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Effie Louise Power: librarian, educator, author.


Effie Louise Power (1873-1969) represented the high standard of collaboration among children's librarians that characterized the entire development of youth services work. This article examines Power's role in U.S. library history as a practitioner, library and information science educator, national and regional professional leader, and author. Particular emphasis is given to Power's place in the network of children's librarians in the early twentieth century, her professional authority as the librarian selected by the American Library Association to write the first textbook for children's librarianship, and her success as one of the many librarians who have written and edited children's books, especially folktale collections for use in storytelling programs. Emerging most notably from this research is the discovery of how energetically, albeit quietly, Power influenced not only her contemporaries but also the next several generations of children's librarians who have followed in her professional footsteps.
 The consciousness that none of us is working alone in her endeavor
 to bring worthwhile books to children should strengthen us.

 --Effie L. Power (1925b)


In May 1920 Effie L. Power was at a crossroads. After six years as head of Children's Services at the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh, she had been offered two job opportunities, one as State Director of School Libraries for Pennsylvania and the other as a faculty member at Slippery Rock Normal School. She wrote a letter to Linda Eastman, Librarian (chief administrator) of the Cleveland Public Library (CPL) and long-time collegial friend, to ask her advice. (1) "What do you think about both, and particularly Slippery Rock which is a State Normal School which trains for all the towns around Pittsburgh?" (Unpublished letter from E. L. Power to L. Eastman, May 17, 1920. Effie L. Power personnel file, Cleveland Public Library Archives). Eastman responded immediately by telegram: "Have position for your consideration. See me before accepting another" (Unpublished telegram from L. Eastman to E. L. Power, May 18, 1920. Effie L. Power personnel file, Cleveland Public Library Archives). After meeting with Power and the Library Board on May 27, Eastman wrote to offer Power the position of head of the Children's Department at CPL. "I cannot tell you how sincerely glad I shall be to have you back with us where I have always felt that you belonged" (Unpublished letter from L. Eastman to E. L. Power, May 27, 1920. Effie L. Power personnel file, Cleveland Public Library Archives). Power responded: "My dear Miss Eastman, I feel that you have offered me the very nicest position imaginable. I also feel that I am going home. Could anything be better?" (Unpublished letter from E. L Power to Linda Eastman, June 1, 1920. Effie L. Power personnel file, Cleveland Public Library Archives).

Power was indeed "returning home" to the place where her career as a children's librarian had begun twenty-five years earlier, as one of the first librarians in the United States in a professional position devoted solely to work with children. At this time, the act of returning home had ironic connotations for Power as a successful professional woman in a female-intensive child welfare profession. On the one hand, home is the traditional domestic sphere assigned to all women, and children's libraries were viewed by many as providing a welcoming--and appropriately female-supervised--space that could be a figurative home to urban children living in cramped and substandard housing (in fact, early children's rooms were often designed to resemble middle-class living rooms so as to create a "homelike" atmosphere). On the other hand, returning home could also mean facing one's most exacting critics, particularly--as with Power--when returning as head administrator to a place where she had started out as a twenty-three-year-old library assistant. In this challenging context, being hired as head of Children's Work at CPL was a high accolade and testimonial to her professional success.

During the intervening twenty-five years, Power's highly successful career in public library youth services work had included positions of increasing administrative responsibility at CPL, Pittsburgh's Carnegie Library, and St. Louis Public Library. By 1920 she had become an important figure in children's librarianship with a career as library educator concurrent with her duties as a practicing librarian and her activities with regional and national professional associations. In library history, Power serves as an example of children's librarians, past and present, who utilize their experience and knowledge to teach others both in the classroom and through articles and books of lasting impact on the profession. She also represents the many children's librarians who contribute to children's literature in distinctively creative ways.

Power was one of the "first generation" of children's librarians, a group of women whose chief responsibility was children's work and who created their profession from the ground up. (2) They received general training in library work at one of the established library schools or through on-the-job apprentice programs but did not have any formalized training or courses in work with children because none as yet existed. They taught themselves how to evaluate materials for children, learned the most effective means of attracting children to books, and, in many cases, became children's authors themselves. Most importantly, they created a network of children's librarians across the country who learned from and supported one another and set the standard for the kind of collaboration that still exists today. They met at local, regional, and national professional meetings and corresponded regularly (Jenkins, 1996, pp. 815-818).

Although Power is but one of several important early figures in the history of children's librarianship, she is particularly noteworthy because, more than other innovators, she exemplifies the combination of practitioner and educator. She took what she learned in early training, combined it with her practical experience, and then formalized her knowledge by teaching other librarians in the classroom, on the job, and through her writings. In particular, the four anthologies of folktales for use by library storytellers embody the creativity with which youth services librarians approached library programming for young people. Never a singular figurehead like Anne Carroll Moore, who starred in the East Coast sector of children's librarianship, Power's equally effective leadership reflected the more typical collaborative ethic that came to distinguish the profession as a whole while also maintaining a high level of literacy activity.


Power began her career at the Cleveland Public Library in 1895, just three years after she graduated from Cleveland's Central High School. Although she had no professional training, she was put in charge of the juvenile alcove and worked "with such dedication that she was quite willing to serve without pay for seven months before she was put on the payroll at 12 cents an hour" (Cramer, 1972, p. 71). Although she was not given the title of Supervisor of Children's Work until 1903, she described herself as "nominally at the head of the children's work from '95 to the present [1903]" (Thomas, 1982, p. 129).

The lack of professional training in youth services librarianship was remedied in 1901, when the Training School for Children's Librarians opened at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Library School. Power left CPL to enroll in Carnegie's training program and received her diploma in children's work in 1904. She obtained further training at Columbia University's Teachers College Summer School, where she received a teaching certificate in 1906.

Power's next major career move came in 1909 when she went to Pittsburgh's Carnegie Library as First Assistant in the Children's Department. In 1911 she moved to St. Louis Public Library (SLPL) where she became Supervisor of Children's Work. At the time that Power was hired, the SLPL had just completed the process of building a network of branch libraries, each with its own children's room and children's librarian. SLPL head librarian Arthur Elmore Bostwick, formerly in charge of the Circulating Library at the New York Public Library (NYPL), wanted to coordinate the work of all the children's librarians across the system. To that end he hired Mary Douglas, formerly First Assistant at the NYPL Children's Department, but after a year she married and left her job. Organizing and centralizing the Children's Department required a librarian with experience in an urban library with a system of branches, and Power exactly fit the bill as a children's librarian with extensive experience in the large multibranched libraries of Cleveland and Pittsburgh. At SLPL she established a systematic storytelling program similar to that used at the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh, which included library story hours and book distribution at the municipal playgrounds. She held regular meetings at the Central Branch with all of the children's librarians to discuss important professional issues such as book evaluation. She also made regular visits to the branches to touch base with children's librarians and their staff.

As head of children's work at SLPL, Power authored her first significant article, a forty-nine-page report on work with children at her library entitled "How the Children of a Great City Get Their Books," which was published in the SLPL annual report for 1913/14 (Power 1914b). This report was then published as an illustrated pamphlet, which became one of the earliest manuals of children's librarianship and was widely promoted and distributed as an example of the work done by the library on behalf of children. Although specific to St. Louis, it details some of the ways that large urban public libraries provided outreach to their patrons. The text describes precisely the system of evaluation employed by children's librarians as they chose materials to add to the collection, as well as the various means by which the public library put books into the hands of St. Louis children. Power's informative text is lively and entertaining due in part to the photographs of groups of children at SLPL branches and on playgrounds. Her concluding paragraph demonstrates Power's commitment to youth services:
 We count the issue of books with care, but that is not
 the measure of their use. Books are dead things unless
 they come into contact with living souls and are
 revivified. The most interesting stuff we work with
 in the Public Library is human nature and that is more
 vital when you catch it young. (Power, 1914b, p. 106)

Three years later, Power left St. Louis to return to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, where she was supervisor of the Schools Division and later Head of the Children's Department. In 1920, as noted earlier, she returned to CPL as Head of the Children's Department, where she remained until her first retirement in 1937.

