Net­tie Bar­croft Tay­lor

Re­tired state li­brar­ian lob­bied to make Mary­land a ‘li­brary heaven’ and cham­pi­oned the early use of com­put­ers

Baltimore Sun - - OBITUARIES - By Jac­ques Kelly jkelly@balt­sun.com

Net­tie Bar­croft Tay­lor, a re­tired Mary­land State Li­brar­ian cred­ited with forg­ing an ef­fec­tive state li­brary net­work and who was much es­teemed in her pro­fes­sion, died of re­s­pi­ra­tory fail­ure Oct. 21 at her Gwynn Oak-area home. She was 102. “Net­tie Tay­lor was a driv­ing force in mak­ing pub­lic li­braries in Mary­land some of the best in the na­tion,” said Li­brar­ian of Congress Carla D. Hay­den.

“I al­ways looked up to her in awe on the im­pact she has made on the pro­fes­sion,” said Ms. Hay­den, who for­merly headed the Enoch Pratt Free Li­brary in Bal­ti­more. “Her tenac­ity and tire­less ef­forts in pro­vid­ing li­brary pa­trons with ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties should be ap­plauded by gen­er­a­tions to come. She was my men­tor and dear friend.”

In 2005, the Amer­i­can Li­brary As­so­ci­a­tion awarded her its high­est honor “in recog­ni­tion of out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tions of last­ing im­por­tance to li­braries and li­brar­i­an­ship.”

“She was a life force. She was not in­tro­spec­tive. She al­ways knew what she wanted,” said her nephew, John S. Bryan of Wash­ing­ton. “There was no look­ing back once she made a de­ci­sion. She was al­ways in con­trol, and she gave to the point of ex­cess.”

“She was re­spon­si­ble for cre­at­ing the re­ally su­pe­rior sys­tem of li­braries in Mary­land,” said Judy Cooper, an Enoch Pratt pro­grams co­or­di­na­tor. “We call Mary­land a li­brary heaven, and much of the credit goes to Net­tie.”

Born in Brownsville, Tenn., she was the daugh­ter of Charles Tay­lor, a gro­cery store owner. She was raised by her grand­mother after her mother, also named Net­tie Bar­croft, died.

“She read ev­ery ap­pro­pri­ate book in the pub­lic li­brary — her Aunt Rose was the li­brar­ian who made sure Net­tie picked ap­pro­pri­ate books,” said Lynn Wheeler, a friend and the di­rec­tor of the Car­roll County Pub­lic Li­brary. “Her grand­mother gave her 25 cents for … me­moriz­ing a poem. Net­tie mem­o­rized ev­ery poem in the avail­able po­etry an­thol­ogy … and re­mained a life­long po­etry lover, recit­ing [poems by] Mary Oliver at 100.”

Ms. Tay­lor was the 1932 vale­dic­to­rian of Hay­wood County High School, where she played bas­ket­ball.

She earned an English de­gree, with a mi­nor in li­brary science, from Florida State Col­lege for Women in Tallahassee, now Florida State Univer­sity.

She started her five decades of li­brary work at Tay­lor County High School in Perry, Fla.

“She talked her brother into driv­ing hun­dreds of miles on July 4, 1936, to Mon­ti­cello in Vir­ginia,” said her nephew. “It be­came one of her fond­est mem­o­ries — sit­ting in the front row of fold­ing chairs when Pres­i­dent Franklin D. Roo­sevelt gave a speech on the lawn. She was so close, she could reach out and touch the pres­i­dent.”

In 1942, she earned a mas­ter’s de­gree in li­brary science from the Univer­sity of North Carolina. In 1967, she added a mas­ter’s de­gree in lib­eral arts from the Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity.

She joined the Women’s Army Corps and be­came a li­brar­ian as­signed to Army hos­pi­tals in But­ler, Pa., Wash­ing­ton and Heidelberg, Ger­many. She served as com­mand li­brar­ian dur­ing World War II and while in mil­i­tary ser­vice, she at­tended the Nurem­berg war crime tri­als.

“She had a driver and a jeep, and she went to towns with Amer­i­can troops,” said her nephew. “It was like a book­mo­bile. She had an in­ven­tory of books she handed out.

