In Memoriam: Barbara Semonche

We received the sad news today that Barbara Semonche passed away on Wednesday, May 13, 2015. There will be a Remembrance Celebration on June 13th at the family’s home. We have lost a great champion of news libraries, mentor and friend. Her work and dedication to the News Division will long be remembered. She not only devoted countless hours and energy to the News Division but also to other SLA chapters and divisions as well as many students at UNC-Chapel Hill. Many colleagues are sharing warm memories of her on the NewsLib mailing list. Our condolences to the family.


In memory of Dana Gordon, husband and friends walk in fundraiser for EIF Revlon Run/Walk for Women

Hi Everyone,

As you know, our friend and colleague Dana Gordon died at age 50 in March
after a short fight with uterine cancer. Her husband and friends are
fundraising for the EIF Revlon Run/Walk for Women, which raises money for
women’s cancers.

Dana was a major contributor to the library profession, especially news
libraries, and to the professional success of her colleagues. Dana worked
on SLA NY committees and mentored countless colleagues. She was also an
avid conference goer and a big supporter of Newslib.

The event is this Saturday, and the team has raised more than $2800, with
a target goal of $3000. If you knew Dana, or have been affected by women’s
cancers in your own life or your loved ones, please consider donating via
Team Dana Gordon (link below). You can contribute to the team in general
or via a team member you might know on the list. It’s all web-based and
quite easy to do, and you can give whatever you like, if you are so

Thanks for taking the time to read this.


Seth Bookey

Dana Gordon 1961-2012

On Thursday morning Debra Bade shared with us on NewsLib some very shocking and somber news about one of our colleagues, Dana Gordon.  Below is Debra’s post and some expressions of sympathy about the loss of a valued member of our profession.

This is a Webcast of her service, which was held on Sunday, April 1st at 11:30 a.m. at the Plaza Jewish Community Chapel in New York City.

Crain’s New York Business, where Dana had been the research editor, published an article about her on April 2, 2012.  A subscription is required to read it.  The article can be found here.

This is a picture of Dana from her Facebook page along with some pictures from Chris Hardesty, Alice Pepper, and Lisa Bergtraum.  Also, via The Barbara Semonche Files, we have a photo of her taken by Ron Larson at the 2004 awards banquet in Nashville. If you have pictures you would like me to include on this page, you can send them to me (Carolyn) at Also, I created a group in Flickr called News_Libraries.  I’ll have to send you an invitation to the group and then you can load photos with captions there. Thanks everyone for your contributions to this page.

From Debra Bade:

Some very sad and stunning news – our dear friend and colleague, Dana Gordon, has died. Many of you will remember Dana from her years with Newsweek and more recently with Crain’s. Dana was so smart, and charming, and accomplished — I know that she has had an impact on many of us, both professionally and personally, and we miss her tremendously.

This is the message on facebook from her husband this morning for those who may not have seen it:

Dana Gordon 1961-2012
Dana Gordon passed away early this morning from cancer. She was my wife. We loved each other dearly and I will miss her terribly. I will post funeral / condolence plans as soon as they are available.

From Carolyn Edds:


This is very sad news. I remember Dana as someone who always had a smile on her face and who had lots of energy and ideas for the News Division.

Thank you for sharing it.

From Derek Willis:

I am terribly sad to read this. Dana was a friend and someone who always was thinking of the next thing for news libraries. To not have her voice and presence is a loss for us all.

From Emily Glenn:

This is heartbreaking. I saw the announcement on Facebook this morning and was stunned. Dana was always great fun to hang out with at conferences. My condolences to her husband and family.

From Helen Kwong:

I met Dana at the SLA conference in Philly. I was a student and she was so kind and helpful. I interned for her at Crain’s New York from September to February. She was an amazing boss and a mentor. The research department was in the far corner of the newsroom, hidden behind the mail area. Her smile, cheerfulness and passion for research lit up that corner. It was her reference that got me a job at NBC InfoCenter. Like Shira, I will forever be in her debt.

From Shira Kavon:

I am so very sad to read of Dana’s passing. She was instrumental in my coming to CNN NY 12 years ago. I will forever be in her debt for that.

For those who knew her locally, please pass along any news of where shiva might be observed or where donations might be made in her memory.

From Deborah W. Hillyer:

I was very sad to hear this news. I met Dana when she came to Crain’s New York, in all of our meetings she was always so enthusiastic about research and data, so upbeat, bright and pleasant to work with.  I will miss her as a co-worker.

From Leigh Montgomery:


Dana Gordon is well-remembered as dedicated to advancing professional learning; that she was wholly, inherently motivated in this area is how she lived her life in so many others I’m sure.  Including our own – she organized some rigorous seminars specifically for news librarians, new managers, and more.  She would refine them, the follow-up would be asking for ideas, what worked, how this could be improved – based on
what was needed to know now.

