Joanne will be remembered by those who knew her as a truly warm, generous, and intelligent professor and researcher. Throughout her 18 years at the iSchool, she made a lasting positive impression on colleagues, students, and fellow researchers. After an extended illness, she passed away on July 27, 2010. She will be sorely missed.

“Make time for the simpler pleasures in life”

Joanne Silverstein was an assistant research professor at the iSchool and the director of research and development for the Information Institute. She was also an alumna of the M.S. in Information Management program and the Ph.D. in Information Science and Technology. A dedicated teacher, well-known researcher, and cherished colleague, Joanne stepped down from active duties in August 2007 to, in her words, “make time for the simpler pleasures in life and give [her] body and mind the time that it needs to heal from a chronic illness.”

In Your Words:

I will never forget the way Joanne could light up my office with her bright smile and sparkling eyes. Her kindness came through in our small day-to-day interactions.

We bonded over our mutual affection for Lake Ontario and Sandy Pond and swapped stories about good times we had had there.

In our more professional interactions, she made my job a breeze. She always responded to my requests promptly and with all the info I had asked for. She patiently explained her research in layman’s terms and was great at giving tangible examples of how her research interests applied to daily life.

She was a warm and caring person who served, and will continue to serve, as a role model for her optimism and passion for life.

My sincere condolences to Paul and her other family and friends.

Joanne has been a great friend and colleague, I will miss her dearly. She was there for me when my sister was battling cancer, and she always had kind words to cheer me up when I needed it. I remember Joanne as a student and was so glad when we hired her to be on the faculty. I will miss working with her and talking about family.

My condolences to Paul and her family.

I will miss Joanne very much. She was truly an amazing person. I am sorry for your loss Paul.

Joanne and I went through the master’s program together, and we started the doctoral program at the same time. I remember when she was applying to the doctoral program, and she was worried because she’d been unable to get her hands on a few articles written by faculty members; she’d wanted to be well-versed in each faculty member’s research before going for her admission interviews. That was Joanne–always prepared, always thorough.

Joanne and I were in a dissertation group together, along with Mary McKenna and Ted Diamond. Each week, as we reviewed one another’s work, Joanne’s analyses were always incisive, cutting directly to the heart of any given problem. Although I didn’t see as much of Joanne after she graduated, I will always remember her humor and warm generosity. I will especially remember the times she had us all over to her house, and to her place by the lake.

RIP, Joanne. And to Paul and the rest of Joanne’s family, I send my deepest condolences.

Joanne used to work on the second floor of the iSchool where my office is also on. Xiaozhong and I enjoyed talking with her when sometimes seeing her in the hallway. She was a very nice professor. We will miss you, Joanne.

Miao & Xiaozhong

We are extremely saddened by this news. Joanne was a dear friend and cherished colleague.

We had the pleasure of collaborating with her on a two-year NSF-funded project (see picture of our project team in the photo gallery). Joanne really loved working on that project and she was always a source of inspiration and motivation to the rest of us.

We also presented together on a panel on “The Playful Side of Curiosity” at the national conference on play. Joanne was the final presenter; she pulled up a chair and sat down right in the middle of the audience where she proceeded to calmly and articulately describe her research study entitled “Just Curious.” She had the entire audience on the edge of their seats with her warm, inviting presentation style and her intriguing message on how children seek information to satisfy their curiosity. We all learned so much from her that day.

We shall miss her greatly. Our deepest sympathies to Paul and family.

Ruth Small and Marilyn Arnone

I had the privilege of being a student in Joanne’s Digital Libraries class at the iSchool in the Spring 2007 semester.

In addition to being an excellent professor, Joanne was a very supportive mentor. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was developing symptoms of a chronic illness (of a different kind) that was affecting every aspect of my life. Joanne seemed to sense that something was up, and offered many kind words of support and encouragement whenever I needed to hear them.

I am glad that I was able to meet Joanne when I came to campus that summer. I will honor her memory by maintaining teh professional skills she taught me, and trying to live by the advice she imparted.

