Scandinavian Discussion Group Minutes – 2015 Midwinter

ALA Midwinter Meeting, Chicago

WESS Scandinavian Discussion Group Meeting
January 31, 2015
1:00 – 2:30pm
Sheraton, Colorado Room


  • Gordon Anderson, Librarian for Scandinavian Studies at the Universities of Minnesota and Chicago


  • Charles Spetland, Libraries Collections Officer, University of Minnesota (Minneapolis)
  • Kajsa Anderson, Director of Archives and Special Collections, North Park University (Chicago)
  • Paula Mae Carns, Head of the Literatures and Languages Library, University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign)
  • Todd Michelson-Ambelang, Scandinavian, Humanities, and Classics Librarian, University of Wisconsin (Madison)
  • Julianne Haahr, Western European Studies Librarian, University of Wisconsin (Madison)
  • Anna Shparberg, Librarian for German, History, Linguistics, and Slavic Studies, Rice University (Houston, Texas)
  • Richard Hacken, Librarian for European Studies, Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah).
  • Gordon Anderson convenor, Librarian for Scandinavian Studies at the Universities of Minnesota and Chicago


I. Welcome and Introductions

  • A Panel Discussion on Special Collections of Scandinavia in the Midwest
  • The WESS Scandinavian Discussion Group meeting was devoted mainly to reports on libraries and archives in Illinois and Wisconsin that have unique and significant Scandinavian holdings and special collections of publications by Scandinavian immigrants to North America. We also heard some news about the Nord-Lib discussion list.
  • Discussants:
    • Charles Spetland, Libraries Collections Officer, University of Minnesota (Minneapolis)
    • Kajsa Anderson, Director of Archives and Special Collections, North Park University (Chicago)
    • Paula Mae Carns, Head of the Literatures and Languages Library, University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign)
    • Todd Michelson-Ambelang, Scandinavian, Humanities, and Classics Librarian, University of Wisconsin (Madison)
    • Julianne Haahr, Western European Studies Librarian, University of Wisconsin (Madison)

II. Nord-Lib Discussion List — Charles Spetland

  • Charles Spetland,, University of Minnesota, helped found the WESS Scandinavian Discussion Group in 1991 and was its first chair and an active member for the next decade. Charles also started Nord-Lib, the companion discussion list, in 1997. These past few years have seen its largest number of members — 65, ten of whom are in Europe
  • As with so many internet-based communications programs, the University of Minnesota, which hosts the list, will soon discontinue hosting discussion lists in general. Thus, Nord-Lib must find a new home, and quite possibly a new look. Consider this news, then, as a call for a volunteer or group of volunteers to find a new home for the Nord-Lib discussion list.

III. Scandinavian Collections in the Midwest and Beyond — Kajsa Anderson

  • Archives and Special Collections, North Park University, Chicago.
    • The Evangelical Covenant Church Archives are the oldest and largest of the three archives, was established in 1935. The earliest ECC materials are of the most importance to historians of Sweden in America and Swedish religious life in the United States.
    • The North Park University Archives date from 1891. The early decades parallel the Evangelical Covenant Church’s development and often overlap with the Church archives, because the same people were involved in both institutions.
    • The Swedish-American Archives of Greater Chicago are owned by the Swedish-American Historical Society, which has offices on the North Park campus. Part of the North Park Archives, the SAAGC materials document the Swedish experience in Chicago. There is a conscious effort not to duplicate the collection scope of other major collections, such as the Swenson Center for Swedish Genealogical Research in Rock Island, Illinois, and the ECC Archives at North Park.
    • Other collections include the Jenny Lind Collection of artifacts, books, music, and The Archives contain the administrative records and publication of the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study (SASS), as well as all historical book collection of the Swedish American Historical Society and the issues of the SAHS’s Swedish-American Historical Quarterly and its predecessor, the Swedish Pioneer Historical Quarterly. These have been digitized and are available in open access up to the most recent three years.

