The moderator regularly receives requests from library school students who are writing a paper about PUBYAC.  This page is provided as some historical background to the listserver.

PUBYAC was initiated at the School of Library and Information Science, Pittsburgh, PA on June 1, 1993 by Shannon VanHemert, with the assistance and support of Dr. L. Christinger Tomer, Dr. Margaret Mary Kimmel, and the school’s Tech Department.

The listserver has always relied on the generosity of the Internet community for its sustenance.  It has also gone through some software changes:  In late 1993, a hacker attack caused the shutdown of the listserver, and consequently the moderator moved PUBYAC to Nysernet, a non-profit Internet organization in New York.  Fortunately they were running the same Listproc software.

Several years later, Nysernet was subsumed by Applied Theory, which resulted in changing the software from Listproc to Majordomo.  This was quite a switch, as Majordomo was a more kludgy package, and fewer options were available.  After almost two years running Majordomo, Applied Theory asked that PUBYAC vacate the premises, as their business could no longer support the listserver.

PUBYAC then moved to Prairienet, a non-profit organization supported by the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  Originally it ran again on Listproc software, then migrated to MailMan software in March 2004. In September 2018, the school migrated PUBYAC to the Ischool server running the SYMPA software.

As of  2008, PUBYAC is supported by the Center for Children’s Books, a unit of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. PUBYAC has approximately 5000 subscribers.


Several articles have been written about PUBYAC; references are on the News page.


In August of 2003, a PUBYAC subscriber conducted an online survey of PUBYAC.  The results of her efforts are duplicated here:

From: Jennifer Baker
Subject: PUBYAC quiz/survey results (long)

Hello All!
Well, as promised here are the results of our survey.
I still don’t think 100% of you responded but I think
it’s at least a very good sample. I really enjoyed
getting to know some of you better and touching base
with a few people I haven’t talked to in a while.
Thanks to everybody and ENJOY!

I received 429 responses from over 350 different
library systems! Not everyone answered all the
questions for one reason or another but this is what I

1. Do you work in a public library, school library or
something else (please designate)? 426 responded:

4–state library
2–public/school combination
2–MLS students
1–book publisher
1–children’s hospital
1–law library
1–literacy center

Although the PUB part does stand for Public, I was a
little surprised to find that over 95% of us work in
public libraries. It always seems like we get a lot of
posts from school people. It may be that these are
former school people or it’s possible that my timing
was bad and they were all on summer vacation. I may
repost the survey in a couple months to see if that’s

2. Which of the following age groups do you fall into?
429 responded:

110–over 50
88–under 30

3. If you work in a public library, how many branches
does your system have? 396 responded:

170–only one central location
81—one to five locations/branches
37—six to ten locations/branches
50—11 to 20 locations/branches
58—over 20 locations/branches

4. What’s the size of your service population? 398

78—less than 20k
97—20 to50k
73—50 to 100k
86—100 to 500k
64—over  500k

These numbers may not be particularly accurate since
from the way I phrased the question some people took
it to mean their overall system and others just the
population their branch/location served.

5. Are you (or do you consider yourself) a children’s
librarian, young adult librarian, youth librarian,
support staff or some other specialty? 420 responded:

179—children’s librarians
115—youth librarians
24—library assistants/clerical/support staff
23—managers or some sort of administrative level
21—Young Adult librarians
12—generalists / “everything” librarians
6—YA/Adult Reference Librarians
4—program specialists
4—“Teen” librarians
5—outreach librarians
3—literacy specialists
2—tech services
2—librarian trainees
2—school media specialists
1—web administrator

6. Are you a man or woman?


Actually not everyone responded on this one (what?
like it’s a secret?). But I was able to figure out the
shy ones by your names. Fortunately there weren’t any
Chris’ or Pats that held out on this one.

7. How long have you been in your current field of
work? 411 responded:

150—less than 5 years
98—six to ten years
104—11 to 20 years
59—more than 20 years

8. How do you use pubyac? 411 responded:

49—I’m a lurker–just looking for ideas
275—I occasionally respond directly to stumpers or
other requests
79—I will jump in on something that I think is really
8—You can’t shut me up–I live for a good debate

I was a little surprised that there weren’t more
people that would own up to the last choice but I
guess that’s a good thing or we’d never make it
through all the posts!

9. What part of the country is your library in? 424

106—New England/Mid-Atlantic/Northeast
34—Southeast &/or Deep South
5—Mountain/West **
Outside of the US (please designate):
4—New Zealand
1—South Africa

** [I only added this one in the last couple surveys
after someone pointed out the omission so there may be
a few more people that would have fit here better than
one of the other choices.]

10. Are you the only person in your library (system)
that uses PUBYAC? 423 responded:


11. How long have you been using PUBYAC? 420
This is the question on which I received the widest
number of responses from “3 days” to “forever”. I
compressed the numeric responses to make them a little
easier to evaluate. Also since it’s been a couple
months since a started this, some of the smaller
numbers are a bit off.

20—3 months or less
72—4 months to 1 year
125—one to three years
114—three to five years
44—five to seven years
19—seven to nine years
16—ten years (includes the “forever” response)
1—“don’t know”
2—“few years”
5—“several years”
2—“long time”

Thanks again to everyone who responded…this was a lot
of fun. While working on the survey PUBYAC passed its
10th anniversary. This is a fantastic resource, a
great place to share ideas and opinions, occasionally
vent and make friends. You’ve all helped me out
numerous times and I always look forward to the times
when I can return the favor. Keep up the great work!


fresno co. public library