The Memorial Lecture is named for John Holtz, one of eight children (4 boys and 4 girls) of Robert and Alice Holtz of Elkhart, Indiana. John was a very intelligent, talented, and gifted person. After he graduated from Elkhart Memorial High School, he attended the University of Notre Dame, where he majored in history and received a Bachelor of Arts degree. He attended graduate school at Indiana University, and he was awarded both his Master of Arts degree in European (Napoleonic) History and his Master of Library Science in 1986.
After graduation, John worked in the Indiana University library in various capacities for two years and then worked for a short time as a Librarian/Instructor at Marshall University. In 1989, with experience and impeccable references, he was hired as an Instructional Service Librarian and Assistant Professor at Sangamon State University, now the University of Illinois Springfield.
John’s work at Brookens Library included time as Program Chair. As chair, he oversaw the removal of the card catalog and was responsible for coordinating the initial crafting and subsequent revising of the Library Skills component for the university’s Assessment Office. As indicated by the card catalog, John’s time at the library was highlighted by the increasing importance of computer technology that influenced all aspects of his work. He was the trainer and coordinator for DIALOG, which featured command language searches, while the expanding services offered by CD-ROM and ILLINET Online databases required incorporating computer-accessible information resources as a necessary element into every part of the regular office and research routine. John also worked with vendors on reviewing and improving the emerging technology of the time.
John wrote and was awarded grants from the Illinois Cooperative Collection Management Program, which allowed for shared materials’ purchases in the Illinois Library Computer Systems Organization (ILCSO), now known as the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI). CARLI recently celebrated its 40th anniversary, and it is through the work of many dedicated librarians, such as John, that CARLI is so widely respected among academic consortiums.
Professionally John maintained memberships with the American Library Association, Association of College & Research Libraries, American Historical Association, and the American Military Institute. He was also an early and active member of several Internet forums. Serving as a member of the Faculty Senate and on several active Senate and university committees allowed John to be at his best in preparing and participating in shared governance. “Participation was both a challenge and a privilege, involving me in a host of activities with faculty, administrators, and staff from throughout SSU,” John said. The respect was mutual as John was awarded the Distinguished University Service Award for 1991/92.
John enjoyed a wide range of activities: reenacting historical battles through miniature war games, playing basketball and tennis, and traveling to historic war sites in the U.S. and Europe. He was ahead of his time in seeking out interesting craft beer - his favorite drink was a Black and Tan - and he preserved and collected all the bottles and cans. While he loved hanging out with his large group of friends, he also appreciated moments of solitude when he read, worked on his war-gaming figures, and wrote amazing short stories, which displayed his wit and dry sense of humor.
John died of brain cancer on January 13, 2004, after battling the disease for seven years. His family established the John W. Holtz Memorial Fund to honor him. The fund consists of a Lecture Fund, which sponsors lectures at UIS, and a Scholarship Fund, which provides financial support for the academic success of UIS students. The family and university continue to fundraise to grow the Memorial Fund so it can continue to support students and the UIS community.