Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Harriet E. Kemp was someone who sought out a variety of administrative experience during her career, and she took three leaves of absence to gain broader knowledge of librarianship outside of NYPL.  Kemp only served for five years as a Branch Librarian before becoming an administrator in the Circulation Department. 

Kemp received a BA in Classics from Mt. Holyoke in 1932 and immediately began working at NYPL.

She received her BS from Columbia’s School of Library Service in 1936 and took her first leave to spend a year as an exchange librarian at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. 

In 1942 Kemp took a leave of absence to become the head of Open Shelf Collection at the Portland (Maine) Public Library.  Upon her return to NYPL she served as Branch Librarian at two branches.   Kemp took her third leave in 1950-1952 to become the head of the Western Massachusetts Library Federation, an experimental library consortium in her home state.  When she returned to NYPL, Kemp served as the Assistant to the Chief of the Circulation Department and was promoted to Assistant Chief of the CD in 1956.

Harriet Kemp is also an example of a former union activist (she was Secretary of the Library Employees Union in the 1940s) who rose to the administrative ranks of the Circulation Department.

Today would be the 100th birthday of Harriet Kemp.

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