The Heart of Maryland Libraries Quilt

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By Karen Trennepohl, retired from the Howard County library system

Originally appeared in the Summer 2009 edition of The Crab, a publication of the Maryland Library Association.

At the MLA Conference, Karen Trennepohl, chair of the Quilt Project Committee, presented The Heart of Maryland Libraries quilt. Margaret Carty, MLA Executive Director, conceived the idea of a state quilt almost 2½ years ago. Karen thanked the leadership of 18 county library systems, two college/university libraries, three county school systems, the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, the Department of Library and Development Services, the Maryland Association of School Librarians and the MLA leadership for their support of the project. 

Almost 130 individuals representing these libraries and organizations created 27 unique interpretations of the quilt’s title. Additionally, some of the individuals provided stories behind each square – how its design was chosen and what it represents, who completed the stitching of the square and who designed and completed the scrapbook page. Some squares were completed by local quilting groups and avid scrapbookers, both within the library staff and from the communities served. Surprisingly, some squares and scrapbook pages were created by individuals who created a square with no prior experience. When the quilt was appraised, the appraiser commented that she could tell that the quilt was completed by both inexperienced and experienced quilters, and was impressed with the care and deliberate decisions that were taken by all the quilters. She congratulated the group on their production of a beautiful quilt.

Karen also thanked Nancy Evans and Debra Wiggins, members of two quilting guilds from Howard County who provided their expertise during design and when quilt square instructions were written. Nancy Evans, from Faithful Circle Quilters, participated in the Conference program which explained the project. She also worked with Debra Wiggins (Locust Quilt and Craft) to design the quilt top, to stitch the squares together and to arrange for the title block to be completed by Geri Ford. Maria O’Haver machine quilted the entire piece, highlighting each square with unique quilting designs, and embellished the borders with additional hearts to bring the quilt’s theme onto the entire piece. Kim Hazlett also attended and worked with Cheryl Gordon to create the central quilt square, which pictures the historic Enoch Pratt Free Library building now used as MLA headquarters.

Susan Howes, Calvert Library, created the scrapbook, using the pages provided by participants. In some instances, she developed pages using information, photos and fabric scraps provided by the library. She assisted with the instructions for the scrapbook pages and Karen acknowledged her role in the historic telling of the quilt’s story.

The immediate future of the quilt includes visits to each of the participating libraries, the MACO conference in Ocean City and the Maryland State Fair in August. Karen has been asked to provide programs explaining the project at some libraries. A representative of the Delaware Council of Libraries approached Karen requesting assistance to duplicate the project in Delaware. In two years, the quilt will hang at MLA headquarters for all to see and remember Margaret’s vision – “one more example of the spirit of Maryland libraries and the people within their walls.”