Original commissioned portrait by Robert Carter

A Life In The Library

A Musical Tribute to Lillian H. Smith

Lillian H. Smith was born in London, Ontario in 1887. She was trained as a librarian in the United States before moving to Toronto in 1912 where she spent forty years creating a model of children's services that garnered her international acclaim. Smith influenced the cultural life of children on five continents and received visitors from around the world seeking to apply her methods.

Inspired by the one hundredth anniversary of the inception of her career, a musical about Smith has been written. This promotional Web site provides information to potential supporters and participants.

This project is an extension of an independent study that was completed by Michael Manchester while enrolled in the Master of Library and Information Science program at the University of Western Ontario. A multimedia Web site was created and you can learn more about this extraordinary Canadian by visiting www.LillianHSmith.ca.


Song Samples
Project Participants
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A Life in the Library is told primarily from Lillian's perspective. She conveys information directly to the audience as if they are visitors to a library, the same approach Smith would have used as a practicing librarian. Seven original songs describe different aspects of her work. A description follows with samples of three songs for review.

Listening to the songs requires the Adobe Flash Player.

I'm A Children's Librarian

Describes the establishment of Boys' and Girls' House on St. George Street.

Dewey Just Won't Do

Explains Smith's dissatisfaction with the Dewey Decimal System.

Staff Meeting

Smith organized and personally supervised staff training throughout the library system.

Little Theatre

To accommodate all the children, a small theatre was constructed for programming.

Where Are You?

Taking books out of the library and into the community was an important innovation for Smith.

A Lasting Tribute

Recounts the donation by British librarian Edgar Osborne of his collection of early children's books.

The Final Page

Smith's final contribution to the profession of librarianship was the writing of The Unreluctant Years, a book about children's literature and selection standards.

Writer and Producer

Michael Manchester


Adrian Ellis


  • JM Frey

Puppet Show

Due to the historical and ongoing importance of puppet shows in children's libraries, Lillian's story will be presented as a puppet show to provide a fun and visually interesting approach that reflects the spirit of her work. Since most of the story is told from Smith's perspective, only one puppet is required at any one time for most of the production. The first three songs are told using a puppet representing Lillian when she was young. The last three songs require a puppet depicting her at the end of her career. One of the songs, A Lasting Tribute, will performed using marionettes. This puppet show within a puppet show will have three characters: Lillian, Edgar and Mabel Osborne.

Michael Manchester - Copyright 2013 - E-mail: contact@michaelmanchester.com

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