Sunday, June 12, 2011


Adele C. Martin was one of several NYPL librarians who were active in union activities and also served as a Branch Librarian.

Martin took the High School Teacher Course at the New Jersey State Normal School and then entered Wellesley College.  She received her BA from Wellesley in 1915.

Her career in librarianship began in 1920 when she started as a substitute at NYPL and also became a part-time student in the NYPL Library School.  She received her certificate in 1923 and was named First Assistant in the Extension Division.

Adele C. Martin remained in Extension for only a few months before she resigned to become an Assistant Librarian at the Hampton Institute Library, 1923-1924.  Martin then moved to the Westerly (RI) Public Library and gained more administrative experience working there until 1929. 

Martin was re-instated at NYPL in 1929 and became the Acting Branch Librarian at the now defunct Jackson Square Branch.  

Adele Martin headed the Muhlenberg Branch, 1930-1946.   This branch was just south of NYC’s garment district, and Martin worked closely with the nearby Needle Trades High School and with several textile unions.  Martin was a member of the NYPL Library Workers Union, Local 111, and wrote a report in 1943 suggesting opportunities for NYPL to work with trade unions.  Martin was also active in the Library Union Round Table of ALA. 

Martin also served as Chairman of the Metropolitan Library Council.  As she wrote in a 1941 issue of News and Views (a MLC newsletter) the group’s purpose was to unite library staff and users to “face the questions of the day which have a direct bearing upon library services, e.g., censorship, state and federal aid for libraries, tenure, unionization, etc.”

During the same period, Martin was also a member of the Progressive Librarians Council, a national group that was active during 1939-1944.  The PLC was alleged to be a Communist Party (USA) front group by the US government.

In 1947 Martin became the Branch Librarian at the busy Tremont Branch in the Bronx, and she retired in 1953.

Today would be Adele C. Martin’s 118th birthday.

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