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Lisa de Carbonel

Donations should be directed to The Law Library Fund, in memory of Lisa de Carbonel (N62309/53456) c/o Catalina Cariaga, Berkeley Law, 2850 Telegraph Ave. Ste. 500 Berkeley, CA 94705-7220 [Weblink]

From Kathleen Vanden Heuvel:

I am extremely sad to bring news that Lisa de Carbonel of the Law Library’s staff died July 15th after a brief illness. Lisa began working in the Law Library in 1981, as an undergraduate. Although her title is Law Library Systems Editor, this only hints at the depth and breadth of her knowledge. The truth is, Lisa could do everyone’s job better than they could do it themselves. She not only knew how everything worked, she knew how to make everything work better. She loved the law library and cared deeply about preserving our legal history and making law available to everyone. She abhorred dysfunctional systems and so wasn’t rule bound or overly concerned with procedures. Instead she dedicated her career to creating elegant solutions to problems. Her goal was to make it easy for all of us to find information and to communicate and share knowledge.

Upon learning of her death this morning the entire Law Library staff gathered to share stories. One of her colleagues remarked that Lisa knew everything and caught all of our mistakes. But she never made us feel stupid or incompetent, she just helped us fix our errors. Lisa understood that a library is a communal, not an individual enterprise. In her generous and understated way she was always building community and strengthening connections between people, departments, and ideas. We have all benefited from her insight, intelligence, and good judgment.

She was also a master party planner, helping to create the Law Library’s reputation for having the best holiday party on campus. Her desk drawers contained decorations and greeting cards for every imaginable occasion. She had spare umbrellas, extra sweaters and scarves, and toys for visiting children. Just in case. When she felt staff morale was lagging or a project was becoming too stressful, she would spend the weekend making cakes, pies and cookies for her colleagues to share. In addition, Lisa had a fabulous and wry sense of humor. My guess is that we will miss this most of all.

In preparing to write this email I went to Lisa’s office to see if I could find inspiration. I discovered this folder with her perfect epitaph, leaned up against her computer:

she was comforted by the knowledge that they were helpless without her
she was comforted by the knowledge that
they were helpless without her

Lisa recently said to one of her colleagues: “I’m such an ordinary person.” Although over the years the evidence has mounted that Lisa might actually be omnipotent, it is good to know that at least once she was wrong. She was an extraordinary person.


Contra Costa Times Obituary

**We have a condolence book at the Reference Desk that we plan to give to her family. If you’d like to write something, please stop by. Or, if you want to submit a memory, you may also email

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