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The Nye Collection, located in the reference section of the Children's Room, is a visual feast of beautifully illustrated children's books. It is a collection of all the Caldecott Medal Winners, from the award's inception in 1938, to the present. The annual award, given by American Library Association, recognizes "the most distinguished American picture book for children," and was named in honor of the nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott.

The award originated due to concerns that children's book illustrators were not given the same recognition as children's book authors, though they were equally as deserving of honor and encouragement. Even with the briefest perusal of this collection, it is obvious that the proponents of this award knew where credit was due. You don't have to be a connoisseur of children's books to appreciate this collection. Anyone interested in design, the history of illustration, or just in need of a break from the real world can lose himself or herself in this fascinating retrospective.

The Nye Collection is for use in the Library, but circulating copies of many of these award winners are available for checkout.

The collection takes its name from a person who could easily be a character in a children's book. Sybil Nye reigned as Mill Valley City Librarian from 1917-1937, and led a double life. She ran a private school five mornings each week and kept the Library open from 2:00-9:00 pm six days a week. She was described as "testy and disorganized," and was dismissed from her job amidst charges of neglect, disorganization, and improper service to the public.

Like many great stories, there is another side. Nye had her staunch supporters, many of whom backed her at a raucous City Hall meeting in 1938, and spoke of "her good points and fine work." She was much admired by members of the Golden Gate Story League who wrote to the City Librarian shortly after her death in 1958 saying: "It is our wish to establish some kind of permanent memorial . . . perhaps a shelf of books for children dedicated to Sybil Nye . . . She was a member of long standing in our Storytelling League - a beloved and cherished member."

The description of Sybil Nye was compiled from information found in the Lucretia Little History Room.
Last updated: 1/3/2008 4:29:11 PM