Reading Up on Former Dallas Public Libraries Director, Pioneer and Anti-Censorship Activist Lillian Moore Bradshaw, Who's Died at 95

I've spent the better part of the morning trying to get to know Lillian Moore Bradshaw, who has died at the age of 95. The memo City Manager Mary Suhm sent to the mayor and city council last night is brief, a few sentences containing a few notable accomplishments -- chief among them, Bradshaw's tenure as the director of Dallas Public Libraries from 1962 to 1984 and her final job as assistant city manager serving as the city's liaison to the Republican National Convention. Reminds Suhm, Bradshaw was the first woman in the U.S. to run a major library system: "Women now sit in city government at every level," writes the city manager, "but Lillian Moore was a pioneer and with her charm and ease and exuberance, she made the way easier for those to follow."

But what Bradshaw accomplished (like raising the $40 million to build the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library) and endured during her tenure as Dallas Public Libraries director could fill a book -- has, as a matter of fact: Frank Lee's 1988 thesis-turned-tome Lillian Moore Bradshaw and the Dallas Public Library: "from thei nnocent voyage to the razor's edge". Almost an entire issue of Public Library Quarterly in 1991 was filled with articles by or about Moore, referred to in one piece as a "superb politician." (I'd bought several of the pieces to share this morning, shortly before the Informaworld site crashed.) Here, though, from 1992, a brief bio from the Texas Library Association written for its centennial celebration:

During her distinguished career as director of the Dallas Public Library (1962-84), Lillian Bradshaw served as president of TLA (1964-1965) and the American Library Association (1971-1972). In 1975, she was a finalist for Librarian of Congress but requested that her name be withdrawn because she preferred to remain in Dallas. A firm supporter of intellectual freedom and a model administrator of library expansion and planning, she was honored by Texas Woman's University's creation of an endowed chair in library science in her name in 1987.
I have seen brief mention this morning of her legendary battles with those who wanted to censor her purchases in 1962. Five years later, in fact, she wrote a piece for the National Council of Teachers of English titled "The 3 R's of Censorship vs. The 3 R's of Freedom to Read," the first page of which you'll find here; two years ago it served as the foundation for one university student's paper on "Dialogue Instead of Censorship." Also in 2008, Bradshaw was included among YWCA Dallas's 100 women honored during its centennial, alongside Ebby Halliday, Mary Kay Ash and Margo Jones.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky