Norway: Georg Sverdrups Hus

University of Oslo Library: The Humanities and Social Sciences Library

The University of Oslo has 16 libraries, one of them being the Humanities and Social Sciences Library in Georg Sverdrups hus (Georg Sverdrup building/GSH). The Humanities and Social Sciences Library is located at the university’s Blindern campus.

In the University of Oslo Library catalogue, Oria (also used by research institutes in Norway), you can search for physical and electronic material. Material in the Asian collections acquired before 1966 is in general not in Oria, however registered in card catalogues.

Asian Collection at the Humanities and Social Sciences Library

The Asian collections are located at the Humanities and Social Sciences Library. Asian original language material is placed on a separate mezzanine on the 4th floor, Mesaninen, of the main library. These collections hold material in languages such as Chinese, Tibetan, Japanese, Korean, Caucasian languages, Altaic languages, Semitic languages, Indo-Iranian languages etc. Most of them have kept their own shelving system from the institute libraries they once were moved from and into the GSH.

Material on Asia regarding society, politics, history etc. in English and other Western languages is located among the library’s remaining collections in the rest of the building. The Asian collections on Mesaninen are (amongst others) the following:

Chinese Collection
Online catalog by Donald B. Wagners Catalogue of older Chinese books.

Japanese Collection
The online catalog Union Catalogue of Early Japanese Books in Europe by NIJL. 55 of around 70 items in this catalogue. Mainly woodblock books from Edo (1603-1868) period. Few of them are digitalized. Userguide can be found here.

Tibetan Collection
A Norwegian traveller in Tibet : Theo Sørensen and the Tibetan collection at the Oslo University Library’.
Woodblock print of Kanjur and Tanjur, Bön religion manuscripts. These are collected by Norwegian missionary Theo Sørensen around 1900. Catalogue of the items in “A Norwegian traveller in Tibet” by Per Kværne.

Korean collection
The Korean collection on Mesaninen is mainly in Korean language and with emphasis on literature and language. In addition, it holds translations of Korean fiction into Nordic languages, English, and occasionally into German, French and other languages as well as material on literary history and literary critique. A smaller portion of the Korean language collection is on Korean history, arts, philosophy, religion, politics and society. In addition to the material on Mesaninen, the library maintains material in closed stacks, often unregistered. All in all, for Mesaninen and the closed stacks, the library’s collection numbers around 2,750 books, approximately 50% registered. In addition comes the 2-4000 volumes regarding Korea in Western languages located in the rest of the building.

Historically, contact between Norway and Korea has been much less than for example between Norway and China or Norway and Japan. As a consequence, there has been little emphasis on Korean studies and thus Korean collections.

The Korean collection holds one known older book – 징보언간독 Chingbo ŏn kandok , woodcut, author unknown, possibly from 1886. It is a textbook for Koreans to learn han’gŭl as well as the various forms of addressing family members of different positions.

For more on the Korean collection: ‘The Korean Studies Collection at the Oslo University Library’, Trends in Overseas Korean Studies Libraries, 2017 (June): 57-77

For more information on the East Asian collections (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tibetan), see Eide, Husstad-Nedberg og Magnussen. 2011. ‘Universitetsbibliotekets Østasiatiske samling.’  In Kunnskap – samlinger – mennesker : Universitetsbiblioteket og forskningen gjennom 200 år, ed. by Engelstad and Brandsæter, p. 143-151. Oslo: Universitetsbiblioteket i Oslo Unipub.

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