A former Anderson University student, Elizabeth Harp York, began her children's book collection by purchasing first editions of books featuring the works of 18th - 19th century illustrators such as Randolph Caldecott and Edmund Dulac. The search for other classics led her to Beatrix Potter, A.A. Milne, James Barry, and Rudyard Kipling. Then she came upon Robert Louis Stevenson and many more. York broadened her range of collections over the years until she had 200 to 250 Mother Goose, ABC, 123 books; 350 pop-up books; and 250 to 300 Christmas books. She also collected early primers, chapbooks, and books by more contemporary children's book authors and illustrators.
It was Elizabeth's dream to share these books with Anderson University, so in 2008, she and James contributed funds to build a rare-collections facility and a reading room in the Anderson University Nicholson Library. In 2009, the University dedicated the Elizabeth York Rare Books & Special Collections. Today, we continue to celebrate the imaginations of long-ago children's illustrators and writers while nurturing the dreams of readers, writers, and artists of children's books in the future through the Annual Elizabeth York Children's Literature Festival.