Tuesday, March 11, 2014
ARTICLE ON NYPL BRANCH LIBRARIANS
I have presented papers at the Conference on New York State History the past two summers. It is a stimulating gathering of academic and independent scholars, archivists and curators, and town and county historians.
My 2012 paper explored the experience of African-American librarians at the 135th Street Branch, which was the focus of efforts to integrate the staff, 1920-1940s.
In 2013, I spoke about how the Branch Librarians (mostly single women) achieved a lot of workplace autonomy (in a male-run institution) and then lost some of it due to the economic pressures of the Great Depression. But, in the 1920s-1930s NYPLs librarians also supported the certification of public librarians in New York State and the educational reforms recommended by the Williamson Report. They chose to support these initiatives which undercut their autonomy at work because they held out the promise of greater status as professionals.
A truncated version of the latter paper has now been published: “Single and Independent” New York Archives 13 (Winter 2014) 15-19. The magazine is still paper-based although one article is posted online.