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  May 3, 2004

Fund-Raising To Begin For
Children's Literature Collection

Christopher Robin would be right at home here. So would the Cat in the Hat, and Max, the boy in Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are.

Image: Terry Goldich

Terry Goldich, library assistant at the Dodd Center, in the stacks of the Northeast Children's Literature Collection. A fund-raising campaign is being launched to support the growth of the collection.

Photo by Melissa Arbo

These and other children's favorites abound among the books, manuscripts, and illustrations in the Northeast Children's Literature Collection at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.

A Growing Collection
The collection, which seeks to acquire, preserve, and provide access to works of artistic and historical significance, started in the 1960's, spurred by English Professor Francelia Butler's children's literature course and an initial acquisition of 10,000 volumes.

It now comprises 30,000 volumes and more than 50 collections from individual authors and illustrators of children's books.

Recently, the Dodd Center launched a campaign to raise $500,000 to enable the collection to grow beyond its present size and scope.

"As the only major collection of children's literature in the region and one of the most important of its kind in the country, the collection preserves the original output of some of the most creative minds of our time," says Terri Goldich, curator of the collection. "The collection demonstrates all aspects of book creation leading up to the finished work, so researchers and others can witness the process by which successful authors and illustrators bring their work to fruition."

Top Priority
Co-chairing the capital campaign committee are Billie Levy, a former librarian for the U.S. Corps of Engineers, Yale Divinity School, and the UConn Libraries who co-founded the children's literature collection, and Susan Aller, a former magazine editor in New York.

The committee has made fund raising for the children's literature collection its first priority. To date, the campaign has raised $100,000 in major leadership and in-kind gifts.

Proceeds of the endowment will fund exhibits, conferences, publications, and public programs that promote the collection; preserve items requiring conservation; acquire additional volumes to fill gaps in some collections; make the collection widely available through the Internet; and support professional activities and training for staff.

Since it was established, the collection has received gifts from many donors, including Levy. An avid collector, Levy convinced author and illustrator James Marshall, among others, to leave his materials to UConn for research purposes.

Other significant holdings in the collection include the Phyllis Hirsch Boyson Collection of Children's Literature, the Black Beauty Collection, and the art and personal papers of many leading lights among children's book authors and illustrators. Among these are Natalie Babbitt, Barbara Cooney, Tomie de Paola, Leonard Everett Fisher, Anita Riggio, Richard Scarry, and Cindy Szekeres.

One result of the campaign has been the creation of the Billie M. Levy Travel Grant to provide travel assistance grants for scholars conducting research on the collection. Efforts are also underway to establish a fellowship honoring James Marshall, a former resident of Mansfield and frequent visitor to Butler's classes in the 1960's and 1970's. The fellowship, funded through a related campaign, will support promising new children's authors and illustrators in the development and creation of new works.

Seeking Support
"While we appreciate the support we have received to date, we know that a higher level of support is needed to build our holdings and provide the resources necessary for a collection of this quality," said Thomas Wilsted, director of the Dodd Center and head of Archives & Special Collections. "Our goal is to expand the collection endowment by a factor of 10 during this campaign, as we work to preserve children's literature, not just for the present, but for the coming decades and centuries."