Yildiz Binkley, TSU’s longtime head of library, retires

Last updated on October 3rd, 2014 at 04:49 pm

Dr. Yildiz Binkley, (c), is surrounded by well-wishers Helen Coleman (l), a former TSU librarian, and friend and former library staff member, Lillie Ewing. Binkley recently retired after 40 years at TSU, having served as the dean of Libraries and Media Centers since 1991. photo: Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations

Dr. Yildiz Binkley, (c), is surrounded by well-wishers Helen Coleman (l), a former TSU librarian, and friend and former library staff member, Lillie Ewing. Binkley recently retired after 40 years at TSU, having served as the dean of Libraries and Media Centers since 1991.
photo: Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations

Yildiz Binkley can still remember the ‘pale green’ barracks used for faculty housing when she arrived on the campus at Tennessee State University early one Saturday morning in 1971 for an interview with the library director.

She can also remember when ‘busy’ Centennial Boulevard ran through the middle of campus.

Faculty campus housing is now a thing of the past, and Centennial Boulevard is a major thoroughfare that now runs outside the campus.

But the memory of how things looked still lingers for the young Turkish immigrant, at the time fresh out of college trying to get her first shot at the American dream.

Those were the days,” she said. “And a lot has changed since then. The campus looks nothing like that today.”

Binkley has been a member of the staff, professor and an administrator over the last four decades.

Binkley, who went on to earn a doctorate degree, and later becoming a tenured professor. She remembers the late Lois H. Daniel, library director, who hired her and gave her the opportunity to live out her dream of a librarian.

“She was an excellent administrator and educator,” Dr. Binkley said of her former boss.

Starting as a junior reference librarian in the then Martha M. Brown Memorial Library (today’s Student Su-

ccess Center), Binkley rose through the ranks to become the fourth director and subsequently dean of Libraries and Media Centers in 1991. In her TSU career, she served under six presidents, from Dr. Andrew P. Torrence (third) to the current president, Dr. Glenda Glover. She was part of the team when the library relocated in 1976 to its current $2.4 million, 82,000 square-foot facility, called the Brown-Daniel Memorial Library.

Dr. Binkley retired last month. “It’s time to travel and not be concerned about what’s going on in the office,” Dr. Binkley said on June 27, her final workday at TSU. “I have trips to Europe and other places that are long overdue. I need to visit relatives back in Turkey and some cousins in Amsterdam.”

As director, Binkley’s main focuses was ensuring that the library remained technologically on the cutting-edge.

In fact, as one of her last acts, she collaborated with the Department of Languages, Literature and Philosophy to develop the university’s first online digital journal of writings by students and faculty. ‘Sketches: The Online Creative Arts Journal of Tennessee State University’ is the first journal of its kind developed at a TBR institution, according to Binkley.

“The journal is a mechanism through which researchers and scholars can network to do collaborative work,” she said. “We want to give researchers an additional outlet to publish their work.”

In photo from the early 1970s, Dr. Binkley binds periodicals in the TSU library. During her nearly four decades at the library, Binkley oversaw the electronic cataloging of materials and digitizing all archival and non-copyrighted materials.

In photo from the early 1970s, Dr. Binkley binds periodicals in the TSU library. During her nearly four decades at the library, Binkley oversaw the electronic cataloging of materials and digitizing all archival and non-copyrighted materials.

Now providing wireless environment for patrons, the library, under Dr. Binkley, expanded its services through collaboration with other local and national libraries and organizations, including the Nashville Area Library Alliance; the Online Computer Library Center, Inc., a global library service dedicated to furthering access to the “world’s information”; and the HBCU Library Alliance.

Dr. Binkley served as the first secretary of the Alliance’s board, when the group was formed in 2002. She also served in key positions with several other library organizations over the years.

At a farewell reception in Dr. Binkley’s honor on June 27, current and former coworkers, staff and friends praised her for her sense of humanity, referring to her as “an excellent boss,” “outstanding colleague,” and a good worker.

“She was just a pleasant person to work with,” said retired longtime TSU librarian Hellen Coleman. Binkley described as her first close friend when she joined the library staff. “Yildiz was just special and cared about her co-workers not just on the job but their families,” said Coleman.

Greetings from President Glover congratulated the retiring dean for her years of dedicated and committed service to not just the library, but “Tennessee State University, our students, faculty and staff.”

Among other well wishers making presentations were legendary TSU Track Coach Ed Temple; retired history professor Dr. Bobby Lovett; and Binkley’s friend and fellow Turk, Dr. Ali Sekmen, professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science.

Dr. Binkley was presented with flowers, gifts, a cake with a combined rendering of  the U.S. and Turkish flags, and a proclamation by the Tennessee General Assembly for her dedicated service to TSU and the state. Local artist Robert Lafayette Mitchell also presented her with a painting of herself.

Dr. Binkley thanked her friends, coworkers, colleagues, Dr. Glover and the university administration for the “love and support you have shown me” over the years.

“I appreciate the opportunity Tennessee State University gave me and the persons I have worked with,” she said. “Each one taught me something and touched my life in some way. I am ‘true blue’ indeed.”

Taking over from Dr. Binkley is Dr. Murle Kenerson, who was recently appointed interim dean of Libraries and Media Centers.