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A Librarian to Remember

Edna Adelaide Brown

“Because I had few child playmates, I created imaginary ones, and entertained myself making stories.”

Edna was born on Marcy 7th, 1875, in Providence, Rhode Island. During her early years, her health was poor and she was homeschooled until she was ten. She graduated from Girls High School at Brown University and went on to the New York State Library School. In her later years she reflected that her choice of a library career was due to her love of books and mused that as a child she had not been allowed in public libraries because her parents, aware of the delicacy of her health, feared germs.

When she graduated from library school, she toured Europe for a few years and upon her return she took a job at the Providence Public Library. Later she joined the staff of the Rosenberg Library in Galveston, Texas. She found working in a large library very trying and unsatisfactory. In 1906 she was very happy to return to New England where she was the chief librarian of Andover Hall Memorial Library, the first woman to hold this position, in Andover, Massachusetts. She held this position for thirty years. She campaigned tirelessly and for years, for the addition of a room that was just for children. She became an avid champion of libraries and in 1913, she said, "In this age of society-forming, there should be a society for the prevention of cruelty to libraries." Her annual appeals for a separate space for children were finally successful when the Children's Room was added in 1926. She also extended library hours, initiated an open shelf system, and started the Ballardvale Branch of Memorial Hall Library.

She retired in 1939 and died in 1944.She wrote more than twenty children’s books and plays with most of her stories focused on animals. The American Library Association recommended all of her books which included, Four Gordons, The Spanish Chest, Journey’s End, Archer and the Prophet, Rainbow Island, The Silver Bear, The Affair at St. Peters, The Chinese Kitten, Robin Hollow, Three Gates, to name a few. . In 1939 she retired to devote her time entirely to writing and working in her garden which she also loved. Her last book, How Many Miles to Babylon? was published in 1941.