I often think of our Patten Free Library Children’s Room as every child’s living room. It’s a constant comfort, in a happy home, a place to safely snuggle down on comfy chairs. Walls of bountiful books surround children and take them to all the wonders within the world of fiction and facts of non-fiction.
There was a time when people thought that children should be seen and not heard. The idea that children have their own space in a public library was thought of as absurd. Fortunately, a sympathetically smart librarian from Limerick, Maine, Anne Carroll Moore, believed to be America’s first public library children’s librarian, heading the children’s library services for the New York Public Library, during the first half of the 20th Century, thought differently. She not only transformed public library spaces for children, but shaped children’s literature, as well, having been one of two runners-up for the 1925 Newbery Medal for Nicholas, A Manhattan Christmas Story. This amazing Mainer was not only a librarian, a writer, book reviewer and lecturer but a very good friend of E. B. White, author of Charlotte’s Web. (For older readers, here’s a fascinating article you may like that I read from the New Yorker back in 2008 about Miss Moore and Mr. White, The Lion and the Mouse: The Battle That Reshaped Children’s Literature by Jill Lepore).
I just finished reading an inspiring new children’s book about Miss Moore that I know you will love called Miss Moore Though Otherwise: How Anne Carroll Moore Created Libraries for Children wonderfully written by Jan Pinborough and beautifully illustrated by Debby Atwell. I discovered that Miss Moore, library heroine and children’s advocate, developed a set of standards that she called “The Four Respects”. Here’s what what she had to say:
1. Respect for children. She wanted children to be treated as individuals and to be treated seriously.
2. Respect for children’s books. Moore was adamant that books for children should be well-written, factually accurate and should not mix fact and fantasy.
3. Respect for fellow workers. She insisted that the children’s library be viewed as an integral and equal part of the complete library.
4. Respect for the professional standing of children’s librarians. Moore felt that the profession must recognize children’s librarianship as a professional specialty.
Miss Moore and I share the same children’s room vision “a bright, warm room filled with artwork, window seats, and, most important of all, borrowing privileges to the world’s best children’s books in many different languages.” I think she would be very pleased with our little book room!