Hollingsworth, who passed away May 9 at the age of 64, had been with the library for a decade when she retired a month after being diagnosed with cancer. On Thursday, nearly five months after her death, dozens of library staff and supporters attended a ceremony at the Cartersville facility to see a room and statue dedicated to her.
The statue is of boy reading a book on a bench, with a dog in his lap, and is in the library's Youth Services courtyard, the landscaping of which was spruced up by area master gardeners. Inside the library, children and teens can now take part in events held in the Dianne L. Hollingsworth Program Room. Both honors were befitting a staff member who often went beyond her call of duty, said Carmen Sims, director of the Bartow County Library System.
"She really put herself, her soul, into library service," Sims said. "She never met a stranger -- I guess she considered herself the 'welcome wagon' to the library. If you walked into [her] department, she was up there, she met you. If she already knew you, she knew what you wanted, she'd give you more than what you wanted. She wanted that department neat, clean and on display. And she extended that into the adult section if she was wandering around."
"She liked to connect people with books, whatever your reading interest was," Sims added. "If she was on her way out of the door, had her coat on, her keys in hand, her giant bag in hand filled with books, she'd put everything down to stop and help somebody find something. This was constant with her."
A resident of Cartersville for the past 20 years, Hollingsworth attended Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss., where she graduated with a degree in education. She taught for nearly two decades at the elementary level, with several of those years in Mississippi and the last few in Bartow County.
After her career in education, Hollingsworth did not immediately pursue a paying job with the library -- she first spent one year there as a volunteer, putting in 40 hours a week. Sims said it was during that year when she realized Hollingsworth's passion for reading as well as her desire to help others.
"I met her, she came to a book chat one time, well, all the time, she was a regular. And she came up after one of the discussions and asked me if we could use a volunteer, she'd like to help with the children. I assumed she meant like most people did and wanted to do a few hours here and there -- the next thing you know, she's working 40 hours a week," Sims said, adding that it took several requests before Hollingsworth took her up on her offer to become a member of the staff.
Youth Services coordinator Thomas Shalin joined the Bartow County Library System about halfway through Hollingsworth's tenure. He said it did not take long for her passion for the profession to show.
"Even before I came, she was very instrumental in just promoting the library and kind of getting the children's programs off the ground -- there were always people who were doing children's programs, but Dianne by her very nature loved kids and loved to really reach out to the patrons," Shalin said. "She was definitely the kind of person where she would have patrons that would give her pictures of their kids, and they would kind of be her family too, she would be in there asking about the kids.
"And she tirelessly promoted the library, even when she was out of the community," he added. "She was really good when we were promoting programs -- she was always out there, she'd always have a flyer in hand, ready to give somebody, asking if they had signed up for summer reading [program] yet."
But it was perhaps her effort in putting on storytimes for children that truly showed Hollingsworth's fervor in her work.
"The children's storytimes, her dedication to that was just amazing. She wasn't content with the ready-made product -- she had to create her own, she had tremendous productions, everything was a production," Sims said. "Her Toddler Times were 20-minutes of just nonstop action -- she had those kids up and down, and when she walked out of that door, she'd be sweating."
"Sometimes Dianne, when she goes off with an idea, you just have to follow. We were doing a storytime, and she was talking about this song 'Bunny Hop' that she loves to do, and she said, 'This is a great song, we have to do it,'" Shalin said, adding that Hollingsworth's "idea" led to children and staff members hopping around the library.
"Once she goes, you've just got to follow her," he added. "So we were all doing the bunny hop around the library, and she's like, 'C'mon, Thomas, you can do it!' We just followed her, and then the song fully segued into this very crazy version of the 'Hokey Pokey,' and she goes, 'Oh, let's go, we're doing the Hokey Pokey, everybody!' and you just kind of have to go with her because she's just that forceful, just like that force of nature."
Though Hollingsworth is "impossible to replace," the library still has some of her legacy, Shalin said, as officials still have filing cabinet drawers containing the storytime materials she used over the years.
Sims estimated that more than 70 people attended Thursday's dedication. Among the attendees were members of Hollingsworth's family, including her husband of 42 years, J.C. Hollingsworth, who said he knew how much his wife loved working at the library.
"She'd fuss about things that weren't done like she wanted it done, but she loved it, absolutely loved it," J.C. Hollingsworth said. "And she loved the children, and the people who came. She made all kinds of friends of people who would just bring kids in -- grandmothers, mothers, fathers and grandfathers -- and she'd come home talking to me about them like I knew them all.
"She didn't have any family on her side still around really, but the people she worked with and the ones that came in the library regularly just became like family to her," he added.
Hollingsworth said he appreciated the library community honoring his wife, whom he says he misses to this day.
"This was a very touching thing, and it kind of set me back a little bit from an emotional standpoint," he said. "But boy, it was an honor for her, what they did for her."