IV. Scandinavian Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-ChampaignPaula Mae Carns

The University of Illinois’ Scandinavian Studies webpage states:

  • “There are independent studies, and then there are fiercely independent studies. Find your true north in a wide range of Scandinavian studies courses covering everything from Vikings to contemporary cinema and beyond.”
  • Teaching and research in Scandinavian studies at the University of Illinois have been broad-based and cover several centuries.
  • Traditional Collecting Areas were influenced by two recent emerita professors:
    • Marianne Kalinke, Professor Emerita in medieval studies, with a specialization in Norse romances and Icelandic sagas.
    • Rochelle Wright, Professor Emerita, with a specialization in 19th-and 20th-century Scandinavian literature and poetry.
  • Current Collecting Areas have moved beyond literature and poetry to a number of other areas.
    • Anna Westerståhl Stenport, Director, Scandinavian Studies Program, focuses on modern European film, literature, theater, media, and culture, and has a special interest in on Nordic and Arctic studies, which are reflected in her teaching and research.
    • Mark Safstrom, Lecturer in Swedish and Scandinavian Studies, is the Coordinator and Advisor for the Scandinavian Studies Program. His primary research interests are 19th and early 20th century Scandinavian history, with emphasis on the so called “folk movements” (the temperance movement, labor movement, and the religious revivals), Scandinavian immigration to North America, and Scandinavian polar explorers and their travel accounts.
    • Theo Malekin, Visiting Lecturer, teaches courses and pursues research in Scandinavian cinema. He also has an ongoing engagement with August Strindberg and more recently a new departure into Scandinavian children’s literature.
    • Jensen Beach, Lecturer, teaches courses and carries out research in contemporary and modern American fiction and poetry, Scandinavian literatures, and literature in translation.
  • Also, the University of Illinois is part of a partnership called INSPIRE (Illinois-Sweden Program for Educational and Research Exchange). This includes University of Illinois (U-C) and leading research universities in Stockholm, Sweden: the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) and Stockholm University (SU), and the Karolinska Institutet (KI). This expertise-exchange program incorporates faculties of engineering, humanities, law, medicine, natural sciences, and the social sciences.
  • Library Collections feature special holdings in medieval sagas and society, Nordic film, artic studies, and Sámi studies, as well as special holdings in 19th century Swedish Americana.

V. University of Wisconsin–Madison Scandinavian Collections. — Todd Michelson-Ambelang

  • Scandinavian books were part of the nucleus of the Department of Special Collections, in particular the Chester H. Thordarson (Hjörtur Þórdarson) collection in the history of science and technology, which includes some materials on Icelandic and about Iceland.
  • The Scandinavian Studies Collections at UW-Madison focus on acquiring current materials in Danish and Norwegian, with lesser emphasis on Swedish and Finnish. To this end, UW-Madison relies on the University of Chicago for in-depth collecting in Norwegian, and on the University of Minnesota for the same in Swedish and Finnish. This latter arrangement dates back to an informal but durable agreement from the late 1970s between the two libraries’ Scandinavian-studies librarians.
  • The Department of Scandinavian Studies also offers courses on Nynorsk (New Norwegian – one of the two official languages of Norway), Old Norse, Faeroese, and Icelandic. A number of graduate students are studying modern Icelandic language and philology.
  • And increasing attention is being given to collecting with New Scandinavian/Scandinavian Immigrant communities in mind. This goes beyond Scandinavian Studies to include students from other departments doing comparative studies of literatures of Europe and its new residents.
  • The Library is looking to expand collections in the areas of the North Sámi and Greenlandic studies. The North Sámi Language is taught, and knowledge of the language is required for graduate exams and preparation for dissertations. So far, the Greenlandic studies collection is limited to Danish translations of Greenlandic materials or materials in both languages.

