Children's Literature Research Collection

Services and hours are subject to change — please call in advance. Before you visit, please review our new COVID-19 guidelines.

Monday, March 12 – Message from Staff

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.  

Tuesday, July 28 – Message from Staff

The Children's Literature Research Collection continues to check email for reference questions - please email us at clrc@freelibrary.org.

1901 Vine Street, Room 213
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Open today until 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, 9/27 Closed
Monday, 9/28 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Closed
Tuesday, 9/29 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Closed
Wednesday, 9/30 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Closed
Thursday, 10/1 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Friday, 10/2 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday, 10/3 Closed
  • * Monday has hour changes – Closed to public.
  • * Tuesday has hour changes – Closed to public.
  • * Wednesday has hour changes – Covid-19
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

  • Mon., Oct. 12 : Closed Indigenous Peoples' Day
  • Wed., Nov. 11 : Closed Veterans Day
  • Thu., Nov. 26 : Closed Thanksgiving Day
  • Fri., Dec. 25 : Closed Christmas Day
View all holiday closings

*** During the Free Library's closure, visit our Digital Repository to find games, activities, and more relating to Special Collections. ***

The Children’s Literature Research Collection (CLRC) promotes the history, study, and development of children’s literature.  CLRC houses a repository of over 85,000 works of children’s literature and an archive of original artwork, manuscripts, and ephemera. 

To view items from our collection, please schedule an appointment by emailing us at clrc@freelibrary.org.  Appointments are scheduled between the hours of 10am – 4pm, Monday through Friday.  Please note that items housed in the Children’s Literature Research Collection are non-circulating and must be viewed in one of the Special Collections rooms at Parkway Central Library.

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 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 CLRC@freelibrary.org with questions regarding our collections.

If you're interested in reproducing an image from our Digital Collections, please email us at reproductions@freelibrary.org.

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. 
  • Historical Newspapers: Black Newspaper Collection: Primary source material from ten historic Black newspapers, including the Chicago Defender, The Baltimore Afro-American, New York Amsterdam News, Pittsburgh Courier, Los Angeles Sentinel, Atlanta Daily World, and the Cleveland Call and Post.
    • 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.