Joanne was a huge support to me during my first years as a PhD student. I loved coming to her office and talking to her because we would start by talking about research and then drift into family discussions and then back to research. She helped me with everything: training me to be a better researcher, clarifying what it means to be a PhD student, giving me a home away from home and a family-feeling as I settled into Syracuse.

She had a great joy about her and warm laugh. Her presence made everything more cheerful. I will miss her greatly.

I was very saddened to hear about Joanne’s passing. I worked with her for several years as a colleague at
the Information Institute of Syracuse and was continually impressed by her devotion to and love of research.
I was even more impressed however by her compassion for people. She always had time to talk to staff. Her contributions to staff development at the Institute
helped to make working there a truly rewarding experience
for all of us. I offer my sincere condolences to Joanne’s husband Paul and all her family and friends.

Joanne was that rare combination of great colleague and great friend. She was smart, and extremely generous. She often orchestrated amazing results and then thrust others into the spotlight to receive credit.

The event that I think epitomizes Joanne’s approach was when she organized the 25th anniversary of the ERIC IT Clearinghouse. She put together an event during ASIS&T at the Congressional office building in DC right after (like a week after) the whole anthrax scare. It was politically astute, done in conjunction with scholars, and completely brave. She made a statement and yet to the world it was all about the clearinghouse.

She was dedicated to the field and the school. She took it as a personal responsibility to promote both. There was no one she couldn’t work with, and often made his or her work better. When she organized a special issue of an academic journal on virtual reference and ran into an author who tried to pull out near deadline, she co-authored the paper to keep him in.

She calmed down the furious, disarmed the most recalcitrant, and ultimately brought about collaborations that improved the field of information science and librarianship. She was the model of the scholar who put the work above her own ego, and impact over recognition.

This dedication and care extended into her personal life as well. She was the most incredible aunt not only to her nephews, but the lucky children, like my own, whom she adopted as nephews. My children always talk fondly about Joanne and Paul’s camp and having her teach them (and me) how to fish.

I will miss Joanne. I will miss the hours of great talks and debate in offices and kitchens and airports. I will miss a writing partner and skilled politician and strategist. However, I will miss most a true friend who would do anything for you, and expected nothing in return. I will miss the way she could always make my children smile. I will miss the quiet moments overlooking the lake and her painting. I will miss a mentor who taught me how to play with others.

Joanne may be gone in body, but so long as we all hold her memory, continue her mission, and seek to make a better world, her spirit will live on.

Joanne retired right after my husband Ray died and subsequently we had some profound conversations as she battled with her cancer. We shared books, movies and our sense of loss, she of her health and I of my husband. Joanne was an inspiration and valiant in her fight with cancer. She continued her growth as a human being to the very end. Joanne is a role model for all of us in living life to the fullest while courageously asking the difficult questions about death and its aftermath. I treasure my times with her and believe that the essence embodied in Joanne continues to enrich all of us who loved her.

Paul, my thoughts are with you during this difficult time.

I remember calling Joanne a few months after she stepped down from here research responsibilities at the i- school. I wanted to say hello and hopefully also to give her some words of encouragement. As the conversation went on it turned out that she was the one giving ME advice… it was so characteristic of Joanne to always try to be helpful…

Joanne was an excellent professor. My condolences to her friends, colleagues and family.

Remembering Joanne
We all remember those we love in the ways they have touched our lives. Two remembrances of Joanne keep coming back to me.

Joanne the emerging academic: I had the good fortune to chair Joanne’s committee (my first experience at doing so) and she came down to Virginia Beach to work with me a few days. I remember us walking barefoot on the empty beach, laughing and arguing about whether web site clicks had any validity in determining the viability of the newly emerging Internet businesses. Such was Joanne; learning, discussing and enjoying life to the full.

Joanne the kind and caring: After our child was murdered and I came up to school … like a wounded animal, it was Joanne who put together a collection of good friends, made dinner and provided a safe place where we could all talk about what had happened. Such was Joanne; giving of herself and just knowing what needed to be done.

