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DATE: April 8, 2002

UM-Dearborn acquires collection of more than 3,500 children's books from Grand Rapids library to enhance preparation for elementary teachers

DEARBORN---The University of Michigan-Dearborn has acquired a collection of more than 3,500 children's books, several of them dating back to the mid-1800s. The collection, which includes many books that were particularly important in the development of children's literature, will be used by students who are preparing to become teachers, as well as by faculty members and scholars from other institutions.

"This collection will help us bridge the gap from the 19th and early 20th centuries to the current age of children's literature, and make it possible for our students to experience and enjoy children's picture books and novels at a depth that few institutions could provide," according to Raymond Kettel, professor of education at UM-Dearborn.

The collection is known as the May G. Quigley Collection of Children's Literature, named for the first chief of the Children's Department in the Grand Rapids Public Library. Quigley, who served in that position from 1904 until her retirement in 1943, gathered the books that form the nucleus of the collection.

The Grand Rapids Public Library board decided earlier this year that the collection could be better utilized by a university with an extensive reading program for elementary teachers, which is characteristic of both the undergraduate and graduate levels at UM-Dearborn's School of Education.

UM-Dearborn's library director Tim Richards worked with librarians in Grand Rapids to arrange the transfer earlier this year.

"We have an extremely active and robust children's literature program, with several faculty members who are very active in this field," Richards said. "We could see numerous ways that having these books here could support student course work and research in the history of children's literature."

The books, which were delivered in more than 100 cases, are being cataloged now and will be readily accessible to students, faculty members and other users. "While it is our intention to make items in the collection readily and easily accessible, we will take special measures to protect any works that are fragile and unable to withstand normal use," Richards said.

"In every box we open, we find another gem," Kettel said. He pointed to an 1856 edition of Little Red Riding Hood, "published before Lincoln was president!"

Although it will take the best part of year to catalog the collection, Kettel has already found works written or illustrated by major figures in history of children's literature, including Kate Greenaway, Randolph Caldecott, Walter Crane and Arthur Rackham. The collection also includes a number of Michigan authors and topics in Michigan history.

Some of the works include material that would be not be included in children's books published today. "We're talking history, and some of it is certainly derogatory and offensive," Kettel said.

In one of the uses of the collection, Kettel will require students in a library science course to read and review books from the Quigley collection and compare ideas and values presented in them with those found in current publications. "We want our students to be alert to the values expressed in the material they are using in the classroom, and that includes recognizing racism, sexism and other issues."

Prof. Raymond Kettel with Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates, one of more than 3,500 children's books recently acquired by UM-Dearborn.


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