Corinne Wocelka: “Because of her, Lawrence is a better place”

Corinne WocelkaThe library was very saddened to hear about the sudden passing of Corinne Wocelka, former Associate Professor and Director of Technical Services. Corinne retired from the Mudd Library in 2010 after 33 years at Lawrence. Her passion for public service and exacting standards were well-known in the library and across campus. Many of us also knew of her impressive skills at bridge, her devotion to the Packers, and her love of music. In light of that love of music, members of the library staff were willing to embarrass themselves by performing a dance in her honor at her retirement celebration.

Upon her retirement, Associate Professor and Library Director Peter Gilbert wrote about some of Corinne’s many contributions to Lawrence and to the library:

The director of technical services — the job that Corinne has held since 1985 — is responsible for acquisitions, cataloging, periodicals and government documents. In these last 25 years, each of those areas has undergone a massive shift in how the work is done as the world of information storage and retrieval has moved from paper to electronic. In fact, Corinne’s entire career at Lawrence — as circulation assistant, acquisitions librarian, and director of technical services — has been all about that core library value: helping people get the stuff they need for teaching and learning, no matter what the format.

One of the main signs of that shift was the transition from the card catalog to LUCIA, Lawrence’s online catalog. Corinne was, of course, a lead player in that transition — and the later transition from one vendor’s system to another. The number of details that are involved in shifts like that is just boggling, but Corinne managed to keep it all in her head (or on her desk). She also managed to keep library users in the forefront. Her priority was always to help make things easier for the reader. If you can find anything in the library, it’s because of Corinne’s efforts.

Another of the many reasons everyone loves Corinne is that it’s been her job to buy things for the library — and she was tireless in locating and acquiring materials for teaching, learning and research. Many, many faculty have praised her willingness to “go the extra mile” to help them get the books, music and videos they needed.

In addition to her excellent library work, Corinne has been an active participant in faculty committees. The Honors Committee, especially, has benefited from her high standards and attention to detail. Hundreds of students brought their honors papers to her and she responded with support and enthusiasm for even the most esoteric topics.

That support and enthusiasm extended throughout Corinne’s work at Lawrence. Whether it was creating records for the online catalog, searching for an obscure video or reading an honors paper about C. elegans, Corinne has focused her attention on the people.

When Corinne was promoted to associate professor, Dennis Ribbens, the library director, said about her, “Were she to leave today, there is no way I could replace her with only one person … Probably no one person knows more about the entire spectrum of this place than she … Because of her, Lawrence is a better place.”

Suffice it to say, both the library and the campus are better places because of her work and we’ll miss her. I’m sure, however, that her retirement travels will bring her occasionally back to the Mudd — and we’re glad of that.

A celebration of Corinne’s life will be held at her retirement community, Touchmark (2601 Touchmark Dr, Appleton) on Saturday, September 27th in the afternoon. More details will be added as they become available.

Update: The following memorial service details were published in her obituary in the Post-Crescent:

The memorial service for Corinne will be held at 4:00 PM on Saturday, September 27, 2014 in the chapel at TOUCHMARK ON PROSPECT, 2601 Touchmark Drive in Appleton, with Rev. Jane Anderson officiating. Family and friends are invited to gather at Touchmark on Saturday from 2:00 PM until the time of the memorial service. In lieu of flowers, memorials to Lawrence University are appreciated. Online condolences can be offered at