contributing articles to professional journals and giving presentations at a number of Asia-related conferences. Of particular note, he contributed the chapter on the National Library of India to the International Dictionary of Library Histories, edited by former University Librarian David Stam and published in 2001 by Fitzroy Dearborn. Mr. Singh is a life member of the Indian Library Association and a member of the Indian Association of Special Libraries and Information Centers (IASLIC), the Association of Asian Studies, the Committee on South Asia Libraries and Documentation (CONSALD), and the South Asia Microform Project (SAMP).
Mr. Singh’s has an extensive record of service to the library. He served on numerous committees, including promotion committees, search committees, and various other committees and task forces related to the improvement of the library. In related community service, Mr. Singh was President/Founder of the Sikh Foundation of Syracuse and a founding member of the India Community, Religious and Cultural Association (ICRCC). He has also served as an official translator of Bengali, Hindi, and Punjabi languages for the Syracuse Federal Court System since 1998.