Peggy Sullivan approaches collecting as a librarian. “When I started collecting, I would weed out my collection regularly. I thought, ‘I’m a librarian, I can get any book I want.’ But books go out of print or you can’t get them again for some reason, so I realized I needed to keep them,” says Sullivan. “Still, I’m afraid my collection isn’t that large, because my approach is still to collect things so that I can loan them back out!”
Sullivan’s professional connection to libraries began very early in her career. Right after graduating from Clarke College in Dubuque, Iowa, Peggy attended library school at Catholic University of America in Washington State. She went on to have a long and distinguished career in libraries, specializing particularly in children’s reading programs. “The priest at Catholic University who was head of the library program got me into teaching. I just loved it – the diversity and freedom to do different things.”
She has held a number of leadership positions with the American Library Association (ALA), including President (1980-81) and Executive Director (1992-94). She also served as Dean of the LIS Program at Rosary College (now Dominican University), Dean of the College of Professional Studies at Northern Illinois University, and in numerous other university teaching positions. As director of the Knapp School Libraries Project, she helped play an important role in convincing the public of the need for high quality school library media programs. In recognition of her accomplishments, she was awarded the American Library Association’s Joseph W. Lippincott Award in 1991, and in 2008 was named an Honorary Member, the highest award the ALA bestows.
Sullivan’s connection to the Newberry began when she joined the Caxton Club because “it is a group of people who love books.” However, she feels her strongest link to the Newberry is being part of the Book Group for Associates of the Newberry.
She describes her book collection as “eclectic,” encompassing folklore, story-telling, and books on how to tell stories (some stories are better to read and some are better to tell); as well as books about Illinois and Chicago, Ireland, and travel books. Her favorite book is the one her father self-published, based on the diary he kept of his experience in World War I in France.
In addition to being a long-time member of the Newberry Associates through her support of the Annual Fund, Sullivan has become a Blatchford Society member by leaving her collection to the Newberry in her will. “I want the Newberry to be immediately free to use my collection, so I don’t mind if they are sold at Book Fair or added to the Collections – wherever my books will be most useful to the Newberry.”