For three years, the Racine Public Library has been trying to collect all of the Little Golden Books, but they were still missing 420 books until six weeks ago.
Chris Terry, a resident, said his wife, Angela, came home from the library and told him about the incomplete collection. Surprised, the couple has been working to change that – one Little Golden Book at a time.
Little Golden Books were published in Racine by the Western Publishing Company until 2001 when Random House purchased the rights to the books.
Chris and Angela Terry have donated 100 books from their own personal collection, scoured garage sales and auction websites, and one of Chris’ co-workers even found some at an antique shop in Kenosha. Now, of the almost 1,110 Little Golden Books printed, they are only missing 180 of them and they’ve also collected duplicate copies – one set that can be circulated and another that can be put on display.
“I loved reading these books as a kid and I love knowing the history of these books,” he said. “I’m friends with Jessica MacPhail, the director of the library, and we set the goal that we we’re going to finish getting the rest of the books and putting together a display.”
Darcy Mohr, head of adult and youth services at the Racine Public Library, said as she has helped build the collection she has become aware of the emotional ties people have to the books.
“These were unique books because they were printed at a time when children didn’t own books,” Mohr said. “These were inexpensive children’s books that someone could by for 23 cents.”
Terry said that with the help of a $1,000 grant from the Rotary Club of Racine, he’s been able to help round out the collection. The reason for doing the project is two-fold, introduce the next generation of readers to the books and preserve the Little Golden Books legacy.
“So many people have been affected by the work here and the books aren’t on display yet, they are behind closed doors,” Terry said. “I told them I didn’t think that was a good idea.”
So once the collection is complete, the books that aren’t put on the library shelves will be put in a display case using money left to the library from a patron who passed away. When the library received the $2,000, there were restrictions on how the money could be used and officials with the library decided that it could be used to make a custom bookshelf to house the Golden Books. The bookshelf will have a glass covering with pictures of the characters from the back of the book etched in the glass.
Terry said he’s been working with Random House and Disney, who own the rights to the characters on the back of the books, to use the likeness of the characters in the etching.
He’s also been applying for other grants and he’s working with officials from the Racine Civic Center, who said they would donate $1 for each ticket from their six children’s shows.
“I had been buying up books that were $1, $2, and $3, but now the ones I still have to buy are $30,” Terry said. “We also ran into some unexpected costs like buying plastic sleeve covers for the books and the cost to catalogue them.”
The library has a list of books they are still missing on their website.
If you have any of the Golden Books published in Racine that will help complete the collection that you’d like to donate or you’d like to donate cash, please call the Racine Public Library at (262) 636-9217 or email Chris Terry at firstname.lastname@example.org.