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The Child, the Scholar, and the Children's Literature Archive

http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/uni/summary/v035/35.1.kidd.html ( Publisher's URL )
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/IR00003460/00001

Material Information

Title: The Child, the Scholar, and the Children's Literature Archive
Series Title: The Lion and the Unicorn, Volume 35, Number 1, January 2011
Physical Description: Journal Article
Language: English
Creator: Kidd, Kenneth
Publisher: The Lion and the Unicorn
Publication Date: 2011

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature

Notes

Abstract: As noted in the journal: In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: Welcome to the Archive: I'm sitting in the second-floor reading room of what was formerly the main library at the University of Florida, an older building now called Library East, and home of Special and Area Studies Collections. It's a gorgeous room, with soaring walls, windows, and tapestries, recalling the interior of a church. There's no altar, and the room seems wider than your standard sanctuary, but it still has a nave-like feel, as if funneling energy forward and upward. There's an alcove on the left, behind the request desk, a processing office that leads to a maze of workspaces. Not so imposing as, say, the reading room of the New York Public Library, this space seems just right: large enough to suggest the size and stretch of knowledge, small enough to be comfortable. The new main library, part of Library West, was recently remodeled, and boasts many amenities as well as a contemporary, open look. Computer terminals abound, and there's of course a Starbucks. Library East, in contrast, is the library of yesteryear. It opened in 1926 as the main library and was renamed Library East in 1967, with the advent of Library West next door. Later still, it became Smathers Library. Hushed tones are still the norm here. There are fewer students and computers, and no public circulation of coffee. Library East houses UF's Special and Area Studies Collections, including the Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature, which I am consulting today. The legacy of library science professor Ruth Baldwin, who came to UF in 1977, the Baldwin Library holds over 100,000 volumes published in Great Britain and the United States since the mid-1600s. In size and scope it is one of the most important collections in the world. It is, of course, non-circulating, and must be accessed in the reading room. While the reading room is interior to the building, it is not the inner sanctum. Rather, it is what social psychologist Erving Goffman would describe as a "front stage" in the dramaturgy of the archive, the stacks being the "back stage." The separation of archive from reading room is practical but also symbolic. As Louis Marin suggests by way of Disneyland, the creation of boundaries within a social space enacts a fantasy of threshold and transformation: you are about to enter a magical place, the logic runs (or in the dystopian version, abandon all hope ye who enter here). In the reading room, we are expected to abide by certain rules and codes. Food and other items are forbidden. Personal materials must be stowed away. Moreover, the reading room and the archive for which it stands are not available on demand. We must accommodate ourselves to its schedule. At the least, the archive offers remove from everyday experience. Terms like spirit and soul generally make me uncomfortable. But the archive inspires enthusiasm and even a sense of wonder in me. The encounter with rarish texts in a special environment makes for something like a religious experience. Academia in general, and perhaps especially the humanities, functions more broadly like a secular ministry, dedicated to the gospel of knowledge and to cultures of the book. For me, at least, the archive's spatial architecture— its "poetics of space," to use Gaston Bachelard's term—intersects with and reinforces a book-love bordering on the spiritual and/or the fetishistic. I don't believe in the canon, have never fretted the line between literature and everything else. I work in fields that might be called marginal, children's literature and queer studies. Despite my general suspicion of literary elitism or exceptionalism, old books seem special and the archive all the more so. The idea of the archive, I propose, operates not unlike the ideas of the classic and the canon, which, for all their problematic aspects, have helped shore up children's literature as a creative and critical field. More so than the classic or the canon, however, the archive valorizes research, adds academic value to children's materials. The children's literature archive is at once a particular place—here, the Baldwin Library—and a broader...
Acquisition: Collected for University of Florida's Institutional Repository by the UFIR Self-Submittal tool. Submitted by Suzan Alteri.

