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About the School (S-) Collection

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Introduction and History

The School (S-) Collection at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was created in 1941 with an initial collection of approximately 3,000 titles. In 1993, the S-Collection acquired an uncatalogued collection of 58,000 children’s books from the Center for Research Libraries (CRL), which were subsequently added to the collection. From 1980 to 2012, the collection was housed in Room 106 of the Main Library as part of the Education and Social Science Library (ESSL). From 2012 to 2022, the collection was housed in Room 112 of the Main Library when the Education and Social Science Library merged with other libraries to form the Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library (SSHEL). In 2022, the collection was moved to Room 123 of the Main Library as part of a consolidation of SSHEL collections.

Currently, the S-Collection consists of over 192,000 cataloged volumes of children’s and young adult literature. The S-Collection is one of the most comprehensive collections of children’s literature in the nation, second only to the Library of Congress.

Location and Organization

The most current and most frequently used materials are located in Room 123 of the Main Library in the Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library (SSHEL). To get to the S-Collection, after entering SSHEL (Room 101, Main Library), walk to the back of the room and turn right and walk through the doorway.

All books in the S-Collection have an S in their call number.

  • Reference materials are located at the back of Room 101
  • SE. – picture books and easy readers; located at the back of Room 101 and the front of Room 123
  • S.letter – longer fiction; located after picture books in Room 123
  • S.# – non-fiction; located after the children’s fiction materials
  • SB.letter of subject’s last name – biography; located after children’s non-fiction
  • Journals and award winning books – are located at the back of Room 101 with the Reference materials

Due to the size of the collection, approximately two-thirds of the materials are located in SSHEL’s remote storage location and is listed in the Library Catalog as “SSHEL – Oak St Facility (request only)”. The Oak Street Facility is located west of central campus. To obtain materials from Oak Street, you need to request them online by choosing the “Request” link under the “Get It” heading of an item’s catalog entry. These books are usually available in 2-4 days. You will receive an email notifying you when your books are ready for pickup at SSHEL. The Library Catalog will indicate the location of items.

Circulation Policies

Most materials in the S-Collection circulate for two weeks. Exceptions include the reference collection, which is non-circulating, and the S-Collection journals, which circulate for 2 hours for students and 24 hours for faculty.

Collection Development Guidelines

The S-Collection is a predominantly English language collection of books and other print materials. While some audiocassettes can be found in the S-Collection, no videotapes are collected. Both the Champaign Public Library and Urbana Free Library have extensive children’s video collections available for circulation.

The works of a select list of children’s authors and illustrators are collected comprehensively. To be included in this list, authors and illustrators are evaluated on the strength of their work as a whole as indicated by the awards they have received. Higher emphasis is placed on scholarly awards such as the Caldecott, the Newbery, or awards for the entire body of the author or illustrator’s work. However, some consideration is also given to awards within a specific genre, like science fiction, or awards from parents and children’s choice groups. For more information on awards, visit the Database of Award-Winning Children’s Literature, which maintains links to listings of most major children’s literature awards.

The S-Collection includes fiction and non-fiction materials in:

  • children’s classics
  • beginning-to-read books
  • picture books and wordless picture books
  • folk literature and mythology
  • biography

Special highlights of the collection include:

The non-circulating copies of the Newbery and Caldecott winners are the most heavily used S-Collection Reference items. The reference section also contains indexes, bibliographies, encyclopedias, biographical works, and critical analysis of children’s authors and illustrators. Standard works such as Children’s Book Review Index and Something about the Author are supplemented by specialized bibliographies, which highlight topics in children’s literature from countries and cultures around the world. A selection of current reviewing journals and children’s educational magazines helps to keep the S-Collection and its reference section up-to-date.

For more information about the types of materials and resources purchased for the S-Collection, see the Instructional Materials Collection Description and Guidelines.

S-Collection Journals

There are three different types of journals located in the S-Collection:

  • Children’s Magazines: These titles are written for children in magazine format and include, among others, Skipping StonesFaces, and New Moon. The selection is limited and the public libraries offer far greater variety of this sort of item.
  • Review Journals: These journals include reviews of children’s and young adult literature and prove a useful resource when gathering information on a particular title. Review journals include The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books and Horn Book Magazine.
  • Scholarly Journals: These journals feature critical articles about children’s literature. Some titles are The Lion and the Unicorn and Children’s Literature Association Quarterly. Additional articles about literature may be found in journals in the education periodicals section, such as Language Arts and Reading Teacher.

Also see the S-Collection’s Electronic & Print Journals Guide.

Other Locations

While the S-Collection is the largest and most accessible collection of children’s literature on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus, there are several other places where users may find useful materials. The location of any particular item will always be noted in the Library Catalog so that the user knows where to find the needed books.

  • The Rare Book & Manuscript Library, located in room 346 of the Main Library, maintains an additional collection of historical children’s literature and instructional materials, dating back to the sixteenth century. For preservation purposes, collections of pop-up books and books with moveable parts are also maintained here. Access to the rare book collection is available during regular business hours, 8:30am – 5:00pm, Monday – Friday.
  • The Center for Children’s Books (CCB), which moved from the University of Chicago in 1993, is committed to promoting quality literature for youth in the school and public library, in the classroom, and at home. The CCB is an invaluable resource for locating children’s literature materials on campus. The Center’s non-circulating collection of more than 14,000 trade books for children is currently closed. Most of the books in the CCB’s Collection have been reviewed in their affiliate publication, The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. Most of the older books will be transferred to the S-Collection by 2028.
  • The Curriculum Collection, within SSHEL, serves as a companion to the S-Collection. This historical collection, which dates back to the early 1800’s, consists of textbooks, basal readers, curriculum guides, audiovisual materials, kits, assessments, and other instructional items that pertain to elementary and secondary education. Students and researchers may also consult the file of current catalogs from textbook publishers, educational equipment manufacturers, audiovisual vendors and software producers.
  • The University Laboratory High School Library is part of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library system and houses a number of works of young adult literature along with graphic novels and periodicals. These books can be requested through the Library Catalog.
  • Juvenile literature related to Abraham Lincoln or the State of Illinois can also be found in the Illinois History and Lincoln Collection (324 Main Library).