Dublin for Children's Literature
All of the books were collected over a period of more than fifty years by the former Keeper of Early Printed Books, Mary 'Paul' Pollard and bequeathed by her to the Library. The older books in the collection include heroic stories, Latin classics, fables and hymn books, while the later 18th and early 19th century volumes reflect contemporary changes in attitude towards reading matter for children, with moral tales, books of instructional poetry and chapbooks to the fore, while books of fairy tales, nursery rhymes and picture books appear in increasing numbers over the course of the 19th century. There are many schoolbooks from that century and earlier included in the books collected by Pollard, particularly Irish ones, providing an overview of the change in the organisation of education in Ireland as a system of national education was introduced. Most of the schoolbooks form part of the Pollard Schoolbook Collection, purchased by the Library several years before the main collection of children's books arrived on our shelves.
The Pollard Collection of Children's Books is the largest collection of its kind in the Library of Trinity College but it is not the only one. In addition, the Library holds a collection of over five hundred 19th-century chapbooks for children printed in England, formerly owned by the Hon. Mrs. Susan Dipple, as well as several smaller collections. In the years following the arrival of the Pollard Collection in 2005, up to 1,000 children's books were purchased to complement the books collected by Pollard.
Children's literature is a remarkable field for study as it reflects the concerns and attitudes of society and their impact on the development of culture and values. It also allows researchers to address multi-disciplinary research questions on topics such as gender, class, politics, education, power and imperialism. The texts are a tool for research while the readers, writers, illustrators and publishers of children's literature may also be a focus for study. It is fitting that children's literature holds an important place in the Library of Trinity College, located in a UNESCO City of Literature where literary heritage and culture are nurtured. Digitisation of the collections of children's books will open up wonderful new research and learning opportunities for a national and global audience.