Ephemera in Our Collections

Ephemera is made up of advertising and informational material published by companies, institutions, organizations, and associations.

Content and Diversity

The collection extends to more than 11 500 meters of shelf space, or about 14 million printed items. The National Library receives about 120 000 publications annually in legal deposits from printers every year. The collection includes monographs – brochures and pamphlets – that were not issued by a publisher or have fewer than 16 pages. 

Locally distributed publications, including periodicals and member newsletters, as well as publications produced for internal distribution by companies, organizations, and government agencies, are also categorized as ephemera.  The collection runs the gamut from flimsy club newsletters to product catalogs of several hundred pages.

The ephemera collection contains publications of fleeting currency, but which reflect society during various periods of time. This makes these authentic publications valuable source material for research in a variety of fields.

Categories and Subject Division

Much of the collection is made up of advertising and informational material. Other categories are annual reports, school yearbooks, taxpayer directories, programs from theaters, films, and concerts, telephone books, schedules, tourist brochures, menus, and posters.

The material is divided according to the publisher's main subject orientation, rather than the content of the publication, but they often coincide. The older collection through 1970 was categorized according to the National Library's former guidelines. Since 1971, we have been applying the SAB classification system used by most Swedish libraries.  The material is also divided into ten-year periods, e.g., 1991-2000.

The Collection

  • Almanacs
  • Catalogs (e.g., auctions, publishers, stamps)
  • Certificates of Achievement
  • Companies, Associations, Institutions, and Organizations:
    - Audit Reports and Annual Reports
    - Guidelines, Regulations, Bylaws
    - Agreements
    - Informational Material
    - Membership Rosters
    - Employee Magazines
    - Rolls
    - Programs
    - Prospectuses and Advertising
    - Price Lists
  • Contracts
  • Corporate Publications
  • Correspondence Courses
  • County Proclamations through 1978
  • Expert Opinions, 1956-1987
  • Job Advertisement Lists
  • Library New Acquisition Lists
  • Menus
  • Notices (i.e., invitations and death announcements)
  • Offprints
  • Parish Newsletters, 1975 to the present
  • Political Party Election Propaganda
  • Posters 
  • School Yearbooks, Reports, Student Newspapers
  • Swedish Local Government:
    - Documents and Minutes through 1990
  • Schedules
  • Universities (through 1988), Schools, and Organizations:
    - Research Overviews
    - Degree Papers
    - Teaching Materials
  • Taxpayer Directories
  • Telephone Books
  • Theater, Concert, and Film Programs
  • Tourist Brochures.

History

The ephemera collection used to be called "minor publications" or "uncataloged publications". Classification as a minor publication was based on whether the nature of the material was such that it could not be cataloged according to National Library guidelines. However, the boundary between material that should or should not be cataloged has varied over the years and some ephemera may be searchable in Regina and LIBRIS.

The foundation of the collection was already laid by the 19th century. According to the National Library’s 1878 annual report, August Stringberg organized the collection of minor/uncataloged publications that year. It comprised printed advertising, the annual reports of associations, bylaws, membership lists, posters, schedules, school yearbooks, and similar publications, which library management felt could be organized without being cataloged.

The material was classified to a certain extent and the portfolios containing uncataloged publications were shelved according to the respective subject within the cataloged collection. By the 1950s, the collection had grown so large that the library chose to gather the parts into a cohesive collection.

Last updated: 2016-10-12
Contact person: Catarina Nordling, e-mail: firstname.lastname@kb.se

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