Memorial to Mary Larsgaard as a Mentor and Friend

by Katherine L. Rankin

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Mary Larsgaard was the first map librarian I met.  My boss had asked me to join MAGIRT because we were trying to get a grant to get a temporary map cataloger for our maps in Special Collections, and my boss, who was a member, was retiring.  That was probably 1987.  Mary was president of MAGIRT.  At ALA Annual, I went up to Mary to ask her a question about the field trip.  Soon after the conference, she mailed me a note asking me to be on the MAGIRT membership committee that she chaired.  Then she decided that she and I should write up a handout of helpful hints for small map collections and mail it to prospective MAGIRT members.  She provided the data and I was the secretary for that project. Next she and I turned the handout into an article with suggestions from Betsy Mangan.  I was off and running on publications to help me get tenure because, although I was not a new librarian, I had not come up for tenure in my previous jobs.

Many years later Mary and I did a presentation on RDA and cartographic material for a WAML meeting.  We also worked on a MAGIRT LibGuide that was a guide for new map librarians. At the ALA conference in Las Vegas in 2014, we participated in a panel on the same subject.

Besides being a great colleague and mentor, Mary was a wonderful friend.  Whenever I did something for her, no matter how small, she sent me a gift or a nice card or both.  It could be as small a favor as giving her a ride at a meeting.  Her brother-in-law played tennis with a mystery writer whose books I enjoy.  She bought me one of the author’s books, had her brother-in-law have the author autograph it, and sent it to me.  Her gifts were very thoughtful.  After I did the MAGIRT panel with her, she sent me a box of note cards with a map of California as an island, a box of notecards with maps as artwork, and a tiny Japanese fan that she said was in honor of how hot it is in Las Vegas.

At the banquet at a Pasadena WAML meeting, there were not enough waiters, and the tables were set up in such a way that the waiters could reach Mary’s water glass but could not reach my and my husband’s glasses.  When the waiters filled Mary’s glass, she would pour water from it into our glasses.  It is not everyone who will share her water.

I will miss Mary’s expertise with maps and with map cataloging, but even more, I will miss her wry sense of humor and her kindness.

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