Obituary: Steve Cisler, Librarian Extraordinaire and Community Network Advocate

Steve Cisler, who was well-known for his pioneering work as a Senior Scientist for Apple Computer (where he ran its Apple Library of Tomorrow program from 1988-1997) and as a community networking advocate, died on May 15, 2008. Cisler was born on Oct. 14, 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky. At the time of his death, Cisler was a Research Associate and Project Manager for the KnowledeX project at Santa Clara University's Center for Science, Technology, and Society. His obituary ("Steve Cisler: Librarian Knew a Lot about a Lot") was published in the The Mercury News.

Here is a speaker profile from a 2007 conference:

Steve Cisler, upon graduation from Northwestern University in 1965, started a school library in rural Togo, West Africa when he was a Peace Corps teacher. After three years doing search and rescue with the U.S. Coast Guard, he attended University of California Berkeley where he received his Master of Library Science. He only began using computers in middle age, at a public computer lab in his branch library in Contra Costa County Library where he worked for 14 years. In 1985 he joined The Well and ran an online forum on information and libraries for many years. In 1988 at Apple Computer Inc Advanced Technology Group, he started a grant program called Apple Library of Tomorrow for innovative projects in libraries, museums, and local community networks where citizens were setting up local free Internet services. He supported the first copyright-free online book about the Internet (the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Big Dummies Guide to the Internet). He worked on deregulation of the radio frequencies and standards that became known as 802.11 or Wi-Fi. Over the past 7 years he has consulted in Latin America, Thailand, Jordan, and Uganda on short-term projects involving telecenters, school computer labs and indigenous groups using information and communication technologies. In 2004 he spent eight months disconnected and driving around the U.S. and Mexico talking to people NOT using the Internet. From 2005-6 he chaired a working group on piracy and intellectual property in the Pacific as part of the Pacific Rim New Media Summit in San Jose in August 2006. He lives in San Jose, Calif., with his wife, an elementary school principal. His hobbies include gardening, kayaking, and winemaking. He can be reached at and he posts from time to time on

Steve Cisler was an extraordinary man, who early on clearly saw the transformational potential of the Internet and worked diligently to help realize that potential with his usual joie de vivre. In 1993, Cisler won the LITA/Gaylord Award for Achievement in Library and Information Technology, and in 1996 he won a Silver Award from the U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science. Cisler served on the Editorial Board of The Public-Access Computer Systems Review from 1992-2000.

There has been an outpouring of tributes to Steve. Here is a sample: "Steve Cisler—First Internet Librarian," "Steve Cisler, Digital Librarian, RIP," and "Steve Cisler, RIP." He will be greatly missed.