By Ashleah “Bob” White, Staff Writer
Scattered around campus, dozens of plaques are tucked in the earth, many under the shade of a tree or bush. One of these plaques, slightly larger than the rest, surrounded by nature, reads “Amy Arnott Memorial Garden” and is located in front of the Thomas Jefferson Library. The plaque commemorates a legendary woman who dedicated 31 years of her life to the University of Missouri–St. Louis library system.
Arnott was described as caring by three different individuals without prompt. Barbara Hufker, circulation supervisor, and Chris Daniel, monograph acquisitions librarian, agree Arnott was a good friend and a terrific director.
Arnott was, most recently, the first Dean of Libraries at UMSL. She earned that title over many years. Arnott worked her way to the top, starting as a student assistant in 1978. She was soon the head of shelving (a peer leadership position), then of circulation. After proving herself worthy as Assistant to Access Services, she became head of that division. She was Associate Director in 1999 and Director the next year. In 2001, the position of Director of Libraries was retitled to Dean of Libraries.
While Arnott obviously loved UMSL, she also adored theater. If one searches her name in UMSL’s custom search engine, one will find her name posted on ads for campus performances from her time as a student. In a late October issue of The Current in 2001, Arnott said she “directed a number of productions for local area high schools, as well as many different theater groups.” In fact, she was the President of ACT-INC, a local theater company, for over a decade.
Arnott’s husband, Tim Grumich, book division supervisor in the Triton Store, shared the passion of theater and is currently listed as a board of director on the company’s website. Grumich worked with Arnott in the library for years before their marriage in 2001. Arnott hired him, but he eventually transferred his work to the bookstore. They worked in different buildings, but the couple was inseparable until Arnott’s death in 2008.
Though Grumich misses everything about his late wife, but he longs most for the tons of laughing they shared. “She was incredibly funny; we laughed a lot,” he said. “[Arnott] was upbeat, happy all the time.” He said she was his best friend.
After Arnott’s passing, memorial contributions were given to the library system. “Somehow, we all pitched in,” said Hufker. A year after her death, the garden was made in her honor. It features a windmill sculpture by Lyman Whitaker and various bushes surrounded by small stones. Every year since, Grumich and his family leave from his house in Bel-Nor (where Arnott used to live) and walk to the garden.