Power officially retired from CPL in 1937 but continued for another two years as professor at Columbia University's School of Library Service. In 1939 she moved to Pompano Beach, Florida, where she intended to spend time reading, resting, and writing "in a sunny, roomy home." Her retirement was of short duration. She became a member of the Board of the Pompano Beach Public Library and helped organize the reopening of the library, which had been destroyed by a series of hurricanes in the 1920s. In 1942, when the librarian resigned, she took over the job herself (Martin, 1948). At this time, she also returned to library education for a final time as author of the revised version of her textbook, now titled Work with Children in Public Libraries, which was published in 1943. Power retired for a second, final time in 1948. She later returned to her birthplace of Conneautville, Pennsylvania, where she lived until her death on October 8, 1969.


It is significant that Power's career was situated in three large urban centers--Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis--with diverse ethnic and racial populations. Power, in accordance with the philosophy of the burgeoning public library movement, was committed to providing library services to children of all ethnic and racial groups. Throughout her career, she also served as consultant to a number of children's publishers, reviewing manuscripts and providing critical evaluations and suggestions that would help a children's book reach its widest audience of children and children's librarians. (3)

Her work as publishing consultant and advocate for library service to minority-status groups came together in her work with Langston Hughes. Power first met Hughes when he was a high school student using the Cleveland Public Library (Berry, 1983, pp. 17-18). She encouraged both his reading and his writing and, as he became a published author, she used his poems in her work with children. In 1930 she suggested that he publish a collection of his poetry for children. He sent her a selection of poems, and Power edited and wrote the introduction for The Dream Keeper and Other Poems, a collection for children published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1931 (Rampersad, 1986, p. 197; Mikolyzk, 1990, p. 41). While on a lecture tour of the South, Hughes received his author's copy and wrote to thank Power for her efforts on behalf of his book (Unpublished letter from L. Hughes to E. L. Power, December 31, 1931. Langston Hughes & CPL, Cleveland Public Library Archives). His letter arrived on the same day that Power received correspondence from Della McGregor, chair of the American Library Association's Section for Library Work with Children. As chair, McGregor was responsible for editing the 1932 volume of the Children's Library Yearbook. She asked Power's advice on a suitable person "to write an article on the book needs of the Negro children in the South" to be included in the Yearbook (Unpublished letter from E. L Power to L. Hughes, January 20, 1932. Langston Hughes & CPL, Cleveland Public Library Archives). Power responded immediately, suggesting to McGregor that Hughes write the article and encouraging Hughes to give his consent (Unpublished letter from E. L Power to L. Hughes, January 20, 1932. Langston Hughes & CPL, Cleveland Public Library Archives).

Hughes agreed and later sent a draft of his article to Power for her opinion, which she gladly gave. The only change that she suggested was to the lead sentence of the article's final paragraph, which began "Faced by the segregation and scorn of a surrounding white world, [word illegible] Negro children in the South are in pressing need of books that will give them back their own souls" (Hughes, 1932, emphasis added). Power, with characteristic directness--and a perspective no doubt formed by her work in SLPL, one of the few nonsegregated public institutions in St. Louis--replied:
 I know you do not doubt my interest in the problems of your people
 but you may doubt my judgment--and I shall not be offended if you
 do ... I have grown grey-headed in library service and have learned
 that the greatest contention in pushing equality of service between
 the black and white races has risen in connection with suggestions
 that the North understands the Negro better than the South. Every
 other difference of opinion is freely discussed but we never get
 anywhere on this point.

 For this reason I fear your last paragraph will kill the effect of
 all the good points that precede it. It is a fine closing sentence
 but would you be willing to omit either the first phrase of the
 phrase "of the South"? I suggested omitting the first phrase because
 I do not feel that there is the same segregation and scorn in the
 North, although you and I well know that there is more than there
 should be. Now please be frank with me. When I consulted my
 assistant, Miss Briggs, she said "I think that Mr. Hughes should
 be allowed to say what he feels is true." (Unpublished letter from
 E. L Power to L. Hughes, March 16, 1932. Langston Hughes & CPL,
 Cleveland Public Library Archives)

Hughes thanked her for her suggestions and made some changes to his original manuscript. The published version of the article begins with an introduction by Power. Della McGregor requested that Power write the piece: "Since you know Mr. Hughes personally, would you mind writing a brief introductory paragraph to his article for the information of Children's Librarians? I think his work is not as well known by our group as it should be" (Unpublished letter from D. McGregor to E. L. Power, February 28, 1932. Children's Work, Effie Power, Director 1920-1937, Cleveland Public Library Archives).

Hughes took Power's suggestions to heart but also retained what he thought important. The final paragraph of the published article reads:
 Faced too often by the segregation and scorn of a surrounding white
 world, America's Negro children are in pressing need of books that
 will give them back their own souls. They do not know the beauty they
 possess. (Hughes, 1932, p. 110)


Throughout Power's career in library administration, she carried on an equally energetic career as library educator. In addition to the faculty positions she held at institutions in or near her libraries in Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Cleveland, she also spent part of almost every summer teaching, beginning in 1908 as an instructor at the Michigan State Library Commission's summer school program. During her first stint at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Library (1909-11), she taught in summer schools at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Minnesota. While at St. Louis Public Library (1911-14) she taught in the summer library school programs of the University of Missouri and the University of Illinois. When she worked as library administrator in Pittsburgh (1914-20), she taught in summer schools at New York State's Library School in Albany, the University of Syracuse, and the New York Public Library School. As Superintendent of Work with Children at Cleveland Public Library, she continued to teach summers in New York City for two years, after which she taught at the University of Oregon, the University of Chicago, and Columbia University. (4) During this time she also spent nine months at the American Library Association's (ALA) headquarters in Chicago writing the profession's first textbook, Library Work with Children (Power, 1929b, 1930) (5) Although Power retired from CPL in 1937, she continued for another two years as professor at Columbia University's School of Library Service before moving to Florida in 1939. Her final contribution to library education was the revised version of her textbook, now titled Work with Children in Public Libraries, published in 1943, when Power was seventy years old.

Throughout the early decades of the century, there was an ongoing concern within the profession regarding the lack of professionally trained children's librarians. As Louise Latimer, Director of Work with Children in the Washington D.C. Public Library, noted in a letter to ALA assistant secretary Sarah Bogle, there was a distressing lack of uniform education among those with the tide "children's librarian": "What is a children's librarian? Anything from a little girl, of limited education, assigned for a few hours for work in a children's room to a Miss [Effie] Power or a Mrs. [Caroline Burnite] Walker ripely prepared for work.... If we are to get anywhere in children's work we must think clearly about the training of our workers with children" (Unpublished letter from L. Latimer to S. Bogle, September 12, 1924. ALA Archives, 24/2/6-1). Trained children's librarians had their pick of positions, but the demand was much greater than the supply.

