The Kerlan

squaure collage of children's literature illustrations including pokey puppy and Goodnight Moon

About the Children's Literature Research Collections:

The Children's Literature Collections (CLRC) at the University of Minnesota is an internationally recognized children's literature library and archive. A member of the University of Minnesota Libraries' Archives and Special Collections department (ASC), the CLRC holds books, manuscripts, illustrations, comic books, story papers, and other materials related to the creation of historical and modern children's literature, including archival materials and original artwork for 1,700 authors and illustrators. It also mounts exhibits locally and loans materials for exhibits nationally and internationally. The CLRC contains The Kerlan Collection.

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.

The ABC of It: Why Children's Book Matter digital resource celebrates the 70th anniversary of Dr. Kerlan's Collection at UMN.

Buy The Book


Purchase a copy of The ABC of It: Why Children's Books Matter

Support the Kerlan Collection by becoming a donor and help keep Dr. Kerlan's collection growing. Join or find out more about the Kerlan Friends here.


Additional Digital Resource Exhibits

This exhibit presented by the Children's Literature Research Collections.

The Kerlan