For nearly three decades, reference librarian Georgianna Herman was a prime resource for graduate students in industrial relations at the University of Minnesota.
Herman oversaw the reference room, now housed at the Carlson School of Management, and built it into one of the most authoritative libraries of its kind in the country.
“She was a library in herself, she was so knowledgeable,” recalls Kaye Lamb Aho, who was a graduate student and worked for Herman in the 1970s. “She was such a treasure for all of us who were studying for a master’s or Ph.D.”
Herman, a 1953 graduate of the business school at the U, was known to all as Georgie. She died July 26 at 88 of COVID-19 at the Sunrise of Roseville senior living facility.
She retired in 2001 at 70 and her colleagues threw a party, naming the library after her. Bob Butterbrodt, her friend and attorney, said she was delighted with the honor. He said she would say, “I know I don’t look like anybody who would have a library named after me, but you can’t imagine how much fun it is.”
John Fossum, a retired professor and chair of the industrial relations department at the Carlson school, said Herman was instrumental in starting and maintaining a collection of materials on all facets of employment that were available to students, faculty and the general public.
Many students doing research saw her more often than they did their professors.
“If you are thinking about a beloved person, she was it,” Fossum said. “She cared for all of the students and people who worked there.”
In a 2019 alumni interview, she told how a professor called her in a panic to find materials he needed for a speech he was to give out of town.
“I found the materials he needed and had to run out to his car to deliver them as he was on his way to the airport,” she recalled.
Born in St. Paul, she lived in the St. Paul home where she grew up with her parents and enjoyed her collection of dollhouses and miniatures that made the house look festive.
She told the 2019 interviewer she was not interested in being a homemaker.
“I liked to joke that I didn’t want to grow up to bake cookies,” she was quoted as saying. She and her brother, Karl, were extremely close, said Hank Borg, a friend of her late brother. She had an attractive backyard garden that a landscaper worked on, and she enjoyed holding garden parties, said Lou Ann Donahue, who was married to one of her cousins.
“She was vibrant, she loved to talk,” Donahue said. “If you had a gathering of people, she led the conversation.”