Our Mentor Barbara Semonche Passed Away

Someone forwarded to Newslib a note from the North Carolina Special Libraries Association chapter announcing the May 13 passing of Barbara Semonche, a beloved and well-known retired librarian from the University of North Carolina’s Park Journalism Library. Her family is planning a remembrance celebration for family, friends and colleagues that I think aligns with the SLA Annual Conference.

Barbara was amazing. She was a, uh, “libraryhold” name among many news librarians. She put together a wonderful, giant, helpful book on news librarianship that became an essential read in many settings. I referred to it often when I was in grad school and a new news librarian. When I first met Barbara at an SLA conference, I remember feeling at a loss for words when meeting this superstar. We corresponded regularly when I was a professional librarian. She was always very kind and wise. And often funny (ha ha). One of the conference regulars, we always looked forward to her presence in our gatherings.

It’s been a few years since I’ve seen her at conference. I knew this day would come eventually, but that doesn’t make it easier.

The thoughts of an entire profession are with her family, friends, and colleagues.

I can’t help thinking about a conversation I had with her years ago about how news librarianship is in decline and who the future mentors would be when folks of Barbara’s ilk retire or otherwise leave the profession. She basically replied, “That’s your job. You all need to become stellar mentors like we were.”

Barbara, we hope you are reading our “verbal bouquets.” People’s remembrances include comments about how she gave a lot of us wings and now has her own and how she’s probably already gathered all the news librarians in heaven together for some great conversations. Gotta love her!

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