Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Alison (or Alice) Baigrie was born in New Jersey and lived there until at least 1907.
She received a certificate from the Pratt Institute Library School in 1907 and began working as assistant at the Children’s Museum in Brooklyn.
In 1909 Baigrie joined NYPL as an assistant working with schools. Two years later she was promoted to head the Chatham Square Branch, considered a very diverse slum district. A newspaper reported that she courted the many immigrants in the branch’s neighborhood and was referred to as "my friend" in 27 different languages. In 1916, Baigrie married Elias Alessios (1888-1970), a musician.
When Alessios transferred out of Chatham Square, Ruth Wyper (the children’s librarian) wrote that “Mrs. Alessios’ leaving was a great blow to the neighborhood.” Her obituary noted that Alessios "was fired with a sense of a public library as a social agency"
In 1942 Alessios was named head of NYPL’s Library for the Blind. She made a name for herself there by recognizing that veterans blinded during World War II had different needs than the traditional blind users, and so Alessios started a program to record textbooks to help the veterans with occupational rehabilitation.
Alessios resigned from NYPL in 1948 for family reasons but the following year began to work at the Traphagen School in New York City.
During her career, Alessios published four children’s books between 1938-1957 and authored two articles and an ALA pamphlet on Greek books.