SLU’s treasures – new times in the archive

Last changed: 10 July 2023
The Archive

In 1879, there was a sports magazine called Sporren dedicated to only all-male sports. Things have changed since then. Among other things, the magazine and 4,000 other printed publications and books at the Veterinary Museum in Skara have been cleared of mould, and the building that stores the collection – the Archive – was recently restored.

East of the museum, at the centre of the SLU campus in Skara, there is a small chapel-like, yellow building – the Archive. The building is recently restored and decorated; modern Morris wallpaper frames specially-made crimson and yellow bookcases painted with tempera.

The bookcases contain collections of books printed before 1889, the year the last Skara veterinary surgeon graduated. The heads of the Skara Veterinary Institute – Lars Tidén and N.E Forssell – laboriously collected literature on everything from the history of Skåne, travel and Swedish topography to books on veterinary and equine science.

Horrible construction

All through the 1800s, the collection could be found here and there on campus. At the turn of the century, in 1900, Professor Wilhelm Hallander took up the post as head veterinarian. He collected money, among other things from Skaraborgs hushållningssällskap (Skaraborg’s housekeeping society), to build the archive. In 1908, the building was complete and literature was gathered in the same place within the framework of the Hernquist library.

“The building was horribly built,” says Göran Jonsson (“Jins”), manager of the Veterinary Museum in Skara. In 1922, a visitor reported that the beams were so mouldy and rotten that they barely dared to enter the building. They also stated that the books felt like “newly mangled linen”.

Veterinärkåren (the veterinary body) then took charge of their historical documents and renovated the building, but not very properly. The building has stood on an un-drained foundation with insufficient ventilation and the exterior was once painted with plastic paint, which resulted in the entire book collection being infected with mould.

Restoration in the 2000s

During the 2000s, SLU’s real estate management attended to the restoration of the archive in accordance with correct procedures. The foundation is now well-drained and a new ventilation system has been installed. In addition, the house was repainted with a paint made for older buildings which allows the surface to breathe. With financial support from a local bank and “the Friends of the Museum” association, the beautiful furnishing was installed.

Today, the SLU library owns the book collection and has funded the restoration of the books. All 4,000 of them were wrapped individually in paper and transported to a bookbinder in Gothenburg for restoration.

The Veterinary Museum is responsible for the public part and the staff are happy to show the collection – why not book a tour when in Skara?

The archive was recently reopened during “Smedjeveckan” in September 2018. It belongs to the SLU library and is an important puzzle piece for SLU Skara. Here, you can find both the past and the present. The paper Svensk Veterinärtidning (number 12/2018) includes an article on the opening. It was written by Lars-Erik Appelgren.