Dearest Eliza….how I will miss your kindness and wise words…you were one of the best that made my ALA conferences complete. During our time on the Margaret Edwards Award committee your depth of YA authors was interesting and personal. Thanks for all the work you did on the Laura Bush Foundation grants…fond memories of our dinners at Irene’s in New Orleans. I’ll look forward to joining you one day as I watch you read to the “baby angels.”
J Elizabeth Mills
Eliza, it’s been a little over a month since you passed away, and not a day goes by that I don’t remember a conversation we had together, related to research, to book selection, to book discussions, to life in general. It’s hard to believe you’re gone, though I’m glad you are at peace. But boy it’s hard to be without you. Your guidance, wisdom, good humor, and eternal optimism were so infectious, their absence is keenly felt by me and by many others. I’ve been sitting in your office trying to remind myself what you taught me, all the while knowing that it is in those still moments that that I can quiet my thoughts and hear your voice encouraging me, guiding me. I am so grateful for all that you gave me and I will hold your wisdom close as I move forward with my career. I could not have asked for a better teacher and friend.
There is so much I want to say about Eliza: she was my major professor at Florida State, my teacher, colleague, friend, and advisor. She recruited me into the FSU doctoral program, guided me as a scholar, formed me as a teacher, hooked me on research, and reminded me (by example) to have fun. We worked together very closely at the iSchool, often teaching different sections of the same courses. Through Eliza I saw first-hand how research can influence the lives of children and teens and the libraries that serve them. Her energy, intellect, generosity, and kindness knew no bounds. I am grateful for the privilege of having had as my mentor a professor who put respect for youth at the center of everything she did. There was (I still want to say “is”) only one Eliza, and I miss her every day. I am cheered, though, by how the iSchool has embraced her vision, and I know that this community will continue to be imbued with her spirit. That was clear from the May 14 memorial where so many spoke so eloquently of Eliza’s importance in their lives.
This excerpt from the Richard Wilbur poem, “Some Opposites,” from the collection, Opposites, More Opposites, and a Few Differences (Sandpiper, 2000) sums up my feelings:
What is the opposite of two?
A lonely me, a lonely you.
I remember Eliza with great fondness. We first got to know each other when I was fortunate to get a ride with her up to the ASIST 2009 conference in Vancouver. I was impressed by the breadth of her interests and life experiences which included a stay in a remote region in Africa as a mother of young children. We shared in common connections to Mongolia (I visited for a month in 2003) and later, at her request, I was happy to review a charming children’s story set in Mongolia. I will remember Eliza as a caring, compassionate person who acted without pretense. She showed verve and a quiet, deep internal strength. Eliza continued to be engaged and to do good up until the very end of her life. There is no one else like her in the Information School and I shall miss her a great deal.
With her deep intelligence, warmth, and boundless curiosity, Eliza truly made everything she touched better. I feel so fortunate to have known her over the past two years and to have had the privilege of working alongside her to advance her research. She made you want to work harder, and do more, and do more that matters, and to ask questions. There will be a lot of “What would Eliza do?”s running through my head in the future! To have known Eliza is to have loved her; and I feel so very fortunate to have known her.
Eliza was so generous and kind to me when I first came to Bainbridge Island t after 40 years in New England. I had never met her, but we had several mutual friends. She invited me to an event at the UW Library School, drove me to and from the ferry, and even fed me supper in her antique-filled apartment. I remember a room set aside for grandchildren. She was a gracious and remarkable scholar and a loving grandmother. I’m grateful and honored to have known her.
I will always remember Eliza as a trusted friend, confidant, and respected colleague. My years at Florida State University were made that much better by her presence there, before we both left, she for the University of Washington, and I for the University of South Florida. I will miss her deeply.
It has been a great privilege to have learned from and worked with Eliza in my work as a PhD student. She and I shared similar passions in our professional work: literacy, learning, and libraries. One thing I knew about Eliza is that she was committed to mentoring and supporting new leaders in the field. She presented and facilitated many conference sessions I attended, and was instrumental in helping me clarify my research interests—our conversations often took much more time than she had in her busy schedule. Moreover, she generously agreed to serve on my Advisory Committee, and offered wise feedback in the preparation of my dissertation proposal. I will greatly miss her passion for our work, her wealth of expertise, and her generous and gentle nature.
Eliza and I were co-authors of several articles and co-investigators on many research projects, but this says so little about our relationship. Our friendship was born of a deep mutual respect and the ability to gracefully accept each other’s help as we each carved our separate but frequently intersecting paths through academic life. I am deeply grateful for the time we had together and will miss her always.
Jeff Martin, Washington State Library
Eliza worked closely with several of my staff in a collaboration between Project Views and our Connecting the Dots project. Eliza will leave a lasting legacy which demonstrates the power of libraries to develop young minds now and over their lifetime.
Eliza was also a member of the Library Council of Washington advising on the use of federal funding and discussing issues and opportunities in libraries throughout Washington State. That is where I knew her best. She was warm, passionate about her work, and provided keen observations.
I will miss her. We will miss her greatly.
I’m glad I had a chance to work with Eliza if even for a short time, she was kind, thoughtful and inspiring. She will always be remembered and thought of fondly by so many. I will miss Eliza, but am so very glad for having the opportunity to work with her.
