Ex-librarian gets first privileges at newest branch Mount Airy woman honored for service SOUTHWEST -- Mount Airy * Woodbine * Taylorsville * Winfield

January 11, 1993|By Kathy Sutphin | Kathy Sutphin,Contributing Writer

In Monday's Carroll County edition, former Mount Airy Mayor Norman Etzler's name was misspelled in a photo caption.

The Sun regrets the error.

Paying homage to Elizabeth "Betty" Normandy's nearly 25 years of nurturing library patronage in the Mount Airy community, county library officials gave her the honor Friday of checking out the first book at Carroll County's newest library branch.

Mrs. Normandy, 90, had a front-row seat when county officials cut a red ribbon to open Mount Airy's new library on Ridge Avenue.


A large audience of enthusiastic first patrons of the new facility cheered as branch librarian Greg Becker used Mrs. Normandy's library card to check out a large print edition of "Me; Stories of My Life" by Katharine Hepburn.

Before the library ceremony, officials opened the Mount Airy Senior Center on the upper level of the dual-use building while Mrs. Normandy, who uses a walker, had her first opportunity to see the interior of the spacious library.

"I'm tremendously impressed by the length of the main area and to see all those books," she said. "We've grown so many times and now we've reached the peak."

Mrs. Normandy came to Mount Airy in 1967 in search of a house to live in during her retirement years and found a job as librarian at the Mount Airy Community Library.

She remembers the one-room branch library, which was located upstairs at Town Hall, as being the "focal point" of the community.

"It was a good way to meet people right there in the heart of town. People would drop in," she said, adding she remembers having storytelling hours on the weekends for children. "My favorite memories are of my associates there -- Mrs. [Janet] Devinney and Mrs. [Yvonne] Gosnell."

A former librarian with the National Education Association in Washington, D.C., Mrs. Normandy said she chose Mount Airy for her retirement homestead because, at that time, she had one son who lived seven miles north and another who lived seven miles south.

Although Mrs. Normandy no longer has family members living nearby, she chooses to stay in Mount Airy.

"This is my home town -- definitely," she said.

Mrs. Normandy retired prior to the library's 1976 move to 110 S. Main St., but has continued her membership in Friends of the Mount Airy Library, a group that has been active since 1972 in securing more adequate library facilities for the town.

She also was chosen to check out the first book when the Main Street facility opened Jan. 9, 1976.

On April 5, 1991, Mrs. Normandy attended the ground-breaking ceremony for the Ridge Avenue facility.

She took home an envelope of the dirt from the ground-breaking that she still keeps as a souvenir.

Although failing eyesight limits her reading, Mrs. Normandy plans to visit the 27,000-square-foot, $4.3 million building as a regular patron of the Mount Airy senior center.

"My eyes gave out for much reading," she said, noting that she still enjoys doing needlepoint on plastic canvas. "I use my eyes for my crafts."

Mrs. Normandy said her lifelong love of books began in Takoma Park, where she spent her childhood as the eldest of four daughters.

The 1925 graduate of the University of Michigan said the classics have always been her favorite books.

She said her earliest memories include her mother and grandmother reading to her.

"Our family always liked to read," she said. "The library was only a couple of blocks away."

Ann Wisner, a public information specialist for the county library system, said that during the preparation of a display of news articles for the opening of the Mount Airy library, officials noticed that Betty Normandy was involved in several phases of the library's history.

"She was the first person to check out at the other branch, so it just seemed appropriate" to give her that honor Friday, Mrs. Wisner said.

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