Longevity record?

Q. I was just reading Theodore Jones' "Carnegie Libraries Across America" (Wiley, 1997) and saw a reference to Gladys Powers who served as the librarian in the Shelbina Carnegie Public Library for 67 years (from 1921 to 1988).  Is that a record?

A. I don't know--but it looks like it might be.  Such records simply are not kept.  By going through library histories retrieved with a Google search, I have been able to identify several long-term library directors.  But this is hardly a definitive or complete search ... just anecdotal.  It is likely there are many more librarians who have served in their libraries for periods of time like these, some perhaps longer. 

Lucedale-George County Public Library (Mississippi)
Alma Lumpkin, 1939-1971 (32 years)

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Ralph Munn, 1928-1964 (36 years)

Middleborough Public Library (Massachusetts)
Mertie A. Witbeck, 1925–1963 (38 years)

Dover Public Library (New Hampshire)
Caroline Garland, 1883-1933 (50 years)

Lincoln County Libraries, Libby, Montana
Inez Ratekin Herrig -1929-1990 (62 years)




The August 30, 2008 edition of the Kansas City Star reported on Martha Smith, who took the job of librarian in the tiny Coal Creek Library in Vinland, Kansas in 1926.  In 2008, she was still there.  She was 102 years old at the time of the article.  I have no knowledge whether or not she is still there.

The article will reveal that she took a break from 1944-1956 to raise her son, but that 12 year break still gives her 70 years of service.

The article can be found at: http://www.kansascity.com/2008/08/29/773043/love-of-books-keeps-102-year...

The title of the article is: "Love of Books Keeps 102 Year Old Librarian Working."  The reporter is James Fussell.  Kansas City Star. August 30, 2008

Ellen Gale, Rock Island (Illinois) Public Library, served as library director from 1873 to 1937, 64 years.

The website for FotoWeek DC 2010 lists an artist talk coming up in N0vember with Franz Jantzen about  The Making of "Coal Creek Library".  Says Jantzen, "In early 2009 I completed "Coal Creek Library", about a one-room library and its librarian in the tiny town of Vinland, Kansas. It is the oldest lending library west of the Mississippi River, and the 104-year old librarian, Martha Smith, has worked there since 1926."

A gentleman on the staff of the Free Library of Philadelphia, not a librarian but certainly a fixture, recently died no more than a few years after his retirement, maybe even less than that.  When John Cherry retired he was past 90—I’m pretty sure he was over 95—and at the time of his death he was 100!  I’m not sure how long he worked at FLP…I know it was a very long time indeed…he loved his job and the people he worked with (who returned the favor), and kept working as long as he could because there was nothing else he would rather do.  How many of us can say that of our jobs, whatever they may be?!

 At the Stephen B. Luce Library, SUNY Maritime College, Bronx NY

Filomena Magavero worked from 1949 to 2003 (54 years) full time, then part time until 2008.

Richard H. Corson worked from 1962 to 2001 (39 years)

Isabel Wallace began working for the Auburn Public Library, now the Auburn Branch, Cranston (RI) Public Library as a teenager in 1937.  She was librarian from 1944-1984.  She continued as an active volunteer and officer/member of the Auburn Public Library Association, Auburn Library Club and the Modern Reading Group after her retirement until about a year before her death in 2009, for a total of 71 years’ involvement with the Auburn Branch.