Power played a leading role in the campaign for more and better professional education for future children's librarians. She was one of the founding members of ALA's Children's Librarians' Section (CLS) in 1901 and served two terms as its chair. In 1925 the CLS inaugurated the Committee on Professional Training, and Power was named as the committee's first chair (Children's Librarians Section, 1925). The committee's work was complicated: on the one hand, there was a need to raise public awareness of the importance of and the opportunities within children's librarianship; on the other hand, only a small number of schools offered this specialization. As Power wrote to the Executive Assistant of ALA's Board of Education for Librarianship (BEL), "We plan to put our emphasis upon publicity but hesitate to do so when both schools offering special courses in children's work will soon be turning people away" (Unpublished letter from E. L Power to H. Howe, March 11, 1926. ALA Archives, 24/2/6-1). As chair of CLS's Professional Training Committee, Power wrote a report on the shortage, which she submitted to ALA's Committee on Recruiting for Library Science. At that point library school students received a general diploma after one year of coursework, with the children's specialization requiring an additional year of schooling. Among the obstacles she noted were the lack of library schools offering children's librarians certificates; the demand for general workers (thus a difficulty holding students for a second year of specialization); the fact that graduates of general courses were taking children's librarian positions due to lack of qualified applicants; and the lack of advancement for children's librarians except to general/adult work (Unpublished letter from E. L Power to B. S. Smith, May 11, 1925. ALA Archives, 24/2/6-1).

Part of the answer was clearly to create more opportunities for youth services education, but a survey of library education in 1926-27 reported that only three library schools--Western Reserve, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis--were turning out graduates specializing in children's work: of a total of sixty-one graduates nationwide that year, twenty-nine were from Western Reserve, twenty-six from Pittsburgh, and six from St. Louis (Unpublished letter from S. Bogle to M. Harron, May 18, 1927. ALA Archives, 24/2/6-1). As noted in the appendix below, Power's career would include lengthy teaching positions in all three of these programs.


In the late 1920s, ALA's BEL initiated the production of a groundbreaking series of seven textbooks for use in library schools. All were conceived both as individually authored works and as reflections of the cumulative experience and common understandings of the profession. Each text's author worked with an ALA-appointed advisory committee of librarians, visited libraries with exemplary programs, and consulted with librarians at ALA headquarters in the preparation of the text. Preliminary "planographed" (mimeographed) versions of the texts were sent to library schools, where they were used and critiqued, as well as to approximately one hundred practicing librarians. The resulting feedback and criticism were used by the authors to shape the first editions of their texts, which were published and distributed by ALA. Subsequent editions would be published in the years following as revisions became necessary. Clearly, these were intended to be definitive texts, and the authors were chosen with great care. Among those tapped for this work--and this honor--was Effie L. Power, who was commissioned to write the textbook on public library youth services work, Library Work With Children.

Among the requirements of this immense undertaking was that the actual writing of the texts take place at ALA headquarters in Chicago under the guidance of textbook series editor W. W. Charters. Thus, in order to participate in the project, Power requested an eight-month leave of absence from her position at CPL. Charters wrote to CPL head Linda Eastman in July 1927 expressing his gratitude to Eastman for making arrangements so that Power, "the outstanding woman in her field in the country," could undertake this work (Unpublished letter from W. W. Charters to L. Eastman, July 7, 1927. Effie L. Power personnel file, Cleveland Public Library Archives). Her time in Chicago was to run from January to August 1928, though her leave was later extended to October so that she could complete an entire draft of the text. Power's required visits to exemplary children's programs in public libraries also took place during this time. For example, in June 1928 she visited libraries in Birmingham, Alabama; Atlanta, Georgia; Louisville, Kentucky; Washington, D.C.; and New York City (Unpublished letter from E. L Power to L. Eastman, June 26, 1928. Effie L. Power personnel file, Cleveland Public Library Archives).

The preliminary version of Library Service for Children was prepared by Power in 1928 and distributed to library schools and practitioners in 1929 (Power 1929b). The first published edition appeared in 1930 (Power 1930), with a second edition, retitled Work with Children in Public Libraries, published in 1943. The 1929/1930 text contained chapters on the values of library work with children, the history of children's books, book selection, library collections, planning and equipment, circulation work, reference work, reading guidance, library service to adolescents, extension work, children's department administration, and children's librarianship as a career. The 1943 text added chapters on rural librarianship and public relations and considerably reduced the coverage of book selection. Power's ambitious aim was to present, insofar as was possible in a single textbook, a comprehensive introduction and guide to public youth services librarianship. A comparative reading of these texts provides a prescriptive picture of professional attitudes and practices deemed essential to youth services librarianship from the late 1920s to the early 1940s. It also illuminates Power's integration of goals and ideals with the actual tasks of working librarians.

According to all editions of Power's text, the position of the children's librarian within the larger public library hierarchy should be one of cooperation with the chief librarian, equality with staff in other departments, and complete authority in matters relative to library service to children and young people (Power, 1929b, p. 249; 1930, p. 284; 1943, p. 35). She was expected to be well-informed on every aspect of the collection, and her authority and autonomy regarding children's book selection was emphasized repeatedly. Even in the largest library systems, the children's book collections were considered the direct responsibility of the head administrator of the children's department, who worked with the branch children's librarians to select books that were both of high quality and of vital interest to young readers.

On the one hand, according to Power, it was important for each branch librarian to assume responsibility for selecting the books that would be the most useful with--and have the greatest appeal to--that community's children. On the other hand, it was important that the library system's collections, taken as a whole, reflect a consistent selection policy based on recognized standards. "The fact that relative values play an important part in book selection problems makes a single authoritative source for decisions very necessary." Maintaining this balance was the job of the head of youth services, who was assumed to be "liberal minded" and thus could help guide the librarians on her staff to make the best selection decisions without being dictatorial (Power, 1929b, pp. 259-261; 1930, pp. 288-289; 1943, pp. 41-42).

The third chapter of the 1929 draft edition was titled "Book Selection" and opened with an outline of the topics covered: the "library problem" of children's book selection, principles of children's book selection, and types of children's books. The chapter spanned 56 pages, or roughly one-fifth of the book's 275 pages, and began with a brief, thoughtful consideration of selection criteria. Power first listed the selection criteria by which each book was measured--its "essential value as literature or as information," its "relative value with reference to other books in the collection," and its "relative value with regard to the book fund." Consideration of the last, financial value, was then located in the following chapter on collection building and not covered further in this discussion (Power, 1929b, p. 32). To Power, book evaluation was not a process of sorting the absolute good from the absolute bad. Instead, books' essential and relative values were to be judged on the basis of both children's responses and author's choice and treatment of subject matter. Literary qualities, such as interesting subject matter, wholesome moral tone, distinctive style, and truthfulness, could be interpreted variously:
 Fixed rules are impossible because critics, children, and literature
 are variables and values are relative. Obviously, the problem
 consists in recognizing and evaluating what is fit and what is unfit,
 but that book which meets with one person's approval because of
 certain qualities may be disapproved by another because of omissions
 or because he interprets its contents differently. However, the
 critical judgment of successful children's librarians, tested by
 experience, has established a satisfactory working basis [for
 successful book selection]. (Power
 1929b, pp. 32-33)

Power went on to outline the means by which the novice selector could become an expert. The method discussed, however, was somewhat less "relative" and more "essential" than the above extract suggests. First, the novice should familiarize herself with the various criteria by which a book should be evaluated. Here, Power used a list adapted from Book Selection, F. W. Drury's (1930) contemporaneous ALA textbook on selection for adult readers, which included items such as physical format, content (including "Moral tone [wholesome, uncertain, pernicious]" [Power, 1930, p. 31]), scope, style, readability, and child appeal. The novice should then examine an established children's classic, such as Robinson Crusoe, in order to understand how these criteria were to be applied. Once she became familiar with this procedure using familiar books, she should examine unfamiliar books using these same criteria and compare her results to published book reviews written by "authoritative experts," judging her success by how closely her evaluation matched those of the experts. As the novice gradually built up her critical abilities, she could move toward greater autonomy in exercising personal judgment in the evaluation process, moving from simply distinguishing between "books altogether bad and those altogether good to [making] finer discrimination of comparative value" (Power, 1929b, p. 35).

