Tribute to the late Kenneth A. Marantz (Jan. 19, 1927 - Jan. 3, 2015)

The art of the picturebook is timeless. Just ask anyone, and chances are they will remember that special book from their childhood — a book that ultimately taught them about life and the world around them. Thanks to the efforts of the late Kenneth A. Marantz, Professor of Art Education at The Ohio State University, and his wife, Sylvia, a former school librarian, many more generations of children will share in that priceless experience.

For more than 50 years, the Marantzes had collected, reviewed and carefully preserved thousands of picturebooks and related objects, which in 2008 they generously offered to the School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) at Kent State University to create the Marantz Picturebook Collection for the Study of Picturebook Art. Dr. Richard Rubin, SLIS director at the time, an d Drs. Carolyn S. Brodie and.Greg Byerly, then professors in the School, were honored — and thrilled — to accept this unique collection chronicling the rich artistic and literary tradition of modern storytelling for young people. It is the only one of its kind in the nation in which the books are cataloged by illustrator, acknowledging Ken’s long-held view that picturebooks are art objects.

Ken and Sylvia were delighted that their cherished books, posters, realia and original art found such a loving home. “We can’t imagine a more beneficial place for the collection to grow,” Ken had said. “This is a dream come true for us.” Then the Marantzes went a step further, funding an annual research fellowship and a picturebook symposium to ensure that the collection would contribute to ongoing research around picturebooks.                       

In a recent conversation about the fellowship and symposia, Ken said he and Sylvia saw them as ways to “bring scholars and researchers in to spend some time in the collection, to uncover insights that [they] hadn’t seen, perhaps, to bring to light talent and so forth, and also to support research-based presentations and publications around the topic.”  It was their intention that the collection be put to good use by students, scholars and researchers, authors, illustrators, and the wider community.

The Marantz Collection hosts many events throughout the year. Monthly storytimes are held there for local children attending the University’s Child Development Center. Classes from the university’s Visual Communication Design program visit the collection regularly for guest lectures and inspiration in their designs. Library school students as well as students from across the Kent State campus use the collection in their work. Conferences and workshops regularly fill the space. Noted illustrators of children’s books have stood in awed silence at seeing all of their works together on the shelf, scattered as their books usually are when shelved by author in other collections. Very soon the School will welcome its first Marantz research scholar, and a picturebook symposium will be held later this year.

Ken and Sylvia Marantz have been key partners in helping the School to become one of the top youth services programs in the country and being able to inspire future generations of educators, librarians, researchers and scholars, authors, illustrators, historians and everyone who values the magic of picturebooks and their importance in children’s lives.

For more information about the Marantz Collection in Kent State’s School of Library and Information Science, please visit

Other tributes to Ken Marantz: and

The Marantz family has requested that donations in his honor be made to Wexner Heritage Village, 1151 College Ave,, Columbus, OH 43209 or the Marantz Picturebook Collection for the Study of Picturebook Art, Children's Center Support Fund, c/o Sarah Molina, Kent State SLIS, 314 Library, P.O. Box 5190, Kent, OH 44242.