Barbara Kellner's career as an author began almost by accident. A book publisher who focuses on photo essays about communities was nosing around Columbia, looking for someone to produce a small volume recounting the history of the "new town" begun by James Rouse in the 1960s.
All e-mails soon led to Kellner, a longtime resident of Wilde Lake who moved to Columbia in 1983. As head of the Columbia Archives, Kellner was considered by many in the community to be the best choice to tell the story. The archives provided a trove of photos, news clippings, maps and other materials.
"Arcadia [the publisher] wrote to all the people at the Columbia Association," Kellner recalled recently. "Everybody there, Maggie Brown and all the vice presidents, forwarded it on to me. I also got an e-mail from Mary Ellen Duncan [president of Howard Community College]. It actually became kind of funny.
"So I decided that I might as well be the one who did it."
Kellner, who has managed the archives for 13 years, wrote a proposal outlining how she would put the book together, optimistically believing she could do it in about three months.
"That was my first mistake," she laughed. But she made her deadline despite somewhat underestimating the scope of the project.
"My idea was really to try to tell the story as well as give people a trip down memory lane. That is how I went through looking for the photos," she said.
She also wanted to be sure that Rouse's goals, "respecting the land and being a place for people," were reflected in the text and photos.
The result is a 128-page paperback, "Columbia," full of black-and-white photographs published by Arcadia Publishing. The book, which costs $19.99, is available at local bookstores or at the Columbia Archives, 10227 Wincopin Cir., on the ground floor of the American City Building.
-- MIRANDA S. SPIVACK
Kellner will lead a walking tour of Columbia's Town Center 6:30-7:30 p.m. Aug. 12. The tour is free and open to the public. Meet at the Columbia Archives. For more information, call Kellner at 410-715-3103 or e-mail her at email@example.com.