VI. University of Wisconsin–Madison Scandinavian Collections. — Julianne Haahr

  • The library’s Scandinavian collection in history and the social sciences is long standing. Subject-area strengths favor materials with a strong Danish or Norwegian component. Viking history, archaeology, and local history (including Scandinavian-Americans in the Upper Midwest) comprise some of the earlier historical emphases. A particular strength is the material representing the women’s movement as well as the welfare system in Scandinavia during the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s.
  • The Minnesota-Wisconsin informal collection-development agreement does not exclude selection (and potential duplication) in other core Nordic areas. In recent years, immigration, EU integration and economics, Islam in Scandinavia, the Schleswig-Holstein question, minority populations such as the Sami and Inuit, and historic and present Arctic exploration are part of UW-Madison’s Scandinavian collections profile.
  • Despite weathering budget fluctuations, the Scandinavian collection at UW-Madison continues to thrive, and remains among the handful of schools in the country identified with having solid Scandinavian and Nordic holdings.

VII. The University of Minnesota’s Scandinavian-Studies Collections — Gordon Anderson

  • The University of Minnesota Libraries Scandinavian-studies collections support the past and present work of the program in the Department of German, Scandinavian and Dutch. Swedish, Finnish, and Norwegian are taught, along with courses in English relating to their culture, history, and special topics (e.g., Sámi culture today).
  • Library collections:
    • Collection of currently published Scandinavian imprints follows the area-studies model. In the humanities, the Library attempts to offer the latest works by leading contemporary, living authors from all countries in Norden/Scandinavia. Literary criticism and histories on authors and themes are collected at the (erstwhile Conspectus) representative level. Books on art and music are part of the respective general art and music profiles. Of particular emphasis is new scholarship in history, including contemporary history.
    • Historical collecting rests most notably with the Tell G. Dahllöf Collection of Swedish Americana. Acquired in 1986, this collection of Swedish American imprints — books, pamphlets, journals, and other materials published in Swedish in North America — encompasses American history seen from a Swedish perspective, the history of Swedish emigration to America, Swedish culture in America, and general descriptions by Swedish travelers to North America. It consists of approximately 7,000 books, periodicals, and newspapers spanning over 350 years of printing.
    • The Dahllöf Collection has been cataloged, and records for its holdings appear in the Libraries’ main catalog, MNCAT, or through WorldCat. However, it is not possible to limit a catalog search to just that collection. The Swedish-language materials in the Dahllöf Collection have been documented by Gunilla Larsson and Eva Tedenmyr in their Svenskt tryck i Nordamerika : katalog över Tell G. Dahllöfs samling = Swedish-American imprints : a catalogue of the Tell G. Dahllöf collection (Stockholm: Kungl. Biblioteket, 1988).
    • The Swedish National Library (Kungliga Biblioteket – hosts the online Svenskamerikansk bibliografi (SWAM) as one of its Deldatabaserdatabases. Clicking on this link will take one to the web site. The bibliography has some 7,600 titles and can be searched as a separate catalog.

VII. The University of Chicago’s Scandinavian Languages & Literatures Collections

  • “The collection supports the research and teaching needs of its primary audience, faculty and students in the Department of Germanic Studies, as well as those of readers in other programs, especially Comparative Literature, Linguistics, Music, Art History, History, Philosophy, and the Divinity School. Secondarily, the literature collection supplies material for the recreational reading interests of the university community as a whole. Thirty years of strong prospective and retrospective development of the Norwegian literature collection have built a research resource that frequently serves scholars at other institutions via interlibrary loan.” — Sem C. Sutter, Scandinavian Languages and Literatures collections description, 2009.
  • Under the current collections expertise sharing program between the university libraries of Chicago and Minnesota, the scope of Chicago’s Scandinavian collections is being expanded to include other social sciences (for example political science and international relations).
  • The presentations and discussion generated much information beyond what is presented in this report. Please contact any of us for more information and assistance with these major special collections.

Minutes submitted by Gordon Anderson, University of Minnesota, March 2015