In Memoriam: Barbara Semonche


Barbara Semonche, a longtime SLA member who received the association’s highest honor, the John Cotton Dana Award, in 2004, died last week at the age of 82.

Barbara joined SLA in 1977 and was especially active in the News Division, which she chaired in 1984, and the North Carolina Chapter, which she served as president in 1993-1994. In addition to receiving the Dana Award, Barbara was named a Fellow of SLA in 1995 and was inducted into the association’s Hall of Fame in 2009. The News Division honored her with the Agnes Henebry Roll of Honor Award (1990) and the Joseph F. Kwapil Memorial Award (1995).

A speech therapist and special education teacher earlier in her career, Barbara enrolled at the School of Library Science at the University of North Carolina (UNC) in 1974 and received her library degree two years later. After graduating, she convinced management at the Durham (N.C.) Herald-Sun, which did not then have a news library, to hire her to create a library and serve as its librarian. She managed the newspaper’s library until 1990, when she became director of the library at the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication. During her 19-year tenure at UNC, Barbara taught courses in Internet and database use and created an Internet discussion site for news researchers.

Barbara complemented her SLA activities by volunteering with other professional groups, including the North Carolina Library Association, the North Carolina Archivists, the North Carolina Newspaper Project, and the American Society of Indexers. She wrote several articles on news libraries and visited many newspaper and journalism libraries in the course of her research.

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