Anne Carroll Moore & the New York Public Library

Carly Janine

Professor Forney

LT100

11/16/17

 

Anne Carroll Moore & the New York Public Library
ACM01

Anne Carroll Moore and her work in the New York Public Library was groundbreaking. She brought literacy and literature to children in a public library setting by introducing children’s libraries to the New York Public Library System. Born in Limerick, Maine in 1871, Anne Carroll Moore was always opinionated and ambitious. As a child, she had seven older brothers and a horse named Pocahontas. Initially, Moore wanted to be a lawyer like her father, but following the untimely death of both her parents to influenza, and the loss of her sister-in-law, she dropped out of school to care for her brother’s children.

Eventually, “ACM” as she was called behind her back, was to find schooling at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Mary Wright Plummer was in charge of the librarian program at Pratt, and she implemented a children’s room at their library. In The New Yorker article, “The Lion and The Mouse,” Jill Lepore writes, “In 1896, Anne Carroll Moore was given the task of running…the Children’s Library of the Pratt Institute” (Lepore). Moore worked at the Pratt Library for 10 years, running their children’s library and learning about children and literacy before being hired on by the New York Public Library in 1906. ACM was appointed Superintendent of the Department of Work With Children and oversaw the creation and opening of the shiny new New York Public Library in 1911. “[ACM] not only oversaw the children’s programs at all the branch libraries but also planned the Central Children’s Room. [It] became a pint-sized paradise, with its pots of pansies and pussy willows and oak tables and coveted window seats, so low to the floor that even the shortest legs didn’t dangle” (Lepore). The level of thought and care that ACM put into planning the space for the children is self-evident. There were many factors that contributed to Moore’s ascension to greatness.

The time period when Moore lived was key to her success as a librarian. When she was growing up, libraries were beginning to spread like wildfire, but most of them still didn’t let in children. “Between 1881 and 1917, Andrew Carnegie underwrote the construction of more than sixteen hundred public libraries in the United States, buildings from which children were routinely turned away, because they needed to be protected from morally corrupting books, especially novels” (Lepore). But Moore worked hard to change all that. “In each of the library’s branches, Moore abolished age restrictions. Down came the “Silence” signs, up went framed prints of the work of children’s-book illustrators” (Lepore). She created a warm and welcoming environment for the children, and sought to have them feel comfortable and wanted. Unlike before, the space was geared toward enticing children to read, not shunning them from books.

Anne Carroll Moore brought literature to children, and not just any books. She had a high standard and critical eye for new works, ensuring that the books were of good quality and engaging content. In “Moore Than Meets the Eye” published by the School Library Journal, Julie Cummins writes, “Moore’s name was associated with the standards of excellence she brought to children’s books–standards that laid the foundation for the newly emerging fields of children’s librarianship and children’s publishing” (Cummins). It was only natural that spending so much time among children’s literature that Moore would become a book critic. She had opinions and was unafraid of sharing them with the world. “From 1924 to 1930, Moore reviewed children’s books…[Moore] could be a tough critic, especially of books that violated her rules…but merely in bothering to regularly criticize children’s books Moore was ahead of everyone” (Lepore). Not only was she a critic, she was the first children’s book critic, ever. “The year 1918 also saw Moore join the staff of the Bookman, the chief American literary journal of the day. Moore wrote a regular column of criticism of children’s books, the first sustained criticism of its kind in any journal and the very first modern children’s book reviews” (Cummins). Unafraid of failure and undaunted by the times, Moore was truly a literary pioneer.

Inspiration

While ACM’s contributions to the literary world are unmistakably important, she also was in the right place, at the right time, and around the right people. She had inspiration coming from all directions. On the final pages of Miss Moore Thought Otherwise, Jan Pinborough lists some of her inspirations. “Anne Carroll Moore did not singlehandedly create the children’s library. A group of strong pioneering women librarians around the country also helped blaze the trail:

  • 1887, Minerva Sanders creates a children’s area in a public library in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
  • 1894, the Milwaukee librarian Lutie Stearns gave a speech calling for children of all ages to be allowed in libraries.
  • 1896, Pratt Institute, Mary Wright Plummer opened the first library room designed specifically for children and gave Miss Moore free rein to implement her ideas, including the first version of the famous library pledge.
  • 1904, Caroline M. Hewins, who had campaigned for free libraries, opened a children’s library room in Hartford, Connecticut.
  • 1914, the Brooklyn librarian Clara Hunt designed a branch library just for children” (Pinborough).

