Awards & Scholarships

Becoming a Bechtel Fellow Changed My Professional Life…

This is day two of tales from Bechtel Fellowship. The Bechtel Fellowship, endowed in memory of Louise Seaman Bechtel and Ruth M. Baldwin, provides a $4,000 grant to a qualified children’s librarian to spend a total of four weeks or more reading and studying at the Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature of the George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville. The Baldwin Library contains a special collection of 130,000 volumes of children’s literature published mostly before 1950. And here are two more remininsces of Bechtel fellows from their days in sunny Gainesville, Florida…

Christina Dorr, 2010 Fellow

christina-dorr-imageWow, what an experience!  Becoming a Bechtel Fellow changed by professional life. My topic was titled “Searching for She-roes: A Study of Historic Children’s Biographies of Women.” As a child of generational poverty during the 1960s-1970s in northern NYS, I was always searching for role models. And I found them in my teachers and in biographies. My love of the genre has continued into adulthood, and I try at every point to interest children in the books. I began a study of the historical aspect of biographies during Ph.D. study at the Ohio State University and was privileged enough to be able to continue at the University of Florida in Gainesville. The collection is amazing, having resources for every topic of interest and study.  I’ve published an article on the topic in Children and Libraries, and used the experience to bolster co-writing and publishing a book through Libraries Unlimited. It came out 12/15 and is titled Linking Picture Book Biographies with National Content Standards: 200+ Lives to Explore.  I plan to continue my work on the topic into the future.

The Baldwin Library collection is deep, varied and of great quality. No matter what subject you’d like to pursue, they will have the collection to match it.  It will be an experience you will always treasure.

Sharon Deeds, 2005 Bechtel Fellow

sharon-deeds-imageAs a Youth Services librarian, I know the importance of using nursery rhymes as an invaluable tool to use in early literacy practices. Mother Goose rhymes are familiar, comforting and amusing for children and adults alike. I wanted to not only learn about the history, but the social context as well. Although nursery rhymes can be found in every culture, I focused on the English and American books in the Baldwin collection. One of the first books I requested was a facsimile of Mother Goose’s Melody; Or Sonnets for the Cradle in Two Parts from the 1794 printing. The research was fun and exciting! Time passed quickly and I was sad to leave all the books I fell in love with behind to return to the real world. I still refer to my notes taken back in 2006. They are as relevant and useful today as they were ten years ago. Mother Goose is alive and well in the 21st century. Needless to say, it was an honor to be awarded the fellowship.

You too can apply to be a Bechtel! Please review the guidelines here: Applicants must be members of ALSC. Applications and supporting materials are due by November 1, 2016. See a list of past Bechtel Fellowship winners here:

Questions? Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at

Rachel Payne
Chair, Special Collections and Bechtel Fellowship Committee

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