Old Friends and Book Donations
to the Niels Bohr Library & Archives

By John Layman

Since its founding in 1962, the Niels Bohr Library & Archives has built an extraordinary collection on the history of modern physics, astronomy, geophysics, and related fields, largely through donations from the scientists who originally collected and prized the books. Like every library, it still has important gaps to fill in its holdings. Recently, I’ve helped the families of two old friends, Bill Kelly and Leonard Jossem, find a good home for their books, while adding missing titles to the Library’s collection.

It happened serendipitously years ago. I was looking for information on Bill Kelly, a member of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) from Iowa, in the AAPT Membership Directory. A Bill Kelly appeared as living in Silver Spring, a neighboring suburb here in Washington, DC. Within minutes of finding the listing I phoned Bill and we began meeting for lunch on an almost monthly schedule to renew an old friendship.

At about that same time, AIP began planning its 75th Anniversary celebration. Bill helped develop the AIP Department of Education and Manpower in 1961, so I reminded the anniversary organizers that they had local access to an early staff member from the New York headquarters. He became involved in the 75th anniversary planning and appears in the 75th anniversary DVD.

When Bill passed away, I felt that his library would interest AIP’s Niels Bohr Library & Archives. He had a long history in Physics Education at AIP, the National Research Council, and as consultant to AAPT. I arranged for Joe Anderson (Director of the Library) and Greg Good (Director of the History Center) to visit the Kelly home to inspect his collection. The result was a gift of forty-seven books to the Niels Bohr Library & Archives by Bill Kelly’s family. These books will be identified in the Niels Bohr Library’s book catalog and also with bookplates.

Last August, Leonard Jossem passed away. I’d known Len as president of AAPT and because of the work that we both carried out in AAPT and AIP over the years. At a memorial program in the Physics Department at Ohio State University I met Kay Smith, who had responsibility for Len’s library. I informed the History Center and again it is to become the beneficiary of a number of books from the family of Len Jossem. Five boxes of books have arrived and are being cataloged.

Although the Niels Bohr Library & Archives cannot accept all donations, it does carefully consider each book that is offered. Members of AIP member societies and their families should remember this as they ponder what to do with libraries gathered during long careers in science.

For more information, please contact Greg Good (301-209-3174), Joe Anderson (301-209-3183) or send an email to .

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