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In Memoriam: N. Bernard “Buzzy” Basch

by | Jan 6, 2023 | 12 comments

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All of us at the Charleston Hub were saddened to hear the news that our dear friend Buzzy Basch passed away this week. Buzzy was a fixture for many years at the Charleston Conference – a true giant in the industry. We’ve included his obituary as well as memories from friends and colleagues here. Please comment below with your favorite memory or memories of Buzzy!


Buzzy Basch died on January 3, 2023 from injuries suffered in a fall at his home in Concord, NH. A native of Winthrop, MA, Buzzy earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Washington University in St Louis and served in the United States Navy. He worked in computer operations in several companies before joining F. W. Faxon a library subscription management service company in Westwood, MA. As VP of Operations, Buzzy worked closely with colleges and universities, public libraries, and corporations and held elected positions in the major US library professional organizations. He also served as President of Turner Subscriptions in Manhattan and as Vice President & General Manager for EBSCO Subscription Service’s mid-west operations in Barrington IL.

In 1994, at age 60, Buzzy founded Basch Subscriptions in the living room of his home. The company grew to more than thirty employees and provided service to clients throughout the United States and internationally. Basch Subscriptions was acquired by a Swedish firm in 2007 and Buzzy continued as President and CEO until he retired in 2014. In retirement Buzzy continued his involvement with libraries and publishers, providing workshops at professional conferences and consulting services. He also traveled internationally and indulged in his stamp collecting hobby.

Buzzy is survived by his wife Judy McQueen; his children Sharon Basch and Marc Basch both of Somerville, MA and their mother, Sandra Basch; his grandson Cameron Linehan; his sister Anne Christianson and brother Henry Basch; and a loving family of Basch, Lappin and Andler relatives and Skeels in-laws. He is pre-deceased by his parents Florence (Lappin) Basch and Bernard J. Basch and his brother Peter Basch. Read Full Obituary


A memory from Eileen Lawrence: After I left teaching, my first job in library sales was reporting to Buzzy when he was president of Turner Subscriptions. He was extremely frugal—his watchful money management turned Turner from a failing little business to a solid success. He was also quite conservative in his habits. So it was utterly astonishing that a colleague and I talked Buzzy into funding a champagne opera event, complete with costumes, in the ALA exhibit booth in 1988:

He had trepidations about the promotion, but once ALA began, Buzzy got into it! We never succeeded in getting him to wear a costume, but he loved posing for photos with all the people who came to the booth—including a young Librarian of Congress, James Billington, and even the Mayor of New Orleans. Buzzy especially got into pouring champagne!

I remained close with Buzzy throughout the years. He was one of my most important mentors and supporters, warm and genuine, the kind of person who expressed pride in my accomplishments, and I wanted to make him proud. I feel extremely lucky to have had him in my life, and I’ll miss him.

12 Comments

  1. Adam Chesler

    It’s been so long since I first met Buzzy that I don’t remember not knowing him: he was such a vivid part of the landscape. It seemed like he’d always been there, and always would be.

    (And I do mean vivid: you could spot Buzzy from across any room, in one of his multicolored sweaters.)

    When I think of Buzzy I find myself smiling. And I guess that’s the best thing you can ask of a memory, isn’t it? I’ll miss seeing him in Charleston.

    Reply
    • Leah Hinds

      Adam, I was just thinking about his amazing sweater collection! Smiling along with you.

      Reply
    • Margie Hlava

      Kasey Hale, the librarian at the fashion Institute was giving advice to librarians on how to dress more effectively. She had lots of great ideas. Buzzy pipped up – what about me and Kasey said, hum, “Buzzy I think you should concentrate on really bright ties. ” So they became his hallmark.

      Reply
  2. Eleanor Cook

    So many memories of times with Buzzy! Fiesole retreats with he and Judy, many conferences, more than I can count. He was a major force in our profession.

    Reply
  3. Eleanor Cook

    Buzzy was a force in the field my entire career. Always there, and always willing to offer advice. His preconference sessions at the Charleston Conference were a standard for years. And his sweaters were legendary! He was such a part of the scene.

    Reply
  4. Jane Burke

    Buzzy was always so willing to share his wisdom. I remember consulting with him several times, including from Serials Solutions. The library automation companies always wanted to know how to get a handle on the subscription business. He was so patient — never said that his business was unique and different, even though it was. A true gentleman who will be missed.

    Reply
  5. Julia Gelfand

    There was a huge void at Charleston 2022 with Buzzy’s absence. He was a fixture there & at ALA meetings and I looked forward to connecting with him for decades. He welcomed people to the publishing side of the house as well as had close connections to librarians, whether you were a customer or not, and would roam the exhibit floors with anyone in tow. His collection of lovely colorful sweaters and suggestions of local restaurants in any city we were in were always spot on. His contributions inspired a generation of us and for that we will always be grateful. Condolences to his family and large legion of friends.

    Reply
  6. Northwestern University

    Moving forward, Charleston Conference preconferences won’t be the same without words of wisdom by Buzzy and the colleagues he pulled in?

    Reply
  7. Margie Hlava

    Mr. Serials. Buzzy was always charming and smiling, but he did not talk a lot. When he did it was worth listening to every word in his cogent pithy delivery. Filled with experience and a keen eye for the bottom line and efficiency he was able to do a great deal of good. Always a strong supporter of libraries willing to help with advice, sponsorships and knowledge of what worked well and what was ill advised. He had a great sense of humor and the absurd which he shared sparingly. I met him sometime before 1979 and we began great friends in meetings such as ASIST, SLA and Charleston as well as in-between. I already keenly miss that strong force!

    Reply
  8. Michael L Gruenberg

    When I began my career selling microfiche copies of public company documents to the library community, I was totally unprepared for that job having previously been a musician and schoolteacher. At one of the first library conferences I attended, I met Buzzy. He befriended me and quickly realized that I needed some form of mentorship. And so, we began a friendship that lasted over 40 years. He was always available to help me and give advice and introduced me to some of the many people that he knew in our industry. He always was available to be helpful. Most recently, Buzzy and I conducted pre-conference workshops at the Charleston Conference. It was a joy to work with him. I already miss him.

    Reply
  9. Jenni Wilson

    Buzzy was among the first people I met as a baby librarian/vendor rep. Throughout the years he was always encouraging and warm and delightful. I will miss seeing Buzzy.

    Reply
  10. Katina Strauch

    Buzzy was a fixture in Charleston and Fiesole. He always attended. I remember Buzzy walking my husband Bruce and me into the ground at Fiesole. I figured that he would outlive me! He was in such great shape! I am sure that he is starting a serials business in heaven. May his memory live on. My love to Judy and his family.

    Reply

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