Women of Library History: Grosvenor Room Leading Ladies of Yesterday

The original Grosvenor Library (1871-1974, Franklin and Edward Streets)  established a magnificent reference collection that remains the core of our current genealogy, local history, music, and rare book collections.  For Women’s History Month, we honor and remember two librarians who began their careers at the “Old Grosvenor.”  We owe much to their dedication and hard work in creating these collections.


Jane Van Arsdale, librarian 1940-1972

Jane Van Arsdale was the first Curator of Rare Books for the Grosvenor Library, and later for the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library.  Prior to 1940, few books were protected as treasures, but after a thief made off with over 200 valuable books, Miss Van Arsdale began to identify items for a growing rare book collection.  For the next 30 years, she combed through the stacks and selected titles for purchase, building the foundations of rich collection. The Grosvenor Rare Book Room was one of the first rare book collections in a public library in the country and remains one of about 20 such public library collections today.

Margaret Mott

Margaret Mott, librarian 1923-

Formerly a professional singer, Margaret Mott began her librarian career in the Music Department at the Grosvenor Library, which she headed from 1923 to 1954.  During her time at the Grosvenor, she oversaw the acquisition of an impressive collection of sheet music, historical manuscripts, and recordings, and organized a successful musical concert series.  In 1957, Mrs. Mott was named “Woman of the Year” by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Society, just one of her many honors and awards.  Her 40 year career took her briefly to Paris, France to head the Reference Department of the American Library, and ultimately to the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library as deputy library director.

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