Sarah Amber Evans
I feel very privileged to have worked with Eliza and benefited from her mentorship. I was delighted when Eliza joined the faculty because she represented all the things I love too; youth, literature, and libraries. It was joyful to trade ideas about the classes we both taught in this area and what we felt was important for future librarians to know. When I became a Learning Sciences student in the College of Education, she was very supportive and always interested in what I was up to. I was delighted to participate in the VIEWS2 project and learn from her research work up close. She graciously agreed to serve on my doctoral committee and provided a much-needed perspective to my work during the exam process. As I move forward with my dissertation work on adolescent learning in public libraries, the loss of Eliza is keenly felt. I miss not only her expertise but also her gracious manner of sharing it. I am grateful for the time I spent with her and hope to do honor to her wonderful legacy.
Rivkah K. Sass
I was so sorry to hear of Eliza’s death. She was a huge asset to the iSchool and to our profession. My thoughts are with her family and her iSchool colleagues.
Dr. Eliza Dresang was my master’s and doctoral advisor at Florida State University. Since I first met her in 2005, she has shaped me as a scholar and educator. I was truly fortunate to have an opportunity to take up her work and further develop her theory of Radical Change. She was delighted when I asked her if I could refine and expand her theory. Although she was a highly respected scholar, she was willing to listen to a student’s opinion and always open to discussion. At every moment I worked with her, I was impressed by her tireless pursuit of knowledge, strong academic integrity, and genuine care for others. She was an extraordinary mentor who wholeheartedly supported her students. When there was a thought-provoking but expensive conference opportunity for a student, she supported me to attend and learn. When I applied for a job, she wrote personalized and targeted letters of recommendation. Even after I came to the University of Oklahoma as an assistant professor, she was always approachable whenever I sought her advice. Just about 2 weeks before she passed away, she took the time and sent me a line saying “I am very proud of your work!” referring to my recent research grant award. She was my role model, whom I could completely trust. I know her influence will not stop and I will always remember her.
P.S. One of my finest memories of her is when we attended the 2010 Scratch@MIT conference together in Boston. We really enjoyed participating in sessions, meeting new people, walking around the area and having dinner in nice restaurants. Oh, we also searched for a convenience store or vending machine that has Diet Cherry Coke. We finally found one and she was very happy!
The world is a little emptier without you, Eliza. Thanks for the wonderful sharing and caring. Your star shine bright.
Eliza chaired the Newbery Committee on which I served and what a marvelous experience it was to learn from her. I was and continue to be fascinated by her mind and her joy in seriously discussing and evaluating distinguished literature written for children. Her legacy for us who care about literature and libraries for young people is amazing.
Anna, Steve & Char; Lee & Kari
Our mom felt so welcomed in the UW ischool and flourished as Beverly Cleary Professor for Children and Youth. The comments on the ischool guestbook are a wonderful testament to the love and support she felt. Mom was so present in our lives; it is inspiring to know she also had such an impact through her work at UW and before that at FSU and in Madison. Thanks to everyone for celebrating Mom and her amazing spirit which will live on in all of us.
I had the privilege of working for Eliza when she started her job as the Cleary Chair at the University of Washington, as her first graduate assistant. This means I helped her move a lot of boxes (and she did have a lot of boxes in that move, plus a few broken suitcases) and help her get settled in Seattle. I say that, mostly kidding-the job was a lot more than that. Eliza let me work on a lot of different projects-all totally different-in the time I worked for her. In the process, she taught me about the profession, evaluating books, the importance of research and service to the larger ALA community. I can honestly say that working for the iSchool was a game changer for me, and Eliza was a huge part of that.
After I graduated, Eliza and I still met for breakfast occasionally in Ballard when I visited Seattle. She always tried to make time to visit, and continued to be a mentor and a friend. When we met, she talked often about her family, her grandkids, books and always the 20 or so projects she had in the hopper. She listened to my adventures in librarianship, encouraged me, and very subtly offered advice.
Eliza was tireless. Coming back to Seattle from ALA in New Orleans, I ended up at the airport at 3:00am or some ugly, ugly, time in the middle of the night and ran into Eliza randomly. She was, after a busy conference, working before she caught a flight back. We talked a little about a few of her projects, all of which were complicated, smart, and meaningful, but of which there were many. When I suggested maybe she was working too hard, she looked at me, sort of impatiently, and said that she enjoyed working and was doing what she wanted to do with her life.
Working for Eliza made me not only better at breaking down boxes and unpacking books, but a better librarian and human being. She helped me see books and the world in a different way. I’ll miss her.
I only met Eliza once in person, but that was all the time I needed to know what an amazing person she is.
I was at the iConference 2013 in Fort Worth, TX as a doctoral student. My adviser, Allison Druin, got sick and had me as her replacement for this workshop meeting on digital youth. Eliza, Karen, and Katie had organized this pretty amazing workshop trying to figure out the future of digital youth and what directions research could head into.
Later in the conference, I had a poster presentation on some work I had done on social media and science learning. To my amazement, Eliza stopped by to say hello and asked me about the research I was conducting. I remember her coming to my poster at the iConference and being so amazed someone as highly regarded as her would come to chat with a graduate student.
I am sad that I will not be working directly with Eliza when I arrive to UW. But what makes me very happy is knowing how her passion for children, literacy, and learning continues to make a strong impact on the future of youth, learning, and information.
Philip J. Reed
Although I didn’t have a chance to work closely with Eliza, several of the students whom I TAed did. She was supportive and welcoming in inviting new MLIS students to enter the world of research. Her loss will be felt throughout the iSchool, but her legacy in information science will live on.
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