Report from the 1996 Nijhoff Award Recipient

Eleanore O. Hofstetter, Townson State University

WESS Newsletter

Fall 1996, Vol. 20, no. 1

Association of College & Research Libraries
©American Library Association


The 1996 Martinus Nijhoff West European Specialists Study Grant enabled me to work on an important part of a bibliography about women in global migration. Immigration (both legal and illegal) has been a visible fact of life in Europe since the end of World War II. The fall of the "Iron Curtain" has brought more immigrants from the former East Bloc countries. Because the specific economic, educational, medical, psychological, social and legal experiences of women in these mass movements have been studied only in the last two decades, I proposed to compile a comprehensive international bibliography to show common themes and problems in this phenomena. After checking the major bibliographic sources available in American libraries, the Nijhoff Award allowed me to visit academic libraries in England, Holland, and Germany to verify sources and check databases not available in the United States.

In June I arrived in London where I worked in the University of London (Senate House) Library, the Institute of Education Library and the British Library of Political and Economic Science at the London School of Economics. In addition to verifying sources and finding new ones, it was instructive to observe how these libraries were providing service to the Internet and networking databases. The London School of Economics Library had the widest selection of databases either networked or available after individual consultation with the reference staff. Several CD-ROM databases were suggest for my topic such as Helecon (Helsinki School of Economics Index), Justis Celex (European Community Legal Database), and UKOP (Publications of UK Official Organizations) which proved to be very useful.

After a week in London, I took the Eurostar train through the Channel and went on to Utrecht, The Netherlands, by way of Brussels. Several floors above the three million volume University of Utrecht Library I found the European Research Centre on Migration and Ethnic Relations (ERCOMER) which is the only university-based research institute devoted to the study of migration and ethnic relations issues within Europe. There Dr. Marta Braco, the Documentalist, explained the purposes of ERCOMER and placed their growing collection of reports, reprints and books at my disposal. ERCOMER's mission is to advance comparative understanding through research projects, provide a training facility in advanced studies for those wishing to carry out social science research in those fields, provide information and data, and disseminate relevant research through various media. To sustain the networks of European scholars working on migration topics, ERCOMER publishes a newsletter, Merger, organizes a conference every two years, posts information on its research programs and plans to lists its document holdings on its Web site (http://www.ruu.nl/ercomer). In 1994 it took over and redesigned with a broad European perspective the journal, New Communities ,which had been published by the Commission for Racial Equality in London. ERCOMER is also beginning a book series.

Leaving Utrecht with its Saturday morning flower market was difficult but I was looking forward to the next stop on the itinerary which was Towson State's exchange University, the Carl v. Ossietzky Universität, Oldenburg. Founded in 1974, Oldenburg has a modern library of one million volumes and 6400 periodical titles. With the help of Dr. Lydia Potts, a member of the political science faculty who is conducting studies of older Turkish women migrants, and Birgit Heuser, the Social Science Librarian, I had access to experts in the field and the resources in the library. The library staff provided searches of the regional North German University catalogs for me and I spent the week happily but hurriedly copying journal articles, essays in books and citations to doctoral dissertations. Following up on a tip about the extensive collection and Deutsches Übersee Institut in Hamburg, I visited this research institute one day and had a database search done of its holdings. A visit to the University of Hamburg Library that same afternoon also turned up some materials that I had been seeking. Working with subject headings in a different language and adjusting to different OPACS and CD-ROM commands took more time that I had counted on but the rewards were great and I left to return to London and then the ALA Conference in NYC with a suitcase full of materials which will help me complete the bibliography. Many of the European bibliographical sources and citations would have remained unknown to me without the Martinus Nijhoff Award. My trip was an enriching experience both personally and professionally. I am grateful for the award and my thanks go to all who made possible.


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