Logo Top Banner
slogan Alaska Timeline Alaska Kids About
Peer Work
Family & Community
History & Culture
Digital Archives
Narrative & Healing
Reading & Writing
Libraries & Booksellers
Library Programs

Library Profiles

Library Resources

Library Galleries

Bookstore Profiles

Teaching & Learning
Contact Us

  Search Litsite Alaska
Find us on Facebook

Libraries and Booksellers

Home  >  Libraries and Booksellers  >  Library Profiles
Barbara Jorgenson, Reference Librarian, Loussac Library
By Stefan Marti

Reference Librarians, what do they do? They greet you with a pleasant smile if you're looking for a book, type some commands on their archaic computer and come up with a number like PS8311.669.114. But what else are they doing when they're not smiling behind that desk?

For this, we go to the expert, Barbara Jorgenson, one of Alaska's finest librarians. "I am officially the librarian that seeks obscure books and information," Jorgenson says. When other librarians can't find a quote or article, they call Jorgenson.

Jorgenson was born in Zurich, Switzerland, met an American Pastor in Geneva, married him, and they came to the US. After a few years in the Midwest, they moved to Brevig Mission, a small Eskimo village of 160 inhabitants, 90 miles north of Nome. Her husband was the pastor in the village and she was the school secretary. The town was simple; there were no roads, no toilets, no running water. They lived on top of the church with a beautiful ocean view.

Barbara Jorgenson
"It was a dangerous living out there," Jorgenson says. "If you got sick, there was no doctor around. The closest doctor was 90 air miles away in Nome, but if there was a storm the planes couldn't fly." They would order their food two weeks in advance from Anchorage, and a plane from Nome would eventually bring it in. Jorgenson explains how flabbergasted her daughter was at seeing a supermarket in Nome. "Can we actually take the food off the shelf?" she asked.

After three years in northwestern Alaska, the Jorgenson family moved back to Chicago, where Jorgenson completed her Master's in Library Science and Information at Dominican University. In 1995, they moved back to Anchorage, and Jorgenson has been a reference librarian at Loussac.

Jorgenson explains what originally brought her to the library. "I wanted to work in a place that contributes to society, " she says. "The library is the last truly democratic institution, everyone has the same access."

She enjoys working with people, and loves to read, but her favorite part of her job is seeking obscure quotes and articles. "It's like being a detective," she says. "I love the search for that piece of information, with persistence I will find it." She has many tools that help her: the Internet, library catalogues across the U.S., electronic mailing lists (where a group of people aid your search) and e-mail.

Jorgenson remembers a recent case in which a patron read a quote from a small magazine on a Website, and wanted to find the entire article and the magazine it was from. Jorgenson couldn't find the title of the magazine anywhere, so she went to the Internet and found the original Website article which had the quote. She e-mailed the Website and asked where they got the information for the quote. Someone e-mailed her back, saying he forwarded her question to a person in Florida. A day later the person in Florida e-mailed Jorgenson back, said she had the article from the magazine and by chance was coming up to Alaska in a few days. She hand delivered the article to Jorgenson, and Jorgenson then gave it to the patron. "He was extremely pleased," she says, "and we looked good."

If you are ever lost in finding the elusive source of a quote, or some obscure piece of information, go to the reference counter at Loussac or give Jorgenson a call.

Put the detective to work. She'll find it.

Listen to Audio
IBM Text to Speech

Related Articles
Jane Baird, Young Adult Librarian, Loussac Library
Marit Vick, Librarian, North Pole High School
Michael Catoggio, Reference Librarian, University of Alaska Anchorage
Denise Halliday, Girdwood Head Librarian
Jerri Nagaruk, Head Librarian, Ernest Nylin Memorial Library

  Contact Us       LitSite Alaska, Copyright © 2000 - 2023. All rights reserved. UAA / University of Alaska Anchorage.
University of Alaska Anchorage