Oivind Marius Hovde was born September 10, 1911, and died in Decorah on June 8, 1986. He served as head librarian at Luther College from 1949-1977, longer than any other head librarian in the College’s history. During his tenure at Luther, he worked in both Koren Library and Preus Library. With architect Donald Gray, he helped design Preus Library, which opened in 1969. In preparation, Hovde traveled to many other award-winning libraries and interviewed librarians, faculty, and students to gather information and ideas.
Hovde grew up in Westby, Wisconsin, and graduated from Luther College in 1932. He worked as a library assistant at Luther from 1935-1938, and spent a few years of public school teaching and working as a page in the Wisconsin State Legislature. He then attended the University of Michigan where he earned a master’s degree in library science in 1941.
Hovde first worked at the University of Michigan Law Library and the Concordia College Library in Moorhead, Minnesota. Upon invitation, he joined Luther in 1944 as associate librarian and became head librarian in 1949, a position he held until his retirement in 1977.
Fluent in Norwegian, Hovde co-edited a 1975 guide to Luther’s collection of Norwegian-American newspapers, one of the largest such collections in the United States. He also edited What Became of Jens?: A Study of Americanization Based on the Reminisces of J.C.M. Hanson, 1864-1943 published in 1974 by the Luther College Press. He was the author of numerous research reports and articles as well. Hovde was also the founder of the archives at Luther College. He translated several letters in the Archives written by Norwegian pioneers, including letters from Norwegian-American soldiers serving in the Civil War.
Hovde Lounge, a classroom-multi-purpose space in Preus Library, is named after the head librarian who served longer than any other in Luther’s history.
Hovde’s active professional life included being President of the Iowa Library Association and serving on the membership committee of the American Library Association. He helped establish the Northeast Iowa Academic Libraries organization which was a pioneer collaborative effort in Iowa librarianship. He was a principal selector of 10,000 volumes for California Lutheran College’s new library in 1960. He also was a consultant to the Capital University library and was one of the founders of the Iowa Private Academic Library Association.
Ref: Obituary, Decorah Journal, June 12, 1986.