During my recent visit to Ohio Dominican University’s library, I noticed a framed enlargement of a distinctive bookplate that read “Mary Teeter Zimmerman” propped on one of the bookcases in Special Collections. Then, I spotted several attractive bookbindings on the shelves to the left of the Anne O’Hare McCormick Collection. As I admired them, librarian Mary Ellen George explained that these books comprised the Mary Teeter Zimmerman Collection.
Later that evening, I picked up the last two books by Columbus author Harriet Evatt that I had left to read: The Secret of the Whispering Willow and The Mystery of the Creaking Windmill. Opening both of them, I noticed the same distinctive bookplate I had seen a few hours before. Without knowing it, I had checked out two of over 600 books that a local librarian had donated to Ohio Dominican University. I resolved to learn more about her.
Mary Elizabeth Teeter was born on June 6, 1905 in Iowa to Merton E. and Lulu Stocum Teeter. After moving to Columbus in 1926, she graduated from Ohio State University in 1928. She married Kenneth Zimmerman in 1954.
During her career, she was involved in a children’s literature radio program on WOSU, served as an honoree trustee of the Ohioana Library Association, reviewed children’s books for the Columbus Dispatch, and taught courses in library science at Ohio Dominican College. After working as children’s librarian at the Bexley Public Library, she became its head librarian in 1955 until her retirement in 1973.
In 1968, Zimmerman received the Ohio Library Association’s Award of Merit for her distinguished service as a librarian and her outstanding contributions to the profession in Ohio. She earned an honorary doctorate from Capital University in 1971 for her achievements in the library field and her efforts to provide research materials for students.
Zimmerman also wrote two books. In 1960, she joined Martha Galloway Petrucci, former children’s librarian at the Bexley Public Library, and Joan Mathy, librarian at Maryland Avenue School in Bexley, to write Using the Library: A Guide to Library Skills. The book provided children with a guide to how the library works; how library books are classified, cataloged and arranged; what the resources of a library are; and how to use those materials. In 1986, Zimmerman and her husband co-authored Across the Years, a collection of poetry.
The books that Zimmerman donated to Ohio Dominican University in 1973 include early American editions of books by A.A. Milne, as well as a signed first edition of Boo, Who Used to be Scared of the Dark, by Munro Leaf, author of The Story of Ferdinand, and privately printed books by P.L. Travers, creator of Mary Poppins. Other books in the collection contain original pen-and-ink drawings or watercolor art.
In addition to including a copy of Mariana’s The Journey of Bangwell Putt, the collection contains four intriguing titles I’m checking out: Scamper, The Bunny Who Went to the White House, by Anna Roosevelt Dall, with pictures by Marjorie Flack (1934); Sally’s ABC: Sewed in a Sampler in 1795, by Sally Jane Tate, interpreted by Dugald Stewart Walker (1929); Enid Bagnold’s Serena Blandish, or The Difficulty of Getting Married, By a Lady of Quality; and The Story on the Willow Plate, adapted from the Chinese legend by by Leslie Thomas (1940). Some books are housed in Special Collections; others are located throughout the library. All are identified by her signature bookplate.
Zimmerman died on July 29, 1991. On page 4A of the January 21, 1992 issue of the Columbus Dispatch, Nelle Hardgrove of Baltimore, Ohio wrote a letter about Zimmerman that described her as a one-of-a-kind librarian who loved to wear hats and treat herself to Key lime pie at the Old Mills Buffet on Main Street near the Bexley Public Library. Hardgrove said that Zimmerman made the library a very special place, inspired the love of reading good books, and provided a constant learning experience for her staff.
To see a circa-1965 photograph of Mary Teeter Zimmerman at the Bexley Public Library and a photographic portrait from 1970, click here and here. Ohio Dominican University submitted both of these photos to Ohio Memory.