The 1929 draft edition was read and evaluated by approximately two hundred children's librarians, whose suggestions were then incorporated into the 1930 published edition. Most changes between the 1929 and the 1930 editions were small additions, deletions, textual rearrangements, and word substitutions (for example, "moral tone" was replaced by "ethical influence"). The more substantive revisions included the expansion of the section on book selection to 72 pages, or roughly one-quarter of the 309 pages of text, and the elimination of the section's opening description of the essential and relative values in book selection.

Evidently the text's reviewers felt that the 1929 draft placed too much emphasis on relative values, for the 1930 edition contained no discussion of difficulties with "fixed rules" and no suggestion of training the librarian to make her own evaluations. Power and her reviewers evidently agreed that her text's primary task was to build up novice librarians' confidence in their ability to become expert evaluators. Thus, Power began the section on book selection criteria by stating that the "responsibility for the selection and maintenance of collections rests with the children's librarian" and assuring her reader that library school training, plus work experience, would enable her to make her selections in a professional manner. Though lacking in experience, the novice brought to the selection process her intelligence and personal attributes of "love of children, love of reading, a sense of literary values, and some knowledge of children's reading habits," all of which would assist her toward her goal (Power, 1930, pp. 29-30). Selection training was necessarily rigorous, but learning and incorporating professional selection standards was a prerequisite for truly professional performance as a children's librarian. By applying Drury's criteria first to classics, then to unfamiliar books, and then comparing her evaluations to those of recognized authorities, the novice's critical judgment could and would be formed in the image of the experienced librarians she wished to emulate. Authority was a matter of training, and training was available through this ALA-sanctioned text. In the 1930 edition, Power left little room for personal (and potentially idiosyncratic) judgment in book selection.

All three editions placed the relationship between the child and the book at the center of children's library service, with the selection of the right books as one of the central tasks of the children's librarian.
 The immediate purpose of a children's library is to provide children
 with good books supplemented by an inviting library environment
 and intelligent sympathetic service, and by these means to inspire
 and cultivate in children love of reading, discriminating taste in
 literature, and judgment and skill in the use of books as tools. Its
 ultimate aim is higher thinking, better living, and active
 citizenship. With these objectives in view, it is quite evident
 that the value of a children's library to individuals and to the
 community is not a matter of size, or volume of work, but the
 standards maintained in its book selection and the quality and
 adequacy of its service.... The basis of library service is books
 (Power, 1929b, p. 5; 1930, p. 10).

The 1943 edition put it more succinctly: "the child and his book remains [sic] the center about which all else revolves" (Power, 1943, p. viii). What changed from the late 1920s to the early 1940s was the balance in that equation of child plus book, with the earlier editions giving more attention to the books themselves, and the final edition focusing more on the individual child and on discerning and encouraging his or her needs and interests. As Power reported in the 1943 edition's introduction, among the revisions most strongly urged by her librarian reviewers was a greater stress on the social welfare aspects of children's librarianship and a greater overall focus on children and their needs in relation to library service.

As noted earlier, both the 1929 and 1930 editions emphasized book selection in their discussions of the library collection and its use (devoting fifty-six and seventy-two pages, respectively, to the topic). In contrast, the children for whom these books were selected were mentioned in a single paragraph of the introduction, plus brief sections treating variables determining children's reading interests (five and nine pages) and individual reading guidance (six and ten pages). The 1943 edition contained no section on book selection per se but devoted twenty-four pages in three separate sections to considerations of reading interests and reading guidance for the individual child. Indeed, the first six pages of the 1943 edition focused entirely on individual children with examples of young library users from a variety of cultures and social classes, giving particular emphasis to those of lower economic status.

What were the lessons of Power's text? To the professional information about book selection and circulation procedures, programming, and service to special populations, she added personal insight that delineated the work of children's librarianship as more than the sum of its parts. Her description of the relationship between the children's librarian and the child reflected an unromanticized appreciation of young people:
 She [the children's librarian] must be simple and straightforward
 in manner, without affectation or brusqueness, responsive but not
 effusive, sympathetically understanding. She must be sincere in
 her attitude toward children in order that she may expect them to
 be frank and friendly toward her.... perhaps mutual respect and
 interest represent the ideal relationship. (Power, 1943, pp.

Power's list of necessary personal attributes of children's librarians included initiative, forcefulness, imagination, tact, an interest in people, adaptability, courtesy, and patience. In addition, she must possess a healthy sense of humor. Indeed, Power demonstrated a wry sense of humor herself, as in her account of her early professional career:
 In the writer's early experience she went as far as to call the
 family bathtub into service [for scrubbing dirty children] until her
 sense of humor and her family intervened. Like the overzealous social
 worker in one of Josephine Dodge Daskam's clever stories of child
 life in New York's lower East Side, she wanted all the little
 Cordelias to pick daisies in Arcady when what they wanted were, not
 the terrifying croakings of frogs, but the sights, sounds and smells
 of Tin Pan Alley. (Power, 1943, p. 7)

Throughout the texts, Power noted the importance of librarians' relating to children naturally, instead of expecting to mold them into a childhood ideal. Children's tastes in reading were to be respected and worked with rather than against by providing them with books they would enjoy.

The final sentences of the 1929, 1930, and 1943 texts voice a charge to children's librarians to facilitate a positive relationship between children and books. The 1929 and 1930 texts emphasized the librarian's connections with other social service agencies and adults interested in providing for the welfare of children and the ability of the children's librarian "with vision and longing toward serving humanity" to make a lasting positive difference in children's lives by providing "the right book for the right child" (Power, 1929b, p. 274; 1930, p. 308). The 1943 edition ended with a similar, though more specific, statement of the work of the professional children's librarian in "creating among children and young people a deep seated desire for what books and reading have to offer toward personal happiness, enlightenment and culture. It is theirs to offer an 'ounce of prevention' against illiteracy, dullness, pessimism and lack of ambition" (Power, 1943, p. 182). The librarian's duty was not that of protecting or molding young readers but instead of providing reading incentives and choices to children and young people, thus facilitating (rather than directing) their development into adult readers.

According to Power's final 1943 text, rationales for book selection, even selection for the young, must be positive rather than negative. This was a change from the approach of earlier children's librarians, as well as a change from the approach of earlier editions of Power's text. While children's librarians were expected to rigorously evaluate all acquisitions, the aim was selection, not censorship.

