About the Exhibit

Exhibit designer, Emily Midkiff:

Emily Midkiff is a PhD student in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota. She studies children's literature with a particular focus on picture books, graphic novels, fantasy, mythology, and science fiction. Her MA in English and Children's Literature was awarded by Kansas State University. She created this exhibit for a class that was offered in partnership between the Curriculum and Instruction department and the Kerlan Collection. Creating this exhibit brought together her academic studies with her professional performances with puppets. She spent ten years working for a children’s theater company that performed interactive, improvisational shows as an attraction at The Land of Make Believe children’s theme park in Hope, NJ. The company, Middle Earth Studios, was founded in the 70s on the basis of marionette shows, though marionettes had been phased out by the time she joined.

Supervisor and Curator, Lisa Von Drasek:

Lisa Von Drasek is the Curator of the Children's Literature Research Collections. The CLRC, an internationally recognized resource in the field of children’s literature, contain six core collections including the Kerlan collection as well as several smaller collections. Lisa previously was the Children's Librarian of the Bank Street College of Education. She was the teacher/librarian for pre-k through 8th grade as well as a teacher of Children's Literature, Storytelling, and Children's Book Publishing 101. Lisa reviews children's books for The New York Times, Shelf Awareness and blogs at EarlyWord: The Librarian/Publisher Connection. She has served as a juror on The New York Times Best Illustrated, the Newbery Committee, The Ezra Jack Keats Award, Trudi Birger Prize (Jerusalem Book Fair) National Book Awards for Young People's Literature and American Library Association's Notable Children's Books.


Endpapers Signed to the Kerlan (Click to View)

The Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota is one of the world's great children's literature research collections. The Collection includes books, original manuscripts and illustrations, and many related materials. The materials in the Collection are studied by teachers, librarians, students, authors, illustrators, translators, and critics who come from Minnesota and other states as well as from many foreign countries. In addition to securing and preserving materials and maintaining a research collection for scholarly use, the Kerlan Collection sponsors lectures and programs. It also mounts exhibits locally and loans materials for exhibits nationally and internationally.

The Kerlan Collection was established in the 1940s by University of Minnesota alumnus Dr. Irvin Kerlan (1912-1963). He collected rare books as a hobby and soon turned to children's books. Dr. Kerlan chose what was best and representative of each current year and, when he could afford it, bought children's classics and past Newbery winners. It was not long before he took his collection one step further, pursuing the background material that went into making the books. He wrote letters to authors and illustrators, and they replied by forwarding their original manuscripts, artwork, and selected correspondence with editors and children.

From his collection, Dr. Kerlan organized exhibitions and shipped them to libraries and art galleries in North America, Europe, and the Far East. In 1949, he made arrangements with the University of Minnesota, his Alma Mater, to provide a permanent home for his collection.

Support the Kerlan Collection by becoming a donor and help keep Dr. Kerlan's collection growing.

Thank you to Melissa Sweet for providing her materials to the Children’s Literature Research Collection and assisting with this exhibit. Thank you to the Kerlan Friends for supporting the production of this exhibit.

Join or find out more about the Kerlan Friends here.

About the Exhibit