Saturday, May 28, 2011


Pauline Leipziger started working as a librarian at the Aguilar Free Library Society in 1889 and became head librarian of the AFLS in 1892.  She held that position until NYPL absorbed the AFLS in 1903. 

Pauline Leipziger’s position within NYPL was a subject of negotiation in 1903 upon consolidation and again upon her retirement in 1917.

The Leipziger family had been heavily involved in the AFLS, and its loss of independence was difficult for them, especially for Pauline’s brother, Henry M. Leipziger, who had been an officer of the AFLS since 1886.  Commenting on the consolidation, Jacob Schiff wrote to Henry Leipziger, “I can well imagine with how much of a pang you are surrendering your cherished child, the Aguilar Free Library, to the care of others.”  Henry Leipziger also sought to assure the proper care of his sister by NYPL.  He sought to solidify his sister’s position.

Usually upon consolidation, the heads of the free library branches became the head librarian of the corresponding NYPL branch.  The AFLS insisted that Pauline Leipziger remain in charge of all four AFLS branches, and this was accommodated by giving her the title of Inspector of the Aguilar branches.  The Library’s Director, John Shaw Billings, however, ended the arrangement within months.  In 1904 she was named Branch Librarian at the 58th Street Branch and served there until her retirement in 1917.

Pauline Leipziger’s retirement from the Library also had to be negotiated.  Starting in 1912, Leipziger missed significant time due to illness and the Library’s Medical Officer described her as suffering “general debility and weariness” in 1914. As her condition worsened, and as she cared for a dying brother, it became a difficult situation for both Leipziger and the Library.  Finally in 1917, after some negotiation, NYPL offered her a retirement allowance and she agreed to resign her position. 

Today would have been Pauline Leipziger’s 153rd birthday.

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