Statue donation for North Adams library a 'lovely gesture' for former librarian

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NORTH ADAMS — Raised at the North Adams Public Library, the late Judith Ann "Jody" Lafortune Gottwald will now have a statue placed there in her honor.

Former City Clerk Mary Ann Abuisi has donated a bronze statue of children reading, titled "Read to Me, Boy and Girl on Bench" in honor of Gottwald, who died unexpectedly in March, after a long career as a librarian and a lifelong love of reading.

"It just seemed appropriate to me ... my sister had such an avid love for the public library," Abuisi told the City Council on Tuesday.

The gift from Abuisi and her husband, Anthony Abuisi, valued at $2,560.51, formally was accepted by the council.

"This is a beautiful statue and so appropriate for the library, and how it fits in with your family and your sister. It's just a lovely gesture, so, thank you," said Councilor Marie T. Harpin.

Gottwald was a librarian for 22 years, but her love of reading started much earlier. The sisters routinely would walk from their home on East Main Street down to the library.

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"She was a very avid reader, so they say that by the time she reached sixth grade, she had read every book on the second floor, so they gave her permission to go down to the first floor, which was the adult section," Abuisi said.

When Gottwald was in high school, she became a page at the North Adams library. Later, she would attend Simmons University and receive a degree in library science, followed by a master's degree from the University of Michigan.

After marriage, Gottwald moved to Maryland and became a librarian at Towson College, then moved to Indiana and finished her career at the University of Indiana-South Bend.

The statue is sitting in the Abuisi garage while waiting for city permission for it to be placed outside the library. The Public Arts Commission will review the statue's installation.

In a communication to the City Council, Mayor Thomas Bernard indicated that the administration hopes to hold a dedication ceremony this summer.

"I just hope everybody will love it," Abuisi said. "To me, it's appropriate and it would give children the incentive to read and put down the iPads."

Adam Shanks can be reached at ashanks@berkshireeagle.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.


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