The Library Saint

“What am I going to retire for unless I’m sick? I don’t want to just stay home and read a book. Our kids are very needy. There’s a lot to be done.”

At 89 years old, Verne Oliver is not your typical woman. Since retiring in 1987, she’s worked tirelessly to revamp and revitalize libraries in underprivileged New York City schools. An accomplishment for anyone, Ms. Oliver pays no mind to her accolades, instead focusing on the work that compels her, promoting literacy and access to books for children. Keep reading for the rest of our story with the Library Saint herself, Verne Oliver…

After learning a bit about her story, Chris discussed an idea with our editor at AARP about photographing Verne as saintly, even going as far including a representation of the halos that are often seen in classical painting. Drawing on iconic paintings and depictions, we looked to create a space within the school Ms. Oliver is currently working in that would allow us to make this surreal portrait. The library itself ended up working perfectly, containing just the right elements that we could arrange into the space to frame up the shot.

Verne was an amazing woman with an equally amazing story. Make sure to read the full article at

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