This spring, the Donner Institute starts re-organizing its collections and looking over the classification system. This is especially important since we have open shelves; it is not necessary to order books in advance, you may browse through the shelves by yourself. Nowadays, as great amounts of research literature are published, it is crucial not only to carefully consider acquisitions, but also how the collections are organised on the shelves. The library of the Donner Institute is the largest special library focused on the study of religion in the Nordic countries and holds a fair amount of unique literature. Although electronic resources are increasingly important also in the study of religion, the printed books have not lost their role.
In the eyes of a librarian, the library collections and how the books are classified tell a lot. The DI collections comprise historically unique materials, books relevant for the research history as well as the latest research findings. The library has its own classification system, which builds on a division according to discipline, religious tradition, and geography, in four rooms. The collections and the classification system reflect both research history in general and the history of the institute. Consequently, it is necessary to regularly evaluate the collections in their entirety and how they correspond to the needs of today and of the future – without forgetting the historical perspective.
In practice, the work means that some classes may be merged or finished, whilst other classes may need new sub classes. In addition, some new classes will be introduced, growing research fields such as religious education and the cognitive study of religion. When going through the collections, we will also discard obsolete literature which will be sent to the National Repository Library in Kuopio. One aim is that the collections and the classification system should be appropriate and user-friendly with regard to current research, but also historically relevant. Today’s books are often interdisciplinary, which is challenging, since it makes it difficult to clearly decide which class a book belongs to.
The anthroposophical collection in the journal room will remain untouched, since it has a unique position in our collections. In their will, Uno and Olly Donner mention that the library should contain everything written by Rudolf Steiner.
This extensive work means that books you are looking for may be found on another shelf than previously, do not hesitate to ask the staff for advice!