Trinity Academic Awarded Major Children’s Literature Research Grant

Posted on: 12 December 2013

Dr Pádraic Whyte, Assistant Professor in English, Trinity College Dublin, has received funding to develop a National Collection of Children’s Books database and help establish Dublin as a world centre of children’s literature research.

Dr Whyte and his colleague Dr Keith O’Sullivan, Church of Ireland College of Education, have been awarded a major Irish Research Council grant of over €350,000 to develop the children’s book project. This interdisciplinary and inter-institutional project will also involve the examination of children’s book collections in the city of Dublin. Over a period of two years, a team of researchers will document children’s book collections held in several Irish institutions including Trinity College, the National Library of Ireland, the Church of Ireland College of Education, St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra and Pearse Street Library.

The project will provide a comprehensive catalogue of children’s books in Dublin, consolidating the many varied and disparate collections found in the five libraries in Dublin. It will highlight the potential of each collection for the development of research, primarily in the disciplines of literary studies and education studies. The national collection database will provide a solid foundation from which scholars, both Irish and international, may conduct advanced research in children’s literature.

Speaking about the significance of the project, Dr Whyte commented: “This is a really exciting time for the study of children’s literature in Ireland. We have an MPhil programme in Children’s Literature at the School of English, we have over 10,000 children’s books in The Pollard Collection of Children’s Books at Trinity Library, and now we have this project to create the National Collection of Children’s Books. The award from the Irish Research Council is a real endorsement of the importance of research in this area. It’s also a recognition that we as a nation must value and promote our literary heritage as well as our fantastic library holdings and resources. I have no doubt that this project will attract scholars from all over Ireland and the world to research children’s literature in Dublin.”

The collaborative venture will provide scholars and students of children’s literature, childhood studies, and education with an online resource detailing bibliographical, copy-specific information about key texts in the city’s collections. At present, no central resource exists for research in children’s books in Ireland. This project will gather and consolidate information from a range of catalogues and listings, allow researchers to search all collections simultaneously, provide overviews of the research potential of each collection, and present detailed accounts of and digital images from significant children’s texts.

Dr O’Sullivan, from the Church of Ireland College of Education, an associate college of Trinity, added: “The dissemination of information through a book, an online open-access resource, and a public exhibition ensures that the wider public can also access findings from the project. Public bodies that will have a particular interest in the research findings include Children’s Books Ireland, the International Board on Books for Young People (Ireland), the Reading Association of Ireland, and Dublin UNESCO City of Literature.”

This project, which will be based at the School of English and is supported by the Trinity Long Room Hub, will contribute to the development of the current strong Irish profile in children’s literature research by providing a resource for taught modules and independent research. It also has the potential to inform the development of research and teaching in Trinity, Church of Ireland College of Education and other institutions at undergraduate, masters, doctoral, and postdoctoral levels, particularly in areas such as children’s literature, education, childhood studies, cultural studies, library studies, gender studies, history, and art.