It is clear that without Mary Wright Plummer’s mentorship, that Anne Carroll Moore would never have achieved the level of success that she did. Plummer took ACM under her wing, and the ten years of experience working in the children’s room was vital to her securing her position at the New York Public Library.

Innovations

Opening up libraries to children was something new and innovative in the early 1900s, but Anne Carroll Moore took that idea several steps farther. “Much of what Moore did in [the children’s] room had never been done before, or half as well. She brought in storytellers and, in her first year, organized two hundred story hours (and ten times as many two years later). She compiled a list of twenty-five hundred standard titles in children’s literature. She won the right to grant borrowing privileges to children; by 1913, children’s books accounted for a third of all the volumes borrowed from New York’s branch libraries” (Lepore). The sheer amount of work undertaken by one person shows how dedicated and intelligent Moore was. She was always thinking of the children, first and foremost. “Miss Moore organized reading clubs and invited musicians, storytellers, and famous authors like Dr. Seuss to entertain the children” (Pinborough). The personal relationships that Anne Carroll Moore developed during her career as a librarian benefited the children of New York most of all. She wrote long letters to authors, illustrators, publishers, and when these people came through the city, they would inevitably stop by the library.

Not only did she create a space truly for children, that fit their sizes and tastes and interests, the way she appealed to them was unique, and the people she chose to serve them were, as well. “In 1924, [Moore] hired the African-American writer Nella Larsen to head the Children’s Room in Harlem” (Lepore). ACM also hired Pure Belpre, who was the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York City. “Three writers whose books stemmed from their storytelling experiences as librarians at the New York Public Library during Moore’s time are Mary Gould Davis, Anna Cogswell Tyler, and Pura Belpre…[who] was also the first to record stories from her native land and was a pioneer in preserving its folklore” (Cummins). These tales of diversity do a lot to support the idea of Anne Carroll Moore being a forward-thinking and inclusive person. At a time when others were looking at race and ethnicity to divide, “[Moore] celebrated the holidays of immigrants (reading Irish poetry aloud, for instance, on St. Patrick’s Day) and stocked the shelves with books in French, German, Russian, and Swedish” (Lepore). Her focus was always on the children and their needs, what would make them more comfortable. “Often, Miss Moore would reach into her handbag and pull out a wooden doll named Nicholas Knickerbocker. Children who were just learning English felt less shy about talking when Nicholas was around” (Pinborough). The way she reached out to bring literacy to all children is something to be admired.

One important thing that the children gleaned from their library visits was a sense of responsibility and accountability. In addition to a ledger where children signed their name to check out books, Anne Carroll Moore also had them recite a pledge. “When I write my name in this book I promise to take good care of the books I use in the Library and at home, and to obey the rules of the Library” (Lepore). There were a lot of very poor families in New York in the early 1900s, and having the books to read and learn and grow from must have been an amazing new experience to many.

Perhaps ACM’s most famous innovation, among librarians, was her creation of the Four Respects. “First was respect for children. They were to be treated as individuals, not talked down to, and all their requests for books were to be considered seriously. Second was respect for children’s books themselves. They were to be well written, factually accurate, and sincere; and they were not to mix fantasy with reality. Third was respect for fellow workers. The children’s services staff was not to be considered as a separate (and lesser) entity, but rather as a vital part of the larger library. Cooperation among the departments was the key to success. Fourth was respect for the professional standing of children’s librarians. Their training and expertise in children’s books and reading merited recognition as a professional specialty” (Cummins). Moore recognized that everyone working together on equal footing, with the children on equal footing as well, would lead to a sustainable environment of learning.

