Sunday, March 31, 2013

Who is Joyce Valenza?

She has been called a "rock star librarian", a "superstar teacher-librarian", a "tech maven", a "school librarian extraordinaire," an "ed tech Sherpa", and "one of the most well-known librarians in the field today". 

She has been named a member of the Twitterati by the Bammy! Awards,  a Learning Commons Visionary by Teacher Librarian magazine, and one of the 10 Most Influential People in Online Education by the Sloan Consortium.  In 2011, she won the Edublog Lifetime Achievement Award for her contributions to the field of education technology.

She is the founder of the TL Virtual Cafe, an online community providing "open" professional development webinars for teacher-librarians, and is the author of The NeverEndingSearch, a blog for teacher-librarians which presents "news, thoughts, and discoveries at the vortex of libraries, literacy, and learning." 
Both of these online projects have garnered multiple awards. 

She holds several advanced degrees, including a Ph.D in School Library and Information Science from the University of North Texas (2007).  She has authored four books, and countless book chapters and articles.

But how does Joyce Valenza describe herself?  How did she get her start in libraries?  And what does she think about school librarianship - the work she had done for over 35 years?  In her own words...

Valenza describes herself most often as...
The teacher-librarian at Springfield Township High School (Erdenheim, Pennsylvania).

She also refers to herself as...
A technology writer, author, speaker, blogger, learner, mother, connector, and founder of the library Geek Tribe.

Her start in libraries...
I grew up loving books. And I loved helping people. It was a way to connect those two things. When I was 16, I got a job as a page at the local branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. And I worked with a very cute library intern… He started feeding me stuff that was not the stuff my friends were reading, [such as] existential literature. He had given me Kobo Abe’s novels. And I was blown away by that trust… I was reading good stuff anyway—J.D. Salinger, Sylvia Plath. But this was stuff they hadn’t taught me about in school. That job became so much fun. I wanted to connect people with books and information just like that library intern did for me.  (From: FindingEducation).

Her proudest accomplishements...
I started as a special librarian in 1975, became a public librarian in 1976, and I became a teacher librarian in 1988. For real, the proudest achievements are those one or two emails I get each year from alumni who take time in their college/adult lives to thank me for something I did or taught that made a difference in their lives. I suspect that many of us get those emails. They are gifts. They are treasures.

Over the years, I've had the wonderful opportunity to build two library programs, to teach thousands of learners, and to mentor many student teachers. I was particularly proud of my 11-year stint as the edtech columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer. It gave me the opportunity to meet and interview my heroes and to talk to an incredibly varied audience. If I had to point to specific events, over the past couple of years, doing that TEDxPhillyED talk [on researching] last spring was an honor and a challenge. I've also loved being able to help build our tribe through our hashtag, #tlchat, the TLVirtual Cafe, and the Ning. (From: School Library Journal).

When Valenza was asked to give a TEDx talk on school librarianship, she said...
After engaging in my own personal soul searching, exploration of my passions, what I love about my work, and what I want people outside our little pond to understand about our role in the school culture, it was clear that I wanted to paint the picture of our work and to try to frame it, at least partially, through the eyes of the learner. (I know that this choice was risky and that I would likely, perhaps legitimately, be viewed as self-serving.) So here is that speech, about what matters to me and what I think I contribute. (From The NeverEndingSearch.)

For Further Reading:
Joyce Valenza - Curriculum Vitae
Text of Valenza's TEDx Talk:  "See Sally Research".

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