Children's Literature Research Collection

1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Due to construction, the majority of material housed in the Children's Literature Research Collection are housed off-site.  To make an appointment to view these materials, please contact us.  

Open today until 5:00 p.m.

Sunday Closed
Monday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Tuesday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Thursday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Friday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday Closed

Upcoming Closures

  • Wed., Dec. 25 : Closed Christmas Day
  • Wed., Jan. 1 : Closed New Year's Day
  • Mon., Jan. 20 : Closed Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • Mon., Feb. 17 : Closed Presidents' Day
  • Fri., Apr. 10 : Closed Good Friday
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Upcoming Events

Love Is All Around

Now through Sun, December 8, 2019 5:00 P.M.

The Delaware Valley Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers celebrates love each February with a member-to-member Valentines Day card exchange.  Members send handmade cards that show off their artistic skills. This min-exhibition features a sampling of cards made by members over the last few…

Adult Young Adult School Age Senior Exhibitions Art Special Collections arts & crafts Book Arts

Once Upon a Book

Now through Sun, December 8, 2019 5:00 P.M.

Who doesn’t love children’s books?  We all have a favorite book that was read to us as a child or one that we read to our own children, or even grandchildren.  For some of us, it was the start of a passion for all things book-related. The Delaware Valley Chapter of the…

Adult Young Adult Senior Exhibitions Art Special Collections Book Arts children's literature

The Free Library of Philadelphia houses an extensive research collection of children's literature from the 17th century to the present.  This collection includes hard cover books, juvenile trade books, and advance reader copies.  While the earliest of these books are housed in the Rare Book Department, over 85,000 items published after 1836 are gathered together in the Children's Literature Research Collection (CLRC).  CLRC serves as an invaluable resource to individuals or classes with an interest in the history, study, and/or development of children’s literature.  To make an appointment to view items from our collection, please contact us at  Please note that our collection is non-circulating.  

The Children's Literature Research Collection is divided into several areas of interest: 

The Kathrine H. McAlarney Collection of Illustrated Children’s Books

The Kathrine H. McAlarney Collection of Illustrated Children’s Books provides an overview of the changing pattern of children’s book illustration.  Researchers will find books illustrated by innumerable well-known artists, such as Aliki, Marguerite de Angeli, Brian BIggs, and Angela Dominguez together with those by Caldecott-winners and honorees. For a list of illustrators found in the Kathrine H. McAlarney Collection of Illustrated Children’s Books, visit this link.  Please note that this list is a living document and may change as the collection grows.  

Historical Collection

Reflecting the great shifts in children’s literature, this collection includes:  classics, works by Newbery-winners and honorees, ALA Notable books, as well as other ALA award winners, such as the Seibert, the Stonewall, and the Pura Belpré winners and honorees.  The collection also includes a broad scope of popular works from the past.

Historical Bibliography Collection

Adult-level resources about children’s literature, authors and illustrators of children’s materials, as well as information regarding public library service and bibliographies are found in this collection.

Series Collection

The series collection is noted for its large selection of Stratemeyer Syndicate works (i.e. Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, et al.), books by Horatio Alger Jr., Golden Books, and many other fiction and some non-fiction series.  We endeavor to collect variant printings of some series titles.

Folklore Collection

CLRC houses a sizable collection of books featuring stories and tales taken from the oral tradition.  These works include myths, legends, folk tales, fairy tales, Märchen, customs, folk songs, Mother Goose and other nursery rhymes, and other genres from around the world in either individual or collective works. 

Toy and Moveable Books Collection

A growing collection of books with toy and moveable features from the past century is housed within CLRC.  This collection includes pop-up books, cloth and non-traditional materials.

CLRC Archives

Our archives are one of the largest collections of primary source material for children’s literature in the country.  We house a range of original artwork, manuscripts, and ephemera from leaders in the world of children’s literature.  This includes the works of Newbery winners such as Lloyd Alexander and Scott O’Dell, Caldecott winners such as Evaline Ness and Virginia Lee Burton, and contemporary authors such as Zachariah O’Hora and Angela Dominguez.

Many items from our archives have recently been rehoused.  Until finding aids can be created for these pieces, please visit this link to see additional art holdings of the Children's Literature Research Collection.  Please note that this list is a living document and may change as materials are digitized and placed in our Digital Collections.  

Because of construction at the Parkway Central Library, a majority of the collection is currently housed off-site.  Please email the department to make an appointment. 

Digitized Collections

Many examples from our collections are available through our Digital Collections.  These include the works of Lloyd Alexander, Virginia Lee Burton, and Katherine Milhous.  Other special collections include the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Summer Reading Posters and the art of N. C. Wyeth.  Many collections have not been digitized, and some collections have only been digitized in part. Please email the Children’s Literature Research Collection at with questions regarding our collections.

If you're interested in reproducing an image from our Digital Collections, please email us at

Click here for a printable version of the information above.  

Research Support

When researching an author or illustrator, we suggest using these databases, as found in the Free Library of Philadelphia's Database hub.  A library card may be required to access these links.  

  • America's Obituaries & Death Notices: A collection of newspaper obituaries and death notices from around the country.
    • Available to all Free Library locations and online with your library card. 
  • AP Images: Current photos & a selection of pictures/images from the 50 million print & negative library of photographs at the Associated Press. Search for a picture/image of your favorite author/illustrator.
    • Available to all Free Library locations and online with your library card. 
  • AskArt: Extensive information about over 120,000 artists from around the world.
    • Available at Parkway Central Library only; please see the Art Department for access. 
  • Biography in Context: Comprehensive online biographical reference database containing 414,000 biographies.
    • Available to all Free Library locations and online with your library card. 
  • Contemporary Authors: A bio-bibliographical guide to current writers in fiction, general nonfiction, poetry, journalism, drama, motion pictures, television, and other fields.
    • Available to all Free Library locations and online with your library card. 
  • Something About the Author: Digital version of the popular biographical resource on writers.
    • Available to all Free Library locations and online with your library card. 
  • Student Resources in Context:  Primary documents, biographies, topical essays, background information, critical analyses, full-text coverage of 800 magazines, photographs and illustrations, audio and video clips.
    • Available to all Free Library locations and online with your library card. 

Please support the Children's Literature Reserach Collection today. We depend on financial support to add new acquisitions to the collection, mount exhibitions, and care for the collection.