A ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony took place for the University of Montevallo’s new Pat Scales Special Collections Room during the annual Founders’ Day activities on Oct. 12.
The room, located on the second floor in UM’s Carmichael Library, is named in honor of 1966 alumna Pat Scales, children’s literature expert, librarian and advocate.
“I saw plans along the way, but seeing it today makes it more spectacular. I just hope people will use it. I want it to make Montevallo a center for the study of children’s literature,” Scales says of seeing the room come to fruition.
This extensive collection includes more than 3,000 items donated by Scales, including first edition Caldecott and Newbery Medal-winning books, children’s and young adult literature of historical significance, pop-up books, intellectual freedom papers, correspondence and memorabilia.
“We are very appreciative of the contributions Pat Scales has made, not only to Carmichael Library, but also to the library profession. For many years, she has defended the rights of children to read, seek information and express themselves. The Special Collections Room — which includes award-winning books, banned and challenged books, and books from many different time periods — reflects Pat’s interests in a wide range of literature for children and young adult. We are honored to have this collection in our library,” says Dr. Charlotte Ford, director of Carmichael Library at the University.
During the dedication ceremony, guest speaker Ellen H. Ruffin, with the University of Southern Mississippi Libraries discussed Scales’ dedication to children’s literature and the vastness of the unique collection. Remarks were also given by Dr. Ford; Dr. John W. Stewart III, UM president; Dr. James McDonald, UM provost and vice president for academic affairs; and Carey Heatherly, UM archivist and special collections librarian.
The ceremony also included Scales’ nieces and nephew reading passages from their favorite children’s books. Before reading a passage, each commented on the impact Scales had on his or her love of books. Other special guests included Jamie Naidoo, president-elect of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC); Steven Yates, president of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) and Aimee Strittmatter, executive director of the Association for Library Service to Children.
Following the dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting, attendees had the opportunity to peruse the collection, check out the new space and enjoy a reception.
During the reception, Yates and Naidoo explained how students across the state would utilize the collection, examining children’s literature over the years — not only literature students, but also those studying art, education and history.
“It’s a boon for the state of Alabama, especially the signed, first edition books,” Naidoo says.
Beyond the books, Scales’ contribution of publishing-oriented correspondence, which will be digitized by Carmichael Library, makes the collection even more unique. The correspondence demonstrates Scales’ personal connection with writers, illustrators and publishers.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity of learning for students to see the writing processes behind the scenes. It’s a one-of-a-kind collection,” Yates says.
Naidoo agrees, saying, “It offers Alabamians interested in children’s literature a better understanding of the publishing world.”
“The collection’s lens on intellectual freedom and the documentation of fighting for these freedoms will be powerful. It’s a treasure for students,” adds Strittmatter. “Pat has been such an advocate for children’s literature and library service for youth. The collection showcases this.”
The special guests and Carmichael Library faculty agree that the University of Montevallo is fortunate to receive such an immense collection from Scales. “Her commitment to Montevallo is to be envied,” Yates says.
“The Pat Scales Special Collections Room is the result of countless hours of work, financial generosity, and material donations. It is a resource that will only continue to grow and enrich the lives of our students, numerous academic fields and inform intellectual freedom and First Amendment causes. However, none of it would be possible without Pat Scales and her remarkable career. I am proud to say that I do not consider her a donor, but rather a friend who chose to continue sharing her knowledge to the world through the University of Montevallo,” Heatherly says.
ABOUT PAT SCALES
Pat Scales is a retired middle school and high school librarian whose work has been featured in countless professional journals and on television. Scales is nationally recognized as an advocate of children’s and young adult literature and intellectual freedom.
She has served for many years on the prestigious Newbery, Caldecott and Wilder Award Committees and has served as president of the Association of Library Service for Children, a division of the American Library Association.
She has been recognized with numerous national awards, including the 1983 AASL/SIRS Intellectual Freedom Award, the 2002 ALA Movers & Shakers award and the 2016 ALSC Distinguished Service Award.
Scales is an accomplished author whose works include “Teaching Banned Books: Twelve Guides for Young Readers,” “Books Under Fire: A Hit List of Banned and Challenged Children’s Books” and most recently, “Encourage Reading from the Start: Essays, Articles, and Interviews from the Field.” She is a columnist for School Library Journal and for the Random House website, and is a regular contributor to Book Links magazine.
During her lifetime, Scales has amassed a large collection of specialized children’s and young adult books and has donated a large number of these books to her alma mater, the University of Montevallo.
Her generous donations form the core of Carmichael Library’s circulating collection of youth books, which is used extensively by education majors, as well as the Pat Scales Special Collections, which houses a research collection of children’s and young adult literature and related materials. Over the years, Scales has donated more than 8,000 items to Carmichael Library, including books, memorabilia, correspondence, recordings and other materials.