Wednesday 5 November 2008

The Children’s Collection at Manchester Metropolitan University

The Children’s Collection at Manchester Metropolitan University
I spent a fascinating time viewing this collection this afternoon. It is a very random collection and therefore leaves researchers to make up their own minds. There are modern books and books going back to the nineteenth century. There are collections of magazines for children. I was intrigued to see copies of the encyclopaedias that were my father’s and we have only just, sadly, disposed of. I was also intrigued to find a copy in paperback of a book I own in hardback. It was a Sunday School prize for my grandfather.
There is this strange relationship between trade books and education. Books are sold and produced along commercial principles. Yet they have an educational use, and that is part of their commercial value. Does that all come from the time that books had those two very specific educational purposes – to teach children how to read and also to teach them morals?
It’s also interesting to reflect how over time the child was invented, then the teenager, and now the young adult. Will there be something else?
There are some gaps in the collection. No Enid Blyton. Most of the collection middle class, or at least very moral. The collection is continued by picking just books that have got awards. That worries me. I know I too tend to read the books which have got awards or good reviews. But what of those that are not even reviewed? Thank goodness for Amazon, that great equaliser. I don’t know how it communicates with this collection.
Nevertheless, a fascinating place to browse.
It’s just a five minute ride form here, at Salford University to Oxford Road and a five minute walk at either end. I met my equivalent over there, Sherry Ashworth. We had lunch together in The Eighth Day Café. Fabulous food. Good company. And yet it’s great to get back to Salford which seems quiet after the bustle of Oxford Road.