Mabel Williams

1887 - 1985



Mabel Williams
In 1919, Mabel Williams initiated library service for young adults at the New York Public Library (NYPL).   She is considered to be on of the four pioneers of systematic service to this age group.  A New Englander by birth, she studied librarianship at  Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts, where she received her B.S. degree in 1909.  Five years later, Anne Carroll Moore heard her speak at a Massachusetts Library Association meeting and encourage Williams to become her assistant.  Williams held the position until 1919 when she was appointed supervisor of Work with Schools.  During her career, she worked actively to increase the number of young adults who had access to the libraries materials.  She organized outreach programs that sent wagons full of books to schools, business centers, factories, and anywhere else young adults tended to assemble.  She established browsing rooms in each of the NYPL branches that allowed young adults to congregate socially.  In 1942, her title was changed to superintendent of the Office Work with Schools and Young People.  She was succeeded by her mentee, Margaret Scoggin.

Photograph from Top of the News (Atkinson, 1986, p. 30).

  • Received Grolier Award, American Library Association, 1980
  • Atkinson, J. (1986, Fall). Pioneers in public library service to young adults. Top of the News, 43 (1), 27-44.
  • Hannigan, J.A. (1996, Spring). A feminist analysis of the voices for advocacy in young adult services. Library Trends, 44 (4), 851-874.
  • 100 of the most important leaders we had in the 20th century. (1999, December). American Libraries, 30 (11), 38-48.

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Last Modified: May 5, 2002