Lucy Maud Montgomery collection promoted in podcast

One of the most extensive collections of Lucy Maud Montgomery materials is being promoted in a new podcast from Library and Archives Canada.

'She walks into his living room and sees the amazing array of Lucy Maud Montgomery books'

Ronald I. Cohen with the collection he donated to Library and Archives Canada. (Tom Thompson/Library and Archives Canada)

One of the most extensive collections of Lucy Maud Montgomery materials is being promoted in a new podcast from Library and Archives Canada.

The Cohen Collection, which was donated between 1999 and 2003, and contains 420 items, including more than 40 copies of Anne of Green Gables, many of them first editions.

Three of the books are in Japanese, two in French, and one each in Korean, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish. It also includes posters from the 1919 movie version of Anne of Green Gables.

Anne of Green Gables first edition, part of the Cohen Collection. (Tom Thompson/Library and Archives Canada)

A conversation with the collector

In the podcast, one of a series, Ronald Cohen is invited to the archives to see how his collection has been preserved and is interviewed about the donation. 

"It's quite fascinating to hear how they collected all this material and what drives them to collect and what drives them to ultimately leave it in our hands," explained Tom Thompson, who's with the Exhibitions and Online Content Division of Library and Archives Canada and helped produce the podcast.

Title page of Korean translation of Anne of Green Gables, part of the Cohen Collection. (Tom Thompson/Library and Archives Canada)

'I want that'

The podcast includes a story about the moment when the head librarian of Library and Archives Canada first saw Cohen's collection of Montgomery books.

"She walks into his living room and sees the amazing array of Lucy Maud Montgomery books and simply says, I must, I want that," recalled Thompson.

"And when she says 'I', she means Library and Archives Canada … and then amazingly Ron Cohen just decides that's a great idea and says yes, right on the spot."

Thompson doesn't have a dollar value for the Cohen Collection but says it is substantial, making the donation all the more impressive.

Poster of Mary Miles Minter in the 1919 Anne of Green Gables film, one of the treasures of the Cohen Collection. (Tom Thompson/Library and Archives Canada)

"Which is a pretty incredible story when you consider the length he's gone to and the expense he's taken on to get all these amazing books from all over the world. First edition Anne of Green Gables books are incredibly expensive and have been for some time."

Thompson says the podcasts are also designed to show Canadians the range of materials available in the archives, everything from hockey to UFOs, the subject of an upcoming podcast.

"The basic philosophy behind the podcast series overall has been to let Canadians know that, people think of us as a centre to do your genealogy, census records, military records, but there is literally something for everyone, every Canadian"

Something for everybody

Library and Archives staff say the podcast is part of an effort to use technology to extend their reach.

"In our section, we work on a lot of social media, we blog and podcast and Flickr, yes, we're definitely looking to bring in people of all ages and there's something here for everybody, that's the amazing thing."