Friday, June 24, 2011


Myrtle L. Reynolds earned her BA from Barnard College in 1927 and began substituting at NYPL.  In 1929 she received her library degree from the School of Library Service at Columbia and obtained a regular appointment at NYPL soon thereafter.

Reynolds was promoted to be Branch Librarian of the Hunt’s Point Branch in 1939 and served there until 1947. 

Like most of the librarians at NYPL, Myrtle Reynolds was concerned about the impact of World War II on the Library and on the community.   Even before America entered the war, the events in Europe loomed in the minds of staff and patrons alike.  In her 1940 annual report for Hunt’s Point, Reynolds recorded typical scenes in the branch and concluded that a “warm consolation was afforded that bears comparison with ‘a port in a storm.’”  A year later, writing just after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Reynolds wrote that “freedom is challenged” and concluded that the Library also “must turn militant.”  She noted the fact that users were switching from recreational reading to technical books and warned that librarians must “be consciously vigilant lest the creative literary aspects fade too far from the picture.” 

In 1946 Reynolds happily reported that for the returning veterans “the library card appears to be a mark of citizenship.”  Yet she was also aware that difficult times were not over, cautioning that : “The problems of post war adjustment, racial tensions and general living uncertainties make for an unsettled, feeling-the-way neighborhood situation.”

In 1947-1948 Reynolds headed the Veteran’s Center, a special office suggested by Mayor LaGuardia to meet the needs of returning service men and women. 

Reynolds transferred to be Branch Librarian at the Riverside Branch in 1948 and served there until she retired in 1966. 

Today would have been Myrtle Reynolds 105th birthday.

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