We had a visit together while she was in Boston weekly teaching business research at Simmons GSLIS.  We had a long and wide-ranging conversation, and she was brimming with ideas for the students and professors in her other position at the College of New Jersey.

I did say to Dana how fortunate those students were to have her as an instructor.  I am grateful now I did so.  My condolences to Steve and all of her family and friends; Dana is in the landscapes of many of our memories.

From Kathryn Pease:

Dana was a tremendous colleague, mentor, and above all, a friend.  Through the sadness, I’m trying to think of happier times–times when  I’d pick her up from the train station on Long Island and we’d spend  the day at the beach. That’s what I want to remember right now… I’m so thankful to have known her.  She will be missed by so many.

From Eli Edwards:


Thank you so much for getting the news out so quickly.

Dana was always a friendly face at News Division events and continually willing to lend a hand.  I never had the opportunity to work with her, but her expertise and professionalism shone through, as did her spirit and good humor. Condolences to her family, friends and colleagues …

The Semonche Files aid in recreating a memorial page for Joe Wright, former Miami News research director

Tonight as I was adding categories and tags to the old NewsliBlog postings, I came across one that had a link to a page Barbara Semonche had created in memory of Joe Wright, former research director at the Miami News.  The blog linked to an outdated link on the Park Library Web site.  I went digging through the CD I have containing most of the files Barbara created during her tenure at the Park Library.  I was excited to find the HTML file and related photos.  I loaded those files on this site and you can see the page here:

Thanks Barbara for compiling all this material and preserving the history of news libraries and news librarians!

Obit from The Buffalo News: Harvey Elsaesser, retired News librarian, organist

This is an obit for Harvey Elsaesser, a former news librarian for The Buffalo News. The obituary said he worked in the library for 44 years, starting in 1944 and retiring in 1988. He was also an organist who played at many local churches. Read his entire obit here.

Obituaries for news librarians and researchers

On Thursday morning, after reading the obit of Harvey Elsaesser, former news librarian at The Buffalo News, I decided to create a tag on the historical site to collect obituaries of news librarians and researchers. I also added one for Maudie A. Lawson, who passed away in December 2010. I’ll dig through the NewsLib archives and will add more. These will be a good resource when researching the history of news libraries.

Obit for Maudie A. Lawson, former news librarian at the Springfield News-Leader

Maudie A. Lawson, former news librarian at the Springfield News-Leader, died in December 2010.  She passed away from a terminal illness.  She said since she had been a obituary writer at one point in her career, she chose to write her own obit.  She said she was instrumental in the launch of the newsroom’s Web site and developed an interest in database development. You can read the full obit here.

Maudie Lawson, 1955-2010

Maudie A. Lawson, news librarian at the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, has passed away from colon cancer at the age of 55. She once worked as an obituary writer, and took the unique opportunity to write her own obit.

She asked that memorials be sent to the Hart Cemetery C/O Pattie Ayers, HC 2 Box 2794, Theodosia, Mo. 65761; Community Christian Church of Springfield, 4806 E. Cherry, Springfield, Mo. 65809 or Hospice & Palliative Care, 1538 S. Enterprise, Springfield, Mo. 65804.

Liz Donovan

Liz Donovan started this blog in May 2003. It seemed appropriate to post here the message about her death that has been shared today on NewsLib and NICAR-L from Megan Waters at The Miami Herald.

From: Waters, Megan
To: The NewsLib mailing list
Date: Wed, Dec 10, 2008 at 10:15 AMjavascript:void(0)
Subject: [newslib] FW: Liz Donovan

All — We’re sad to report that Liz Donovan has passed away. -Megan

—–Original Message—–
From: Hirsch, Rick – Miami
Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2008 10:06 AM
To: .MIA Newsroom
Subject: Liz Donovan


Liz Donovan, longtime news researcher at The Miami Herald and a good friend to many in our newsroom, died at a hospital in Gainesville, Ga. Liz had been battling lung cancer.

Liz worked with Woodward and Bernstein on the Watergate story (she is thanked in the book credits) at the Washington Post before joining The Herald in 1981. Here, she assisted hundreds of reporters on projects ranging from routine to investigative, before retiring in 2004 to Murphy, N.C.

She was a pioneer in database reporting and research, and her Infomaniac Blog was one the first of its kind. On it, she explains the name:

The “Infomaniac” title comes from a 1994 article about a new kind of news researcher by John Ullman in The Database Files newsletter. They named me Infomaniac of the Year that year.

We don’t have more details yet, but will share them when we do.

Rick and Anders

Rick Hirsch
Multimedia Editor
The Miami Herald