She will be missed

When we arrived from the heat and dust of Texas, Joanne immediately took us under her outstretched wings. Later we both worked with her at the Information Institute, and I have always been particularly thankful for her mentoring my first big project–the Digital Reference Education Initiative. But it is also those “simple pleasures of life” for which we remember her fondly. We had admired a beautiful bleeding heart bush in her and Paul’s yard. A few days later, a plant appeared on our doorstep–our very own bleeding heart! Such was Joanne’s warmth and kindness. I also remember with fondness the wonderful times at the lake cottage and the convivial evenings at her home.
We will miss her terribly. Our heartfelt condolences and best wishes go out to Paul.

Joanne was such a wonderful teacher and mentor. Her intellect and warmth shone through even in the virtual classroom. She will be greatly missed.

Joanne was indeed a gem – with multiple facets, many of which are paid tribute to in the comments here. I was honored to be both a friend of Joanne’s and for a short time, her Dean. Above all else, I believe Joanne was a shining example of what ‘quiet strength’ means. She never looked for personal credit, she always advanced others before herself. She did very fine research, but never bragged about it. Her focus was on what her research could enable others to accomplish. Joanne always cared about the person as well as their work, and made everyone realize own their value. And to us, Joanne has always exemplified value of the highest type. You will be sadly missed, Joanne, but you will continue to inspire us through our very warm memories of times and talks with you.

I had the great pleasure of working with Joanne more than once and always found her to be gracious, generous with her time and insight, and a genuinely warm and thoughtful person. We will all miss her; my most sincere condolences to her family and the SU community.

When I was first asked to teach the digital library course, Joanne generously shared all her teaching materials with me. I have been using one of her lecture recordings as her guest presentation to my digital library class. She was such a warm and kind person and will be missed dearly.

No single word can describe Joanne, but if forced to choose, I would choose “generous.”

At a time when my daughter and I were struggling with a family breakup, Joanne made us feel we were part of her family. And she did the hardest and best thing that a true friend could do: she told me things I didn’t want to hear.

Joanne gave, and gave, and gave. She and Paul are always in our thoughts.

Joanne helped guide me through my first year as a doctoral student at the i-school after a tumultuous period that preceded it. Her door was always open and she always listened and offered encouragement. She was also an excellent supervisor. I liked Joanne a great deal and will miss her very much. Namaste.

I remember Joanne as a joyful and energetic teacher and mentor. I had the privilege of being in her Digital Libraries class, and then later working with her on a digital library independent study project. Her office was always a welcoming place. In the projects we worked on, Joanne seemed to never see the obstacles, she only saw the ways around them. I feel fortunate to have known her and to have had the opportunity to learn from her. She was an inspirational woman.

I am saddened to hear the loss of Joanne.

When I first joined the Ph.D. program at Syracuse University, Joanne was one of the first people I met and talked to. She gave me advise on the program, and shared some of the very interesting projects she was working on. Her eyes lit up as she was talking about the research she was hoping would get funded.

From then on, we kept chatting every time we ran into each other in the hall or at the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra Concerts that we both enjoyed.

Joanne has always strikes me as a very graceful lady, a competent and passionate researcher, and a kind and calm person.

My condolences to her family and loved ones.

She was a walking oxymoron. As Joanne towered over me the first time I met her at a tea honoring Antje Lemke, one of Joanne’s mentors, I was intimidated by her height and the power of her presence. And I was equally drawn by the warmth of her smile and the openness and liveliness of her demeanor. Joanne Silverstein was not a person one would forget; she was memorable to the core of her being. I knew from that moment that I wanted to work with her. I asked her if she would chair our Local Advisory Committee.

She became a mentor to me in many ways, as I watched the way she skillfully drew together a committee of dedicated workers. She modeled the perfect meeting. With a well-organized agenda, she made sure that the business got attended to, but that the meeting was limited to the business at hand. Her meetings always were limited to an hour. I marveled at what kind of formal training and extensive experience gave her these skills. “How did you learn to do this?” I asked in wonder. “I don’t know, I’ve never been chair of a committee before,” Joanne responded, “never wanted to.”

I admired her directness, her cut-to-the-chase slicing through trivia to get to the heart, the essence of a matter. She brought a natural grace to every encounter, a penetrating interest in what you were up to, a swift dive to deeper levels of meaning. Without ever intending to (and I’m sure, completely unconscious of it) Joanne brought everyone around her to a place of greater depth with her, and with themselves. Formidable. Imposing. When someone is that connected to the deeper truth in a shallower and less honest world, they, the Joannes of the world, hold us to our best selves. I am honored that I was her friend.

