In early July the California Library Association announced that local teacher and library supporter, Rue Randall Clifford (1887-1967) will be inducted into their California Library Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame honors the historical significance and lifetime achievements of the many librarians, library workers and supporters who have helped promote and improve library services in California.
Rue Randall Clifford, who was affectionately known as “Cliffie,” was born in 1887 into a San Francisco dairy-farming family. She entered UC Berkeley in 1905, graduating four years later with a bachelor of letters degree in English. In 1913, she was hired as South San Francisco’s first high school teacher. In addition to teaching several academic subjects, she also launched the school’s first track team, pioneered the girls’ sports program, and created a journalism program. As active as she was in the high school, she was nonetheless dissatisfied with the school library’s meager offerings believing that her students were not getting access to knowledge they needed to thrive academically.
This put her on a mission to establish South San Francisco’s first public library. Hoping to acquire a Carnegie grant to build the library, Clifford rode her horse through town, gathering signatures on what became known as “Rue’s most famous ride.” She succeeded in getting the $10,000 grant and the Grand Avenue library was opened in 1916. Eleven years later, Clifford was appointed to the library’s board of trustees, where she served as secretary for 37 years and helped plan for a new main library. The West Orange library three years after her death and was dedicated in her honor. Additionally, the sports field at South San Francisco high was named in her honor. And in 1986, she was posthumously inducted into San Mateo County’s Women’s Hall of Fame. This local hero lives in the hearts and minds of many local elders who were her students. With this recognition, her legacy will be known statewide.
Clifford will be inducted in the California Library Hall of Fame at the 2018 CLA Conference in early November in Santa Clara, California.