Dr. Ilene Rockman Has Died

I’m very sorry to report that Dr. Ilene Rockman has died. She was an enormously gifted individual who made very significant contributions to librarianship. Among her many notable accomplishments was her superb editorship of Reference Services Review for over 20 years. She will be greatly missed.

Her obituary follows.

Dr. Ilene Rockman, Manager of the Information Competence Initiative for the Office of the Chancellor of the 23-campuses of the California State University (CSU) system passed away on November 26, 2005 from non-smoker’s lung cancer. She was 55 years old.

Rockman worked for the CSU for over 30 years as librarian, faculty member, and administrator at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and CSU East Bay before moving to the CSU Chancellor’s Office in 2001.

A tireless advocate for integrating information literacy into the higher education curriculum, Rockman was active nationally and locally as a speaker, author, and consultant. She held leadership positions within the American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL, and its California chapter), and the Reference and User Services Association.

In 2005 she received the ACRL Instruction Librarian of the Year award, and in 2003 the ACRL Distinguished Education and Behavioral Sciences Librarian award.

She was the editor and contributing author to the best selling book, Integrating Information Literacy into the Higher Education Curriculum (Jossey Bass, 2004), found in libraries around the world.

She served as a consultant to the Educational Testing Service on the development and implementation of a new performance-based test to assess higher education students’ information and communication technology (ICT) literacy skills.

She also served as editor-in-chief of Reference Services Review, and on the editorial boards of American Libraries, Library Administration and Management, The Journal of Academic Librarianship, Reference Quarterly, and Library Hi Tech. In 2005, she received the Leading Editor award from the Emerald Publishing Company of the United Kingdom for her 20 years of editing Reference Services Review.

In addition, she served on the advisory boards of the Friends of the Hayward Public Library, the Literacy Council of the Hayward Public Library, and the Bay Area Libraries and Information Systems (BALIS).

In 2004, California State Senator Liz Figueroa named her "Hayward Woman of the Year."

Contributions may be sent to the Cancer Center at the Stanford Hospitals and Clinics, Women Against Lung Cancer, Friends of the Association of College and Research Libraries, or Friends of the Hayward Public Library.

She is survived by her loving husband Fred Gertler, of Hayward, CA and her brother, Edward Rockman and his family, of Mill Valley, CA.

9 thoughts on “Dr. Ilene Rockman Has Died”

  1. Recounting her many accomplishments is well and good, but we should also recognize that she was a thoughtful and compassionate human being. Her professional activities were based upon helping others. I always found her to be a convivial companion, and a brilliant conversationalist with a very low BS ratio. Rockman rocked! I miss you, Ilene.

  2. Here is the eulogy that I wrote for Ilene. I think, hope, that it reflects both her professional and personal qualities,

    Ilene was a very interesting person, and in a very good way. She could get excited about the 1965 Giants, the quest for the perfect rugelach, Mr. Peabody and Sherman, Martha and the Vandellas, Jean-Pierre Rampal, biographies of strong women, Harry Potter, the Barefoot Contessa, Divine Design, and much, much more. She would laugh with delight at the most unexpected moments, be it Nathan Lane singing “I could have danced all night” in The Birdcage, our discovery of the word Hotzeplatz in Yiddish with Dick and Jane, the phrases car parks and identity parades, or my occasional singing of the SuperChicken Song, to name but three. She was a creative wordsmith, especially when tired. One favorite, which will always bring a smile to my face, was her transconfabulation of Kofi Annan to Afikomen. I will never again be able to hear that man’s name without thinking of the piece of the matzoh that gets hidden during the Passover Seder.

    She loved her family. Edward, Selma, Sam and Joe, I share your loss and offer my condolences. And to her slightly more extended family, Peter, Carol, Adam, Danielle, Uncle Vic, Aunt Bea, Cousins Terry and Roy, and so many more, my thoughts are with you at this difficult time.

    She loved the family she inherited when she married me – Mom, Dad, Jan, Bob, Robby and Jess – and they loved her in return. She was and always will be one of us!

    She loved being a librarian. She was passionate about making a difference in the lives of people she knew and worked with directly, and those she never met, but who were influenced by her passion and dedication to the profession. Many librarians speak of developing programs, establishing partnerships, offering library services outside the physical building, making each encounter with a library user a teachable moment, but she actually did it; and then she wrote about and spoke about and shared it her colleagues, because knowledge shared is knowledge enriched.

