Overview of Collections

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries Strategic Plan for 2002-2007 includes the following Mission Statement: The mission of the UWM Libraries, in support of the mission of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as a research university, is to provide organized and accessible collections of high quality research and instructional materials, access to networked information and digital resources, services to educate and benefit the university and surrounding urban communities, and the physical and human resources required to satisfy the information needs of its users.” The importance placed by the Libraries’ administration on collection development is reflected in the growth of library holdings. Total holdings have grown from 114,000 volumes in 1956 to over 5.2 million cataloged items in 2006.

Direct faculty participation in the selection process of materials has enhanced the growth of library collections. Strength of holdings parallels the campus’ doctoral programs in anthropology, biological sciences, chemistry, economics, education, engineering, English, geography, geosciences, management science, mathematics, nursing, physics, political science, psychology, urban education, and urban social institutions.

Several outstanding research collections are especially noteworthy. The largest and most distinguished of these is the American Geographical Society Library, the former research library of the American Geographical Society in New York City. This collection of currently over one million items was transferred to the UWM Library in 1978. Research materials date from 1452 to the present and range from rare, old manuscript items and early printed books to satellite data. The AGS Library is an internationally recognized research resource which supports all aspects of geography and selected facets of related disciplines.

The Morris Fromkin Memorial Collection contains approximately 10,000 items relating to idealistic and reform movements in America from the end of the Civil War to the New Deal Era. The Fromkin Memorial has sponsored an annual research grant and lectureship for UWM faculty and academic staff since 1970.

Additional resources are found in such specialized collections as the Hebraica and Judaica Collection, the Slichter and Hohlweck Civil War Collections, the Frank and Mary Ermenc Slovenian music collection, the Harry and Dorothy Jagodzinski Franklin Delano Roosevelt Collection, the George Hardie Aerospace Collection, the Gerald Meyers classical music collection, the John Otis Collection on Wisconsin churches, the Seventeeth Century Research Collection (a gift of UWM Professor Emeritus J. Max Patrick) of over 600 rare volumes printed in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, the Layton Art Library, and the Little Review papers.

The Archives serves as a branch of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin; provides records management services to UWM offices; acquires records of permanent value; and provides reference services for the UWM community, especially students, and the general public.

The Libraries’ photographic collection is a unique resource that has experienced unusual growth in recent years. In the American Geographical Society Library, photographic holdings reached 450,000 images by the end of 2005. The Harrison Forman Collection added an estimated 50,000 images. The Bert Krawczyk photographs of China and the Platt Collection of world views are other unique photo gifts. Photographs and documents relating to Golda Meir, housed in the University Archives, are another particularly significant part of the library’s research holdings.