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On closing one door and opening another.

Before I get started, I need to tell you that I am both honored and privileged to join the fine faculty at the Rutgers University School of Communication and Information.

But I need to do a little sharing.

A couple of weeks ago I said goodbye.  For the second time in my career, I didn’t actually retire.

I tried to avoid thinking about what it would feel like. I avoided talking about it.  I avoided writing about it here.

I hoped no one would fuss.

But they did.  In a sweet and elegant way that made the break up even more bittersweet.   I’ve been a little tearful ever since.

My dear Springfield Township friends turned the stage of the auditorium into a café–round tables with linen tablecloths, soft lighting, my favorite music, paintings, home cooked food.  They bought me extravagant gifts.  They created a memory book and a two-disk mix of my favorite songs.  And they wrote and performed a rockin’ version of Wiki Woman (see 18:19 in the video).  They said nice things.

The kids also threw me a few little celebrations and presented me with another book of memories.

You know what? I am a good librarian.  I am proud of the things I know and the things I can do.  But the memories my friends–both young and older–shared were not really about that stuff or the professional way I hoped I performed over the 15 years I spend at STHS.

When they said goodbye, it was all about our relationships, smiles, and the way our library felt.

It was about being available, student and teacher rescues, and always saying yes.

I felt truly blessed hearing that I made a difference in lives I didn’t realize I touched.

I felt like Mary Tyler Moore first saying goodbye in that tearful group hug and then closing the WJM newsroom door back in 1977.

Ever since I closed that door I’ve been asking myself such goofy questions as:

  • Moving forward, when I talk about myself, can I still call myself a librarian?
  • What will it feel like not to have those kiddos around me?
  • How do other (not actually) retired librarians answer these questions?

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. Congratulations, Joyce, you “Wiki Woman!” (Love it) You will continue to fly high! You have positively impacted education, teacher librarians and TLs to be, and hundreds and hundreds of students. Now not only will you continue to do that (I have no doubt), but you will expand your influence exponentially (if that is even possible!?) by directly shaping new careers of many more who will go on to impact hundreds and hundreds of students. Your work is never done, and for that THOUSANDS of us are grateful. Best wishes as you walk through that new door!

  2. Elissa Malespina says

    What a well deserved tribute to an amazing teacher librarian. You not only have impacted the lives of countless students and faculty at STHS but you also inspired a lot of teachers and teacher librarians around the world, including myself. I am honored to have gotten to know you more throughout the years and I can’t not wait to continue learning from your for years to come. Rutgers is so lucky to have you!

    Thank you for all the you do for all of us. You are an inspiration and you inspire me to do better each day!

  3. Such wonderful news, Joyce! Congratulations! You will be missed terribly, but your influence will always be felt at STHS. Change is good, and this is a very positive change for you. Best of luck!

  4. Leigh Woznick says

    Joyce, You will still be educating students– they’ll just be a few years older:) and those future school librarians will benefit greatly from your experience, as will their students. Think of it as paying it forward. Wish I had you as a professor when I was there; you are one of my idols. Hope ti work with you in the years to come.

  5. Joycie,
    You will be brilliant at whatever you do. Such a lovely tribute by your school. Your sphere of influence will only grow, deservedly, larger.
    Very best wishes, my friend,

  6. Terry Young says

    What can I say….after all these many years…. you’ve shared a lot at STHS and with others outside the school. Just think..all the committees, conferences, dinners, receptions…and wine…
    and dancing…
    great memories.and many more to come.


  7. Joyce Valenza Joyce Valenza says

    Thank you, dear friends. I am looking forward to this new journey too. I do have beautiful memories and I am ready to make many more.

    I so appreciate your support.


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