Jean Hammerback began her tenure as reference librarian in September of 1969, as Ohlone was beginning its third academic year. Jean and Director of Library Services Ward Blanchard welcomed faculty and students to the basement of the administration building on the Washington Boulevard campus. In this cool and compact space, they oversaw 3800 books, six record players with earphones, two microfilm viewers, sixteen lighted study cubicles, and ten long work tables.
When Ohlone moved to Mission Boulevard, Jean was instrumental in the subsequent expansion and development of what would become a large, modern student learning center, housed on the third floor of Building 1. Students with questions could almost always find her near the reference collection and card catalogs. She also worked closely with faculty who assigned student research projects and gave countless class tours, pointing out the wonders of the library.
In 1979-1980, Jean served as faculty senate president. She gave generously of her time to faculty committees and to student organizations, serving for many years as sponsor for Alpha Gamma Sigma, the honor society, and, later, for the first gay and lesbian campus organization.
In May of 1997, after 28 years, Jean retired because her husband John had accepted a teaching position in North Carolina. For two years, Jean became a reference librarian at North Carolina State. After the Hammerbacks returned to California, she worked five years part-time at the Diablo Valley College library. Upon John’s retirement from what was then Cal State Hayward, they moved to Redmond, Washington, a suburb of Seattle, to be close to one of their two daughters and her family. John died from cancer in 2012. Jean reads and travels extensively.