Thursday, November 8, 2012
CASINDANIA PRATT EATON (1907-1996)
The annual reports of NYPL’s Branch Librarians are filled with descriptions of the latest ethnic change in their communities, and those observations were used to develop services and book collections for the new residents.
Casindania Eaton used an earthquake-related metaphor to describe the librarians’ close scrutiny of new ethnic groups arriving in their neighborhoods, either through immigration or internal migration. In her 1948 annual report for the Muhlenberg Branch in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, she wrote: “Chelsea does not change rapidly, but the Library, like a seismograph, is extremely sensitive, recording and responding to various undulations.”
Eaton earned her BA in Library Science from Simmons College in 1929 and held three library positions in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania before joining NYPL in 1941.
Soon after her hiring, Eaton became an active officer of Local 111 of the United Public Workers Union, CIO. Between 1943-1949 she served as chairman of the Union’s negotiating committee (bargaining on behalf of the maintenance workers and not librarians), President of the Professional and Clerical Council, Vice President of the Union, Chairman of the Organizing Committee, and Financial Secretary.
During this same time period, Eaton was promoted to be the Branch Librarian at the Muhlenberg Branch, one of NYPL’s busiest branches. When Muhlenberg was closed for renovation in 1955, Eaton was transferred to head the Parkchester Branch. In 1958 she was promoted to Coordinator of all Manhattan branches, a position she held until her retirement in 1972.