Always having a strong love for reading, Jeanne Given Plitt is retired from her former position as director of the Alexandria Public Library in Virginia, which she maintained from 1970 to 1992. She previously served the library from reference librarian to assistant director between 1967 and 1970. She began her professional career as a library assistant in the Special Services Division of the U.S. Army in 1949, remaining in this role for two years before teaching at various secondary schools in Maryland and Virginia from 1951 to 1967. In addition to this tenure, Ms. Plitt chaired the librarian’s technical committee of the Council of Governments in Washington, DC, from 1971 to 1972 and from 1980 to 1981.
Prior to the start of her career, Ms. Plitt pursued a formal education at the University of Maryland, earning a Bachelor of Arts in 1949. She matriculated at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, and American University in Washington, completing postgraduate coursework between 1949 and 1954 and between 1960 and 1961, respectively. She went on to attain a Master of Library Science from the Catholic University of America in Washington in 1968. Ms. Plitt is also certified in teaching in Maryland and Virginia, and received a professional library license in the State of Virginia.
Active in her local community, Ms. Plitt served on the Americans with Disabilities Act Committee in Alexandria and chaired the Northern Virginia Library Networking Committee. Additionally, she was involved with the Little Theatre of Alexandria, the oldest award-winning theater in the Washington metro area and one of the few community theaters in the country with its own building and an ambitious seven-show season. Outside of her primary trade, Ms. Plitt served the Alexandria Historical Society on its board of directors since 1974 and the Virginia Library Association on its legislative committee since 1988. Likewise, she has served Zonta International as secretary of her local chapter from 1972 to 1973 and on its board of directors since 1988. She also maintains involvement with the PTA of the American Library Association, the Manuscript Society, the Catholic University Alumni Association and University of Maryland Alumni Association, the Urban League, the Alexandria Association and the Mount Vernon Country Club.
In light of her incredible accomplishments, Ms. Plitt was awarded two Alexandria Public Service Awards in 1964 and 1974. Later on, she received a Recognition Award from the American Association of Retired Persons in 1990. Furthermore, Ms. Plitt was selected for inclusion in several editions of Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the South and Southwest.
The highlight of Ms. Plitt’s career was being taken to court in 1990 because of a showcase about pro-life and pro-choice. The city was sued and the Karen and Tom Rutledge Institute for Early Childhood Education took up thjne case for a gentleman who lived in Alexandria. A pro-lifer, he wanted to sue the library for taking both points of view and they let him use their showcase. They had a balance display for the pro-choice and the library presented both cases, and he protested their right to do so. The city won and the institute settled with the city.
Born on August 27, 1927 in Whitehall, New York, to parents Charles Russell and Anna Marie (Noyes) Given, Ms. Plitt was married to her late husband, Ferdinand Charles Plitt Jr., a World War II veteran, who she remained with from 1952 until his passing in 2001. She is the proud mother of two wonderful children, Christine Marie and Charles Randolph. She is also a doting grandmother to four beloved grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. The mentor who motivated and inspired Ms. Plitt most was Ellen Coolidge Burke, who was a direct descendant of President Thomas Jefferson. Moreover, when she was still in high school during World War II, she worked with some wonderful people at the Department of the State, who were dedicated workers.
What Ms. Plitt has learned over the course of her career that has most benefited her in her professional growth is to be patient and consult her colleagues, along with listening to them. She always felt that her door should always be open to everyone on her staff so they could talk to her and tell her their concerns. She believed that was important and she was a good listener.