Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Free Library of Philadelphia’s CHILDREN’S LITERATURE RESEARCH COLLECTION

As I often do when I travel, I like to visit the local library and meet the children’s librarian. I also like to check the catalogue to find out if the library has any of my books–and invariably I find that they have at least one. On a recent visit to Philadelphia, I stopped by the children’s room in the Central branch of the  Free Library of Philadelphia. I had a delightful visit with Patti McLaughlin, head of the children’s department, who asked me to sign a few of my books that were on the shelves (the library has 60 of my titles listed in its catalogue!) and told me about the incredibly successful story hour held in the library every Monday and Wednesday which is attended by more than a hundred mothers and children. She also pointed out the series of beautiful N.C. Wyeth paintings that decorate the walls of the children’s room.

The paintings are part of the library's extensive Children’s Literature Research Collection. I was pleased to discover that the research collection also includes quite a few of my books. I returned two days later to meet Chris Brown, the curator of the collection, who had assembled a number of my books for me to sign. They marked various landmark points in my career, from my first published book, Five Nests, to my tall tale, The Terrible Hodag, and many of my books illustrated with photos by Richard Hewett including Dinosaur Mountain, our animal books published at Morrow Junior Books, and Saving the Peregrine Falcon, which I discovered has been one of Chris’ favorite books since he was child.

Later that afternoon I visited the Rare Book Department of the library, currently featuring an exhibit called Or Else: Cautionary Tales for Children, where I saw the dummy of one of MY all time favorite books, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig. The Or Else exhibit goes to July 23, 2016. As it turned out, a staff member was giving tours of the Elkins library, which is part of the rare books department, and invited me to come along. The Elkins library reproduces the actual library of its donor (chairs, curtains, carpets, shelves, etc.) exactly as it was in his home, along with his huge Dickens collection and other books. These are just a few of the fascinating things you will find at the Free Library of Philadelphia.

1 comment:

CLRC FLP said...

What a lovely compliment for our Library system! Thank you Caroline for your kind words. I hope you'll visit us again on your next trip east!

All the best,
Chris