For immediate release | January 25, 2011

ALSC awards Bechtel Fellowships to Penny, Kaplan

CHICAGO – The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) has awarded two 2011 Louise Seaman Bechtel Fellowships to Victoria Penny and Allison G. Kaplan.

The Bechtel Fellowship is designed to allow qualified children’s librarians to spend a month or more reading and studying at the Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature, a part of the George A. Smathers Libraries at the University of Florida, Gainesville. The Baldwin Library contains a special collection of 85,000 volumes of children’s literature published mostly before 1950. The fellowship is endowed in memory of Louise Seaman Bechtel and Ruth M. Baldwin and provides a stipend of $4,000.

Kaplan, a faculty associate at the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will pursue her study, “Board Books: From Toy to Literacy Tool,” while at the Baldwin Library. Kaplan’s research focus is on special types of books, known as “board books,” which are printed on thick paperboard. These are often considered “toy and movable” books.

“By exploring the collection of toy and board books in the Baldwin Library,” said Kaplan, “I hope to be able to better understand what led to the evolution of the board book from a simple toy to an important part of the literacy process.”

Penny, the early childhood services coordinator at the First Regional Library in Hernando, Miss., has chosen “Rediscovering Child’s Sense of Wonder: Depictions of Nature and Outdoor Play in Historical Children’s Literature” as her topic of study. Penny’s work will investigate illustrations from 19th and 20th century American children’s literature to determine the manner in which this reflects notions of childhood development at the time.

“I have always had a personal love for and intellectual interest in nature and the outdoors,” said Penny. “On a professional level, I have recently become much more interested in the importance of outdoor play and green time to children’s development.”

ALSC, a division of the ALA, is the world’s largest organization dedicated to the support and enhancement of library service to children. With a network of more than 4,200 children’s and youth librarians, literature experts, publishers and educational faculty, ALSC is committed to creating a better future for children through libraries. To learn more about ALSC, visit ALSC’s website at

The 2011 ALSC Special Collections and Bechtel Fellowship Committee includes: Christine A. Jenkins, University of Illinois; Marianne Martens, co-chair, Rutgers University School of Communications and Information, N.J.; Mary Lois Nicolls, N.Y.; Angela Leeper, University of Richmond, Va.; Amanda J. Williams, Austin (Texas) Public Library; Janet Raelene Weber, Tigard (Ore.) Public Library; Charmette S. Kuhn-Kendrick, Cattachoochee Valley Regional Library, South Columbus Branch, Ga.; Jeanne c. Lamb, New York Public Library, Office of Children’s Services, N.Y.; Dorothy M. Stoltz, Carroll County Public Library, Md.; Ellen Hunter Ruffin, co-chair, University of Southern Mississippi, Miss.


Dan Rude