In 1918, an enduring endeavor was undertaken. Anne Carroll Moore collaborated with Franklin K. Mathiews from the Boy Scouts of America and Frederic Melcher, editor of Publishers Weekly, in Room 105, a famous meeting place within the New York Public Library. “As a result of the three Ms’ collaboration, Children’s Book Week was founded as an annual event in praise of books and reading” (Cummins). Children’s Book Week is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country, according to the Children’s Book Council. Now over a hundred years old, it is impossible to quantify how much impact this book week has had on the youth of America.

Controversy

In Anne Carroll Moore: A Biography, by Frances Clarke Sayers (who was Moore’s successor at the New York Public Library) Sayers says “There was no wavering. Once [Moore] had arrived at an opinion or fixed her goals of accomplishment, nothing could shake the strength of her belief in her own infallibility” (Sayers, 120). This was to come back to haunt her. Moore’s influence grew and grew throughout her 35-year career as a librarian and children’s book critic, until she tried to interfere with Stuart Little. “The end of Moore’s influence came when…she tried to block the publication of a book by E. B. White. Watching Moore stand in the way of “Stuart Little,” White’s editor, Ursula Nordstrom, remembered, was like watching a horse fall down, its spindly legs crumpling beneath its great weight” (Lepore). But what happened?

E.B White and Moore were friends and pen-pals; she had been encouraging him to write a children’s book via letters for years. In fact, “Moore had come to think of recruiting E. B. White to the world of juvenilia as her final triumph…”Stuart Little” was to be Anne Carroll Moore’s lasting legacy to children’s literature. In her mind, it was her book” (Lepore). This controlling aspect of her personality showed up in other areas of her life once she retired, as well. “[ACM] still showed up for meetings at the New York Public Library; she still ran those meetings, dismaying her successor, Frances Clarke Sayers, who tried switching meeting places, to no avail: “No matter where you held them, she was there.” (In an oral history conducted at U.C.L.A. in the nineteen-seventies, Sayers admitted that she found it all but impossible to stand up to Moore, who made her life “an absolute hell” by refusing to cede control: “She hung on to everything.”)” (Lepore). In America, working is akin to identity for many people. Perhaps the idea of giving up her career was too much for Anne Carroll Moore, and she simply could not let go.

Or perhaps, she was always overbearing. “A certain amount of anxiety was entailed in working under ACM” (Sayers, 128). It is embarrassing, that “To the Whites she sent a fourteen-page letter, predicting that the book would fail and that it would prove an embarrassment, and begging the author to reconsider its publication” (Lepore). Not only did Moore discourage E.B. White from publishing Stuart Little, once it was written, she completely blackballed it. “The real blow came when Frances Clarke Sayers, presumably acting on Moore’s orders, refused to buy “Stuart Little” for the library, sending a signal to children’s librarians across the country: “Not recommended for purchase by expert” (Lepore). Having Sayers refuse to purchase or recommend the book was a horrible blow, but ACM went even farther. “Moore, in her rage, fallen but still kicking, seems to have used her influence to shut “Stuart Little” out of the Newbery Medal, a prize awarded by a panel of librarians, including, that year, Frances Clarke Sayers” (Lepore). Of course, many millions of people have read Stuart Little, so how did that come to be? Teachers saved the book, and of course, their young students. “Anne Carroll Moore tried very hard to ensure that schools would ban “Stuart Little.” Some did. But some schoolteachers decided, instead, to teach the book” (Lepore). After several letter-writing campaigns, many teachers began teaching E.B. White’s mouse novel, and over time, it’s popularity outgrew any dissent.

Lasting Legacy

Anne Carroll Moore was at her best when she was encouraging children to read, and writers to write for them. The effect she had on her staff was amazing. Many of them went on to become “children’s book editors, authors, and illustrators” (Cummins). This mentorship of her staff was perhaps her best quality. Eventually, all careers must start to wind down.  “When Miss Moore turned seventy years old, it was time for her to retire. Some people thought she should sit quietly at home. But Miss Moore thought otherwise. Her friends at the library gave her a set of luggage-with a small green suitcase for Nicholas- and she traveled across the country, teaching more people how to make good libraries for children” (Pinborough). ACM was a tireless warrior, fiercely bringing literacy to children around the country.  “Her dedication to literary excellence and the legacy she left behind as the creator of children’s services at the library are unlikely to be surpassed” (Cummins). Anne Carroll Moore’s unique position of power within the literary community was legendary. Whatever else can be said of her, Anne Carroll Moore was a champion of literacy and that is her greatest legacy.