The word "censorship" made its first appearance in the 1943 edition of Power's text, with reference to library service to adolescents. In a chapter on public relations, librarians were advised that boys would be alienated by too much emphasis on clean hands, whereas girls particularly resented "any suspicion of censorship." These reactions could be avoided by politeness and tact on the part of the library staff (Power, 1943, p. 163). In a section on children's room service to adolescents and adults, Power stated that adult books that were judged to be enjoyable, strong, wholesome, and written by worthwhile writers should be provided for young adults. "The idea behind the best service is not censorship but emphasis on desirable books and constructive reading guidance which provides liberally for individual differences and for freedom of choice" (Power, 1943, p. 95). Ten years later, Lester Asheim (1954) would popularize the phrase "selection, not censorship" in a widely reprinted talk delivered at ALA's 1953 pre-conference on intellectual freedom. Asheim was speaking to an audience comprised primarily of librarians involved in library service to adults; here, ten years earlier, Power applied this same concept to library service to young people.


Power's textbooks directly embody her philosophy of library work with children. Her experience with and understanding of children's interactions with stories and literature are revealed in her folktale collections. The foremothers of children's librarianship believed deeply in the spiritual power of literature to shape childhood and therefore, as day follows dawn, to shape adult society (Hearne and Jenkins, 1999). True to the pattern of these beliefs and practices, Effie Power concluded the introduction to her most enduring folktale collection, Bag O'Tales, by stressing the importance of storytelling if children are "to develop culture, physical repose and spiritual vision" (Power, 1934a, p. 13).

Storytelling is literature in action, and Power "did literature." In addition to her textbook, articles, and many bibliographies, she compiled four collections of folktales and literary stories, all published by E. P. Dutton: Bag O'Tales (1934a) ; Blue Caravan Tales (1935); Stories to Shorten the Road (1936); and From Umar's Pack (1937), "the third and last book in a series planned to supplement Bag O'Tales" (Power, 1937, p. 7). If these books seem closely spaced, they were informed by a spread of many years of experience telling stories and administering storytelling programs. The four volumes include what Power--and the many librarians whom she trained and knew--considered basic to children's knowledge, a canon serving as a springboard to lifelong reading of literature. These were also stories that worked not only as canonical ideals but also as entertainment holding children's attention, stimulating their interest, and bringing them back for more.

For Effie Power, stories did not lie flat on a page. She describes "a playground scene in Pittsburgh; a horde of ragged children running gleefully to meet a library story-teller and calling out, 'Here comes the Rat Lady! The Rat Lady!' (her last story having been Browning's 'Pied Piper.')" (Power, 1934a, p. 12). Children who could not read could nevertheless remember; and, as her Bag O' Tales dedicatory quote from George Eliot affirms, "Our finest hope is finest memory." Her dedication, "TO MOTHER," might be viewed as underscoring the gendered nature of children's librarians--all of whom were women, dedicated to literacy as the hope of the world and convinced that the first step toward literacy was hearing literature told and read aloud by those whose primary work, in the early twentieth century, was to do it: mothers, teachers, and librarians. Power's role as story anthologist, then, was to deliver basic literature in both oral and print formats to the world of children. She was a skilled literary midwife (Hearne, 1998).

Each of Power's four story collections has a stated rationale and scope. Bag O'Tales, the most comprehensive with "63 famous stories for storytellers," is essentially "a popular home book and a useful source for all story-tellers" (Power, 1934b), while the other three books in the series are intended to be read aloud to, or independently by, children. Blue Caravan Tales "contains the stories requested again and again" by children attending bookmobile programs "in the shade of a building or beneath the trees." These fifteen popular choices were "likewise the favorites of those who attend the story hours in the Library during the winter months" (Power, 1935, p. 5). Stories to Shorten the Road contains fifteen folktales with "humor and adventure to shorten roads for those older girls and boys, and grown people, who would 'Laugh and grow wise'" (Power, 1936, p. 6). From Umar's Pack comprises twelve "stories from literary sources which the world has chosen to remember" (Power, 1937, p. 5). The analysis of these collections, along with the lists of stories that Power published for use in public library programs (1913a, 1913b, 1914a, 1925a, 1925c), form the basis for a historical blueprint of the aesthetic and cultural values with which children from different socioeconomic classes and widely varied ethnic and immigrant origins were regularly inculcated.

As might be expected, a breakdown of the selections reveals that western European lore dominates despite a few notable exceptions. This ratio is consistent with bibliographies of the time and textbook recommendations throughout the twentieth century (Del Negro, 1999, p. 600); early guides by famous storytellers such as Marie Shedlock (1915) and Ruth Sawyer (1942); widely distributed story collections such as those by Sara Cone Bryant (1907) and the Literature Committee of the International Kindergarten Union (1939); and major anthologies such as those by Edna Johnson and Carrie Scott (1935).

Power's three children's collections are dominated by Norwegian folktales (primarily from Asbjornsen and Moe, n.d.) and Nordic mythology (from various sources), which comprise twelve selections out of a total forty-two. The ten English stories in the three children's collections include two Joseph Jacobs tales and four literary stories: a ballad in prose form, Charles Lamb's adaptation of Shakespeare's Tempest, Helen Bannerman's text for Little Black Sambo (1899), and Beatrix Potter's text for Peter Rabbit (1901). There are five German folktales (Grimm, 1977); five Irish tales; two French tales (both attributed to Perrault, but one is actually by Madame Le Prince de Beaumont); two "Slavic" tales; two Indian stories (from the Bidpai and Mahabharata); two episodes from the Aeneid; and one Czech, one Japanese, and one Swedish tale.

The adult storytelling resource, Bag O'Tales, has only a slightly different balance, with a clear majority of seventeen English folktales, legends, epics, ballads (a few of the ballads are also common to Scotland), and literary tales (including an episode from Pilgrim's Progress). There are ten Norwegian folktales and Norse myths and sagas (Sigurd, Frithiof, etc.); nine Greek myths, plus three Aesop fables; five French stories (three Roland episodes, one Perrault, one La Fontaine fable); three Grimms' tales; three Andersen tales; three Indian tales; two Irish stories; and one Russian, one "Slavic," one Swedish, and one Persian story.

Numbers are deceiving, of course, since one story from the Cuchulain cycle can take up many more pages than four fables from Aesop, but perhaps absence speaks more clearly than presence. There are no African American, Native American, or Jewish stories, and only one selection from an original American publication in the guise of Chinese folklore, Shen of the Sea, the 1926 Newbery Medal book by Arthur Chrisman (1925), published by Effie Power's publisher, E. P.Dutton. Several other original pieces, including "Leprecaun" by William Allingham (1884-89) and "Ladders to Heaven" by Oratia Ewing (1841-85) are taken from earlier British books. The booklist of recommended further sources in Bag O'Tales (Power, 1934a, pp. 131-132) does contain a few token minority appearances, including the white collector Joel Chandler Harris's book of African American Uncle Remus stories (1955) and Zitkala-Sa's Old Indian Legends (1901). Selective (one- to three-page) bibliographies of picture books, classics for family reading, books on storytelling, and books on children's literature conclude Bag O' Tales. Given the limitations of book ownership by individual children in the 1930s, and the high rate of library use during the Depression, these book recommendations would have been tremendously influential in juvenile collection development throughout the country.

In all four books Power's citations are meticulous in terms of copyright information, though attributions of ethnic of folkloric origin can become as vague as "Old Folk Tale" for well-known stories such as "Scrapefoot," an English folktale collected in More English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs (1892). The most important consideration for Power's purposes, however, was the quality of adaptation for oral delivery to children, and in that her selections succeeded magnificently. The tonal variety ranges from light to dark, while style and pace are orally pitched. The storytelling advice that she doles out is wise, brief, and tuned to librarians learning on the run:
 Read the story to be told for sheer pleasure; re-read for plot and
 if the incidents are many, or complicated, make a written outline
 and memorize it; re-read for descriptive parts and for general

 When this has been done, put aside the text and visualize the
 story imaginatively. If there is time to dwell on the story during
 several days, so much the better. Parts to be memorized may require
 further reading.

