Longtime Detroit librarian ‘always willing to help out’

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

For years, Margaret Hammond was a kind, constant presence amid the bookshelves at various branches of the Detroit Public Library.

“She just had a genuinely great work ethic and easy style, and she enjoyed what she was doing,” said Pat McClary, the former marketing director. “She made people who worked around her also feel good about it. She didn’t say ‘no.’ She was always willing to help out.”

Miss Hammond died Sunday, May 31, 2015. She was 79.

The native Detroiter acquired a love of learning from her parents, who were teachers, relatives said. A family friend in library science suggested Miss Hammond — who spent years as an usher at the Masonic Temple — pursue the field.

The Denby High School graduate earned a bachelor of arts degree at Wayne State University and a master’s degree in library science from the University of Michigan, relatives said.

While still in college, she started working at a city library and eventually joined other branches, said her niece, Rebecca McKinstry.

Miss Hammond was so dedicated to her work, she delivered books to customers during the 1967 riots, McKinstry said. And though generally kind, the librarian wasn’t shy about chastising unruly patrons.

Wherever she was, Miss Hammond “ran the library very diligently,” her niece said.

Miss Hammond also was the founding manager of the Detroit Public Library’s Elmwood Park branch, which opened in 1975, relatives said.

She later worked at the main library on Woodward in Detroit. There, Miss Hammond was a reference librarian as well as head of acquisitions, which involved handling orders for books across the entire system, McClary said.

The longtime American Library Association member also ensured her relatives read. “She passed her love of books on to me,” McKinstry said. “Birthdays and Christmas, we would get books from Aunt Margaret.”

Retiring in the 1990s, Miss Hammond maintained her educational interests through a group dedicated to Detroit history. She also was active at Christ Church Detroit, where she joined an altar guild and bell choir, member Sue Webb-Dickson said.

The longtime librarian also loved gardening, attending Detroit Symphony Orchestra concerts and supporting her family.

Other survivors include a sister, Elizabeth Beltz; nephews Glenn Preidis and James Preidis; nine great-nephews; a great-niece; four great-great nephews; and a great-great-niece.

Services are 11:30 a.m. Sunday at Christ Church Detroit, 960 E. Jefferson.

Memorials may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association-Greater Michigan Chapter, 25200 Telegraph, Suite 100, Southfield, MI 48033.