“An­other big mo­ment in her life was stand­ing on a dock in New York City where she met her brother, Charles ‘Chuck’ Tay­lor, as he dis­em­barked from a ship after hav­ing spent four years as a pris­oner of war in Ger­many,” he said.

Ms. Tay­lor be­came di­rec­tor of a li­brary sys­tem in Vir­ginia be­fore be­ing hired by the Mary­land State Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion in 1948 as su­per­vi­sor for county and in­sti­tu­tional li­braries.

Over the years, she rose to be­come the state’s top li­brar­ian, unit­ing small com­mu­nity li­braries to be­come county li­brary sys­tems. She also worked in schools, help­ing trans­form school­book col­lec­tions into me­dia cen­ters.

She cham­pi­oned the early use of com­put­ers and pushed for Mary­land’s pub­lic and aca­demic li­braries to make their re­sources avail­able to users through the Mary­land State Li­brary Re­source Cen­ter net­work.

“Un­der Net­tie Tay­lor, the per-capita state sup­port for pub­lic li­braries rose from 10 cents to $6.75,” said Ms. Wheeler. (It is now $14.54.) “She fought for other leg­is­la­tion that im­proved li­brary ser­vice.

“She dragged ev­ery li­brary di­rec­tor in the state to­gether in one room. She said, ‘You will agree to play well with oth­ers, and you will share your re­sources statewide.’

“Ev­ery­body said, Net­tie,’ ” re­called Wheeler.

Ms. Tay­lor ap­peared be­fore Mary­land Gen­eral Assem­bly com­mit­tees to make her case for the li­braries. “She lob­bied hard her whole life, both on the state and na­tional scene,” said Ms. Wheeler. “She worked tire­lessly to in­crease fed­eral fund­ing for li­braries and was in­stru­men­tal in the de­vel­op­ment and pas­sage of the first Li­brary Ser­vices Act in 1956 — and in lob­by­ing for what is now the Li­brary Ser­vices and Tech­nol­ogy Act.” Ms. Tay­lor re­tired in 1988. In 1995 she was named to Mary­land Women’s Hall of Fame. She re­ceived many other hon­ors, in­clud­ing the Metropoli­tan Wash­ing­ton Coun­cil of Gov­ern­ments Li­brary Coun­cil Out­stand­ing Ser­vice Award in 1986; the Amer­i­can Li­brary As­so­ci­a­tion’s Joseph W. Lip­pin­cott Award in 1984; an hon­orary mem­ber­ship in the Mary­land Ed­u­ca­tional Me­dia As­so­ci­a­tion in 1983; and the Mary­land Li­brary As­so­ci­a­tion’s Distin­guished Ser­vice Award in 1979.

In 2005, when Ms. Tay­lor re­ceived the Amer­i­can Li­brary As­so­ci­a­tion’s Hon­orary Mem­ber­ship Award in Chicago, she shared the stage with then-Sen. Barack Obama.

“She met with him back­stage that day. It was so amaz­ing,” said Ms. Wheeler.

Ms. Tay­lor played ten­nis for many years. She spent time at a home on French­man Bay in Lamoine Beach, Maine.

“Per­son­ally, she was a gen­er­ous per­son,” said Mr. Bryan, her nephew. “She sent my fa­ther money to help him make ends meet dur­ing his fi­nal year of col­lege, and she de­clined re­ceipt when he at­tempted to be­gin re­turn­ing the funds. She also taught him to drive.”

He said she also paid full or par­tial col­lege tu­ition bills for a num­ber of peo­ple “she felt might need a boost.”

He re­called her be­com­ing a bit bored dur­ing a fam­ily grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony. “She brought along a pocket novel and dur­ing the cer­e­mony tore off a page at a time so ev­ery­one in her fam­ily had some­thing to read,” he said.

She al­ways had a book in her hand — most likely a mys­tery story.

A me­mo­rial ser­vice will be held at 11 a.m. Nov. 19 at the Ruck Tow­son Fu­neral Home, 1050 York Road.

In ad­di­tion to her nephew, sur­vivors in­clude a brother, Fred E. Bryan of Louisville, Ky., and other nieces and neph­ews. Net­tie Tay­lor “worked tire­lessly to in­crease fed­eral fund­ing for li­braries,” a friend said. ‘OK, Ms.

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