 

 

Works Cited

Cummins, Julie. “Moore Than Meets the Eye.” School Library Journal, vol. 45, no. 7, July 1999, p. 27. EBSCOhost, ezproxy.palomar.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=2082058&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

Lepore, Jill. “The Lion and the Mouse.” New Yorker, vol. 84, no. 21, 21 July 2008, pp. 66-73. EBSCOhost, ezproxy.palomar.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=33250720&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

Pinborough, Jan. Miss Moore Thought Otherwise. Houghton Mifflin, 2013.

Sayers, Frances Clark. Anne Carroll Moore: A Biography. Scribner, 1972.

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Fall 2017

This semester is nearly over. We only have three weeks left after Thanksgiving this week! It has been very challenging for me, taking Intro to Library Services and English 203 at the same time, while working two jobs and watching my sweet daughter. I had to register for Spring 2018 last week, and I will be taking Spanish 2 (5 units) and a research literacy class (1 unit) for library tech.

I’ve been struggling with the idea of ceasing my library technician classes for awhile. I am really enjoying the program at Palomar, and I would like to finish it and take on an internship or two. But I also really want to focus on getting my credits for my English major so I can transfer to Cal State San Marcos without having to be at Palomar 3+ years first. Most librarians I’ve talked to seem to be of the mind that I don’t NEED the library technician certificate, but I DO need library experience. So basically, I would graduate faster if I just focus on my major and volunteer at libraries in my “free time” instead of the internship. I still think an internship would look good, so I’m not totally decided, but I do know I’m not taking 7 units of two different writing-heavy classes at the same time again!

There are still so many classes I have to take. Speech, Biology, American Indian Studies (instead of US History), Intermediate Algebra so I can take Statistics, some literature classes, some writing electives like Intro & Intermediate Creative Writing… When I start making the list I get stressed out and feel like I will never finish, so I try not to look at it. But I do need to meet with my counselor again and figure out exactly what all I have left.

I’m so happy I got A’s over the summer. I tanked my library services grade by turning in a bad report when I ran out of time a couple weeks ago. Time management can be so tough. I currently have a B in both my classes, but I want them to be A’s! It doesn’t help that my library professor is the chair of the department, AND my English professor is the director of the writing center. I wanted so badly to impress both of them, but I am just being average.

Over the summer, I was so nervous and stressed out that I told both my professors that I had bipolar disorder. I haven’t broken down and done that this semester, but it may have helped with my report snafu. I know there are mental health services on campus and I could get some kind of note that gives me longer deadlines, but I haven’t wanted to admit that I have a mental disorder. I should consider it, though.

I am going to start volunteering in my daughter’s classroom for Art Class, if the school approves me. I have to get a TB test next week, then fill out a form disclosing my misdemeanor and the reason for it. “Hi, I’m crazy, can I volunteer?” *sigh* My mother offered to pay the fee to expunge my record, which I need to do in order to pass a background check to work with teens/kids at a library. I can’t wait until I can stop explaining my mental breakdown to all sorts of officials, but that may never go away, expungement or not.

I’ve enjoyed both my classes this semester, but have felt particularly drawn to my English class. I guess it’s good that is what I am majoring in. But I also enjoy all the research and information from my Library Services class and have yet to change my mind about becoming a librarian, which is something people seem to keep expecting me to do. No way, man. I’m getting this BA in English/Creative Writing from Cal State San Marcos, then a Master’s of Library & Information Science from San Jose State University. It’s going to happen, assuming I can continue to feed myself and stay in California until I graduate.

