Betsy Hearne (1942-) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Betsy Hearne (1942-)
Variant Name: Elizabeth Hearne

Historical Note:

Elizabeth (Betsy) Hearne is the former director of the Center for Children's Books and a professor emerita in the Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences at the University of Illinois, where she taught children's literature and storytelling.  Hearne has published numerous books and articles on children's literature, including Choosing Books for Children: A Common Sense Guide and Beauty and the Beast: Visions and Revisions of an Old Tale.  In addition, Hearne is an accomplished children's book author; her 1997 book Seven Brave Women won the prestigious Jane Addams Children's Book Award (1998).  Over the decades, Hearne has served as the editor and contributor to several magazines and journals, including Booklist, The Bulletin of The Center for Children's Books, and The Horn Book Magazine.

Betsy Gould Hearne was born in 1942 in Wilsonville, Alabama.  Hearne's family moved to eastern Tennessee just before she started third grade.  Hearne attended the College of Wooster in Ohio, where she earned a bachelor's degree in history (1964).  Upon graduating, Hearne worked at the Wayne County Public Library in Wooster as a children's librarian and storyteller.  She eventually moved to Chicago, where she completed a master's degree in library and information science at the University of Chicago in 1968.  After graduation, Hearne worked as an editor and reviewer for the American Library Association's Booklist (1968-1985).  In the meantime, she published her first children's book South Star (1977).  She returned to the University of Chicago to pursue a Ph.D. in library and information science (1985).  From 1985 to 1992, Hearne taught at the University of Chicago's English and Education Department as an assistant professor and worked as an editor of The Bulletin of The Center for Children's Books.  In the early 1990s, the University of Chicago's English department denied her tenure, and the university moved to close the Center.  To ensure the Center's survival, Hearne negotiated its move to the University of Illinois, where it continues to operate. Hearne joined the University of Illinois's School of Information Sciences in 1994 as an associate professor; she was promoted to professor in 1999.  She continued to be editor of The Bulletin until 1997, and she served as the Center's director from 1999-2007.

As a decades-long editor of Booklist and The Bulletin, Hearne played a fundamental role in shaping the field of children's literature.  Betsy Hearne is also an internationally recognized children's book author and researcher, and she has presented her work in numerous countries, including Great Britain, Germany, and Iran.  She has authored several young adult novels, short story collections, picture books, poetry collections, book reviews, articles, and a guide to children's literature.  Hearne's work as an editor, researcher, and writer helped establish the field of storytelling as an academic discipline.  Her research focuses on the aesthetic and sociocultural dynamics of storytelling and folklore, particularly the story of Beauty and the Beast.  Much of her research explores "the history and interpretation of fairy tales; the way stories cross generational, ethnic, and media boundaries in the process of changing formats; the folktale motifs that permeate current lore; the critical and controversial aspects of children's books; and the development of children's literature in relation to women's changing roles as storytellers, writers, editors, librarians, and critics."

Hearne has served as president of the United States Chapter of the International Board on Books for Young Children, and the chair of the American Library Association's Caldecott Award Committee.  In addition, she has received numerous awards for her writing and teaching.  Her books have been recognized by organizations such as the American Library Association, the Chicago and New York Public Libraries, The New York Times, Smithsonian Magazine, CHILD Magazine, the Cooperative Children's Book Center, and The Horn Book Magazine.  Hearne was awarded the Children's Reading Round Table Award in l982; a Parent's Choice Award in 1990; the Anne Izard Award in 1996; the Graduate College Outstanding Mentor Award from the University of Illinois in 2004; a National Teaching Award from the Association of Library and Information Science Education in 2007; and the 2009 Anne Devereaux Jordan Award from the Children's Literature Association.

Hearne retired from the University of Illinois in 2007.

Citation: Betsy Hearne's University of Illinois faculty page, (accessed January, 23 2018)

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