“I believe that young adult literature saves lives, and I am living proof of that.”
~USF Professor Joan Kaywell
USF Professor of Secondary Education Joan Kaywell knows what a powerful life raft young adult books can be for teens and tweens in emotional turmoil. She credits the genre for rescuing her from a troubled childhood by channeling her desire for escape into a form of emotional therapy and, ultimately, a productive and prestigious career.
Kaywell, a leading expert on young adult literature and the founder of the USF Libraries Hipple Collection of Young Adult Literature, began the Hipple Collection in 2007 with a gift of 333 books, most of them first-editions signed by their authors. She had collected the books over decades for her now-adult sons.
Many young adults find solace, companionship, and self-acceptance through these books, but the books often have a short life cycle since they usually only have one print run. Professor Kaywell wanted to create a place where this literature could be collected and preserved for ongoing use and research. In creating the Hipple Collection within USF Libraries Special Collections, she was able to pay tribute to her mentor and role model Ted Hipple, who devoted much of his career and life to young adult literature.
Since its founding, the Hipple Collection has grown to include well over 2,000 autographed volumes and original author manuscripts, thanks to donations from Kaywell and her sons, the Assembly for Literature on Adolescents (ALAN), authors, and recent funding from donor Dore Beach, the Disney Book Group, and other donors, to support the Children’s and Young Adult Literature Collection Fund. Titles range from the iconic works of Judy Blume and S.E. Hinton to the typescript for 19-year-old Isamu Fukui’s latest novel. The collection is used largely by those who simply want to read these books, but also for research purposes. USF senior Courtney Pollard used many of these titles in a research project comparing characteristics of popular (think “Twilight” and the “Harry Potter” series) with more critically acclaimed young adult literature (listen to the WUSF story here). In addition, Professor Kaywell works with secondary school teachers in an effort to connect teens to the literature that can prove so valuable to them.
Beyond its research, reading, and teaching value, the Hipple Collection serves as a definitive archive of young adult literature for future generations of readers and scholars. As author Edward Bloor notes, “The Hipple Collection has quickly established itself as the east coast’s top repository for young adult lit. They have editions of my books that even I don’t have!” Young adult literature author Greg Neri sums it up: “As far as I’m concerned, the Hipple Collection is the most comprehensive collection of signed first editions and original manuscripts of American teen fiction in the U.S. I’m proud to have my archives housed there.”