It has existed since 1911. Anne Carroll Moore, the great children’s librarian and head of children’s services, worked in it. Over the years its collection has helped researchers, children, educators, library students, and anyone interested in children’s literature and its history. It moved in the early 70s to a new location and has been incredibly popular ever since.
The Central Children’s Room is located at the heart of Midtown Manhattan and is best described as a hub. Currently on display are paintings by N.C. Wyeth from Robin Hood, items from P.L. Travers (the author of Mary Poppins), the real Winnie-the-Pooh toys, and more. Abundant computers are available for kids, alongside a huge circulating collection.
When I first started working for the Central Chidren’s Room I was intimidated, to say the least. We’re talking about what may well be the best children’s collection available free to the public. It contains everything from a Newbery Medal (for Trumpeter of Krakow) to numerous original pieces of art and design. Heck, I’d be working alongside original papercuts done by Hans Christian Andersen! I was just a dinky librarian, so doing my job with four other children’s literary professionals was ideal. With access to a huge foreign language children’s collection, a Teacher’s Collection, a Parenting Collection, and a clientele who knew what they liked and what they needed, it was great. Tourists would come in every day to see Winnie-the-Pooh and admire him. The location was brilliant because it was right smack dab in the center of everything. Subway lines surrounded it, as did publishers, and for businessmen and businesswomen on their lunch breaks, nothing was more convenient than hopping in the door to grab some books for their kids’ homework assignments.
At the end of May, the Donnell Library will close. As such, I would love to get whatever memories you readers have of using or entering the Central Children’s Room at the Donnell location for this blog. I’d like to set up a regular feature where people remember how important it has been in their lives. Did you attend an Ezra Jack Keats event there and enjoy it? Were you, like Chris Raschka, kicked out for wearing a black leather jacket? Did you find a rare Donald Barthelme picture book, a signed copy of The Giver, or a Rackham print you never knew existed?
Tell me what you loved about this library. I want the love of the Central Children’s Room to overfloweth as I wait to hear where we are going next. Feel free to e-mail me your stories at Fusenumber8 at gmail dot com. As they come in I will post them on this site. A collection this grand and wonderful deserves no less.