Record Information

Source Institution: University of Florida Institutional Repository
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: Permissions granted by the author; article in Green Open Access journal which allows the full post-print, published version to be deposited into an IR as Open Access.
Resource Identifier: doi - 10.1353/uni.2011.0000
System ID: IR00003460:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/IR00003460/00001

Material Information

Title: The Child, the Scholar, and the Children's Literature Archive
Series Title: The Lion and the Unicorn, Volume 35, Number 1, January 2011
Physical Description: Journal Article
Language: English
Creator: Kidd, Kenneth
Publisher: The Lion and the Unicorn
Publication Date: 2011

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature

Notes

Abstract: As noted in the journal: In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: Welcome to the Archive: I'm sitting in the second-floor reading room of what was formerly the main library at the University of Florida, an older building now called Library East, and home of Special and Area Studies Collections. It's a gorgeous room, with soaring walls, windows, and tapestries, recalling the interior of a church. There's no altar, and the room seems wider than your standard sanctuary, but it still has a nave-like feel, as if funneling energy forward and upward. There's an alcove on the left, behind the request desk, a processing office that leads to a maze of workspaces. Not so imposing as, say, the reading room of the New York Public Library, this space seems just right: large enough to suggest the size and stretch of knowledge, small enough to be comfortable. The new main library, part of Library West, was recently remodeled, and boasts many amenities as well as a contemporary, open look. Computer terminals abound, and there's of course a Starbucks. Library East, in contrast, is the library of yesteryear. It opened in 1926 as the main library and was renamed Library East in 1967, with the advent of Library West next door. Later still, it became Smathers Library. Hushed tones are still the norm here. There are fewer students and computers, and no public circulation of coffee. Library East houses UF's Special and Area Studies Collections, including the Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature, which I am consulting today. The legacy of library science professor Ruth Baldwin, who came to UF in 1977, the Baldwin Library holds over 100,000 volumes published in Great Britain and the United States since the mid-1600s. In size and scope it is one of the most important collections in the world. It is, of course, non-circulating, and must be accessed in the reading room. While the reading room is interior to the building, it is not the inner sanctum. Rather, it is what social psychologist Erving Goffman would describe as a "front stage" in the dramaturgy of the archive, the stacks being the "back stage." The separation of archive from reading room is practical but also symbolic. As Louis Marin suggests by way of Disneyland, the creation of boundaries within a social space enacts a fantasy of threshold and transformation: you are about to enter a magical place, the logic runs (or in the dystopian version, abandon all hope ye who enter here). In the reading room, we are expected to abide by certain rules and codes. Food and other items are forbidden. Personal materials must be stowed away. Moreover, the reading room and the archive for which it stands are not available on demand. We must accommodate ourselves to its schedule. At the least, the archive offers remove from everyday experience. Terms like spirit and soul generally make me uncomfortable. But the archive inspires enthusiasm and even a sense of wonder in me. The encounter with rarish texts in a special environment makes for something like a religious experience. Academia in general, and perhaps especially the humanities, functions more broadly like a secular ministry, dedicated to the gospel of knowledge and to cultures of the book. For me, at least, the archive's spatial architecture— its "poetics of space," to use Gaston Bachelard's term—intersects with and reinforces a book-love bordering on the spiritual and/or the fetishistic. I don't believe in the canon, have never fretted the line between literature and everything else. I work in fields that might be called marginal, children's literature and queer studies. Despite my general suspicion of literary elitism or exceptionalism, old books seem special and the archive all the more so. The idea of the archive, I propose, operates not unlike the ideas of the classic and the canon, which, for all their problematic aspects, have helped shore up children's literature as a creative and critical field. More so than the classic or the canon, however, the archive valorizes research, adds academic value to children's materials. The children's literature archive is at once a particular place—here, the Baldwin Library—and a broader...
Acquisition: Collected for University of Florida's Institutional Repository by the UFIR Self-Submittal tool. Submitted by Suzan Alteri.

Record Information

Source Institution: University of Florida Institutional Repository
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: Permissions granted by the author; article in Green Open Access journal which allows the full post-print, published version to be deposited into an IR as Open Access.
Resource Identifier: doi - 10.1353/uni.2011.0000
System ID: IR00003460:00001


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