Helen Thornton Geer

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Helen Thornton Geer (January 7, 1903 in New Castle, Pennsylvania – March 1983 in New Jersey) was a librarian and professor. She was the author of Charging Systems,[1] which detailed 17 of the different circulation control systems that were used in most of the U.S. public and college libraries at the time. From 1947 to 1956, she served as Headquarters Librarian of the American Library Association, Chicago, Illinois.[2]

Education and career[edit]

After graduating from Wheaton College (AB: ENG LIT) in 1926 and the University of Illinois (BS: Library Science) in 1928, she entered Columbia University, earning her M.S. in Library Science (1934). In 1929 she began work at the Flushing Branch, Queens Borough Public Library, NYC. During the next fifteen years, she was promoted frequently, culminating in her appointment as Acting Head of the Business and Science Division (1942–44).[3]

After briefly working at the Harper Library, University of Chicago,[4] Geer was named Headquarters Librarian for the American Library Association, a position she held from 1947 until 1956.[5] Also, she served as President of the Chicago Library Club (1953–54). From 1956 to 1958, Helen Geer served as Director[6] of The Library Mart, an operations consultancy for libraries and manufacturers.

From 1964 to 1969, Geer was an Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Library Science, University of Rhode Island.[7]


Helen Thornton Geer was the daughter of Isaac Wheeler Geer, a prominent railroad executive, and Margaret Worth Thornton. She was the niece of Sir Henry Worth Thornton. Her sister, Margaret Worth Geer, was married to State Rep. John H. Kleine (R-Lake Forest, Ill.).[8] She was a second cousin of silver screen actress Edna Goodrich and Interim Elcar President Arthur Martin Graffis.


  1. ^ Geer, Helen T., Charging Systems. Chicago: American Library Association, 1955.
  2. ^ A Biographical Directory of Librarians in the United States and Canada. Council of National Library Associations, 1970 (pg. 382).
  3. ^ Cole, Dorothy E. Who’s who in Library Service. Grolier Society, 1955 (pg. 171).
  4. ^ ALA Bulletin (pg.2); American Library Association, 1968
  5. ^ Dudley, Lavinia P and John J. Smith. Americana Annual: An Encyclopedia of the Events of 1954. Americana Corporation, 1954
  6. ^ “Special Libraries.” March 1957; Vol. 48, no. 3
  7. ^ “Special Libraries.” November 1964; Vol. 55, No. 9
  8. ^ See blog post on Henry Clay Thornton, Margaret Worth Thornton and Sir Henry Worth Thornton at www.thorntonsoky.blogspot.com