 Finally, with your audience in mind, repeat the story aloud, as
 you expect to tell it. This will aid your memory, give facility in
 diction and acquaint you with the sound of your own voice, all of
 which are important points in developing ease in story-telling.

 No matter how familiar a story may become, it should be reviewed,
 to some extent, before re-telling, in order to recapture its

 Comparing variants of an old tale and seeking out reasons for
 differences may also add interest. The many collections of folk
 tales made by Joseph Jacobs contain stimulating bibliographic notes
 on original forms of tales and the changes which have occurred in
 their migration. Perrault's literary versions of popular tales may
 be compared with folklore versions; La Fontaine's Fables in literary
 verse may be read in connection with earlier folklore versions of
 rabies found in the Panchatantra, edited by Ryder, or The Fables of
 Aesop. (Power, 1934a, p. 56)

Suggestions more specific to each of the genres with which she deals introduce each section, along with a listing of programming examples in addition to those she has chosen to retell, and further sources are listed at the end of each section. Her background information on the various mythologies, epics, and sagas contextualizes the episodes.

There is no softening of violent edges, even in the younger tales. When piggy will not go over the stile, mouse gnaws rope, rope hangs butcher, butcher kills ox, etc., until stick beats dog, dog bites piggy, and piggy finally jumps through the stile so the old lady can get home that night (Power, 1934a, p. 20). Later, Chicken-licken and Co. disappear forever into Fox-Lox's cave (p. 25), the first two little pigs get eaten for their lack of foresight (p. 29), and Jackal gobbles up Lambiken (p. 37). However, the Lassie and her mysterious nighttime visitor do get chastely separate beds in "East of the Sun and West of the Moon"! (Power, 1934a, p. 106) (In Asbjornsen and Moe's version "a man came and laid himself alongside her" [p. 12]).

Misogynistic stories such as Asbjornsen's "Goody 'Gainst-the-Stream" (Power, 1936, p. 55) and Ransome's adaptation of "The Stolen Turnips, the Magic Tablecloth, the Sneezing Goat, and the Wooden Whistle" (a Russian variant of Asbjornsen's Norse "Lad Who Went to the North Wind") are well balanced by active and clever heroines such as "The Squire's Bride," another of Asbjornsen and Moe's Norse tales, and the heroic "Savitri's Ghoice," adapted from the Mahabharata. In one of her introductions, Power explains that the story of Savitri, who chooses her husband Satyavan and then rescues him from death, is "interesting as it portrays the Hindu conception of womanly character, the keynote of which is fidelity" (Power, 1937, p. 7).

Although the majority of the tales have male protagonists, they are often saved by females, as in "How the Son of Gobhaun Saor Sold the Sheepskin" (Power, 1936, p. 69), in which a wise man tests his son by demanding that he sell a sheepskin for a good price and also bring back the sheepskin. Everyone laughs at this proposal till he meets a woman who pays the price, plucks the wool, and gives him back the skin, whereupon his father berates him for not having the wit to ask her hand in marriage immediately! It is this woman, after she marries the son of Gobhaun Saor, who rescues him once again. When the Gobhaun Saor asks his son to "shorten the way for me" on their journey, it is she who explains, "sure every one knows that storytelling is the way to shorten a road." (6) In addition to women who save their menfolk, there are also tales with a satisfyingly gendered balance of power, as in "Saddle to Rags" (Power, 1934a, p. 273), a very funny Irish story in which a "simple old man" manages to outwit a thieving highwayman by doing just what his wife tells him--sort of.

Power's assertion of gender equality through selection of folktales reflects the strength of the indomitable pioneering librarians whom she typifies. Early twentieth-century librarians' folktale collections with active heroines were overlooked when feminists of the 1970s began to anthologize what they considered the first feminist folktale collections (Pierson-Jennings, 1989). For instance, The Fairy Ring, edited by Kate Douglas Wiggin and Nora Archibald Smith (1906), and East o' the Sun and West o' the Moon with Other Norwegian Folk Tales, retold by Gudrun Thorne-Thomsen (1912), featured many of the "strong women" tales later presented in feminist anthologies during the mid-1970s as if newly discovered ("The Squire's Bride," "Cap 'O Rushes," "Tattercoats," "The Husband Who Was to Mind the House," etc.).

Casting even more light on Effie Power's feminist perspective is the single work of imaginative fiction attributed to Power, Early Days in Ohio; A Story of a Pioneer Family of the Western Reserve (Power & Everson, 1928), an otherwise conventional historical novel that Power wrote with school teacher Florence M. Everson. The book chronicles the adventures of the pioneering Clark family (mother, father, and five children) settling in the Cleveland, Ohio, area known then as the Western Reserve. The episodes are much in the same vein as Laura Ingalls Wilder's later Little House series (1932-43). Early Days in Ohio repeatedly stresses the issue of gender:
 "Girls can't chop anything," said James scornfully. "They haven't
 the right swing with their arms," added Alonzo.
 "Here's one girl that can do as much as any two boys," declared
 Peggy as she seized a hatchet, and she swung it with so much vim
 that James and Alonzo stood back and gazed at her in open-mouthed
 wonder. "Watch out, or you'll swallow some of these chips," she
 shouted. (Power & Everson, 1928, p. 22)

Early Days in Ohio contains numerous other examples of pioneering women's capabilities. At the end of the book, one woman says, "I'm getting into deep water ... for women aren't supposed to know much about politics." But young Peggy persists in asking questions until the woman says, "I never before knew a little girl to be so interested in politics" (pp. 262-263).
 "Why shouldn't girls be as interested as boys?" questioned Peggy and

 "Because women can't vote," said Mrs. Clark.

 "But who knows, perhaps some day they may."

 "That day is a long way off," declared Mrs. Carter. "As for myself,

 I'm sure I'd never find the time to vote."

 "Oh, I would," said Peggy.

 "So would I," echoed Laura." (pp. 263-264)

The feminist awareness emphasized here is in marked contrast to the racist attitude toward Native Americans, who are ridiculed at one point for stealing a kettle of boiling soap on the assumption that it is edible. "The Indians smacked their lips. 'Good stuff. Eat plenty. Heap good to eat" (Power & Everson, 1928, p. 40). Called "savages," "red men" (pp. 40-41), and worse ("It was funny to see the fat and greasy squaws measuring off lengths of gay calico for new dresses," p. 170), the Indians here (later identified as Chippewa, p. 177) are depicted adding a dog to their stew while two horrified white boys whom they have tried to befriend look on (p. 178). This book, endorsed in a foreword by the superintendent of Cleveland Schools, went through four printings in 1928, a fifth in 1931, and a sixth in 1936. Although there is no date to indicate the precise years covered in the book, it is a period just prior to the convention in Chillicothe to determine Ohio's statehood (1803). Whereas the prevailing attitudes toward Native Americans may reflect the historical times portrayed on the "Western Reserve," the authors took pains to update attitudes toward women, obviously a reflection of their own feminist convictions.

The prejudice against Indians is all the more notable because children's librarians defined their mission as incorporating immigrant children of many cultures and ethnicities into U.S. society and bringing literacy to children of all social classes. The daybooks of children's librarians at SLPL and photographs from the CPL archives clearly demonstrate that African American and white children were integrated in the children's room, and Power's support for Langston Hughes has already been noted. The inclusion of "Little Black Sambo" in Blue Caravan Tales reflects a common acceptance of that story as dynamic for telling and does not feature the insultingly stereotypical illustrations by Bannerman. Certainly in 1935, Little Black Sambo was not generally considered a racist title in the canon of children's literature and was, in fact, included in the first edition of African American librarian Charlemae Rollins's bibliography We Build Together (1941). As noted before, however, there are no African or African American folktales in any of Power's collections.

