As part of their “Treasures of the Library” series, the Friends of the UW—Madison Libraries are hosting an Oktoberfest-style event to celebrate the unveiling of the newly restored Deutscher Sprachatlas.

The Deutscher Sprachatlas is an important German linguistics atlas in Memorial Library’s German language and literature collection. Due to its fragile condition, it has been unavailable to linguistic students and scholars for years. In late 2011, Laurie Wermter of Memorial Library’s Reference Department notified the preservation staff of the atlas’s condition. She then contacted three German department faculty to determine the value of the atlas, as preserving it would require a large monetary investment. The German linguistics specialists confirmed that it was indeed a valuable item to have on hand. Professor Joseph Salmons insisted that it is a “tremendously valuable piece” and Professor Robert Howell agreed that long-term access to it is vital. “For years, I’ve known that it was in bad shape and haven’t sent students to it for that reason,” Professor Salmons explained, “but I had no clue HOW BAD until I recently came by the library to show it to a visiting colleague. He was seriously impressed to see it in an American library, although he said, ‘it’s Madison, you have EVERYTHING.’”

A damaged map from the Sprachatlas before restoration.
A damaged map from the Sprachatlas before restoration.

Now with funding from the Friends, the original has been carefully restored by Memorial Library’s Preservation Department and a facsimile has been created for use in the stacks.

Help celebrate the unveiling of the restored atlas and facsimile in true Oktoberfest style! The event will take place at Der Rathskeller at Memorial Union on Wednesday, October 9th from 5:30 to 7:30pm. Enjoy some good old-fashioned German-Wisconsin “Oom Pah Pah” music and view the Sprachatlas from 5:30 to 6:30pm, then learn more about the atlas’s importance and preservation from 6:30 to 7:30pm. German-style refreshments will be available.

The event is sponsored by the Friends of the UW—Madison Libraries along with Memorial Library Reference and the Collection Preservation Departments, the Department of German, the Max Kade Institute for German-American Studies, and Mills Music Library.

At a Glance:

  • What: Celebrating the newly restored Deutscher Sprachatlas
  • When: Wednesday, October 9, 5:30-7:30pm
  • Where: Der Rathskeller, Memorial Union
  • Cost: FREE and open to all. German-style refreshments will be available. Wunderbar!
  • Parking: North Lake Street ramp or Helen C. White Lot 6 (below the building, entrance on Park Street)

Want more?

The UW—Madison Libraries have one of the finest and largest collections of German language and literature in the country. The Department of German and the Max Kade Institute (MKI) have been recording German dialects spoken in North America for almost seventy years. The North American German Dialect Archive at MKI is now the largest such collection in the world. Mills Music Library also has an impressive collection of early recordings of traditional German-American music by Wisconsin bands and musicians.

For more details about the atlas’s restoration, see the lovely article written by Andrea Rolich, on page 8 of the Fall 2013 Friends Newsletter.

For more information about this event, visit the Friends Events page or call (608) 265-2505.