Join us in committing to the Kerlan Collection of the future

Karin Nelson Hoyle and Lisa Von Drasek in the Goodnight Moon room

Former and current Kerlan curators Karen Nelson Hoyle and Lisa Von Drasek in the Goodnight Moon room during at the opening reception for “The ABC of It” exhibition.

The Kerlan Collection is an internationally recognized children’s literature library and archive that from its beginnings has benefited from outstanding curators.

To keep the Kerlan at the forefront of children’s literature archives worldwide, a visionary curator with access to expanded resources must step into this leadership role prepared to take the collection to the next level. A $2 million endowed chair will ensure top caliber talent will be recruited to fill the curatorship well into the future.

The holder of this endowed chair will lead in the development of best practices that are critical to the Kerlan’s continued service, prominence, and importance:

  • Creative collecting and preserving of materials
  • Accessibility for the rest of the 21st century
  • Growing its reach and global reputation

Join children’s literature authors Kate DiCamillo, Andrea Davis Pinkney, and Jon Scieszka in committing to the Kerlan Collection of the future.

Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo

“The Kerlan is exceptional because of the astonishing depth and breadth of its components, and because those components (rough drafts, original art, doodles, ideas and outlines, editorial letters, and so on) are available for anyone interested to study and admire and gain inspiration and insight from.”

—Kate DiCamillo, Newbery-winning author of “The Tale of Despereaux”

Creative collecting

A creative approach to collecting was established by founder Dr. Irvin Kerlan. Originally a book collector, he moved beyond the published books and wrote to illustrators and authors requesting their drafts and other background materials. They replied generously and often included selected correspondence with editors and children.

An eagerness to examine the roots of children’s literature also animated former curator Karen Nelson Hoyle, Ph.D., and the current curator Lisa Von Drasek. Moreover, the openness of the Kerlan to users has influenced creators to contribute to the collection. Actor and author Jamie Lee Curtis chose to donate because she knew her materials would be available for teaching.

Looking ahead, the curator of the Kerlan must continue to build this outstanding collection and to preserve it for the future.

Jon Scieszka By Marty Umans

Jon Scieszka
By Marty Umans

“Any collection, of arts or letters or sculpture or garden gnomes, is only as good as its curator. The curator has the dual responsibilities of knowing the collection and making the collection available to the people who can best use it. With museums and libraries around the world opening their collections to much more digital access, the Kerlan Collection needs an especially spectacular curator to take us into the Open Access 21st Century.”

—Jon Scieszka, author of “The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales”


The Kerlan Collection is at the forefront of sharing archival materials and engaging everyone — students, teachers, librarians, and scholars — with digital and physical content. Moreover, “it is the only university collection of children’s literature and children’s book illustrations to offer such thoughtful and thorough access to its collection,” says illustrator Barbara McClintock. Promoting accessibility in another way, during the pandemic, Von Drasek launched #Operation Read Aloud on Facebook for teachers, students, and parents.

Ensuring and improving accessibility for a variety of users in digital and physical formats calls for a curator who is

Andrea Davis Pinkney

Andrea Davis Pinkney

“The books our kids read today — and their understanding of how those books are created — have the power to inform and ignite the thought leaders of tomorrow. The endowed chair’s role will be essential in making the connection between children’s literature and its impact. Illuminating the work of children’s book authors and illustrators has a direct effect on the world’s future. The endowed chair will be an important cultivator of children’s literature’s destiny.”

— Andrea Pinkney, award-winning author of books for children and young adults, including “Sit-in: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down.”

Growing its global reputation

The Kerlan collection lends materials to exhibits around the world. The Kerlan Collection is a gem in the University Libraries worthy of further polishing. With resources from an endowed chair, future leadership can raise the profile of the collection even higher.

Ensure the future leadership of this vibrant collection — give to the Kerlan Collection Endowed Chair.

Support the Kerlan Collection

Support the collection in perpetuity with a gift to the Kerlan Collection Endowment Fund.

Give online

Give by mail

Checks can be made out to:

Kerlan Collection Endowment /
UMF Fund #24053

Mailing Address:
University of Minnesota Foundation
P.O. Box 860266
Minneapolis, MN 55486-0266


Please contact Heather Beaton, Chief Development Officer, at or 952-292-6747.