EGIL > The collections > University of Leeds

University of Leeds

Title: Icelandic Collection

Description: The Icelandic Collection at the University of Leeds has at its heart chiefly Old Norse-Icelandic language and literature but extends to include both the history and culture of Iceland. Modern Icelandic literature is also well represented. The collection, of some 10,000 printed volumes including journals, is housed in the Brotherton Library, partly on open access and partly on closed access in the Department of Special Collections.

Concepts: Old Norse language ; Old Norse literature ; Sagas ; Icelandic language ; Icelandic literature ; Iceland ; Iceland - Description and travel ; Iceland - History ; Iceland - Politics and government ; Runes ; Faroese language ; Faroese literature.

Strengths: At the core of the collection is the former private library of Bogi Thorarensen Melste­ (1860-1929), historian and author. Acquired by the University Library in 1929, it then comprised some 5,325 books and pamphlets, including over 100 books printed before 1800. It has been considerably added to since then, with particular emphasis on more modern Icelandic literature. As well as literary material it also includes the publications of many learned societies and social, religious and industrial organisations. An extensive range of newspapers published in Iceland over the last 100-150 years has recently been microfilmed. Among the collection's more exceptional items are an 18th century manuscript of an Icelandic grammar book written in Latin and a set of early 18th century parliamentary proceedings partly in manuscript. An associated collection contains a copy of the Jˇnsbˇk or L°gbok Islendinga, published at Hˇlar, 1580.

Accumulation date range: 1929-

Contents date range: 1580-

Related collections: Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Scandinavian. These derive from the original Melste­ Collection, but are predominantly modern in character, although a number of works published in the 18th century form part of the Scandinavian collection.

Catalogue: All items are included in the Leeds University Library online catalogue. A printed catalogue was issued in 1978.

Accrual status: Active, to support teaching and research within the University. Purchase, donation, exchange. Periodic.

Access control: The larger part of the collection is for reference only and may be consulted in the Special Collections Reading Room. For general information, including opening hours and admission see the Special Collections online information. For general information about Leeds University Library including admission see the Library home page.

Location: Leeds University Library, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT.

Contact: Ann Farr, Arts-MVPA Faculty Team, Tel: +44 (0) 113 233 4986, Email:

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