Esther S. Fennell, retired chief cataloger for the Baltimore school libraries, died Thursday of cancer at her home on Gilray Drive.
Services for Mrs. Fennell, 76, were to be conducted at 10 a.m. today at the Episcopal Church of the Nativity, Cedarcroft and York roads.
She retired from the school system's cataloging and processing center in 1978, and had started working as an elementary school librarian in Baltimore in 1953.
She came to Baltimore from Charlotte, N.C., where she became the first professional librarian in the schools for blacks and started the library system in the elementary schools for blacks. She also had worked as a school librarian in Fairfield, Ala., and in Goldsboro, N.C.
The former Esther Smith was a native of Berkley in Harford County and completed her high school education as a boarder at the Downingtown Industrial and Agricultural School in Pennsylvania.
She earned a bachelor's degree in French at Livingstone College in Salisbury, N.C., and another in library science at the Hampton Institute. She also had a master's degree from Columbia University.
She taught summer courses at Towson State University, the University of Maryland, North Carolina Central University in Durham, Atlanta University, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee and South Carolina State College in Orangeburg.
A former president of the Evening Guild and a member of the Altar Guild at the Church of the Nativity, she also had been a volunteer at Epiphany House, a residence for the elderly in Govans, and a member of the Hamilton Chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons, and the Berkley Cemetery Co.
She also belonged to the Chammarettes and the Pokeno Pals, both social clubs.
She is survived by a daughter, Adrianne Bonifacio of Yorktown Heights, N.Y.; a granddaughter; and many cousins.