A HISTORY AND DESCRIPTION OF THE COLLECTION
The Howard V. and Edna H. Hong Kierkegaard Library began as the private collection of its founders who used it to support their work translating the writings of Søren Kierkegaard from Danish into English. In 1976, the Hongs gave the Library to St. Olaf College with the understanding that it would exist as a study and publication center, a place where students and scholars of varied experience could come and have access to materials in an environment enhancing their intellectual work. The sixth floor of Holland Hall was the first home of the Library at St. Olaf. In 1992, the collection moved to the Special Collections area in the lower level of the original Rolvaag Memorial Library building. In late 2021, the library was moved once again to Steensland Hall where it occupies the entirety of this historical building which was built in 1902 as St. Olaf’s original library. The Rare Book Room continues to remain in the lower level of Rolvaag Memorial Library.
The book collection numbers approximately 20,000 volumes and the periodical and newspaper article files include over 6,000 items with new acquisitions added regularly in all languages. The Library also maintains microfilm copies of Kierkegaard manuscripts held by the Royal Library in Copenhagen and materials in other formats such as microfiches, cassette tapes, CD’s, and videos. All materials are non-circulating and remain in the Library.
The Library’s collection grows in no small part through the generosity of scholars and donors. For more information, go to the GIVE to the Kierkegaard Library page.
The Hong Kierkegaard Library contains nine major sections. For a map of the Library’s main rooms and a more detailed list of our holdings, please visit Guide to the Collection.
Rare Book Room
The Rare Book Room continues to be located in the lower level of Rolvaag Memorial Library. The materials which date Pre-1856 form an important part of the collection and contain a replication of Kierkegaard’s personal library, based on contemporary records, which consists mainly of Danish and German editions read by Kierkegaard. Titles are also included which Kierkegaard might have seen or owned before his death in 1855 (Pre-1856 indicates this section). These materials are all available for use upon request. Scholars should see the HKL Curator (Anna Söderquist) or the HKL Assistant Director (Eileen Shimota) to use a book from this section. They will provide protocol, guidance and assistance to retrieve the book for use.
Article Files within the Kierkegaard Library include original and copied articles arranged by author with local title and subject access for most titles. Includes articles about Kierkegaard and Kierkegaard studies, book reviews, some lectures, etc.
Newspaper Article Files which similarly consist of Danish newspapers from the past 40 years and contain articles in the popular press about Kierkegaard, reviews of books, etc.
The Archives contain documentary materials related to the history of the Library and Kierkegaard studies, as well as biographical materials about Howard and Edna Hong.
Steensland Upper Level
In the upper level of Steensland Hall, the Kierk 1 section houses primary sources in all languages (i.e. Kierkegaard as author).
Kierk 2 can be found in the bookcases next to these primary sources and contains hundreds of critical materials with substantial sections about Kierkegaard.
Related Thinkers section offers materials by and about related thinkers, including contemporaries of Kierkegaard, thinkers who influenced his thought, and later thinkers who were affected by Kierkegaard’s ideas
The upper level of the library also contains numerous Dissertations donated by eminent scholars about Kierkegaard, his contemporaries, and the growing body of scholarship he has generated.
Steensland Lower Level – The Gordon Marino floor
Due to a generous donation, the lower level of Steensland Hall has been named the “Gordon Marino Space”. This level contains:
Related Thinkers section continues on the lower level.
Reference Materials regarding Kierkegaard studies, language study and translation, philosophy, religion, etc.
Special donated collections from these Kierkegaard scholars:
- Julia Watkins
- Ed Mooney
- Brian Barlow