Cynni Murphy 2012 Avery Clayton Spirit Award Recipient

USC Libraries

Cynni Murphy 2012 Avery Clayton Spirit Award Recipient

Cynni Murphy has devoted her life to preserving and promoting local history of the Santa Monica Bay area. 

During her career at Santa Monica Public Library (1977-2012), she was the prime force in advocating for and developing the library’s Image Archives.  She began with a few boxes of prints and negatives.  Today these materials, and much more, are showcased in Imagine Santa Monica ( ), a contentDM-based-web site boasting over 8000 digitized images. 

She showed foresight and intelligence by shepherding the Library’s photographic collections through a series of now obsolete digital incarnations, whilst steadfastly preserving the original images.  This work exponentially expanded access to the collection while safeguarding the originals. 

Cynni is well-known to be a gracious, enthusiastic and effective networker, having made presentations to community groups too numerous to mention.  She also made sure Santa Monica Public Library joined L.A. as Subject upon its inception. 

Her stewardship on the LA as Subject Executive Committee for many years set an impressive example.  Her strong community ties resulted in substantial donations to Imagine Santa Monica, most notably the inclusion of the Pacific Palisades Historical Society’s collection of over 3000 images.  Her contributions have done very much to enhance the resources and services available to local history enthusiasts throughout Southern California.

Cynni is also a dedicated grandmother of three (with another on the way); has spent considerable time photographing Los Angeles' underground rock scene during the 1980;  and was recently appointed to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's Photographic Arts Council.

Cynni retired from Santa Monica Public Library in the summer of 2012.

The Avery Clayton Spirit Award was established by the Executive Committee of LA as Subject in 2010 to honor the character and spirit of Avery Clayton (1947-2009), founder of the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum and a long time active member of LA as Subject.

Avery was a beloved friend to all who knew him, and an honored colleague to all who worked with him. He was passionate, dedicated, and unceasingly enthusiastic with endless curiosity and unvarying generosity to friend and stranger alike.

When asked why he founded the Mayme A. Clayton Library to house his mother’s unique collection of African-Americana, Avery invariably responded “to bring it to the world”, words uniquely his that epitomize the mission of LA as Subject to identify, preserve, and disseminate the primary sources for the cultural, economic, ethnic, political, and social history of the Los Angeles region. The Avery Clayton Spirit Award is given annually to an institution, organization, or individual that embodies Avery Clayton’s spirit of dedication, enthusiasm, energy, curiosity and generosity in working to identify, preserve, and make accessible the sources for the history of the Los Angeles region.