Fiske Icelandic Collection
As one of the three largest repositories of Old Norse and Icelandic materials in the world and the largest in the Americas, the Fiske Icelandic Collection meets the needs of local and international scholarly communities. The composition of these scholarly communities has remained substantially the same over the years. University professors and scholars affiliated with research institutions are foremost among patrons, followed by graduate students, undergraduate students and finally by lay people, including visitors from Iceland. The collection circulates in the neighborhood of 400 out of its more than 37,000 volumes per annum, a higher average than that of the Olin stacks. These circulations include items paged from the non-circulating part of the collection for use in the reading room of the Rare and Manuscript Collections. Communication with clientele for reference purposes has endeavored to keep pace with contemporary technology, especially the Internet.
RLIN conspectus data for the Fiske Collection identified thus far, applicable to collection development through June 1989, show very strong collections for many subject areas (Old Norse and Icelandic language and literature; history and social sciences), although the voluminous publication in these fields has since about 1930 precluded exhaustive acquisition. Given that these numbers are over five years old, it would seem necessary to update, at an appropriate opportunity, conspectus information on the Fiske Collection. Moreover, no specific conspectus rating has been found for several subject areas of the Fiske Collection (e.g., description and travel, bibliography). New conspectus work may eventually result from efforts to reclassify the majority of materials in Halldór Hermannsson's classification. Available data from an RLIN search on 3 April 1995 are tabulated below. These numbers should be interpreted as collection strength/current collecting intensity; e.g., 5W/4Y would indicate an existing (accumulated) strength of 5 for a wide language spectrum, with a current intensity of 4 and concentration in one major language. It is quite possible that a shift between historical strength and current intensity can translate into a different language focus. Where no language coverage code exists, the language coverage should be assumed to be effectively universal. Where code Y (one primary foreign language) is specified, the language will be Old Norse or Icelandic.
Cartographic materials (G-class) 4/3
Law- Foreign law (K-class) 2Y/0
Iceland- History of education (L-class) 4/4W
Iceland- Constitutional history (J-class) 4/4W
Iceland- Left-wing politics (multi-class) 4/4W
Iceland- Social history (multi-class) 4/4W
Iceland- Economic history (H-class) 4/4W
Iceland- History auxiliaries (multi-class) 4/4W
Iceland- History of religion (B-class) 4/4W
North European history- Iceland (DL-class) 4/4W
North European history- Iceland- Law history(DL-class) 4/4W
Government documents (multi-class) 5W/5W
Old Norse Literature PT7101-7338 5W/4Y
Modern Icelandic Literature PT7351-7550 5/4Y
Modern Icelandic Language PD2401-2447 5W/4Y
Art and architecture - Architecture (Icelandic) NA1241-1253 5/5W
To underscore by example the contrast in the number of materials actually acquired in different subject areas, the Fiske Collection's architecture works comprise at most several dozen, whereas the literature and language categories contain thousands of titles.
Current Collecting Intensity
The following four paragraphs attempt to describe the current collecting intensity for several major areas, with intensity ranging from very strong to significant but selective. These descriptions are based on selection efforts commencing in March 1994. The very approximate nature of these intensity numbers points to the need for a systematic analysis of acquisitions over several years, one that will cover some degree of the range in the 1989 RLG conspectus figures above. Nonetheless, these data are more than desiderata
CCI: Old Norse Literature: 4W
The collection continues to emphasize very strongly, if not quite exhaustively, acquisitions of critical texts, significant translations and literary criticism in Old Norse studies. These essential acquisitions include auxiliary and secondary works, such as dictionaries, bibliographies and historical studies. Sources for these purchases include antiquarian booksellers; the contemporary academic and commercial book market in Iceland, Europe and North America and research institutions with special publications. Dissertations, chiefly from Europe and North America, figure in this collection effort. Through circa 1930, these collection efforts remain comprehensive ( in the conspectus sense of the word). From 1930, acquisition hovers between the research and comprehensive levels, but cannot be exhaustive.
CCI: Modern Icelandic Literature: 4Y
Quite strong but less than comprehensive acquisitions in modern Icelandic belles lettres persist. Some literary criticism accompanies this category of selection, as do a limited number of translations. In proportion to their minuscule population, Icelanders are very prolific poets and authors of fiction, with the result that the Fiske Collection devotes considerable resources to belles lettres in an attempt to mirror the reality of Icelandic literature. Sources for modern belles lettres are typically, but not exclusively, the contemporary commercial book market in Iceland. The Fiske Collection's holdings in modern Icelandic literature remain at a research level.
CCI: North European history- Iceland: 4W
Although it will be desirable to specify data on description and travel works, it is notable that there has been increasing publication in local and regional history of Iceland.
CCI: Icelandic government publications: 4Y Women's studies: 4Y Political, social, natural sciences: 4W
Since 1904, when Willard Fiske's death engendered bequest of the Fiske Collection to the University Library, Icelandic society and civilization have changed phenomenally. The population has tripled, full democracy and the characteristics of a Nordic social welfare state have taken root, and the country has become a sovereign, independent European republic. The written record has expanded and diversified accordingly, and curators have in the past responded with selections in the social and natural sciences, including women's issues, economics, political science and the ocean and volcanic island environments that characterize Iceland's geographical space. Selection in these fields will continue to receive significant but selective consideration, with attention paid, inter alia, to government publications and publications from government-sponsored research establishments. Often, these acquisitions will be technical reports reflecting the sophisticated research current in Iceland. The intention is to maintain selection of government documents at a research level, and selection of works in women's studies and political, social and natural sciences pertaining to Iceland also at preferably a research level, depending on resources available.
Quite understandably, the geographical focus of this collection is primarily on Iceland. However, many works in the Fiske Collection reflect the Icelanders' dominant heritage in the Scandinavian Empire- not only the three modern Scandinavian kingdoms, but also Normandy, the British Isles, Greenland, North America. Thus there are a number of works classified at G760 that describe the Norse diocese in Greenland, a community founded by the Icelanders and viable for some four centuries. Similarly, recent acquisitions include a substantial work on Les Vikings : histoire et civilisation, by Régis Boyer, still the leading scholar of Old Norse studies in France.
Formats and exclusions
Although the traditional book remains very much an Icelandic cultural icon, publication in non-print media, including electronic resources, is increasingly significant. One example is the appearance of the daily Morgunbladid in a fee-based World Wide Web site. In practice, no form of publication is excluded from our consideration, since selection in the Icelandic domain requires feeling the pulse of a small but entire civilization. The only medium significantly absent from the Fiske Collection is mediaeval manuscripts, in part because they have been held for centuries by European academic libraries and in part because Willard Fiske was averse to alienating this patrimony from the Icelandic people.
In summary, selection for the Fiske Icelandic Collection mirrors the history of Icelandic literary production, with three broadly discernible categories: Old Norse civilization, language and letters; modern belles lettres and modern (post-Renaissance) works on the many facets of modern Iceland.