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Baltimore County Public Library Selects Catonsville Resident Lisa Vicari as Volunteer of the Year

Vicari has been volunteering at the local history room of the Catonsville Library for 37 years.

When Lisa Vicari first started walking from her house in old Catonsville to volunteer at the , much of the work of the local history room involved talking to longtime Catonsville residents.

They were the business owners and residents who stopped by often, swapping stories and dropping off old photos.

That was 37 years ago.

Being on the receiving end for old newspaper clippings, boxes of old photos and old stories for so many years is what has kept Vicari coming back for a few hours every week for so long.

"We've been so lucky here with so many great people working in the room," Vicari said.

Now, as many longtime residents have passed away, the institutional knowledge has stayed with Vicari, who said she doesn't plan on leaving her volunteer post anytime soon.

Vicari was recently selected as the Volunteer of the Year for the Baltimore County Public Library. In the nomination letter, several staff and board members of the Friends of the Catonsville Library spoke of Vicari's dedication and professionalism.

"She makes herself available to customers and staff at all hours and always goes the extra mile to help our Catonsville Room customers use the collections," said Bryce Rumbles, one of the librarians who works closely with Vicari in the local history room.

Catonsville's local history room is the largest in Baltimore County and has the most volunteers, Librarian Joe Farmarco said, which is mostly due to Vicari's longevity.

When Vicari and her husband moved close to the library, she was first introduced to the room by a friend who came into do research. It wasn't long before Vicari started walking to the library from her house every week to volunteer.

"You sort of fall into some things," the mother of three said.

She recalls on some occasions bringing her children along with her when they were younger.

Over the years, Vicari has made friends with many regulars who come in looking for help researching their home or their family. She has also provided help to many local authors who needed assistance on digging up information.

On a recent Thursday when the local history room is open, several people were in the room researching various projects. Some of them were regulars who Vicari sees often. Through those visitors and through donations made to the history room, Vicari has absorbed much of Catonsville's history.

While she loves the photos and documents, what she enjoys the most are hearing stories.

"You really get connected in a personal way instead of just looking at a photo," she said. "It's the little tidbits that grab your attention and keep it real."

Yet despite how much she has absorbed over the years on local history, Vicari said she still makes her own discoveries sometimes. 

"Every time I'm in here, I see something different or new," she said.

Cheryl Dunigan November 03, 2011 at 01:48 PM
Couldn't have chosen a more deserving individual. Congratulations Lisa!
Dianne Burch November 03, 2011 at 02:55 PM
Lisa Vicari is a font of knowledge for anyone interested in learning more about Catonsville's storied past. The "Picture This" series in Patch wouldn't be possible without her capable assistance. Congratulations, Lisa!
Jeannette Alford December 06, 2011 at 01:35 PM
As one of her three daughters, I know first hand what a good listener she is. People want to tell her about their pasts, their houses, their memories, because she is so interested. She is a keeper of stories. The library has always been a big part of our lives and we are richer for it. I am glad to see her dedication recognized. Jeannette Alford

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