Unless you're a serious local history buff, the name Miss Mary Elizabeth Wood may be unfamiliar.
In China, however, especially among those who appreciate the country's public library system, Miss Wood is revered.
Her fame has brought a Chinese film crew to Batavia this week as part of their effort to create a documentary chronicling the life of the "Queen of Modern Libraries in China."
Born in Elba in 1861, Wood became the first librarian of the Richmond Memorial Library in 1889, a position she held for 10 years. The only daughter of Edward Farmer Wood and Mary Jane (Humphrey) Wood, who had seven boys, Miss Wood took a trip to China to visit her youngest brother Robert in 1899.
On that trip, she learned there was no public education system and residents had little access to all the wisdom contained in the world's books, even ones in their own language.
Wood decided to stay in Wuchang, where she eventually made 3,000 books available for borrowing at the building known as the Octagonal Pavilion.
Soon, she traveled back to the U.S. for a year of study, her first actual courses in library science, having gotten as far as she did before then on her strength as "a great reader."
While on the trip, she raised funds and secured book donations that enabled her to open in 1910 the Boone Library in Wuchang.
By the 1920s, Wood was lobbying Congress for funds to advance library science in China and through the grants received and with the help of two of her Chinese prodigies, Wood established the first school for library science in China.
Following her death of an illness in China in 1931, her body was returned to Batavia and she is buried in the Batavia Cemetery.
These pictures were taken while the film crew prepared to interview Kathy Facer, Richmond's reference and technology librarian.
Here's the Wikipedia entry on Mary Elizabeth Wood, which contains greater detail on her life and work.
Cheng Huanwen, professor and university librarian, School of Information Management, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China.