The Catherine N. Norton Endowed Fellowship

Cathy NortonCathy Norton had a flair for life. Her tremendous energy and can-do attitude motivated her more than 30-year career at the MBL. After graduating from Regis College, Cathy taught psychology at Chamberlayne Junior College. She came to the MBL in 1980 as a member of the MBLWHOI Library staff. In 1991, as the electronic frontier began to enhance information access, Cathy embraced change to become the MBL’s first Director of Information Systems. In 1994, she was appointed Library Director and became a leader in promoting the digital library and open access, including the development of the digital biodiversity database uBio.Cathy brought high-level biomedical informatics to the MBL through a National Library of Medicine-funded course, helped to found the Biodiversity Heritage Library, and otherwise inspired many in so many ways.

Retirement didn’t slow Cathy down. After her departure from the MBL in 2011, she served as an MBL Library Scholar, a consultant for the National Library of Medicine, and helped develop the History and Philosophy of Science Program and MBL History Project. She later served as the Falmouth Representative to the Authority Board of Governors of the Steamship Authority, while continuing her almost 40-year career as a Justice of the Peace, having presided over the marriages of hundreds of couples.

Cathy’s attitude was that we can do anything if we work together, learn how to do it, and do it with style. The Catherine N. Norton Fellowship will make it possible for others to follow her path of innovation in library and information science—bringing together education and scholarship in the best possible ways. Cathy expected the future to look different from today, and this fellowship will help support those who will help bring the change.

Cathy’s obituary can be found here

Cathy Norton (1941-2014) directed the MBLWHOI Library for nearly two decades as a true visionary in the area of information science. She understood the power of information before the Internet and then led the charge when computers opened new avenues for information management. Cathy guided and mentored many people, challenging them to think big and believe in themselves. This fellowship celebrates her commitment to sharing knowledge and information, her ability to inspire, her “just do it” attitude, and her love of a challenge.


The Catherine N. Norton Fellowship is a permanent endowment administered by the MBL Library. Proceeds will be used to cover approved expenses for a student or early career fellow to work using tools and resources at the Library or Archives at the MBL on a defined project. Selected fellows must be committed to the principles Cathy Norton represented by having the project be openly accessible, collaborative, innovative, connective, and laying the foundation for new scientific knowledge. Applicants may propose their own project, as Cathy always loved a good idea, or participate in a project defined by the Library.

We hope that you will contribute generously to the fund.
Ways to give:


Jennifer Walton
7 MBL Street
Woods Hole, MA 02543

Tel: 508-289-7341
Email Jen Walton

The following video shows highlights from an interview Cathy gave to The MBL History Project on June 27, 2013. The full 20-minute video can be found HERE.