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Iceland and the World of the West Norse

Nærøyfjorden frå Gudvangen, taken by Leif 22 August 2006, found in Wikimedia,
and available under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license.

Olin Library is currently hosting two exhibitions featuring Iceland in particular and Norse civilization in the greater North Atlantic region. The exhibitions offer a glimpse of a vast field of culture, action and study.

Góð bók er gulli betri (A Good Book Is More Valuable than Gold) focuses on reading and scholarship from the Fiske Icelandic Collection. Modern Icelandic literature and the literature of Old Norse-Icelandic studies are under the aegis of the Fiske Icelandic Collection, one of the oldest special collections in the Cornell University Library and the bequest of the first university librarian, Daniel Willard Fiske.

Both cases of this exhibition are directly across from the Olin Library Circulation Desk.

World of the West Norse contemplates the rapid expansion of the Norse presence in Europe during the Middle Ages, which marked one of the great cultural shifts in European history. This display of maps, illustrations and captions considers the major thrusts of Viking raids from Norway and Denmark, the settlements the Norse founded in Western Europe and the North Atlantic—principally the Danelaw in England, islands in the British Isles (Hebrides, Man, Ireland), Normandy, Iceland, and Greenland—and the fate of these communities.

The exhibition resides in the large, recessed cases directly outside the entrance of the Department of Maps and Media in Olin Library, down the stairs from the café.

Both exhibitions are on display through late March 2013.

Warm appreciation goes to Susette Newberry, Assistant Director of Research and Learning Services in Olin and Uris Libraries; Boris Michev, Map and Geospatial Information Librarian, Olin and Uris Libraries; and Johannes Plambeck, graduate student assistant in the Map Collection, for their creative endeavors in making these exhibitions possible.

Since its arrival in Ithaca in 1905, the Fiske Icelandic Collection has more than quadrupled in size to forty thousand volumes and remains one of the most important repositories for the study of the Nordic world during the Viking Age. The collection holdings on the history and literature of Iceland during the modern era are virtually without parallel outside of Iceland.

The circulating component of the Icelandic Collection is now integrated into the Olin Library shelves, with the catalogue records marked “Icelandic.” Rare books of the collection are in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, available through the reading room in 2B Kroch Library.

 ~ Patrick J. Stevens, Curator (and Managing Editor, Islandica series)
Fiske Icelandic Collection


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