Louise Seaman Bechtel Fellowship

The Louise Seaman Bechtel Fellowship provides a grant up to $4,000 to a qualified children’s librarian to spend up to four weeks reading and studying at the Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature of the George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville. The Baldwin Library contains a special collection of 130,000 volumes of children’s literature published mostly before 1950. The fellowship is endowed in memory of Louise Seaman Bechtel and Ruth M. Baldwin.

Current Bechtel Winner
Past Bechtel Winners


Each application will be judged on the following:
  • The description of the topic of study for the fellowship period.
  • The applicant's demonstration of ongoing commitment to motivating children to read.
  • The applicants must be prepared to spend a minimum of one week (and up to four weeks) in Gainesville. The time spent does not have to be successive weeks.
    • Note: The $4000 stipend will be prorated based on time spent on-site at the Baldwin Library ($1000 per week). Time on-site in Gainesville may be offset through use of the Virtual Collection.


Applicants must:
  • Have personal membership in the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC).
  • Have at least (5) years professional experience in direct service to children.
  • Have a graduate degree from an ALA-accredited program
  • Demonstrate ongoing commitment to motivating children to read.
  • Willingness to write a report about his/her study. The report will be submitted to the ALSC
    Office for distribution to the Bechtel Committee and for possible inclusion in ALSC publications such as Children and Libraries: The Journal of the Association for Library Service to Children and on the ALSC website. A copy of the report will also be submitted to the Director of the Smathers Libraries, the Director of the Center for Children’s Literature and Culture at the University of Florida and the Baldwin Curator.
  • If selected, Fellowship winners would agree to present a minimum of three public programs (i.e. exhibits, lectures, workshops, etc.) based on their research project to librarians/teachers, children, or the general public.

How to apply

The ALSC Special Collections and Bechtel Fellowship committee is not currently accepting applications for the 2020 Louise Seaman Bechtel Fellowship! Applications and supporting materials will be due by November 15, 2020.

  • Please do not fill out and submit the application until you have all the necessary materials to complete your application, including the Supervisor Acknowledgment Form.
  • If you would like to review the application before submitting electronically, please refer to the sample application form.
  • If you have questions about the fellowship please contact the chair of the Special Collections and Bechtel Fellowship committee, Stephanie Bange at sbange57@gmail.com.

Information about the University of Florida and Gainsville, FL

Recipients of the Bechtel Fellowship are encouraged to learn about the Baldwin Library and the University of Florida before arriving. You can take a virtual tour of campus, or view this map. Recommended accommodations in Gainesville, Florida range from hotels such as Holiday Inn, Hampton Inn, and Hilton, to furnished apartments, Bed & Breakfasts, and even Airbnb.

From the ALSC Blog: What past winners have to say about the Bechtel Fellowship

"It was delightful to have a study carrel and devote time to handling, reading and taking notes on this diverse collection of picture books.  It was an energizing break from the fast-paced world of the Children’s Place at my library.  And the staff could not have been more accommodating." - Kathy East, 1998 Bechtel Fellow

"Becoming a Bechtel Fellow changed by professional life. My topic was titled 'Searching for She-roes: A Study of Historic Children’s Biographies of Women' . . . I’ve published an article on my topic in Children and Libraries, and used the experience to bolster co-writing and publishing a book through Libraries Unlimited. . . No matter what subject you’d like to pursue, they will have the collection to match it.  It will be an experience you will always treasure." - Christina Dorr, 2010 Fellow

"In short, the Bechtel fellowship was a complete professional game changer! I went to the Baldwin collection looking to explore the evolution of board books and ended up entering the world of historic children’s literature research." - Allison Kaplan, 2011 Bechtel Fellow

Announcement of winners

The 2021 Bechtel winners will be announced via a press release on the ALSC website in December.

Committee resources

Bechtel Fellowship manual (Word)
Bechtel Fellowship manual (PDF)