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A brief history of SSE library

The Stockholm School of Economics was founded in 1909 as the first business school in Sweden. The library was established the same year and opened up in 1910. In 1926, when SSE moved to its new premises at Sveavägen 65 designed by architect Ivar Tengbom, the library was given a prominent location above the aula, in what is generally referred to as the “Book tower”.

The core purpose of the library has always been to support research and education at SSE. As a library specialized in the fields of economics, business administration and finance, it has also been an important national resource and has essentially served as a public research library since the start. Early on, SSE library began reporting its acquisitions of foreign books to the Union catalogue of foreign literature in Swedish research libraries, published by the National Library of Sweden.

Collection development

The collections at SSE library have developed following the research and curriculum of the school. Some of the library’s leading areas in the early decades of the 20th century were economics, banking and currency, commercial technique, business administration and economic geography. Economic geography represented a significant academic field at SSE, and the library had a whole separate section attached to the Department of Geography.

Early acquisitions were dominated by contemporary economic literature, most of it published in German. In fact, literature in German makes up the first 232 entries in the accessions register from 1909. During the first half of the 20th century, the collection policy generally covered a wider range of subjects, while the latter half saw an increased focus on the two main areas of economics and business administration, as well as a notable trend toward Anglo-American publishing.

The transition to electronic scholarly journals and online databases has shaped the collection development since the late 1990s. The earliest databases at SSE library were reference databases such as EconLit and Web of Science, but along with the e-journals came the full text databases. For instance, SSE library was one of the first Swedish libraries to sign an agreement with JSTOR. Most of the larger agreements have been in place since the early 2000s and the use of electronic resources has continually grown.

 

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Early printed books and special collections

The SSE library’s print collections date back to the 17th century. Early printed books and documents are primarily in Swedish and cover subjects relating to currency and the monetary system. The library also holds essential works in German, English and French, not least in political economy. Older scholarly literature has been acquired through donations, antiquarian book sellers or at book auctions.

Particularly worth the mention among the library’s special collections are numerous commemorative publications (“minnesskrifter”) on both Swedish and foreign companies, which the library began collecting through donations in its early years. A collection of somewhat parallel kind is the section of Swedish corporate history located in the Bonnier room, adjacent to the Book tower. Another collection of interest in this context is an archive of historical annual reports for companies listed at the Stockholm Stock Exchange, which is being digitized by the Swedish House of Finance (SHoF).

Since 1980, the SSE library registers its resources in the National union catalog Libris and the vast majority of the collections are searchable there as well as in our own catalog, MerQuery. However, some parts of the older collections are still virtually hidden, being recorded only in the card index. Retrospective cataloging is an ongoing process to make the full scope of the library’s resources visible to our users.

 

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