Monday, December 19, 2011


Mary Jane Dustin grew up in rural Oregon.  Her daughter told me that as a young girl her mother was sent to live with distant cousins and was lonely.  The local librarian, however, was kind to her and “inspired her from an early age to aspire to be a librarian.”

After teaching in a one-room school, Bowles attended the University of Oregon and earned a BA in Journalism in 1925.  She worked in the university library as a student assistant and after graduation became a school librarian in the Bend (OR) High School.

Dustin moved to New York City to attend Columbia’s School of Library Service and earned her degree in 1929.  That same year she married Chessor O. Bowles (1901-1991), who was a social worker for the YMCA.

Bowles also entered NYPL in 1929 and initially worked in the Extension Division.  She became a Branch Librarian in 1938 and headed branches on Staten Island for the next 21 years.  She ended her career at NYPL heading the Inwood Branch for three years before retiring in 1962.

Mary Jane Bowles was active in community affairs on Staten Island and helped create the day care center at the Edwin Markham Houses.  She and her husband retired to North Carolina where they founded North Carolina Self Help for Hard of Hearing People.

Today would be Mary Jane Bowles 111th birthday.

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