I recently started off on a rabbit trail that leads back through prominent librarians of the 20th Century to the first women librarians in America. These women were influential in shaping ideas about the kinds of books that should be written for children. Many of them resorted to writing children’s books themselves.
While sorting through biographies about these pioneers, this book for children came up. Not only did my library have it, but when I went to check it out the children’s librarian had set it out on a display shelf minutes before I got there. It was meant for me!
Anne Carroll Moore was born in Limerick, Maine in 1871. Jan Pinborough tells us:
In the 1870s many people thought a girl should stay inside and do quiet things such as sewing and embroidery. But Annie thought otherwise.
It seems inconceivable to us, but in those days, children weren’t allowed to go inside libraries. People didn’t think reading was very important for children–especially not for girls.
Though Annie was expected to get married, or perhaps become a teacher, if she must have a career, she decided to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a lawyer. Her plans were curtailed by the deaths of both her parents and her sister-in-law. After several years of helping care for her brother’s children, Annie heard that libraries were hiring women. She went to Brooklyn, New York to enroll in a school for librarians.
By the time Annie graduated, some libraries were starting to let children come in. Miss Moore began reading to children in the evenings. Eventually she was put in charge of all 36 branches of the New York Public Library.
Besides all her many reforms, she also began to write book reviews and compile lists of good books to help parents, librarians, and teachers.
When a new library opened in New York in 1911, Miss Moore’s new Children’s Room was revealed. We can be thankful that In big cities and small towns across America, more and more libraries began to copy Miss Moore’s Central Children’s Room.
Moore wasn’t the only woman in the country who worked to create children’s libraries, but her position at the New York Public Library gave her a particularly wide range of influence. She worked with and encouraged Eleanor Estes, who was also a librarian until the publication of her first book, The Moffats. Moore is credited with introducing Beatrix Potter to America, and Dr. Seuss was a story-time visitor to her library.
When Miss Moore turned 70, instead of retiring as some people thought she should, she began traveling across the country teaching her methods and ideas to other librarians.
You can find this beautiful picture book here.