Lillian Helena Smith

1887 - 1983



Lillian Helena Smith
Lillian Helena Smith was the first Canadian and the first children's librarian to win the American Library Association's Clarence Day Award.  She became interested in the profession after reading an article on the Training School at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.  She graduated from Victoria College, University of Toronto in 1910 and went to study under Effie Louise Power in Pittsburgh.  A year later, she accepted a position under Anne Carroll Moore at the New York Public Library.  She was only in that job three weeks before she was promoted to head of the children's room in one of the branches.  She made one last major move the following year; this time she accepted a position at the Toronto Public Library.  Ten years after returning to Toronto, she moved the children's collection from an alcove in the main library to the new Boys and Girls House of the Toronto Public library located on the main floor of a Victorian house.  She specifically designed the space so that children would think it was inviting.  In her practice, she also emphasized outreach programs that maintained mini-collections of books in schools, hospitals, and settlement houses.  Throughout her career, she also lectured at University of Toronto's library school.

  • Received Clarence Day Award, American Library Association, 1962
Selected Works
  • The Unreluctant Years: A Critical Approach to Children's Literature, American Library Association, 1953/1991
  • Vandergrift, K.E. (1996, Spring). Female advocacy and harmonious voices: A history of public library services and publishing for children in the United States. Library Trends, 44 (4), 683-718.

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Last Modified: May 6, 2002