It is unfair to examine Power's collections for social issues without bearing in mind the significance of her acute aesthetic sense and its decades-long impact on children's librarianship and on childhood itself. Her stories are never patronizing about young listeners' and readers' capabilities. Although not an "original" writer herself, she was a creative anthologist and an oral re-creator of stories, which allowed her to contribute richly to the print tradition through selection and organization of adaptations. She created a window of imagination for children and obviously looked through it herself. From the "hardcore" nursery rhymes that are often edited out of contemporary anthologies (for example, long versions of "Old Mother Hubbard" and "Cock Robin" that include or dwell on references to death), to the intricacies of Perseus and Odysseus, Power trusted her audience to reach new levels of understanding through exposure to unfamiliar words, narrative complexities, and rites of human behavior.

The influence of these collections is undeniable. Included in two of the books, Stories to Shorten the Road and Stories from Umar's Pack, are reviews of the other two collections from both regional and national sources: the Springfield Republican, Macon Telegraph, New York Herald Tribune, Parent's Magazine, National Parent- Teacher, Baltimore Evening Sun, and the American Library Association's Booklist. This last is surely the most significant for libraries, since it influenced purchases in so many children's library collections. About Blue Caravan Tales, the Booklist reviewer says that it "provides in one volume those tales which are the foundation of every story-teller's stock in trade, and which, once heard, children delight to read for themselves." The Baltimore Evening Sun reviewer mentions the advantage of having "some of the best fairy tales in all the world all in one inexpensive small volume! ... Now, instead of having to search through a dozen books to find them, children have them all here in this well-printed compilation." Not only do the reviewers cite the book for its usefulness, but also for its aesthetic sensibility and character: "A collection of notable stories, rich in fancy, laden with adventure and always delivering to the young reader some impressions of permanent value," says the Springfield Republican about Stories to Shorten the Road. "Miss Effie Power, who knows what is good for children, comes with 'Blue Caravan Tales,' a collection of well chosen fairy tales," writes Charles J. Finger, the author of the 1925 Newbery Medal book, Tales from Silver Lands (1924).

From a historical distance, not all of the collections are equally estimable. With the numbers of anthologies now available, for instance, selections in Blue Caravan Tales seem overfamiliar to a point of flatness, while its unique and somewhat bizarre version of "Hansel and Gretel" begs for a source note other than "From Grimms' Fairy Tales" (Power, 1935, p. 56). ("Beauty and the Beast" in the same volume is mistakenly attributed to Perrault.) Removing Beatrix Potter's illustrations from the text of Peter Rabbit is aesthetically jarring; and "Little Black Sambo," despite its powerful storytelling elements of patterned structure, rhythm, repetition, wordplay, and suspense, now seems a socially offensive selection. The reasons for this are extensively explored elsewhere (Harris, V.J., 1990), although most controversies center around Bannerman's illustrations, which were not used in Power's book. Unlike Blue Caravan Tales, the other three collections are still viable and vital: Bag O' Tales as a basic storytelling resource, Stories to Shorten the Road for its unusual and dynamic selections, and From Umar's Pack for its outstanding presentation of classic literary, legendary, and mythical adaptations.

Most of all, these collections represent a kind of living literature whose effect on children can be documented. Thanks to librarians who kept meticulous records of their story sessions and to scholars who have mined them, we have rich evidence of how broadly and deeply stories selected and told by Effie Power and her colleagues affected children. The following two examples from children's librarians' working daybooks document this work during Power's tenure at SLPL:
 Told "Perseus" to fifty children at De Soto [playground] also to
 fifty at Yeatman Sq. It went very well. A child in the third grade
 had remembered Theseus above all the other stories. The black sails
 seem to have made the deepest impression and she wanted another
 story like that one about the "black sails." Theseus & Perseus have
 been the most popular stories I have told, with both big and little.
 (St. Louis Public Library, Central Branch Children's Room, Daybook,
 1912-1916, August 9, 1912, p. 41)

 Told "Theseus," "Why Brother Bear Has No Tail," "The Peterkins & the
 Piper" to two groups (120) of almost grown boys and girls at
 Franklin Night School. Theseus was a "howling" success. It took 45
 minutes to tell it and still they were not tired and wanted more.
 The Peterkins never fail but Uncle Remus fen flat. I have to choose
 my audience carefully for Uncle Remus. It never succeeds except with
 people of some cultivation. (St. Louis Public Library, 1912-1916,
 February 19, 1913, p. 61)

At that time most public children's librarians had storytelling sessions for various age groups in various venues several times a week. Such performances would have been one of the few performance media readily available (that is, at no cost) to working-class children. Such stories gained additional value in that they were also freely available in the library collection for children to read and experience anew. These and other books were recommended by librarians to both children and caretakers on a daily basis, which further underlines the potential impact of librarians' literary choices on children's reading and imaginative lives.


Our heritage from dynamic pioneering children's librarians such as Effie Power has broad implications for today's new pioneers. The stereotypically rigid librarian depicted in popular culture would not thrive in a real children's library of any historical period. In fact, librarianship for children has long involved a lively imaginative tradition that is rarely identified and attributed as creative even within the profession. Storytelling and other types of programming, book evaluation and collection development, readers' advisory and reference, arrangement of displays and spatial environment, professional collaboration, and community outreach are all, in a sense, art forms. Not surprisingly, a number of children's librarians have become award-winning children's book authors. As early as 1929, the Children's Library Yearbook listed thirty-eight librarians (all women) as children's book authors in appendix 1, "The Children's Librarian as a Contributor to the Field of Children's Literature" (Committee on Library Work, 1929). A recent Web site (Gerretson, 2000) lists over two hundred names of writers who are or have been children's librarians.

It is no accident that those who evaluate and select children's books for daily use in library collections, as well as for major awards such as the Newbery and Caldecott Medals, are primarily children's librarians. In their training and on the job, they are charged to be both critical and creative, to evaluate books critically and promote them to children creatively. Organization and access ate important, but these, too, have creative as well as critical and administrative aspects. Many children's librarians also combine their professional work with teaching and mentoring responsibilities in programs of instruction in library and information science, which calls for a different kind of creativity. Recognizing the need (and taking the time) for creativity to enhance work, balancing creative and critical development, and recognizing that creative growth connects every adult more vitally with children are crucial aspects of long-term commitment and innovative planning. This exploration of Effie Power's professional career as librarian, educator, and author demonstrates a combination of unremitting hard work and irrepressible imagination. It is a combination characteristic of effective children's librarians from the founding of the field to current times.

