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Long Live the Librarians: Canadian Version

Florence Cummings 1985

Florence "Tommy" (nee Scroggie) Cummings was born in Parkdale (now part of Toronto) on September 7th, 1906, the daughter of George Edward Scroggie and Florence Fletcher. 

Florence attended Queen Victoria Public School and then Parkdale Collegiate Institute. 

After three years at the University of Toronto, she went to Library School in 1929, a member of its second class. 

After graduation in 1930, Florence's first job was as an assistant children's librarian at the Boys and Girls House under Lillian Smith at the Toronto Public Library.  She then worked in the new Runnymede Branch and then at the Riverdale, Earlscourt, Western and School branches until 1936. 

She spent a four-month stint in Orillia in 1935 where she established a children's library. Florence married London dentist, Robert Gordon Cummings in 1936 and raised her two sons in London.   

Florence did not work again until her sons were grown. 

She started  at the London Teachers' College (formerly London Normal School) School at 165 Elmwood Avenue and helped move its library in 1958 to the new Elborn College on Western Road (later home to Western's library school). 

She decided she needed a change and thus she telephoned Dr. Richard Crouch, chief librarian at London Public Library and asked if he needed a librarian. 

He hired her and she began working with Eleanore Donnelly in the Children's Department on September 1st, 1959 with a salary of $4,520.  After London annexed Byron, Florence was sent to the Byron Branch on January 1st, 1961 to be its first full-time professional librarian. 

She remained at Byron until she took early retirement on December 31st, 1967.  Florence was also interviewed by retired (and now deceased) chief librarian Stan Beacock about her library activities and memories. 

This 10-page interview appeared in the Fall 1993 issue of Ex Libris News, newsletter of the Ex Libris Association.  In 2010, Florence moved to a retirement home in Hanover to be near her two sons who live in Clifford. On September 7th, 2014, Florence celebrated her 108th birthday!! 

Florence Cummings 1985

Florence Cummings is the woman on the right.