Book donation makes UI Library second largest U.S. repository

By Andrea Lynn

Should you want to revisit your youth in the midst of the wintry chill and
curl up with a few good children's books, you have an additional 58,000 to
choose from since the UI Library received an early Christmas present.

With the 43,000 children's volumes already on its shelves, plus its nearly
48,000 volumes of classroom texts, the UI Library now has a children's and
young adult collection second only to that of the Library of Congress. Yet
another 14,000 books came to the university's library school a year ago,
when the Center for Children's Books was transferred from the University of
Chicago to the UI

The new free cache also came from Chicago - from the Center for Research
Libraries. Among other things, the national association of research
libraries wanted to place the collection where it could better serve
scholarship. CRL got proposals from 14 sites and in the end chose the UI.

"Illinois had a good proposal," said Patricia Finney, head of stack
management at the center. "One of the criteria was the strength of
pre-existing children's collections and dedication to that genre of
literature, and Illinois most certainly met that criterion. It also intends
to make the collection available to the rest of the world."

Most of the CRL books, which are neither cataloged nor inventoried, are
U.S. titles published after 1950; about 15 percent of the titles are
pre-1950 or British imprints. The nearly comprehensive CRL collection was
formed over decades from deposits primarily by the Center for Children's
Books, which received review copies of every children's book published in
the United States.

While many - if not most - people would be appalled by the idea of 1,120
boxes of uncataloged books being dropped on their curb one Saturday in
November, Nancy O'Brien, a professor of library administration and the
acting head of the university's Education and Social Science Library, is

"It will be just marvelous for everybody in the world to have access to
these materials," O'Brien said, noting that access to UI collections can be
made through national data bases, as well as through the Internet, the
international electronic network.

In addition to heavy national and international scholarly use of Illinois'
cataloged children's collection - Denmark borrows "rather regularly,"
O'Brien said - the collection often is tapped by students and teachers. The
collection, which includes books from the early 1800s, is particularly
strong in such areas as Aesop's fables, alphabet books, biographies of
Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin Franklin, pop-up books, fairy tales from
around the world, and Dr. Seuss books. 

UIUC -- Inside Illinois -- 1994/01-20-94