1873 Born in Conneautville, Pennsylvania, February. 12
1881 Family moves to Cleveland
1892 Graduates from Central High School, Cleveland
1895 Family moves back to Conneautville but Power stays in
 Cleveland to work in library
1895-1898 Assistant, Cleveland Public Library
1895-1896 Member, American Library Association
1898-1902 Children's Librarian, Cleveland Public Library
 Supervisor of Children's Work, Cleveland Public Library
1903-1908 Instructor in Library Use and Children's Literature, City
 Normal School, Cleveland
1903-1907 Instructor in Work with Children and Children's
 Literature, Western Reserve University Library School.
1904 Graduates from Training School for Children's Librarians,
 Carnegie Library School
1906 Attended classes at Teacher's College, Columbia
 University, summer school
1906-1930 Member, National Education Association (she says "active
1908 Instructor in Work with Children and Children's
 Literature, Michigan State Library Commission Summer
1908-1909 Assistant, Cleveland Public Library
1908-1913 Lecturer in Work with Children and Children's Literature,
 Western Reserve University
1909-1911 First Assistant, Children's Department, Carnegie Library
 of Pittsburgh
1909-1911 Instructor in Children's Literature and Work with
 Schools, Training School for Children's Librarians
1909-1911 Lecturer on Storytelling, University of Pittsburgh,
 Extension Course for Playground and Social Welfare
1910 Instructor in Work with Children and Children's
 Literature, University of Minnesota Summer Library School
1911 Instructor in Work with Children and Children's
 Literature, University of Minnesota Summer Library School
1911-1912 Secretary, Section for Work with Children, ALA
1911-1914 Supervisor, Work with Children, St. Louis Public Library
1911-1914 Lecturer on Work with Children, Training School for
 Children's Librarians, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.
1911-1914 Instructor, Training Class, St. Louis Public Library
1912 Instructor in Work with Children and Children's
 Literature, University of Missouri and State Library
 Commission Summer Library School
1912 Chairman, Section for Work with Children, ALA
1912-1913 Secretary, Library Department, National Education
1914 Instructor in Work with Children and Children's
 Literature, University of Missouri and State Library
 Commission Summer Library School
1914 Lecturer on Children's Literature, University of Illinois
 Summer Library School
1914-1919 Member, ALA Council
1914-1917 Supervisor of Schools Division, Carnegie Library of
1914-1918 Chairman, Elementary School Committee, Library Department
 of National Education Association
1914-1920 Instructor in Children's Literature and Work with
 Schools, Training School for Children's Librarians
1915-1920 Member, Keystone State Library Association
1916-1917 Lecturer on Children's Literature, New York State Library
1916-1917 Lecturer on Children's Literature and Work with Schools,
 University of Syracuse Library School
1916-1917 President, Library Department, National Education
1916-1920 Honorary member, Committee of Teachers of English,
 Pittsburgh Public Schools; Chairman of Subcommittee
 on Reading
1916-1920 Consulting Librarian, Subcommittee on Reading, Committee
 of English, Association of Secondary Schools of
 Upper Valley, Ohio
1917-1920 Head of Children's Department, Carnegie Library of
1918-1922 Assisting Instructor, New York Public Library School
1920 Lecturer on High School Library Work, Simmons College
 Library School
1920 Member, Pennsylvania State Educational Association,
 Chairman, Library Section
1920- Member, Ohio State Library Association
1920-1937 Director of Work with Children, Cleveland Public Library
1920-1928 Instructor in School of Library Science, Western Reserve
 University, and Director, Course in Children's Work
1925-1937 Assistant Professor, School of Library Science, Western
 Reserve University
1925 Lecturer on Children's Literature, Extension Course for
 Teachers, Summer Session, University of Oregon
1927 Lecturer on Library Service to Children, University of
 Chicago, Graduate Library School, Summer Session
1927-1931 Member, American Library Association Committee for
 Study of Development of Reading Habits
1928 Lecturer on Library Service to Children, University of
 Chicago, Graduate Library School, Summer Session
1928 Special Lecturer, St. Louis Public Library School
1928-1930 Lecturer, Cleveland College
1929 Lecturer on Library Service to Children, University of
 Chicago, Graduate Library School, Winter Session
1929 Special Lecturer, St. Louis Public Library School;
 Special Lecturer; Carnegie Library School, Pittsburgh
1929-1930 Chairman, Section for Work with Children, American
 Library Association
1931 Special Lecturer, St. Louis Public Library School
1932 Instructor; Columbia University, School of Library
 Service, Summer Session
1933 Instructor, Columbia University, School of Library
 Service, Summer Session
1933-34 President, Library Club of Cleveland and Vicinity
1934 Instructor, Columbia University, School of Library
 Service, Summer Session
1934 M.A., Allegheny College (Honorary)
1935 Chair, Ohio Library Association Anniversary Committee
1936 Instructor, Columbia University, School of Library
 Service, Summer Session
1937 Retires from Cleveland Public Library
1937-1938 Lecturer, Columbia University School of Library Science
1940 Member, Library Board, Pompano Beach, Florida (helps
 reorganize public library, which was destroyed in
 hurricanes in 1924 and 1936)
1942-1948 Librarian, Public Library, Pompano Beach, Florida
1948 Retires from Pompano Beach Public Library but continues
 to write
1964? Returns to Conneautville, Pennsylvania, and lives with
1969 Dies October 8


(1.) Power's professional career began at CPL in 1895, where Eastman was hired as CPL's Vice-Librarian in 1890. Eastman held that senior administrative position for twenty-two years under head librarian William Howard Brett, who was a leader among library administrators in supporting children's work in public libraries. In 1918 Brett died and Eastman succeeded him as librarian, a career move that made her the first woman to head a metropolitan library system in the United States. Eastman retired from CPL in 1938.

(2.) Most of the pioneering supervisors of children's public library services were members of this "first generation" of children's librarians, who went into children's work before specialized training was available. Anne Carroll Moore (Superintendent of Work with Children at New York Public Library, 1906-1941) and Frances Jenkins Olcott (Chief of the Children's Department of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, 1898-1911, organizer and director of Carnegie's Training School for Children's Librarians) are two of the better-known members of this group. Many others also "labored in the fields" as professional colleagues of Moore and Olcott but without their national name recognition.

(3.) Power served as consultant to a number of publishers, including (but not limited to) Oxford University Press; Thomas Nelson; Charles Scribner & Sons; William Morrow; Harper & Brothers; Doubleday; Macmillan; Viking; Little, Brown; Duran & Co.; Harcourt Brace; Random House; Alfred A. Knopf; and Houghton Mifflin.

(4.) As head of children's services at CPL, Power found an additional venue for educational advocacy as a member of the Advisory Committee to the American School of the Air, an innovative series of radio broadcasts delivered directly to school classrooms that started in 1929 in Ohio. "Miss Power, as a children's librarian and as a member of the Advisory Committee of the American School of the Air, has been much interested in these programs and has been in contact with the promoters; both of these and of various commercial programs" (Unpublished letter from E. Briggs to D. McGregot, June 24, 1933. ALA Archives, 28/50/6-2). Such educational radio programs became increasingly popular in the years that followed, as demonstrated by the inauguration of the CBS American School of the Air in 1939, which broadcast nationwide to over 100,000 classrooms every day. ("Radio in the Modern School Program," an online exhibit produced by University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, retrieved April 6, 2004, from htm).

(5.) Indeed, even during the months she toiled on the textbook in Chicago, she traveled to the St. Louis Library School to lecture on children's work.

(6.) Stories of Gobhaun Saor still circulate orally in Ireland. A sixty-five-year-old West Cork farmer, Noel McCarthy, asked if he know of Saor, told several of the stories to Hearne in June.


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Melanie A. Kimball, Department of Library and Information Studies, School of Informatics, 534 Baldy Hall, Buffalo, NY, 14260-1020, Christine A. Jenkins, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 501 E. Daniel Street, Urbana, IL 61820-6211, and Betsy Hearne, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 501 E. Daniel Street, Urbana, IL 61820-6211
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Author:Hearne, Betsy
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Date:Mar 22, 2004
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