Valerie Bross has come to live with us at Caring House. We’re honored.
The middle child of Rida and Irwin Bross, Valerie was born in Manhattan and spent her first years in the Whitestone neighborhood of the New York City borough of Queens. Her father Irwin was a researcher and educator in biostatistics and his work took to the family to the Buffalo, NY area, where Valerie and her brothers (Dean and Neal) were raised. Valerie graduated from Amherst Central High School.
In high school, she took a college freshman level course in Linguistics at the University of Buffalo (UB). The world-class linguist who taught Valerie’s class praised her abilities in languages and linguistics. Valerie’s mother was studying Linguistics at UB and working on her Masters.
Valerie’s college education took her to the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, where she majored in Linguistics. Her studies then took her to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor where she earned her Master of Arts in Library Science. She’s maintained a lifelong fascination with languages — as well as with the many other aspects of the cultures of the world.
She first worked as a librarian at the Illinois State University. Librarians are encouraged to have a specialization, so Valerie left that job to earn a second Masters degree, this time in ESL (teaching English as a second language) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UI). While studying at UI she participated in a student exchange program with the People’s Republic of China.
Fast forward through stays at the libraries of Central Missouri State University, Vanderbilt, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and California State University Stanislaus, she was welcomed to UCLA in 1998.
She helped establish UCLA as a national leader in serials cataloging. She has been a highly sought after trainer of others, as well as a thorough reviewer for new catalogers. She served or led many committees that developed the standards the library community uses in its cataloging work.
Valerie goes above and beyond. Just one example: When the UCLA library system had a backlog in Arabic and Persian language materials, she went out and learned Arabic to get the titles cataloged for researchers..
Her work has brought her professional awards both at UCLA and nationally. Quoting from one of her awards,
Bross combines a consistent and career-long profile as an early adopter, tester and trainer in the use of new tools and technologies, with an uncanny ability to convey to others her enthusiasm for learning and mastering new skills.
And from another,
Valerie’s work has been significant, not just because of her dedication, her energy, her analytical abilities and her creativity, all of which serve as an inspiration to her colleagues, but because she always supports and encourages the contributions of others..
Typical of the admiration she has elicited from colleagues at other libraries is this observation:
She was one of the best minds in the business as well as a generous spirit. I’ve often thought how wonderful it would be to have someone like Valerie as a mentor, and I’d like to think that her influence will live on in the people who were lucky enough to work with her.
Fundamental to Valerie’s world view is that people should be treated with respect and dignity. And she’s the third generation of staunch feminists. Her Dad’s mother (Nana) was a suffragette activist and when a general meeting on women’s rights was organized in Buffalo — Nana, Rida and Valerie were enthusiastic attendees.
Right away we at Caring House learned that Valerie is a serious person, who plans ahead. We also immediately saw in her the welcoming heart of a diplomat — making sure to connect us with her visiting family and friends, and them with us.
We’re glad that Valerie is with us at Caring House. We look forward to bringing her peace and comfort, and learning from her.
Valerie died on October 11, 2016. Honor her. Remember her.