Several years ago we worked together on a grant proposal to digitize all of Gage’s letters, and make them accessible to the world. Joanne’s vision went deeper, to a Talmud-inspired database that would virtually bring together Gage scholars to comment on, and contextualize, Gage’s writings. We came close to receiving the grant, but didn’t. And then Joanne went on leave.

In the last few months, we revisited the digitizing project, and Joanne’s vision had broadened, to include all of Gage’s writings, in letters and also speeches, newspaper and magazine articles: all of her published and unpublished writing. Also photos, memorabilia – every aspect of Gage’s life and work digitized and available – with scholar comments – in an interactive way so that a fourth-grader working on a History Day project who came across a piece of information that explained a reference in a letter could add it to the accumulating knowledge base. And here I imagine Joanne’s voice correcting me: “not ‘came,’ as though it might not come to pass. This digitizing project will be a reality, and that student will come across that information and will add it to the database.” I stand corrected. We will do this project, guided by the vision of Joanne. It will be a living memorial to her that will enrich the world for years to come.

Thank you, Joanne, for being in our lives and staying in our hearts and minds.

You can’t help but notice that everyone has a story similar in theme but different in particulars about Joanne’s amazing ability to translate generosity of spirit into acts of kindness and friendship that seemed customized to the person on the receiving end. Just the right touch at the right time for THAT person.

During her first weeks as a doctoral student she was full of concern about her ability to adjust to academia after years in the private sector. Boy, did she not need to worry. At first she visited my office often for feedback and “running some things by me,” but before long I found myself seeking her out for her warmth and support on matters large and small, from cancer to shopping, to family, to research, cheerfully mixing everything together in a way that made you feel at the center of her attention.

Two specific memories that encapsulate Joanne: Imagine I’m standing in front of a class of students, Joanne one of them. Suddenly the eleastic on my slip gives way and the slip slowly forms a puddle around my ankles. There’s a stunned moment and, of course, almost disabling laughter. A short while after class I receive a short email from Joanne, and I wish I had saved it, but the gist of it was “Dear Barbara, I have often had secret worries that something like this would happen to me, but I have you to thank for showing me that it can be handled without killing you, and, by the way, I’ve always wanted a black slip with lace like that, so now I’ll get one.” And thus, Joanne tranformed my awkward moment into a gift to her.

Another vivid memory is of the evenings playing silly parlor games in her home that she and Paul had furnished in oversized couches and ottomans flanking an oversized fireplace. She’d produce a box of party props such as Groucho Marx noses and glasses, and then she’d let things take their course as a bunch of academics laughed themselves silly while at the same time trying not to be too competitive. Just picture Jeff Katzer in a Groucho nose playing “Name That Celebrity.” She simply brought out the fun and kindness in everyone. I have no idea at all why she persisted in thanking US for the privilege of working at our school; it’s she who provided such huge doses of collegial magic.

Paul, it’s impossible to imagine your loss and your fatigue, but you and Joanne as a team gave us so much and there’s no way that can be erased. My condolences to you and to Joanne’s family and friends. Affectionately, Barbara

As a former Project Assistant at the Information Institute of Syracuse, Skytop Road, I have sweet memories of a classy lady who was joyful, kind and thoughtful. Joanne had a knack for understanding people. When I think of Joanne, I think of her beauty, integrity and strength. My sincere sympathy to Paul, her beloved husband and family

Joanne: colleague, mentor, friend, fashion consultant, therapist, and shadchen

I met Joanne when we were first masters students in 1992 and she went on to earn her Ph.D. I remember being in awe of this tall, brilliant, graceful woman. We crossed paths again when she came to work with us at the Information Institute in 1999. We had a gorgeous trip driving to Boston for our first Virtual Reference Desk (VRD) Conference in October, and I remember long talks as we admired the fall colors. Over the next decade, we worked on multiple projects and grants usually focused on K-12 students, teachers, and parents using digital reference services. These projects funded by the U.S. Department of Education and National Science Foundation were such a joy: VRD, several National Science Digital Library projects, the Just Curious research and the Roads from Seneca Falls project. Working with Joanne was always interesting and exciting, and she mentored me as a colleague and never saw me as “just staff”. She was adamant about women helping other women in academia; it was their privilege and duty to help the next one along.

