Scandinavian Discussion Group Minutes – 2004 Midwinter

ALA Midwinter Meeting, San Diego

Scandinavian Discussion Group Meeting
Sunday, January 11, 2004
11:30am – 12:30pm
Holiday Inn by the Bay


  • Gordon Anderson, Chair, University of Minnesota.


  • 20 attendees


I. Welcome and Introductions

  • Gordon Anderson, University of Minnesota, chaired the meeting.
  • He welcomed the twenty WESS members and guests and congratulated everyone for having braved the San Diego weather to attend this meeting.

II. Guest Vendor Representatives

  • Andrejs (Andy) Alferovs of Coutts Nijhoff International and Willem-Jan Hooijmans of Nedbook International shared news of their firms.
  • Coutts has inaugurated iApprove, a Web-based selection and approval plan management tool. Nedbook has expanded its slip and approval plan coverage to Scandinavian imprints.

III. Special Guest

  • Dr. Ulf Brynjestad, the Swedish consul in San Diego, welcomed ALA attendees to Southern California and briefly related the history of Swedes and Swedish-Americans in the area. As an officer of the Vasa Order of America Dr. Brynjestad also solicited feedback regarding the terms of and publicity for a graduate fellowship for Scandinavian studies that the Order is establishing. The Vasa Order intends to announce this award sometime this winter or early spring.

IV. Scandinavian Studies and Collections at the University of Minnesota (Gordon)

  • University of Minnesota academic programs for Scandinavian studies, including Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish, are located within the Department of German, Scandinavian, and Dutch. The European Studies Consortium is a federally funded National Resource Center for Western European Area Studies (receiving Title-VI grants from the US Dept. of Education). The six member Centers cover Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA); Austrian Studies; German & European Studies; Holocaust & Genocide Studies; Modern Greek Studies, the Humanities Institute, and last, not least, Scandinavian Studies. Other related programs include the Denmark International Study Program (DISP) affiliated with the University of Copenhagen, and the Less Commonly Taught Languages Project (part of CARLA).
  • Both the University and the Library administrations view its Scandinavian-studies collections of over 200,000 volumes as unique resources that must be maintained and developed as a national resource. Wilson Library contains the extensive, century-old collections in the humanities and social sciences and is home to the James Ford Bell Library of books, documents, and maps that document the expansion of Europe between 1400 and 1800. The Elmer L. Andersen Library houses at least three collections of Scandinavian interest. The Tell G. Dahllöf Collection of Swedish Americana covers the history of Swedish emigration to America, Swedish culture in America, and travel descriptions by Swedish visitors to North America. The Immigration History Research Center is dedicated to fostering research on, and understanding of, the history of American immigration. And the Alrik Gustafson collection features extensive primary sources and scholarship on August Strindberg.
  • Subject specialists in the University Libraries have created a number of printed and on-line research guides to many aspects of Scandinavian studies. On the Libraries’ LUMINA web site, go to the Research Guides section. The Research Quick-start guides are electronically interactive pathfinders with links to appropriate databases for research in areas like Danish and Finnish language & literature, Scandinavian Studies, and related subjects like genealogy and immigration. The Subject Resources section features html versions of printed guides to these areas, for example, a guide to the Libraries’ extensive collection of Norwegian bydgebøker – local histories of Norwegian counties (fylke) that especially emphasise family histories and genealogies.
  • The libraries of the Universities of Minnesota and Wisconsin have a joint agreement for collecting materials in Scandinavian studies. Briefly stated, this written memorandum of understanding calls on the University of Minnesota Libraries to focus more on Swedish and Finnish materials and the University of Wisconsin Libraries to focus more on Danish and Norwegian materials. It is understood, however, that each library will collect all those materials considered necessary for local needs and that questions of duplication between the two libraries would thus be of lesser concern.
  • There are a number of college and university libraries in Minnesota and surrounding states that have strong Scandinavian-studies collections. These include Gustavus Adolphus College (St. Peter) and St. Olaf College (Northfield) in Minnesota, Luther College (Decorah, Iowa), and the University of North Dakota Libraries (Grand Forks). Among the Scandinavian societies are: the American Swedish Institute (Minneapolis), the Norwegian-American Historical Association (Northfield), the Vesterheim Genealogical Center (Madison, Wisc.) and the Danish Immigrant Museum (Elk Horn, Iowa).
  • These above-mentioned names and institutions are but a few examples of the rich archival resources for Scandinavica in the American Midwest. But one should not overlook the fact that these institutions and organizations are also active cultivators of Scandinavian heritage and contemporary identity in the United States, not just in the Midwest. For more information about the University of Minnesota’s Scandinavian collections and resources, please contact Gordon Anderson in Wilson Library:
    • Phone: (612) 625-8161
    • Email:

V. Next SASS Meeting

  • The Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study (SASS) 2004 conference will be held 15-17 April in Redondo Beach, California. Gordon encouraged those planning to attend to inform him—perhaps the traditional librarians’ lunch can be organized. For preliminary information on the SASS Conference, visit the SASS website.

VI. Collection Development in Scandinavian Studies

  • There was brief discussion regarding the potential for a multi-institutional collection-development plan for Scandinavian Studies. Participants indicated that for many of their institutions’ local needs are the overriding factor in acquisitions, but that increased awareness of what others are doing would be highly beneficial. James Spohrer (University of California, Berkeley) is working on an RFP for Scandinavian approval plans. Many expressed interest in continuing to be apprised of this undertaking. John Dillon (Wisconsin) believes it is increasingly important to have “gathering plans” for the obviously important material, enabling selectors to devote more time to ferreting out more obscure or specialized resources. Vendors might wish to emulate the Otto Harrassowitz model for German belles-lettres by offering core and comprehensive lists of authors. Sem Sutter (Chicago) indicated that his collecting centers on Norwegian belles-lettres for which he has supplied the vendor with an author list that he would be willing to share with others. Ann Snoeyenbos (New York University) expressed particular concern about the ability to discover and acquire appropriate Scandinavian publications on such social science topics as immigration studies and the European Monetary Union. Gordon said that he would be willing to facilitate the sharing of statements of practice/intent/hope/desire and there was general agreement that this would be valuable.

VII. Next Meeting

  • Gordon agreed to serve another term as chair of the discussion group. Members agreed that the group should continue to meet at Midwinter conference, maintaining its time slot at Annual while being flexible about whether to actually convene then, doing so if an agenda warranted it but not “meeting for the sake of meeting”.

Minutes submitted by Sem C. Sutter, Chicago
–Chair’s note: many thanks to our recorder for taking careful notes of this meeting, small portions of which I revised slightly