December 1, 2009

In Memoriam, Grace-Ellen McCrann

Filed under: News — Tags: , — pam @ 9:52 am

gmccrann It is with profound sadness that the City College of New York Libraries announce the passing of Grace-Ellen McCrann on November 30, 2009.

From the first day that Prof. Grace-Ellen McCrann joined the library faculty at CCNY she made an impact. Her outsized personality and total dedication to user services constantly pushed us all to upgrade both physical and virtual collections and the pathways to their use.

Prof. McCrann spent her first year with us as an adjunct in the Reference Division, moving into the full-time Government Documents Librarian position in September 2001. Although she brought to the position some experience from the State Library of North Carolina, working with government documents had not been her specialty. But anyone who encountered her would never know that. She brought zeal and passion to her position, becoming a goodwill ambassador for documents, encouraging everyone to consider them a primary source for almost any subject. Prof. McCrann went to great lengths to demystify documents and make them accessible to all users, and her enthusiasm for them was contagious.

Prof. McCrann is well known in cyberspace for her resource collections series, Government Views of . . . which includes web pages on the Iraq war, SARS, the Rosenberg Spy Case and D-Day, that have been linked to by hundreds of libraries, government agencies and educational institutions.

She is also the author of numerous articles and book chapters that are heavily reliant on the use of government information, as well as its management and preservation. Prof. McCrann was most recently working on a book chapter on using online documents to help offset library budget cuts and an article on digital preservation of online documents. She recently curated the exhibit currently on view in the Cohen Library Atrium, The Cold War: Two Superpowers and their Spheres-of-Influence.

During four of her nine years at CCNY, Prof. McCrann also held the title of Reference Division Chief, holding both positions while earning her second master’s degree in information science through SUNY’s Empire State College. She earned her MLS from North Carolina Central University where she was elected to Beta Phi Mu, and her BA in communications from Seton Hall where she was a National Merit Scholar.

Prof. McCrann was an integral part of the library’s information literacy program, teaching in the freshman inquiry series as well as a wide array of political science, legal studies, international studies and public policy sessions. She particularly enjoyed teaching and took great pains to add resources targeted to class topics to her web pages on the library “Research by Subject” web site, where she developed pages for American Studies, Government Publications, International Studies, Law & Legal Studies, Political Science and Public Policy and Public Affairs.

Prior to joining the CCNY library faculty, Prof, McCrann held positions at the New Jersey Historical Society, the Librarian’s Yellow Pages, District of Columbia Public Library, the State Library of North Carolina and the New Hanover Public Library in Wilmington, NC. In her pre-librarian days, she worked in marketing for several companies, including New York’s WOR radio.

She was a member of the American Library Association in both RUSA – Reference Users Association and GODORT – National Government Documents Round Table, the Association of College and Research Libraries, various local and regional library associations, and the New York Library Club where she served as Vice President.

Donations in Prof. McCrann’s memory may be made to: The Grace-Ellen McCrann Memorial Library Fund at the City College Libraries, 160 Convent Ave., New York, NY 10031.


  1. This is a shock. I worked with her in the library. I loved the way she talked and gave advice. I am going to miss her

    Comment by Ken — December 1, 2009 @ 4:02 pm

  2. This is so sad to hear. I only met Prof. McCrann once but she definitely exuded zeal and patience in helping to demystify the library research process. She was extremely helpful in the little time I spent with her. RIP Professor, you will be missed.

    Comment by Ayesha H. — December 1, 2009 @ 6:20 pm

  3. Everyone in ALA GODORT will miss Grace-Ellen. We were on the same committee for awhile. She was a ball of fire, and, of course, we shared the same first name.

    Comment by Grace York — December 2, 2009 @ 2:40 pm

  4. It was a great privelege to have worked with Grace-Ellen for many years at WOR. What ever the task, she always contributed with great energy and good cheer- even to being a translator of the Opera when we hosted clients at the Met. I am glad that she continued her career at the College with such success. She will be missed by many.

    Comment by Rick Devlin — December 4, 2009 @ 11:31 am

  5. It gives me great pleasure to say I knew Grace-Ellen. She was a truly unique soul, one person who I can say with absolute certainty led a full and rewarding life. She was a woman who loved her work intensely and was always willing to share her knowledge and skill with those who needed it. But she was also a person who enjoyed the simplicity of life. She enjoyed the simple joys of life: food, friends, good conversation, and humor. She was a rare soul, one who had truly lived, and one whom I will miss dearly.

    Comment by Dougal Henken — December 8, 2009 @ 11:05 am

  6. I’ve known Grace-Ellen since we were both at WOR Radio. I arrived there in 1981 to find one of the most organized and energetic marketing people I’ve ever met. Her office was an eclectic treasurehouse of information, future leads, and fascinating trivia. We hit it off immediately.
    But it wasn’t until she ended up as Vice-President of Highland Express Airways that Jonathan Henken and I really got to know Grace-Ellen well. She tapped my bagpiper husband as the North American representative of the airline, and in the process launched a career shift for him to full-time musician. The two Scotophiles forged a lifelong bond.
    When our son Dougal was born… Grace-Ellen became a key part of his life too, spending every Christmas with us on our suburban NY farm. She treasured this season, and lived its spirit yearround.
    Grace-Ellen loved knowledge and research, but even more, cared about imparting that knowledge in a way that someone could use in the future. She soaked up information, and passed it on, in every job she ever held.
    She’ll remain with us always in our hearts and minds.

    Comment by Julie Vaughn — December 8, 2009 @ 11:09 am

  7. It’s unreal, i spoke with her last week, she emailed me on Nov 25 and was suppose to get back to me after thanksgiving. I emailed her on Nov 30th at midday to touch base but did not get any reply. I still have a book she gave me to read, she was going to follow up with more material from the United States Congress archives for my 20 page paper. She was a very personable person form the ;little i knew about her. RIP and thank you.

    Comment by Nelson Banser — December 8, 2009 @ 8:58 pm

  8. I was sadden to hear about Grace. I worked with her at WOR. She was a go to person when your needed to be encouraged. Her smile was all you needed.

    Comment by Eloise Maroney — December 9, 2009 @ 11:49 am

  9. Knew Grace years ago in the heady days for Irish Traditional Music and Dancing of the 1970s. She was always engaging and upbeat and loved to ceili dance. She kindly invited me to join her a number of times for theater excursions when tickets came her way through her job at WOR. While we had lost touch years ago, I am sad to learn of her passing. Ar Dheis go raibh an ainm.

    Comment by Ed Stewart — March 23, 2010 @ 9:38 pm

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