Council on Library and Information Resources supplies funds to create online access to children’s collections, making more than 7,000 hidden items easy-to-find
PHILADELPHIA, December 1, 2009—The Council on Library and Information Resources, an independent, nonprofit organization committed to fostering new approaches to digital resources, has awarded $264,945 to the Free Library of Philadelphia to catalog approximately 7,100 manuscripts, sketchbooks, and items of personal memorabilia, among other rarities, from the Children’s Literature Research Collection.
Stemming from generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” grant awards recipients with funding to identify and categorize unique collections. The Free Library’s project, “Milestones in 20th-Century American Children’s Literature,” will catalog thousands of exceptional items, such as hand-edited manuscripts, notes, drawings, and correspondence of six authors and illustrators credited with making significant contributions to 20th-century American children’s literature.
Works by renowned authors and illustrators include those of: Lloyd Alexander (National Book Award and Newbery Medal-winning author of The Chronicles of Prydain series); Virginia Lee Burton (author of the Caldecott Medal winner Little House); Carolyn Haywood (author and illustrator of the beloved Betsy and Eddie series); Evaline Ness (Caldecott Medal-winning author and illustrator); Tomi Ungerer (Hans Christian Anderson Award-winning illustrator); and the Frederick R. Gardner collection of Robert Lawson (author and illustrator of Newbery Medal winner Rabbit Hill).
Requiring three years of work, the project team will sort through thousands of items by hand, write comprehensive descriptions, and assign location details to each item. Descriptions of the items, located in the archives of the Children’s Literature Research Collection, will be added to the searchable, online catalog at freelibrary.org. Because the items do not have call numbers like books, “finding aids”—details such as “Folder 1 of Box A”—will be assigned to each item to improve ease-of-access for users, who may make an appointment with the Children’s Literature Research Collection to view the materials in person. The Free Library of Philadelphia is excited about the opportunity to increase public knowledge of these “hidden special collections” by adding them to the online catalog.
The grant-enabled catalog project lays the groundwork for future digital collections of works by these important authors and illustrators.
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The Free Library of Philadelphia system consists of 49 branches, three regional libraries, the Parkway Central Library, and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. With more than 6 million visits annually, the Free Library is one of the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia.