Louise Seaman Bechtel Fellowship

The Louise Seaman Bechtel Fellowship provides a grant up to $7,500 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.

Past Bechtel Winners

Information about the University of Florida and Gainesville, 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


Applications for the 2024 Bechtel Fellowship were due October 15, 2023. 

Committee resources

Bechtel Fellowship manual (Word) currently being updated
Bechtel Fellowship manual (PDF) currently being updated

Fellowship Criteria


Each application will be evaluated on the following:

  • The description of the topic of study for the fellowship period.  This should include the significance of the topic to youth services, research questions, a literature review, research methodology and steps, areas of the Baldwin Collection to be examined for the study topic, and framework/plan for creating the public programs. This description should be as detailed as possible.
  • The applicant must be prepared to spend a minimum of one week or up to four weeks in Gainesville doing research. The time spent does not have to be in successive weeks; it can be broken into shorter visits to campus.   
    • Note: The $7,500 stipend will be prorated based on the amount of time spent on-site at the Baldwin Library (at $1,875 per week). Time on-site in Gainesville may be offset through use of the Baldwin’s Virtual/Digital Collection:  https://ufdc.ufl.edu/juv


Applicants must:
  • Be a current personal member of the American Library Association (ALA) and the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC).  Organizational, corporate, and student members are not eligible.
  • Provide written documentation of approval by the applicant’s supervisor that they will be able to schedule time from work to travel to the Baldwin Library in order to conduct research.
  • Have a minimum of five years of library experience that involves working directly with children up to age 14. These five years do not need to be continuous.  Candidates may either be currently working as a children’s/youth services librarian, have worked in this position in the past, or be a retired children’s/youth services librarian.  The library experience may be in public, school, or special libraries.  
  • Have a graduate degree from an ALA-accredited program.
  • Understand they must write a 500-word report about their study and submit a copy of this report to the ALSC Executive Director and the ALSC Awards Coordinator within two months of the time of study.
  • Agree to present at least three public programs [i.e. exhibits (digital or physical), lectures, workshops, virtual programs, webinars, write an article for publication by ALSC, etc.] based on their research project to librarians or teachers, children, or the general public.

Application Information

The Louise Seaman Bechtel Fellowship is now closed for 2024. It will reopen for 2025 applications in the fall of 2024.

  • 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 have questions about the fellowship please contact the co-chairs of the Professional Recognition and Scholarships Committee Elizabeth Burns (eburns@njstatelib.org) and Mary Schreiber (schreiberalsc@gmail.com).