Dr. Motoko Reece was a true gem of Cleveland Public Library. The legacy she built in Special Collections was to honor and enlighten the public of the collections established by John G. White back in 1899. Today, the White Collections of chess, Orientalia, and folklore are world-renowned.
Dr. Reece worked in the Fine Arts & Special Collections Department for 20 years. She took a leave of absence from 1976 until 1980 to work on her doctorate in Library Science from the University of Michigan. Her 1979 dissertation, John Griswold White, Trustee, and the White Collection in the Cleveland Public Library, is a profound profile of the collection and a perceptive view of Mr. White. This text has become an indispensable working tool that identifies items in the White Collection. She writes: “The collection has always been regarded as a national treasure, providing materials of value to readers of today and to readers in the future.”
Dr. Reece retired from the Library on March 30, 1997. Several years after her retirement, she would make frequent visits to Special Collections and bow in honor of Mr. White at the entrance of the Reading Room. She continued her mission to talk about the various manuscripts, rare books, and chess materials with staff members and visitors. Her endearing nature and enthusiasm was an inspiration to those of charged with maintaining Mr. White’s precious collection. Dr. Reece’s spirit will live on through the collection she helped build and with all of us here at Cleveland Public Library.