Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Like many NYC librarians, Eleanor Janssen’s career was held back by the Great Depression.

Eleanor W. Hill was born in Tennessee and received a BA in English from Vanderbilt University in 1927.  She worked as a teacher for several years.

In 1933, Hill earned a BS in Library Science from Columbia University and began as a substitute at NYPL.  Although she was eligible for a regular position, neither appointments nor promotions were common during the Depression.  Hill finally received her Grade 2 appointment in 1938, and it took another seven years before she was promoted to be an Assistant Branch Librarian.  She was finally promoted to Branch Librarian in 1948 and headed two Bronx branches until her retirement in 1969.

Eleanor Hill married Frederick Janssen sometime in the late 1930s, but the marriage ended in divorce.

Eleanor Janssen’s annual reports at the Westchester Square Branch reflect the fears that many librarians had about the negative impact of television.  In 1950 she noted “Watching television has become a serious rival of the reading habits of our generation.”  At the same time, however, she was experimenting with film programs for young adult users.

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