A new space and reading room dedicated to over 6,000 rare and first edition children's books opened in the Robert A Nicholson University Library, Anderson University, Indiana, US last Friday (October 2).
First editions include works by authors such as A.A. Milne (Winnie the Pooh), Beatrix Potter (The Tale of Peter Rabbit), and Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are), along with one of the nation's best collections of first editions by Robert Louis Stevenson (Treasure Island).
"We are enriched as a university to have this marvelous collection of children's literature as an acclaimed centre piece to our collections on the campus," said Dr. James L. Edwards, president of Anderson University.
"Those who study children's literature as future teachers and writers, and those who research the field will greatly benefit from this wonderful resource that adds so much to the intellectual base of the campus."
The collection and the reading room were the brainchild of Dr Edwards and collector Dr Elizabeth York, according to the Anderson University website.
Dr York began her children's book collection by purchasing first editions featuring the works of 18th and 19th century illustrators like Randolph Caldecott, Edmund Dulac, Arthur Rackham, Howard Pyle, and Jessie Wilcox Smith.
The search for these classics led York to Beatrix Potter, A.A. Milne, James Barry, and Rudyard Kipling. Then she came upon Robert Louis Stevenson.
"As each box was unpacked, our excitement grew," said Dr. Janet Brewer, director of the Robert A. Nicholson University Library.
"To be holding an autographed, first edition of a book and then think, the author had held it, too… what an experience.
Dr York's collecting passion began when she inherited a 1926 signed copy of New Hampshire by Robert Frost.
From there she was hooked and began collecting Robert Frost. She collected enough to fill four huge shelves in her home.
"Mrs. York's collection of Robert Frost material is quite varied," said Jett Whitehead, a Rare Books Dealer specialising in modern poetry from Bay City, Michigan.
"A common denominator found throughout the York Frost collection is quality; she only approved items in the best collector condition available."
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,800 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana.
In 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year.