Mary Lynette Larsgaard

(August 4, 1946 — July 18, 2017)

by Stanley D. Stevens
Map Librarian Emeritus
University of California Santa Cruz

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Mary was famous for many qualities, not the least of which was her humor. There are many examples, but the note she sent to me on January 20, 1984, expresses it best: “I’ve started work on writing the second edition of Map Librarianship, and would greatly appreciate hearing suggestions for the book’s improvement. Anonymous messages are fine! (but please, no swearing).”

Her dedication, her kindness, and her consideration of others, are her other hallmarks.

Mary's Facebook profile photoMary’s magnum opus, the Third Edition of Map Librarianship (1998), is dedicated to me and our colleague Phil Hoehn (Map Librarian Emeritus of the Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley). She was so generous and appreciative, and wrote: “If you look closely, you’ll see in these lines all your good advice to me over the years.” In my copy, added a manuscript note: “Stan — “Thanks” doesn’t begin to cover it! With affection from Mary.”

I like her modesty from the Preface of Topographic Mapping of Africa, Antarctica, and Eurasia: “This monograph and its companion volume have been for me a massive research work, occupying most of my so-called leisure time for the past fifteen years. I have frequently had to lash myself – first toward and then to – my desk, not particularly looking forward to the drudgery awaiting me, soon to be barricaded behind musty, dusty, dreary walls of books. Always within a half an hour I was once again in the steamy jungles of Central America or French Equatorial Africa, or on a mountain ledge in the Rockies. It has been well worth all my efforts.”

I was the Production Editor for that volume, WAML’s Occasional Paper No. 14. Mary was also the Editor of the WAML Information Bulletin at the time. On Jan. 7, 1992, she sent me the manuscript and suggested the following process: “… why don’t you look it over, note changes that need to be made, and get them to me by, say, end of Feb? end of March? because I still have about 15 ills. plus a recheck of text against bib to make sure all cities are listed. … there’s no point in your doing formatting when I’ll be sending you corrected versions of many files later on.”

She was worried about the readers’ perception of her work, because the diacritical marks needed for proper style were not available to her at that time. She indicated that “there are a good many diacritics I couldn’t find in the extended character set – mainly Slavic but some Portuguese: [that was followed by her manuscript markings that she wanted] … Did I miss something? or do we need to put something in intro. that notes these diacritics are missing?”  Indeed she did! On page xix of her Preface she advised that “Some diacritic marks, especially those for some Slavic and Portuguese letters, seem not to exist in the ASCII Extended Character Set that my personal computer recognizes and therefore do not appear; some examples of this are the tilde over a, e, and o, and the slash through l.”

She also remembered her audience: “It seems now a very long time since I started out on my sensible (or so I thought) idea of writing a survey of world topographic mapping. I could not have accomplished what I have without the help and encouragement of my good friends in the library world.”

At the end of her January 7th, 1992, letter, she added a P.S.: “I’ll be getting the IB for March to you late – probably the last week of January!”

By October 5th, 1992, as we were nearing the final corrections, she wrote: “It looks beautiful; thank you, Stan, for making it look so good.”


A final thought: On August 4th, 2017, what would have been Mary’s Birthday Party (had she lived to enjoy it), there was a Memorial gathering in Santa Barbara at the Villa Santa Barbara (Mary’s last residence) to honor her and engage in that favorite pastime she so often recalled: “… that Social Events are one of WAML’s Longest-running, and Most Important Opportunities for the Exchange of Information and for the testing of the Hydrographic Quality of Map Librarianship”[i]

There were no speeches, no prayers, and no sad tears. What tears we had were the enjoyment of being together once again, old friends and colleagues of Mary’s, brought together as if she had organized another event to fulfill her dreams.

Thank you, Mary, for all the Good Times, and your Monuments!

[i]   W ASSN MAP LIB INF  BULL 19 (3), page 128, JUNE 1988.

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