USC libraries open genocide collection

USC libraries debuted their new Holocaust and Genocide Studies collection this week — a large, multi-disciplinary archive featuring rare books, original Nazi pamphlets, diaries, eyewitness testimonies and a variety of other resources.

“The unique thing about the collection is that it’s an interdisciplinary collection,” said Lynn Sipe, director of collection resources for USC’s Information Services Division and one of the collection’s facilitators. “It’s interdisciplinary in the sense that its not only history, but it’s also philosophy, religion, a little bit of art, medicine, psychology and a lot of literature and fiction — all dealing with the Holocaust.”

Sipe and the collection’s co-facilitator, history and Jewish studies professor Wolf Gruner, bought the 8,000-item collection from a book dealer in the San Fernando Valley more than two years ago. The purchase was funded by the USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences and USC Libraries.

“When we bought a collection as big as this, we had nowhere to put it that it would be readily accessible,” Sipe said. “We wanted it to be available to students to use as easily as possible.”

The new collection has been given a special room in the basement of Doheney Memorial Library.

What sat in that room on the floor nine months ago, stored in more than 300 boxes, is now shelved, catalogued and ready for students to use.

The collection is open to anyone with a USC student ID, and can be accessed anytime the library is open by picking up at key at Doheney’s main desk.

“It contains a variety of subjects which are of interest for a research paper,” Gruner said. “Children, resistance, churches, ghettos — almost every aspect of the Holocaust.”

In addition to covering a wide range of topics and disciplines, the collection includes resources written in a multitude of languages, such as English, German, Polish, Yiddish and Hebrew.

Another important reason for creating the collection, Gruner said, was laying a foundation for establishing a Holocaust and genocide studies program at USC.

Though the collection officially made its debut just this week with an open house for library employees to become more familiar with the collection, Gruner and Sipe are still looking to build the collection.

“The next step to enrich our collection, and my aim is to attract, for example, survivors’ families to donate private papers that can complement the Nazi documents we have in there and provide more materials from the perspective of the victims,” Gruner said.

Gruner and Sipe have also organized a Visions and Voices event next semester, featuring performances and conversation inspired by materials from the collection.

The event will take place on April 14 and will include a performance of a play created by two USC faculty artists and a panel discussion about the use of testimony and trauma for creative expression.

Correction: A previous version of this article identified Lynn Sipe as the director of collection resources for USC’s Information Services Division. He is the associate dean for Collections for USC Libraries. The Daily Trojan regrets the error.