Augusta Braxton Baker, librarian with The New York Public Library from 1937 to 1974, blowing out the story hour candle. Baker was a devoted storyteller who developed a groundbreaking list of stories that portrayed African Americans positively and established a collection of African American children’s literature at the New York Public Library. She became the first African American coordinator of Children’s Services at the NYPL in 1961, in charge of youth programming at all eighty-three branches. Her influence touched New York libraries, schools, community groups, the American Library Association, Sesame Street, and the works of authors like Madeleine L’Engle and Maurice Sendak. World-renowned novelist James Baldwin was one of the young men who sat in the children’s room at her first library job at the 135th St Branch.
She was born on this day, April 1st, in 1911. You can read more about her life and legacy from the New York Public Library, Wikipedia, and the University of South Carolina. Hear her interviewed and see more photographs of her at work at Speaking of History.
Thanks for this, Jill D. I find it a huge, awful shame that I have never heard of this woman. Because she sounds like a fucking rockstar and we should all know her name.
(Also, coordinating youth services at 83 BRANCHES? Holy hell.)