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The Spring Festival of Children's Literature was founded by Patricia Hancock, Thomas Palardy, and William Bingman to honor R. Margaret Hamilton and Betty Roemmelmyer upon their retirement from Frostburg State College, after more than thirty years of service. After a one year hiatus, the Spring Festival, under the direction of Dr. William S. Bingman, continued to grow and develop into an established event featuring presentations by nationally known authors, illustrators, poets, and storytellers. In addition, participants have had the opportunity to experience informative small group sessions on a wide range of related topics. From the outset, enrollment for the Festival has been carefully monitored to ensure quality for the visiting authors, illustrators, and participants.
In 1985, buoyed by the success of the Spring Festival, the Centre's staff recognized the region's need for continuous accessibility to quality literature and established The Fall and Spring Author Series to address that need. This evening lecture series, co-sponsored by The Frostburg State Library and Educational Professions Department, has continued to provide community exposure to the literary works of prominent authors. In addition, area schools, through affiliation with the program, are given the opportunity to introduce real-life authors to their students through scheduled presentations.
Building on the success of the Festival and Author Series, the staff began to explore and formulate plans for The Center for the Study and Dissemination of Children's Literature, which gained University recognition in 1989. Since the Center's inception, other programs have been created. The Summer Author Institute has been developed as a mechanism to reach classroom teachers and children's literature advocates. It is designed to spark an interest in children's authors and illustrators and to show the relationship between their works and the development of literacy. Now in its sixth year, this one week celebration offers an intense study of respected authors and their literary works, and provides the personal contact often lacking in a more formal setting. In addition, evening presentations by the participating authors allow for further regional involvement. In 1996, our name became The Children's Literature Centre at Frostburg State University, which now serves as the umbrella under which each of the aforementioned events functions and future endeavors may flourish.
As the Centre evolves and additional funds become available, past successes will support the establishment of new ventures and give credibility to its expanded mission, which is to meet the literacy needs of our region.