I can already feel changes on the horizon. Something within me, restless in my heart, is stirring. I am finally at a time in my life when I can devote myself to school, and my kid, and it feels so good. Some days I long for a place to live, just me and her, where everything is clean and nice and food is on the table. I would love to be able to host people again. But would I be lonely? Perhaps, perhaps I would at that. My roommate and I have such a special relationship. We shall see what happens over the next six months!

Anyway, I thought you could use a break from my essay posts. Hoping to get some words down in my book next semester, since it’ll be the first one where I am NOT taking a writing-heavy class. I want to finish my sci-fi story, I want to finish my bipolar disorder book, I want to get going on publishing. I want it all, right now. But I guess in its own time will work.

The Tragedy of Miss Lucy

Carly Janine

Professor Craig Thompson

English 203

11/08/2017

 

The Tragedy of Miss Lucy

Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go touches on what it means to be human, how important ethical science is, and the concepts of acceptance and fate. He paints a dark picture of humanity and what happens in the lives of clones created for organ donation. Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth are essentially very lucky, very sheltered clones raised in the protected environment of Hailsham. They are given educations, distractions, and senses of purpose. Kathy is driving Tommy through the woods towards the end of the book, and Tommy breaks a long silence and says that he agrees with Miss Lucy, not Miss Emily. He’s talking about whether or not to shield the clones from their knowledge of their fate as they mature. Miss Lucy wants to tell the students everything and fully prepare them for their fates, dashing their dreams. Miss Emily wants to encourage their souls to grow, and keep them protected, safe, and happy until they are old enough to understand what is happening. While Miss Emily’s approach sounds beautiful, in reality it is the cruelest option. Allowing the students to dream of better lives, having jobs, families, when it is not a possibility, doesn’t serve them. Miss Lucy could have been more thoughtful with her big reveal to the students. She was frustrated and going against the grain of the administration of the school by speaking out to the students directly at all about their purpose. However, she was truly doing them a kindness by telling them about their organ donations, lack of options, and ultimate fates.

Seeking a deferral of their donations, Tommy and Kathy go find Madame in her home, long after graduation and the Cottages. At this meeting, Madame and Miss Emily are both present, and they give their reasons for sheltering the students. Madame doesn’t truly view the clones as human, and admits fault, when she says, “Poor creatures. What did we do to you? With all our schemes and plans?” (Ishiguro, 254). She had been listening to their story and theory about the Gallery, before presenting Miss Emily. When Miss Emily comes forward, she presents with her general misplaced positivity, “As for myself, whatever the disappointments, I don’t feel so badly about it. I think what we achieved merits some respect” (Ishiguro, 256). She goes on to tell them that the true reason for the Gallery was, in fact, to prove that the clones had souls at all. Hailsham itself was one giant experiment, created to show society that clones had souls, deserved compassion, and should be treated humanely, so long as they ultimately fulfilled their purpose. But society did not want to know. With the closing of Hailsham, thus ended hope for the likes of Ruth, Tommy, and Kathy.

After they confront Madame and Miss Emily, Tommy mentions, in reference to his bouts of anger growing up, “Maybe I did know, somewhere deep down. Something the rest of you didn’t” (Ishiguro, 274). Tommy isn’t certain that he believes he had always known, but in a way, all of the students knew from hints and rumors growing up, what would eventually become of them. This nebulous knowledge hung over their heads, and in Miss Lucy’s perfect system, this never would have happened. Under Miss Lucy’s guidance, the clones would have full knowledge of the entire process from the time they are young children. Hailsham administration could have allowed Miss Lucy to teach classes, preparing them for their true purpose, while continuing to nurture their minds and souls. On-site therapy to deal with the knowledge of what humanity has done would have been helpful. Ultimately, with the proper education, the students would grow to be well-rounded adults.

While Miss Lucy was not overly successful in her attempt to educate the students, her talk did stick and resonate with Tommy and Kathy. It is while overhearing two students talk about becoming actors that Miss Lucy snaps, telling all the students gathered around her about their fate and the fact that none of their dreams will come true. The students are fifteen years old when Miss Lucy says to them in the pavilion, “Your lives are set out for you. You’ll become adults, then before you’re old, you’ll start to donate your vital organs. That’s what each of you was created to do” (Ishiguro,81). While they all remembered the incident, they also allowed it to pass, become foggy, and ultimately took no action in terms of self-preservation because of it. This is because she was forced to inform them in a hurried, under-the-table sort of way. Had the administration allowed Miss Lucy to educate the students properly, they would have been better prepared for the lives set out for them, and perhaps been able to change their fates.