    She lived her passion. When she was first diagnosed and in the hospital, she quizzed nurses and interns, fellows, and doctors on their sources and their research – she came to her visits at Stanford with as much relevant information as she could find, and used that information to ask probing questions to help her understand her disease and be a better advocate for herself. While she was fighting the cancer, she found the strength, will, and determination to be the lead author on a book, attend meetings, give presentations, and be an advocate whenever and wherever she could. And she was honored by her professional colleagues, first with an award as the Education and Behavioral Sciences Librarian of the Year, and then as the recipient of the Miriam Dudley Award for Instruction.

    Beyond this, Ilene was an active and eager participant in the local library world in Hayward. She served on the advisory boards of the Friends of the Hayward Public Library, the Literacy Council of the Hayward Public Library, and the Bay Area Libraries and Information Systems (BALIS). In 2004, California State Senator Liz Figueroa named her “Hayward Woman of the Year”.

    And she loved me. She always claimed she knew we met right from the moment we met. I thought I had just bought an attractive young woman a glass of wine – who knew? Well, she did. From that beginning, she was ahead of me, waiting for me to catch up, confident that I would. During the too short time we were together, we enriched our lives in ways we could never have imagined. I am certainly a better and more complete person for having loved and been loved by Ilene.

    Now Ilene has gone ahead of me again, this time to a place I cannot follow her to right away. I can’t bear the thought of being without her. But I have learned to trust Ilene’s instincts, and when she said we would be together again, and that she would be waiting for me, I believed her, and in that I find some small measure of comfort.

  3. I’m deeply saddened to hear about Ilene’s passing. I met her over 21 years ago as a freshman at Cal Poly, SLO. Ilene was the faculty advisor to the Pilipino Cultural Exchange on campus. With her guidance, we grew from 10 students meeting in a small room in the university union to a large organization that provided students from diverse backgrounds with a sense of culture, camaraderie, and family away from home. She welcomed us into her home on holidays, and provided us with guidance, support, and encouragement. For that, I will always be grateful. The news of her passing is making its way to many of the former students whose lives she’s touched. Speaking for my wife, who was also one of her students, we will think of her fondly. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her husband, Fred, and her family.

  4. Ilene was such a wonderful woman, with a zest for living life to its fullest. I loved getting to know her through Fred, where she was the First Lady of the IUG – a role that is permanently hers, at least to many of us. She was warm and funny as well as sharp as a tack, thoughtful and generous of spirit. Ilene will be greatly missed, and Fred, ILene and their families are in my prayers.

  5. I’m am sorry to hear about Ilene’s passing and I offer my condolences to her husband and family. I, too, met her during my time at Cal Poly SLO (1989 through 1994) and experienced first hand the help, support, and love she had for the Pilipino Cultural Exchange. I’ve never forgotten an impromptu counseling session she gave when I was having trouble “recovering” from a stint as Panahon Na Coordinator. I may not have changed majors to Library Science as a result of that talk but I did make it through that time with her help–for that I will be eternally grateful. Thank you, Ilene, for everything you’ve done for us. You will be missed but you’ll never be forgotten.

  6. I first met Ilene back in the mid 70’s when I was a student at Cal Poly and member of the Pilipino Cultural Exchange Society. After a presentation a few of us gave on issues facing the Filipino Community, Ilene introduced herself to us. From that point on she became our organization’s advisor. More than that, she was the cornerstone, the bedrock. After graduation I went into the Peace Corp and gradually lost contact with her.

    After hearing of Ilene’s passing it brought me back to the day. Over the many years that have gone by since then, I can’t think of a better person that I’ve known than Ilene. She was the embodiment of all those virtues that I have learned to be the essence of living an exemplary life. The Ilene I knew was someone who was caring and encouraging, someone who would always be there if you were in need. She was truly a blessing to others.

    Life is short and I don’t know when the good Lord says it will be my time. My prayer is that I can live up to the profound example that she left us with.

  7. “Gathering in Remembrance of Dr. Ilene Rockman”
    Sunday, January 22, 2006
    5:00 – 6:30 p.m.
    San Antonio Convention Center, Room 217A

    Many of us have had the privilege of working with Ilene over
    the years. Others have been inspired by her example, her
    passion and her extraordinary contributions to the profession.
    Please join Ilene’s friends and colleagues at ALA Midwinter as
    we gather to remember Ilene.

    Ilene’s obituary, including her donation wishes can be found at

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