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LIS 950: Libraries and community

The purpose of this seminar is to explore an important topic in library and information studies in depth — in all its intertwined historical, cultural, philosophical, and political aspects — through a graduate reading/discussion seminar. The topic varies each time the course is taught; this time around, we will focus on "libraries and community"

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Project Proposal: The Thordarson Collection and the University Community

For my research project, I am going to examine the relationship between the Thordarson Collection and to the larger university community at UW-Madison. The Thordarson Collection contains about 11,000 volumes and is particularly strong in English scientific literature. In 1946, the University Library purchased the collection for $300,000—the collection was estimated to be worth $3,000,000. About the time the Library purchased the Thordarson Collection, the University re-activated the History of Science department. I wonder if those supporting the purchase of the collection considered the History of Science department as a community that would benefit from the purchase of the collection. I seek answers to two specific questions.

Question 1: For which campus communities did the university library purchase the Thordarson Collection?
Question 2: How has the Thordarson Collection benefited the History of Science program at UW-Madison?

To answer Question 1 I will need to find correspondence, meeting minutes, and other records that discuss purchasing the collection. I will visit the University Archives tomorrow to see what records I will be able to examine. The History of Science department also has various files about the department that might talk about purchasing the collection. There are articles that were published about the collection purchase in The Daily Cardinal and the U. W. Library News.

To answer Question 2 I will need a list of the volumes in the Thordarson collection and then will compare sources cited in the PhD dissertation in History of Science to see if they used the collection. I should be able to obtain a list of the volumes in the Thordarson collection. A list of the PhD dissertation in History of Science should be available from the History of Science department. From the list of dissertations, I will need to probably decide on a subset to compare their sources with items within the Thordarson collection. In addition to the sources directly related to my questions, I hope to talk with the former History of Science departmental bibliographer about the Thordarson collection and its role in the Department.

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