Kjell Jonsson in 1977
Kjell Jonsson and I became good friends in our early teens as we were schoolmates and both of us worked part time, Saturdays and evenings, at the local public library in Södertälje. We were also in some respect outsiders, Kjell because of his almost constant physical illness. He suffered a.o. from severe asthma and had stopped growing. I was a frail and sensitive teenager with low self-esteem. Probably because of this life situation we both became bookish and some time around 1970 I introduced Kjell to UFO literature found in my parents library. He immediately became very fascinated by the subject and an avid reader of UFO books.
Kjell Jonsson as a young UFO enthusiast in 1971. Notice the flying saucer button.
In the Autumn of 1970 we started contacting local UFO groups and were introduced to the national organization UFO-Sweden that had been founded in 1970. As a result of this contact Kjell and I founded a local group, UFO-Södertälje, in November 1970. After a few years of operating this group our interest became more and more research oriented, which was also the view shared by our common friend Anders Liljegren in Norrköping. Inspired by Jacques Vallee and John Keel the three of us founded Arbetsgruppen för ufologi (AFU) on March 17, 1973, as a small informal working group.
Our aim was building a foundation for serious UFO research in Sweden but in 1974 both Anders Liljegren and I were occupied with personal and practical problems. Our magazine Ufologen was folded in the Spring of 1974 and in the Autumn I moved to Stockholm and began my studies at Stockholms University. The day to day work of keeping AFU alive then for a time rested on the shoulders of Kjell Jonsson. And it was in the beginning of 1974 that he got the brilliant idea of starting a UFO library. In a letter written February 12, 1974 to a Swedish ufologist he tries to explain the situation: "I am now the only active AFU representative. AFU has closed down all former activities, our magazine Ufologen and field investigations. Instead I am presently engaged in planning a lending library of books and magazines and will also serve ufologists with copies of magazine articles."
Kjell with the first two AFU bookshelves 1977
The "UFO librarian" in 1978
We both chose to become librarians as profession and we entered The Swedish School of Library and Information Science in Borås, but not at the same time. We did get one term together though in the Spring of 1977. As his subject for a thesis Kjell decided to write the first Swedish UFO bibliography. He spent a tremendous amount of work on this thesis, visiting and interviewing ufologists and it was subsequently published by AFU in 1977, Svensk UFO-bibliografi 1946-1975.
Kjell working on his UFO bibliography in the Spring of 1977
Today AFU is the worlds largest UFO and Fortean archive and library. My thoughts sometimes goes to my old friend and AFU colleague, Kjell Jonsson, who made this dream possible with his pioneering hard work and idealism.