Neither of us liked to fly, and we shared two frightening flights, both from Chicago to Syracuse. The worst one resulted in a rapid return to Chicago when there was smoke on board. We returned safely with the fire trucks and foam trucks prepared for an emergency landing. We weren’t allowed to get our luggage off the plane, so Joanne and I went to the airport hotel with just carry-ons and a small stipend from the airline. We spent that on several glasses of wine to calm our frayed nerves.

As my fashion consultant, she first helped by dressing me in scarves I wore to work, and she would show me different ways to wear them. One of my favorite Joanne comments was after I commented that I liked the jacket I was wearing because it was long enough to cover my rear end. She said with a twinkle in her eye, “I love that in a garment, don’t you?!”

We became close over the years, partly due to the straightforward way she met and faced down the first round of cancer, and gave me the gift of being part of her support team. We let our guard down to allow the other to enter the dark parts of ourselves, where we had doubts and depressions. As a true friend should, she called me on the carpet a few times when I made poor choices or when I refused to see something positive about myself. She was up front and sometimes blunt, but never with unkindness. She was my unpaid therapist, unless we are counting chocolate as a co-pay.

Over the past decade, we had plenty of laughter and tears, some animated conversations, and complete truthfulness about hard topics. She didn’t shy away from the difficult conversations, and was my support when I couldn’t find my way out of darkness sometimes. I appreciate that she trusted me enough to confide in me about hard things she was facing and let me be part of her life when it was scary.

As if being such a dear friend, colleague, mentor, fashion consultant, and therapist isn’t enough, she was our shadchen (matchmaker) who introduced me to the love of my life.

When we moved to our new home, Joanne gave us ferns from her yard, which are planted where I can see them every time I look out the kitchen window. I love that part of Joanne’s joy in plants are gracing my garden.

I am still in awe of this tall, brilliant, graceful woman. She enriched my life in ways I am still discovering. I learned so much from her and will treasure her generous gift of spirit.

I am SO saddened and shocked to hear of this. I had no idea.

She was so very kind to me while I was a student in her class. She always presented such interesting ways to look at digital libraries. That semester for me was particularly troublesome for me personally, but she was easily approachable and understood and worked with me through everything. She was someone I felt comfortable approaching outside of the classroom setting just as easy as within the classroom setting.

My condolences are extended to the family and the Syracuse community.

I met Joanne day one of my PhD course – our first chat turned into a lifetime of friendship. She shared her home (and camp!) and her family and her wonderful friendship with me. We tackled panic with cooking, academic overload through novels and movies, and good times with fine dinners and walks and talks.

We had wonderful times at the camp. She did me the great favor of attending the symphony with Ian. Joanne came to London in 1999 when I had my daughter Hannah, and the two of us attempted to learn how to make and infant happy. Joanne and Paul came to London for the Millennium Celebration, Dec 31, 1999 is a night I will never forget. Our talks carried over from Syracuse to London to Boston without missing a beat. We cheered each other on through dissertation, graduation and for success in our jobs.

Joanne taught me to encourage the artistic and to accept and even nurture the sensitive side of my girls, and they are so much more precious for it. She was wonderful to watch with Hannah, sharing both her makeup and her outlook on life; she was kind and interested and fun and Hannah loved her.

Joanne was a connoisseur of art, music, and literature – the real deal; she adored seeing, hearing, reading, thinking, and discussing. We always had lively phone conversations that allowed us to step out of the 9-5 life and head somewhere fun pretty fast.

Joanne shared with me her hopes and fears born of her illness; her attempts at accept the inevitable but delay it as long as possible. She knew the plane was coming in for a landing, with some real turbulence on the descent (her analogy).

Oh I miss my dear dear friend Joanne. You will always be part of our family. Thanks for everything.