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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Collection of children’s books gets makeover

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Shane Bekian
Shane Bekian / The Daily Wildcat Artist Dave Christiana paints a layer of varnish on his mural at the grand reopening of the College of Education Library on Tuesday. Christiana is a professor of Illustration at the UA School of Art.

On the fourth floor of the Education building, one of the world’s largest collections of children’s books is getting a makeover.

Under renovation since August, the Worlds of Words International Collection of Children’s and Adolescent Literature has expanded its physical space in addition to new furnishings, studios and various donations from private donors and previous alumni.

Dean of the College of Education Ronald Marx said that the world’s second-largest collection of children’s literature, a remarkable resource, was in shabby quarters.

“We thought that it was important to create a physical space that would match the quality of that resource,” Marx said.

Kathy Short, a professor in the College of Education and program director of WOW, said this special collection is the only one of its kind in the U.S. that focuses on global international children’s and adolescent literature.

“We needed a secure space that reflected [the] beauty and the richness of the collection,” Short said, “as well the different kind of purposes, such as extended interaction and activity that also focused more around authors and illustrators.”

On the north side of the building, two window panels have been added with watercolor illustrations painted by David Christiana, a professor of illustration at the School of Art.

“I hope people feel really good about it, this facility will … impact a lot of people, students and scholars,” Christiana said. “Anyone that visits, I think can really get inspired by it.”

Christiana has also been finishing up a mural piece at the entrance of the WOW, a project he’s been working on for three weeks.

“The fun of it is that I think it should be open to interpretation,” Christiana said. “There are creatures that could be a mouse, they could be a dog, a rat or they could be just some incarnation that anyone can dream up.”

A collection of more than 30,000 books resides in WOW, including a donation by Mary J. Wong, a UA alumna and a librarian from Glendale, Ariz.

“It is important for the public to understand that these kinds of resources … are increasingly the result of private philanthropy and our donors have made this possible,” Marx said.

Wong has donated a private collection of more than 1,000 signed first-edition books, as well as more than 100 pieces of art and illustrations from picture books.

Short said WOW is meant to be a celebration of story and the role it plays in the lives of not only children, but adults as well.

“It’s an educational, cultural treasure,” Marx said.

Unique for its flexibility, amenities and resources, the WOW is meant to reach not only university students, but also international scholars and children in a beautiful place.

“We’re hoping that we’re a way that the community can constantly connect with the university,” Short said, “and … for scholars from all over the world that look at the university as a place of unique scholarly activity.”

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