A rebellion is exactly the sort of thing that Hailsham would have wanted to avoid, and do avoid, by scaring the young students away from the forest. “There were all kinds of horrible stories about the woods” (Ishiguro, 50). These stories kept them from exploring, keeping them blissfully unaware of the brevity of their lives. Although it takes some time for the clones to accept their fate, the flights of fancy, such as looking for “possibles”, and having “dream jobs,” “dream futures,” never lasted. The three main characters handled the knowledge of their ultimate purpose very differently. Ruth always had to believe in something, have drama, attention. Tommy struggled with his anger and lack of creativity, often howling into the void. Kathy dreamed of having a baby, but of the three, seemed the most suited to accepting her fate as a carer. Tommy believes it is because she has not yet been called up for her first organ donation herself. As the narrator, unreliable though she may be, Kathy truly depicts the humanity of the clones.

Of the three main characters, Ruth would have fared the worst under Miss Lucy’s system, mostly due to the fact that she thrives on belief, stories, drama, and attention. Knowing early on that none of these things would ultimately help or save her may have broken Ruth. But perhaps not, it is possible that with therapy and a strong curriculum, Miss Lucy could have gotten through to Ruth, and she could have become self-aware much earlier on, and given Kathy and Tommy the opportunity to be together, have many more years of love. Ruth comes to regret her meddling, near the end of her life, and she says to Kathy, “The main thing is, I kept you and Tommy apart…That was the worst thing I did” (Ishiguro, 232). Ruth goes on to urge Kathy and Tommy to seek a deferral from Madame on the basis of true love. She truly changes.

Tommy seemed to struggle the most out of the trio, having such problems with his anger growing up that he is bullied mercilessly through his younger years. Something was always lurking in his subconscious, telling him that nothing he did would ever be good enough to save him from his fate, and that it wasn’t even worth trying. Had Tommy been fully educated early on, his anger could possibly have dissipated, replaced instead with knowledge and acceptance that comes to him much later. He would have wasted much less time with Ruth and made certain that Kathy was his main focus for what years they could have together. Tommy says to Kathy, “You and me, right from the start, even when we were little, we were always trying to find things out. Remember, Kath, all those secret talks we used to have?” (Ishiguro, 284). A great tragedy of Tommy’s life is that he gets to spend so little time with Kathy before he completes.

Kathy herself seemed to be the strongest and most stable of the main characters. She longed for a baby, although she knew she could not get pregnant. She loves Tommy from afar, and they stay in touch as much as they can through the years. Kathy is loyal and doesn’t really speak up for herself, allowing Ruth to manipulate her over and over again throughout their youth. Once she becomes a carer, she is very good at it and is able to advocate for her patients without issue. However, being a carer is a tiring and lonely life. Kathy spends her life waiting to be called up for organ donation, and never is, though by the end of the novel she is, perhaps soon, to be called up to a center and then have a carer herself. Kathy creates a fantasy of seeing Tommy approach in a field when she drives to Norfolk, after he dies. It is telling of her nature that even when her friends are gone, she still obediently continues to drive to work, to be where she was “supposed to be” (Ishiguro, 288). Had Kathy been given a more thorough understanding of her ultimate fate, perhaps she could have gotten out from under Ruth’s power a bit, and seen earlier on that what she had with Tommy was the most precious thing in her life.

Miss Lucy’s system would have better served the students, better prepared them for life as clones, and left them overall happier and more well-adjusted than being in the dark. Had Miss Lucy had some support, it is possible that she could have helped to change the way Hailsham operated. This was a big threat to Miss Emily’s philosophy and approach with the clones. Ultimately, Miss Lucy never had the chance to change the lives of the students at all and that is the biggest tragedy of Never Let Me Go.