Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Philadelphia, Philadelphia County
Carolyn Wicker Field is one of the most honored librarians in Pennsylvania history.
Born in 1916, Carolyn Wicker Field was an important figure in the field of children’s literature for many years. She served as the coordinator of Work with Children at the Free Library in Philadelphia for more than 30 years and won many awards for her service to children’s literature. She also served as an editor and advisor for several reference books regarding the subject. After she retired, the Youth Services Division of the Pennsylvania Library Association created an award for Pennsylvania children’s authors and illustrators in her honor. Field passed away in 2010.
Carolyn Wicker Field was born in 1916. In the early 1950s, she was named to the coordinator of Work with Children at the Free Library in Philadelphia, a title she would hold for the next 30 years until her retirement in 1983. Aside from her career at the Free Library, she has also published several reference books. In 1967, she published Subject Collections in Children’s Literature. The book provides an extended listing of special collections of children’s literature throughout the United States. Then in 1987, she helped to write Values in Selected Children’s Books of Fiction and Fantasy along with Jacqueline Shachter Weiss. The book discusses more than 700 titles and their values for children from preschool to middle school aged. She also served as one of the editorial advisers for the book That’s Me! That’s You! That’s Us!A Bibliography of Multicultural Books for Children in 1993. She was honored with many awards for her career. In 1963, she won her first major award, the Scholastic Library Publishing Award, formerly known as the Grolier Award. This award is given to a children’s librarian who demonstrates outstanding achievement in their profession through “the stimulation and guidance of reading by children and young people” (Scholastic Library Publishing Award Recipients). In 1974, she was the recipient of a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania Award. This award is given to Pennsylvania women whose accomplishments have state or national importance. The women are nominated by state organizations and approved by the governor. Even after her retirement in 1983, Mrs. Field continued to garner various awards for her contribution to the Free Library’s children’s library. In 1984, she received the Drexel University/Free Library of Philadelphia Children’s Literature Citation, which is awarded yearly to Philadelphia area authors, illustrators, publishers, and the like. The recipients must have significant contributions to the area of children’s literature, especially in the Philadelphia area. She has also won two awards from library associations to which she belongs. The association for Library Service to Children honored her in 1994 with their Distinguished Service Award. This award is given to a member of the association who has made an important impact on library services for children or to the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). In 1996, the Catholic Library Association awarded her the first annual Mary A. Grant award for her outstanding volunteer service to the organization. Arguably, the greatest honor she received, however, was not an award that she won, but one that was named for her. Shortly after her retirement, the Youth Services Division of the Pennsylvania Library Association named an award in her honor. The Carolyn W. Field award is given annually to a Pennsylvania children’s author or illustrator of the book that is voted the best of the year by a committee of Public Library Association members. Also named for Carolyn W. Field is a collection of children’s books in the Montgomery County-Norristown Public Library. The collection includes some of her favorite children’s books and books about children’s literature, many of these books have also been signed by the authors. Carolyn Wicker Field died from congestive heart failure at the Cathedral Village retirement facility in the Roxborough neighborhood of Philadelphia on July 24, 2010.
Values in Selected Children’s Books of Fiction and Fantasy. (with Jaqueline Shachter Weiss) Hamden, CT: Library Professional Publications, 1987.
Subject Collections in Children’s Literature. New York: R.R. Bowker, 1969.