Monday, May 15, 2006
A Memory of Renata Ochsner
Renata Oschner was one of the first librarians I met when I came to the Chicago area in 1981. She was the reference librarian at the Harvey Public Library at the time and was thinking much about interlibrary cooperation. I met her at a Zone 6 and Friends Reference Librarians meeting within weeks of my arrival at the Dolton Public Library. Jim Steenbergen, who died in February, who was in 1981 the assistant librarian at the Riverdale Public Library, was also there. With librarians from Calumet City, Lansing, and South Holland, we brainstormed how to help each other. We had no email or Internet at the time. We did not even have computerized catalogs. What we came up with was a network of friendly librarians ready to call each other on the telephone for help, and Renata organized an exchange so we worked in each other's libraries to see our libraries' strengths.
Soon Renata and Jim were calling librarians from all over the southern suburbs to the Harvey Public Library for a bigger brainstorming session, which eventually led to the formation of the Reference Association of South Suburban Libraries (RASSL), which is still going strong twenty-five years later.
Renata moved up from reference librarian to director at Harvey and eventually took top positions at several other libraries. She always kept the needs of the public for good reference service in mind. She was always a reference librarian at heart.
She will be missed by all the librarians who knew her as an energetic, dedicated advocate for libraries. Her funeral is Tuesday, May 16 at 10:00 a.m. at Hope Lutheran Church, 424 Indianwood, Park Forest, Illinois. An online guest book is sponsored by the Daily Southtown.