KNOXVILLE — The Center for Children’s & Young Adult Literature at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will celebrate its grand re-opening on Monday, Nov. 2, with an open house and lecture by award-winning author Susan Campbell Bartoletti.
The center, which has been around for 10 years, has moved its noncirculating, examination book collection from the Hodges Library to 434 Communications Building and, for the first time, a staff has been hired to oversee it.
An open house in the center’s new location will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Visitors are invited to enjoy refreshments, peruse the books and visit with friends of the center.
Then, at 7 p.m., the center will host a lecture and book signing by Bartoletti in the Frank H. McClung Museum, 1327 Circle Park Drive.
Bartoletti is the author of “Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow,” which won the Newberry Honor and the Sibert Award. Her other works include “Black Potatoes,” also a Sibert Award winner, and “The Boy Who Dared.”
“We’re excited to kick off this new era of the Center for Children’s & Young Adult Literature,” said Miranda Clark, a lecturer in the School of Information Sciences (SIS), who has been hired as the center’s part-time director and will start, officially, in January. “We have big dreams and lots of volunteers. We know we must be patient, methodical and restrained as we try to grow. We want to continue to improve on what we do well and at the same time broaden our outreach, always maintaining the standard of excellence that children’s and young adult literature deserves.”
The center was created in 1999 by Glen Estes, longtime faculty member and former associate director of SIS. He was a nationally recognized authority in children’s literature and was considered a masterful coordinator of conferences involving storytelling, literature and continuing education for librarians.
Estes began relationships with many book publishers and, during his time at UT, Estes is said to have amassed a collection of nearly 5,000 children’s books, most of which ended up in UT Libraries.
The center always has been part of SIS, but has had close ties with UT Libraries, the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences and Knox County Library. It is administered by a board of directors, which includes UT faculty, area librarians and local authors. Until now, the center was in Hodges Library and two UT faculty members — Jinx Watson, a children’s literature expert in the SIS, and Ken Wise, associate professor in UT Libraries — served as volunteer co-directors.
With Watson’s recent retirement, and the library needing the center’s space for other uses, SIS officials moved the center into the Communications Building.Ed Cortez, director of SIS, said the center — funded primarily from a small endowment — is “a unifying entity for the school in the sense that it speaks to a large part of our overall missions.” The center provides an academic and research resource for students and faculty, and it offers outreach to teachers, librarians, parents and children. Thanks to some interactions with similar centers in Africa, the center also has added to the college’s internationalization efforts.
Clark said her job will be to act as a liaison between UT and the center’s board, maintain the center’s book collection, try to increase relationships with publishers willing to send complimentary copies of their new releases to the center, and look for new ways the center’s books can be used by faculty, the community’s teachers, librarians and others. She also will oversee fund-raising activities and help plan the visits by nationally known authors and illustrators.
The center already has been instrumental in bringing an impressive list of children’s and young adult authors to Knoxville to conduct workshops and speak. Among those: Walter Dean Myers (“Monster,” “Fallen Angels”), who delivered the Arbuthnot Lecture in April in Clinton in conjunction with the center’s 10th anniversary; pop-up book creator Robert Sabuda; Nikki Giovanni; Kimberly Willis Holt (“When Zachary Beaver Came to Town,” “My Louisiana Sky”); Lois Lowry (“Number the Stars,” “The Giver”); Jacqueline Woodson (“Miracle’s Boys,” “Feathers”); Jack Gantos (“Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key,” “A Hole in My Life”); Tomie de Paola (“Stregna Nona”); illustrator E.B. Lewis; and others.
Books stay on the center’s shelves for only 18 months and are available for anyone to use on site. The center’s “old” books have been donated to UT Libraries and shipped to partner facilities in Africa. Starting last year, the center began selling its old books at a book fair to raise money to fund other center activities.
Clark and graduate assistant Christa Cordrey, who already is working in the center, will set office hours and develop circulation policy.
UT Assistant Professor Cindy Welch, who teaches storytelling and several courses about resources, services and programming for children and young adults, serves on the center’s board. She said she uses the center’s books to stay abreast of the latest trends in youth literature. She also said the center gives teachers and librarians the invaluable opportunity to peruse books before buying them.
Tena Litherland, a librarian at Webb School in Knoxville, also serves on the center’s board and has helped arrange many of the author visits — work she calls “a labor of love.” She said she has high hopes of what the future could hold, especially if the center could secure greater funding and more space.
“It’s amazing who we’ve been able to draw, what we’ve been able to accomplish. We’re on the cusp of putting the center’s name on the national scene,” she said.
For more about the center, see http://www.sis.utk.edu/ccyal.
C O N T A C T :
Amy Blakely, (865-974-5034, firstname.lastname@example.org)