Tuesday, June 21, 2011

EDITH REES (1905-2003)

Edith Rees had a 35 year career at NYPL and was another of the active unionists who also served as the head of a branch of the Library.

Rees earned a BA from Wellesley College in 1925.  She entered NYPL as a substitute right out of college and specialized as a children’s librarian.  Rees received her BS in librarianship from Columbia University in 1933. 

Edith Rees served as Branch Librarian at the Washington Heights (1943-1948), George Bruce (1948-1951), Inwood (1951-1959), and Donnell (1959-1960) branches.  She retired in 1960. 

Shortly before being promoted to Branch Librarian, Rees served as President of the Library Employees Union, Local 251 of the State, County and Municipal Workers.  During her time as president of Local 251, NYPL struggled to secure adequate budget funds from the City of New York.  The Union was supportive of the Library’s budget requests but also asked for additions to that request.

The Local had been founded in 1940 but in 1942 it had to merge into a larger Citywide Local 111 since so many union members had left for military service.  Local 251 was the progenitor of today’s Local 1930, AFSCME, which represents the NYPL staff. 

In 2006, the Public Employees Press published by District Council 37, representing AFSCME locals in New York City, ran a profile on Rees’ contributions to library unionization. 

Today would have been Edith Rees 106th birthday.

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