Saturday, November 3, 2012

ANNA L. BURNS (1875-????)

After a rapid rise at NYPL, Anna Burns was appointed to one of the most prestigious assignments in the Circulation Department but resigned after only eight years at the Library.

Burns was born in New York and lived most of her life in Brooklyn.  She graduated from Packer Institute (a girls school in Brooklyn Heights) in 1894 and received a certificate from the Pratt Institute Library School in 1908.

Upon graduating from Pratt, Burns was appointed to a position at the Tompkins Square Branch.  Within months she was promoted to First Assistant at the branch.  In 1909 she took a leave of absence for unknown reasons, but she returned in February 1910 as head of the Hudson Park Branch.  In April 1911 Burns was tapped to head the Central Circulation Branch a month before it opened in the NYPL Central Building on Fifth Avenue.  This was regarded as the Library’s most important circulation unit, serving not only office workers and businessmen in midtown Manhattan but also authors and publishers.  It also was unusual in having a more male clientele than the neighborhood branches.  After registering 1,800 new users during the first two days of being open, Burns reported to the Director, Dr. John Shaw Billings, “The overwhelming predominance of men could not fail to be significant.”

In 1916 Burns resigned from NYPL, and the details of her employment history become less certain.  In 1918 she was named librarian at the Haskell & Sells accounting firm in NYC, and she worked there until at least 1927.  By 1934, Burns was heading a branch of the Queens Borough Public Library and retired from QBPL in 1941.

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