As if all of the recent news about folks leaving news librarianship somewhat unwillingly hasn’t made us feel enough like we’re among the last ones at work late on a night with a glorious, exciting weekend beckoning to us once we leave, one of its superstars just took the elevator down to the lobby.
Barbara Semonche has retired.
That would indeed be the Barbara Semonche, champion, heroine, inspiration, and more to many news librarians around the world. Among her many accomplishments and credits is editing News Media Libraries: A Management Handbook, which found its way onto the shelves of many, many news libraries as a sort of quasi-religious tome and how-to manual for the profession. When I first read it, I was new to news librarianship and found it immensely helpful. I think I read it cover-to-cover several times while learning the ropes and writing papers in graduate school. A gem among writings about news libraries, it was the first book of its kind published in decades. A pillar among Special Libraries Association News Division members, she started the discussion list Newslib for the group back in the days when email discussion lists were a new, cutting-edge tool. It grew into one of the most important links between news librarians around the world and will probably remain so for as long as there are news librarians.
I’ve always admired Barbara. Every profession needs at least one person like her. It is up to us to fill her very large shoes. While I’ve been emotionally preparing myself for her retirement, reading her Friday email confirming her depature still brought tears to my eyes and more questions about what’s next for news librarianship to mind.
Barbara, thank you for everything you’ve done for the profession! Congratulations and all the best to you!