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California Library Hall of Fame: Effie Lee Morris
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California Library Hall of Fame

Effie Lee Morris (1921-2009)

Effie Lee Morris was the first African-American president of the Public Library Association (1971) and was the first committee chair of American Library Association’s (ALA) Coretta Scott King Award, for which she wrote the original selection criteria in 1970. After working as a public librarian in Cleveland (1946-1955) and the Bronx (1955-1963), Morris moved to San Francisco, where she became the first coordinator of children’s services at San Francisco Public Library (SFPL). There she established a research collection of out-of-print children’s books that depict the changing portrayals of ethnic and culturally diverse groups over time. That collection was renamed the Effie Lee Morris Historical and Research Collection in 1981, three years after she left SFPL. Morris also founded the San Francisco chapter of the Women’s National Book Association and was an active member and chair of ALA’s Social Responsibilities Round Table. From 1978 to 1979, she was editor of children’s books for Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. During her lifetime, Morris received many honors for her work and contributions to children’s literature, including the Silver Spur Award for enhancing the quality of life and economic vitality of San Francisco, the Women’s National Book Association’s Award for Extraordinary Contribution to the World of Books, and the Grolier Foundation Award. In 2008, ALA named Morris an honorary member in recognition of her “vision, advocacy and legacy to children’s services in public libraries.” Shortly after Effie Lee Morris’s death in 2009, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi read a tribute into the congressional record, calling her “a visionary who recognized the power of literacy and education in overcoming racism, inequality and poverty.”

Effie Lee Morris was inducted into the California Library Hall of Fame in 2017. For more information about her, please see:


Photo credit: The Black Past,