The Records of University Librarian Jens Nyholm is comprised of 32 boxes of material documenting Nyholm's tenure as University Librarian from 1944-1968, including: correspondence, monthly and annual reports, employment applications, invoices, catalogs, surveys, and questionnaires. The folders are arranged alphabetically by subject. Persons and entities represented by singular or sporadic material are grouped in general alphabetical folders.
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. This includes the early period of Nyholm's librarianship, which was marked by expanded possibilities for volume acquisition caused by the cessation of World War II, allowing for new Soviet and Japanese acquisitions, through to the end of his tenure, which saw proposal and debate over the expansion to Deering. The collection records his efforts to deal with expanding collection size, and Nyholm's endeavors to secure Northwestern's place in the top tier of national research universities. The material also presents Nyholm's acquisitions efforts, represented by voluminous correspondence with book dealers and Nyholm's courtship of potential donors, notably Edith Patterson. The collection further documents Nyholm's activity as a scholar and bookman, with correspondence reflecting his involvement in bibliophilic organizations and publications at home and abroad such as the Caxton Club, Libri, and College and Research Libraries. The voluminous correspondence, filling approximately two boxes, between Nyholm and other university librarians nationwide also grants insight into the academic community at the time. Of particular interest is the correspondence documenting Nyholm's work toward the formation and execution of the Farmington Plan for African studies and the creation and management of the Midwest Interlibrary Center. Nyholm's ties to his Scandinavian heritage are also well documented with voluminous correspondence to and from organizations like the American-Scandinavian Association and many Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish booksellers, with sporadic letters in Danish. Also represented are half a box worth of press releases and alumni notices detailing important acquisitions and gifts, targeted at instilling alumni pride and support.
The African Farmington Plan Allotment Requests and African Interest Questionnaire files contain surveys filled out by dozens of universities and libraries nationwide regarding their interest in developing a program of comprehensive African book and periodical acquisition, detailing areas of specific interest.
The Air Documents and Army Map Service folders represent the legacy of WWII on Northwestern and document Northwestern's role as a repository for various military documents, mostly Air Force material and maps. The material in the collection consists of correspondence between the Armed Services and Nyholm, receipts, and catalogues of material.
Much can be gleaned as to the hiring practices and sociological makeup of applicants to the library from nearly two boxes worth of applications, letters of recommendation, library school records, and correspondence between Nyholm and the applicants. Folders marked only as Application are arranged in rough chronological order by date of application, following the potential employee throughout the entire application process. The remaining Applications folders have retained their original filing categories.
The nearly three boxes of material marked Book Dealers mostly contain correspondence between Nyholm and both American and foreign merchants; though they do also contain offers from non-business people to either donate or sell private collections. In addition to correspondence, the folders contain invoices, catalogues, and receipts.
The Collections folder contains material related to collection policy generally and any material relating to specific collections too sparse to warrant individual recognition. Included are the Franz Boas Collection, the McMurtrie Collection, numerous German collections, a Spanish plays collection, and the Charlton Collection. Materials consist of correspondence, letters of thanks, and press releases.
Correspondence concerning Gifts and Memorial Funds fill nearly two boxes of the collection. Gift folders are arranged alphabetically by the donor name and span the entire time of Nyholm's librarianship. They are composed mostly of letters to and from Nyholm and the donors, but also contain letters of thanks for donations, notices from the legal department, receipts of donations, and bookplates. The memorial fund folders contain similar material, but with more correspondence from the legal department represented.
Correspondence between Nyholm and other university libraries fills approximately two boxes. These folders contain mostly letters concerning collection content, borrowing privileges, employee evaluation, policy questions, and business transactions. Libraries which Nyholm engaged singularly or sporadically with are grouped in the folders marked “Libraries.”
Nyholm's personal papers fill approximately one archival box. These folders contain mostly correspondence regarding non-university business during Nyholm's librarianship. Two folders of Nyholm's notebooks, which are for the most part undated, contain occasional expense records, names of hotels and contacts, want lists, and doodles.
The three folders marked Questionnaires contain surveys regarding library holdings for library directories and cataloguing departments of other universities, in addition to scattered inter-library questionnaires regarding library policy.
The Special Collections folder contains material related to special collection policy generally, and also includes material relating to the Rare Book Room and the Treasure room. The material is comprised of correspondence, surveys, and book orders.
Addition, Box 33
The additions to the Records of the Librarian consist mainly of correspondence files. General correspondence is arranged chronologically, and covers a variety of topics, including Nyholm's letters to and from rare book dealers in Europe, and correspondence with NU administrators and faculty. Subject files are arranged alphabetically by name or topic, with the materials arranged chronologically within the files. Subjects include correspondence surrounding the donations of papers of former NU faculty members Baker Brownell and Lew Sarrett; the formation of the Friends of the Library; the establishment of the Rare Book Room; and comments and discussion relating to plans for the new University Library (at the time referred to as the “Core and Research Library” or the “expanded library”). The lively correspondence in this file covers both the architectural and conceptual design of the new building. One folder holds stray pages of correspondence that became detached from the rest of the document at some point in the past, as well as unidentified reports or portions of reports.