Storrs L. Olson Bryological Library: Overview

On October 6, 2008, the Storrs L. Olson Bryological Library was inaugurated at the University of Connecticut. The library is named in honor of Dr. Storrs L. Olson, a paleontologist at the Smithsonian Institution. Although Dr. Olson’s research focuses on avian paleontology he has maintained a passion for bryophytes, and in particular for bryological literature. Dr. Olson was first introduced to mosses when he was an undergraduate student at Florida State University in the mid 1960s and enrolled in the bryology course offered by Dr. Ruth Breen.


Through donations from various authors, and a relentless quest for missing titles in antique bookstores, Dr. Olson continued to develop the collection. Soon the inventory listed over 1000 titles, and issues of all bryological journals. In 2006, Dr. Olson decided to donate his entire library and he chose the University of Connecticut. In the spring of 2007, Bernard Goffinet and Juan Carlos Villarreal drove to Arlington, Virginia, to wrap all items, and load boxes into a container, which was then shipped to Storrs, Connecticut. Upon arrival all books were frozen as part of our pest control, inventoried and organized in the library attached to the Biological Research Collections in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. The books and journals are shelved in two rows of the compactor and reprints are organized in filing cabinets.

DilleniusThe holdings of bryological journals donated by Dr. Olson complement an earlier donation by Dr. Lewis Anderson of complete sets of The BryologistJournal of BryologyLindbergia and Revue Bryologique. Furthermore, the library acquired the bryological, and primarily “Sphagnological” library of the late Dr. Ton Damman, a former professor in our department. Today, the library grows through donations and acquisitions made possible by financial support from Dr. Olson and Ms. Mary Ann Olson, whereby new titles, from Engel and Glenny’s (2008) flora of New Zealand liverworts and hornworts to Hallingbäck’s moss flora of Sweden complete a library that holds many historical publications such as Dillenius’ 1741 Historia Muscorum, Hedwig’s 1801 Species Muscorum Frondosorum and Schwägrichen’s 1830 Species Muscorum Frondosorum.

The ramifications of the generous gift by Dr. Olson have been felt far beyond Storrs. All duplicate items, including books, journals and reprints, were sent to the University of Concepción in Chile in support of bryological research in that country (see Mosses of Chile).library1

The Storrs L. Olson bryological library is maintained and developed to promote the study of bryophytes at the University of Connecticut, but is accessible to everyone, although only in situ, as items cannot be loaned at this point. However, request for photocopies of specific pages can be accommodated. The entire collection of books and serials is inventoried below.

The Hoe library included thousands of reprints, each in an individual manilla folder filed by author’s name. Over the years in a sporadically air-conditioned room in Honolulu, the folders had accumulated an unpleasant amount of insect frass and were discarded. Reprints from strictly bryological journals were regarded as duplicates and disposed of. The remainder were grouped by the journal in which they were published and arranged alphabetically. The extent of the reprint holdings may be appreciated by the fact that over 632 different journals are represented.

Support the library! We appreciate support from authors of new releases and welcome any addition to the library. We seek in particular reprints, of studies published in non-bryological journals (i.e., in journals not held in this library). Every donor is acknowledged by his or her name printed on a bookplate inserted in the publication. Books and reprints can be send to Dr. Bernard Goffinet, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 75 North Eagleville road, University of Connecticut, Storrs CT, 06269-3043 USA. If you wish to make a financial contribution please contact Dr. Bernard Goffinet. Donations are tax deductible in the US.

The library originally held 1250 books. As of January 1, 2024, the library holds 1749 books, thanks to contributions from Bernard Goffinet, William Buck, Norton Miller and various colleagues. We, bryologists at the University of Connecticut, are extremely grateful to Dr. Olson for his generous gift and to all authors that have donated copies of their work to our library.