SDSU opened in 1897 as the San Diego Normal School, a training facility for teachers. Although the children’s collection at SDSU Library had a modest beginning, it has had a unique direction of development. It began in 1903, as the children's library for The Campus Laboratory School. The Campus Laboratory School closed in 1970, and the children’s library holdings moved to the Malcolm A. Love Library (https://education.sdsu.edu/about/coe-history). Currently, the children’s collection is an international, multicultural contemporary teaching collection and an historical research collection of 29,281 volumes, 6,219 of which are picture books.
The National Center for the Study of Children’s Literature (NCSCL) at San Diego State University (SDSU) has greatly influenced the purpose of this collection. In the 1980s, former high school teacher Dr. Peter F. Neumeyer, founded the Center in the SDSU English and Comparative Literature department to offer children’s literature courses to give future teachers a foundation in literary studies and to inform their selection of children’s books shared with their students. Neumeyer’s approach to children’s literature is international, founded in equity, diversity, and inclusion. As a child in 1936, he and his grandmother fled Nazi Germany and sought refuge in the United States. A Batchelder Award honor book award recipient for his translation of Collector of Moments (2000) by Quint Buchholz, he takes inspiration from the philosophy of Jewish journalist Jela Lepman, founder of the International Youth Library (IYL) in Munich in 1949. (Oral history https://library.SDSU.edu/sites/default/files/NeumeyerTranscript.pdf). Lepman believed “books for children and young people are an indispensable part of the cultural life of a society,” and that they “build bridges to the world, bring cultures together, and counteract prejudice and resentment.” (https://www.ijb.de/en/about-us/70-years-iyl.html?noMobile=158) This aligns with contemporary scholars’ belief that picture books allow visual cultural expression that supports the development of cultural understanding (Buchanan & Fox 2019).
The library profession articulates a commitment to diverse children’s picture book collections calling for librarians who work with children’s books to “maintain a diverse collection that is inclusive of the needs of all children and their caregivers in the community and recognize children’s need to see and learn about people like and unlike themselves in the materials they access” (http://www.ala.org/alsc/edcareeers/alsccorecomps). Teacher education students use children’s picture book collections in curriculum materials centers in academic libraries. These centers are governed by the Guidelines for Curriculum Materials Centers (CMC) (2018) which state that collections must support “the institution's teacher education curriculum” and “include content for diverse populations and/or multilingual speakers when appropriate.” (http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/guidelinescurriculum) To further develop and diversify the picture book collection, the librarian collects picture books representing diverse communities, heritage and identity book award winners, and those works by authors who represent diverse groups. This includes titles out of the mainstream: books identified at international book fairs, picture books from the personal libraries of biliteracy education faculty, and special donor offerings.
 Jewish journalist Jela Lepman founded The International Youth Library (IYL) in 1949. For more information see https://www.ijb.de/en/about-us/the-international-youth-library. Lepman also helped establish the International Board on Books for Youth which has 80 national chapters to promote international understanding through children’s books. For more, see https://www.ijb.de/en/about-us/the-international-youth-library.
The collection consists of 3,500+ books acquired by Professor Neumeyer during his
time as a children's book reviewer with a nationally syndicated column. It spans the
publication of children’s books over the last fifty years and beyond, comprising books
sent to be reviewed, books from Professor Neumeyer's personal collection, as well as
research materials related to children's books. Many of the books have considerable
value as review copies, many of them prepublication, signed, inscribed, or enhanced by
their authors/artists. Gifted in 2013, this wonderful gift is a unique collection of resources
with tremendous research and historical value.
Mary Louise Olsen (1937-2014) was a children's literature librarian most of her life at
the Fullerton Unified School District. She was also for a time in the 1980s a professor of
Children's Literature @ CSU Fullerton. She authored at least two works on the teaching
of children's literature, which we have in our holdings.
Her collection consists of over 2,200 children’s books she amassed throughout her life.
More than not, books are signed by the author and/or illustrator and inscribed to Mary
Louise, often with a doodle or illustration by the artist. In addition to many pop-ups, the
collection includes framed art re: children's stories, in most cases signed by the
illustrator. It also includes Jim Shore children's story collectibles.
Edward Lear's nonsense works are well represented in the book collection, but Mary
Olsen also collected his illustrated ornithological works, which Lear was equally well-
known for. These are exceedingly valuable.