European Studies Research Forum at ALA Annual Conference in Chicago

(Even if you are not attending ALA, it’s good to know some of the cool things going on! You can always check the hastag: #ALALeftBehind to follow all kinds of good discussions during the conference!)

Saturday, June 24th, 4:30-5:30pm
Chicago Hilton, Stevens Center, Salon A-5

Sponsored by the ACRL West European Studies Research and Planning Committee


Gordon B. Anderson (University of Minnesota)

Books under Suspicion: Identifying Nazi-looted books in German library collections

Despite the persistent image of the Nazis being burners of books, in fact they valued books enormously and used them in countless ways to achieve their ideological and racial objectives.  Being pathological kleptocrats, the Nazis stole everything from their enemies. During the years 1933-1945 they looted millions upon millions of books from personal and institutional libraries for deposit into Nazi-run “research institutes” and for acquisition by German libraries.  While settling many issues, the end of the Cold War and the reunification of Germany, also opened up issues long ignored, especially the issues in restoring looted property and wealth. In late 1998, 44 governments (including Germany) and 13 NGOs adopted the Washington Principles on Holocaust Era Assets, which included the restitution of looted books and archives. Since 2002, with German government support, libraries across Germany have undertaking projects to identify looted books in their collections and make amends.  In the spring of 2017 I visited several German libraries, and this paper is a report on their ongoing efforts and the dynamics of the process. I offer a preliminary assessment of their efforts to untangle and de-mystify the origins of many of their holdings.

Paula Mae Carns (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Saving the Macclesfield Psalter: The Curious History of an English Medieval Manuscript

In 2004 Sotheby’s auction house in London made a startling discovery when processing for sale the vast library of the Earl of Macclesfield in Shirburn Castle (Oxfordshire, England): a previously unknown fourteenth-century English illuminated psalter, now known as the Macclesfield Psalter. Bound in with another devotional text, the psalter had long been overlooked. The rarity of the piece (there are few such surviving books) and the lavishness of the decoration (which fills most pages) raised the price tag and thus it was no surprise that only the Getty Museum was able to purchase it, for ₤1.7 million. In response and following British law (which allows individuals and institutions in the UK to “buy back” a work of art before export) the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge with the help of the Art Fund launched a world-wide campaign to save this “national” treasure, which included a BBC television series, exhibition and numerous newspaper articles. The campaign was a huge success and the manuscript went to Cambridge, where the book was probably made. In my presentation I will examine the psalter’s unusual contemporary history and the rhetoric used in the print media campaign to “save” this book for England.

Jim Niessen (Rutgers University)

Heritage and Repatriation in the History of Habsburg and Hungarian Archives

How long has Hungary had a national archives? It’s a trick question: the Hungarian National Archives (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár) was created only in 2012 with the integration of the central repository of the country (Magyar Országos Levéltár) and the county archives. The Országos Levéltár arose by stages beginning in 1723 as the repository of the state offices of the country. Formal definition of “the country” became more complicated after 1918, but Hungary’s archives fared better than those of Austria in the sense that Hungary retained possession of major bodies of public records for regions that were now part of neighboring countries—whereas many of the records in Vienna were “repatriated” to Austria’s successor states. The aspiration to create an archives “of the nation” arose well before 2012. Today’s nation is cultural and sociological more than administrative, and the archives increasingly shared the ambition of the National Library to document Hungarians everywhere. Repositories in Hungary have accepted donations by Hungarians in the diaspora for decades, but especially since the establishment of the Mikes Kelemen Program in 2014 for the shipment to Hungary. My paper will examine the results of the program and the disadvantages of separating the national heritage of diaspora populations from that of their host countries.

David Lincove


History, Public Affairs, Philosophy Librarian

Ohio State University Libraries

1858 Neil Ave.

Columbus, Ohio 43210″