HELP WANTED! International Mormon Studies Book Project

As Mormonism continues to develop internationally, so too does the field of Mormon studies. More and more foreign scholars are looking to do work in the area, but often lack the requisite resources. The International Mormon Studies Book Project is a new effort to provide critical resources for developing Mormon studies internationally by purchasing books to form a base Mormon studies collection at institutions where scholars have demonstrated a keen interest in doing research on Mormonism. Currently, institutions interested in partnering with the IMS Book Project span the globe, from Asia to Australia to Europe. The first two IMS Book Project collections are slated for donation to Jianghan University(江汉大学) in Wuhan, China, and the newly formed French Institute for Research on Mormonism (Institut Français pour la Recherche sur le Mormonisme) in Bordeaux, France. In the coming months and years we hope to place as many IMS Book Project collections as continued donations will allow and as interested recipient institutions can be found.

Donors to the IMS Book Project can purchase books directly from the organizational wishlist on Amazon.com for shipping to the Mormon Studies program at Claremont Graduate University, where IMS Book Project volunteers will assemble the collection and ready it for shipping to the recipient institution. IMS Book Project collections represent a comprehensive selection of the best work in Mormon studies, tailored to the specific disciplinary, language, and other unique needs of the recipient institution.

The project’s Amazon.com wishlist can be found here:
https://www.amazon.com/registry/wishlist/NHU0ZYLG1BVA/ref=cm_reg_rd-upd?_encoding=UTF8&msgid=updated

If you would like to help identify donors, identify recipient institutions, suggest books for inclusion on the IMS “menu,” help cover shipping costs, or be involved in other International Mormon Studies initiatives, send an email to internationalmormonstudies@gmail.com.

Please share this announcement with others who may be interested.

  • http://thmazing.com Th.

    .

    This is ALL nonfiction. Why no Fire in the Pasture? Why no Dispensation? Why are Mormon Studies departments so leery of literature?

  • http://www.vizesmormons.com.br Kent Larsen

    I agree with Th. Literature should be included.

    I also wonder what bias is behind the partner institutions selected. How is it that the institutions selected speak two of the less frequently spoken languages in the Church. Where are the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking institutions?

    I could probably help find a Portuguese-speaking institution.

    • minouye

      Kent, thank you for your help! A request from a researcher at the Chinese university provided the initial impetus for the project, and the French Institute for Research on Mormonism is right up the IMS alley, so to speak. Currently we are communicating with universities in Australia to identify a recipient institution there. However, we intend for the IMS book project to be a long-running project, matching collections with recipient institutions as long as there are books being donated. Our modest goal for 2013 is to match at least four collections with recipient institutions, but it would be great if we could blow past that goal. If you would like to volunteer to help find Spanish- or Portuguese-speaking institutions, please do look into this and follow up with an email to internationalmormonstudies@gmail.com.

      Th., thank you for your suggestions! It could certainly be the case that a recipient institution would want to include titles on Mormon literature within its collection. Please do send an email to internationalmormonstudies@gmail.com with these suggestions.

  • http://www.keepapitchinin.org Ardis E. Parshall

    Done! A campaign like this where donors can choose which titles to sponsor is a lot more effective than asking for a dollar amount.

  • Wilfried Decoo

    Commendable initiative. My recommendation would be to first check out how solid and representative a researcher or an “institution” is. What kind of work have they done that shows a serious interest in Mormonism or, at least, in “recent” religious movements? Theses? Dissertations? Peer reviewed publications? Interuniversity cooperation with LDS scholars? In a certain country, there might be other centers (reputable departments of religion, of sociology…) that are much more valuable than something that was launched with an impressive name but is actually a one-man endeavor that is not taken seriously by its peers. Next, there should be a guarantee for library registration and management: any book should directly be donated to a university library which is part of the interlibrary loan system with catalogues on line. If books end up in the office of a researcher or of some kind of “institute”, the country is not served. Also, why donate books if the same material is accessible on cd-roms or online? International research on Mormonism is in great need of easily accessible databases & downloadable sources for that kind of material. Is donating books not kind of passé? I would also worry about older material that non-Mormon researchers cannot place in a current perspective. I see the strangest descriptions of Mormonism by non-Mormons who quote from books of decades ago and depict our beliefs in terms a Mormon would hardly recognize. Should electronic sources that give access to the most current research not take precedence? E.g., e-subscriptions to the main Mormon journals with renewal contingent on research and publications. Just some thoughts…

    • minouye

      Thank you, Ardis and Wilfried! These points are well taken, especially the bit about electronic access. We’ll ask Dialogue and MHA to donate electronic subscriptions, for sure.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    I suggest adding two books that include scientific surveys of Mormons alongside other faith groups in America, showing the distinctiveness of the Mormon community manifest in the attitudes and behaviors of its people. One is American Grace, a detailed compilation of research on the characteristics of the different religious traditions in America, and the other is Almost Christian, which reports results of a detailed survey on the religious acculturation of American teenagers, with one chapter devoted to the distinctiveness of the Mormons, titled “Mormon Envy”. I also suggest that, when they become available, books containing reports of the University of Pennsylvania addressing the generosity of Mormons, and of the Pew Foundation on the demographics of Mormons, would provide the same kind of objective comparisons that show that the distinctiveness of Mormon beliefs makes a real difference in the behavior of the believers. Too often there is a tendency for scholars to make assumptions about how the doctrines of Mormonism manifest themselves in the behavior of Mormons, based on analogies to the members of other faith traditions, with little objective information. The objective research contained in these studies is a needed curative for that natural tendency for people to project onto Mormons their own prejudices about strong religious believers.

  • Rachel

    I would add two from the “A Very Short Introduction Series” to this list: Bushman’s on Mormonism, and Givens’ on The Book of Mormon. Otherwise, great idea!

  • Wilfried Decoo

    Thanks, Minouye. I’d like to insist on the importance of direct donation to the main library of the university. If your recipient does not want that, that should raise an alarm. Next, after a few weeks, proper library registration in their online catalogue can be checked from anywhere in the world. It’s the only way to guarantee that many researchers, also thanks to their local interlibrary loan system, will have access to these books for a long time to come.

    • minouye

      Yes, of course, ensuring availability and access is extremely important. There are certain protocols in some universities that create complications. For instance, in some mainland Chinese libraries, if only one copy of a foreign language book is held by the library, it may not be borrowed by anyone except for professors. (!!) So then another option would be to donate to a public library with easy access, such as the Shanghai Library. But then the difficulty is that the researchers we know in China who are currently working on Mormonism and American religion are in Wuhan. Giving books to the Shanghai library to help researchers in Wuhan would be like giving books to Georgetown to help researchers in Wyoming. So in this case it looks as if we will have to donate the collection to a school within the university and not the main library, though of course we will make the donation under the condition that it be accessible and well-publicized.

      • minouye

        But, I really, really like your suggestion about being able to verify the holdings in their online catalog. This is a brilliant idea and we will definitely use it in our protocols.


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