One Book, One Glendale Presents ‘The Personal Librarian’

Join Glendale Library, Arts & Culture and the City of Glendale in One Book, One Glendale, a community book read-along and discussion of “The Personal Librarian” by authors Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray. 

“The Personal Librarian” tells the unsung story of Belle da Costa Greene, a young woman who is hired by the influential American financier J. Pierpont Morgan to curate a collection of rare manuscripts, books and artwork for his newly built Morgan Library. Belle becomes a fixture in the New York society scene and one of the most powerful people in the art and book world. She is known for her impeccable taste and shrewd negotiating for critical works as she helps build a world-class collection. But Belle has a secret, one she must protect at all costs: she was born not Belle da Costa Greene but Belle Marion Greener, the daughter of Richard Greener, the first Black graduate of Harvard and a well-known advocate for equality. Belle’s complexion isn’t dark because of her alleged Portuguese heritage that lets her pass as White – her complexion is dark because she is African American. Passing as White allows Belle entry into an elite world but at the cost of denying her lineage. 

“The Personal Librarian” tells the story of an extraordinary woman, famous for her intellect, style and wit. It shares the lengths she must go to protect her family and legacy and preserve her carefully crafted White identity in the racist world in which she lives. 

“The Personal Librarian” is an incredible work of historical fiction centered on pivotal themes of personal identity and women in the workforce in the early 1900s. The story is told through the voices of two exceptional authors from different backgrounds who came together to write the story of a world in which great identity choices are made. 

Glendale Library, Arts & Culture invites the community to join the conversation with the authors on Thursday, June 16 at 6:30 p.m. at Central Library Auditorium or online through Zoom. Denise L. McIver, a research librarian at the California African American Museum with special guest Dr. Jesse R. Erickson a curator at the Morgan Library, will interview the authors.

Join the discussion both in person or online; register for this event at

The community read-along is a part of One Book, One Glendale and the Be The Change series. The Library strives to build a collective understanding of systemic racism, elevate Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) voices and stories, and inspire our community to be the change through lectures, exhibits and programming.