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Nyholm, Jens, 1900-1983



Librarian Jens Peter Nyholm was born in Hjorring, Denmark, on July 24, 1900. Nyholm worked in cataloging and technical services the Library of Congress, UC Berkeley and UCLA before accepting the University Librarian position at Northwestern University where he remained until his retirement in 1968. Nyholm was also an active member of the American Library Association. Upon retirement, Nyholm served as a collection development consultant for UC Santa Barbara.

Nyholm attended the University of Copenhagen from 1919 to 1921, taking the degree of Cand. Phil., and in 1923 received a certificate from the Danish State Library School.

After working from 1923 to 1927 as an assistant librarian in the Central Library at Aalborg, Denmark, Nyholm came to the United States late in 1927. Shortly after his arrival he entered Columbia University's School of Library Service, earning a B.S. degree in 1928. Primarily because of his ability with languages Nyholm obtained a position as cataloger at the Library of Congress soon after receiving his degree.

Nyholm entered the graduate program in English at George Washington University where he took an M.A. in 1934. Choosing the little-known southern writer, Irwin Russell, as the subject of his thesis, Nyholm showed that Russell was the first American author to use Black dialect in a realistic manner.

In 1937, Nyholm became an American citizen. The following year he was appointed head cataloger at the library of the University of California, Los Angeles. In 1939 he accepted a position as assistant librarian at the University of California at Berkeley. Here over the next five years he worked to streamline procedures in the technical services departments.

In 1938-1939 Nyholm participated in the American Library Association Cataloging Section's efforts to identify the major problems in cataloging and classification then facing academic library catalogers. In 1940 he was named as a member of the original Committee on Intellectual Freedom to Safeguard the Rights of Library Users to Freedom of Inquiry. Nyholm also was active in the Rare Book and University Libraries Sections of the Association of College and Research Libraries.

In 1944 Northwestern appointed Nyholm its university librarian, a position he retained until his retirement in 1968. In addition to his duties as university librarian Nyholm continued writing in both Danish and English. In 1953 a Danish publisher issued Portal til Amerika, a small collection of Nyholm's poems in Danish, dealing primarily with places and attitudes in the United States. With the 1968 publication of his book, Amerikanske Stemmer, Nyholm completed a project of thirty years duration, translating into Danish a collection of poems by several outstanding American poets including Ezra Pound, E.E. Cummings, and Muriel Rukeyser.

Jens Nyholm (1900-1983) began his career as University Librarian in 1944, succeeding Acting Librarian Effie A. Keith. Nyholm's primary goal and achievement while Librarian was the consolidation and reorganization of the University's disparate library collections into one central library. With in the absorption of the Astronomy library in 1961, Nyholm met this goal. He extended his organizational efforts beyond the Evanston campus, instituting a Library Council that included the librarians of the four Chicago campus professional-school libraries. In addition, Northwestern was a founding member of the MILC (Midwest Interlibrary Cooperative), a cooperative storage facility.

During his librarianship, Nyholm acquired many collections for the university, notably a 900 volume collection of James Boswell and Samuel Johnson material, and a large collection of Danish and Greek World War II underground materials. The library celebrated the receipt of its one millionth volume in 1950, and continued to grow. The overcrowded condition of the Library (which began to use an off-site “Library Annex” for storage in 1955) resulted in the 1961 decision by University president Roscoe J. Miller to form a Library Planning and Building Committee as part of a major campus building program. Nyholm spent the last several years of his career planning the new library, which would be attached to the existing Deering Library building. After his retirement, he was succeeded by Thomas R. Buckman in September of 1968. The new University Library opened in 1970.

After his retirement from Northwestern Nyholm moved to Santa Barbara, California, where he served as a consultant in collection development to the University of California at Santa Barbara Library.

Nyholm married Amy F. Wood in 1941. The couple had no children. Mrs. Nyholm died in 1978. Nyholm died in Santa Barbara on January 27, 1983.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

Jens Nyholm (1900-1983) Papers

Identifier: 9/4/1
Abstract Northwestern University Librarian Jens Nyholm's personal papers fill twenty boxes and are arranged in six subseries with two additions: biographical materials, education files, correspondence, professional organization files, research and consulting, files, and publications. These papers comprise Nyholm's personal files; the records documenting his service as university librarian at Northwestern may be found in University Archives' Series 9/4, Records of the University Librarian....
Dates: 1855-1983

Records of the University Librarian, Jens Nyholm

Identifier: 9/1/1

The Records of Northwestern University Librarian Jens Nyholm fill 32 boxes and document Nyholm's tenure as University Librarian from 1944-1968, including: correspondence, monthly and annual reports, employment applications, invoices, catalogs, surveys, and questionnaires. The bulk of the records consist of inter-university correspondence providing insight into the workings of the library during a period of expansion and transition. For Nyholm's personal papers, see Series 9/4/1.

Dates: 1944-1976