David H. Stam

Senior Scholar, University Librarian, Emeritus

David Stam

Contact Information

145 Eggers Hall


Ph.D., Northwestern University, 1978


Polar exploration and book history


David H. Stam retired as Syracuse University Librarian Emeritus in 1998 when he was appointed Senior Scholar in the SU History Department.  In 2001 he edited and published a massive two-volume reference work entitled An International Dictionary of Library Histories (Fitzroy Dearborn). Apart from occasional teaching, since then he has devoted his scholarly work to Polar studies, in particular the print cultures of the Arctic and Antarctica, publishing one extensive exhibition catalog (Books on Ice, 2005), a dozen articles and reviews, and a volume of memoirs (What Happened to Me , 2014). His Adventures in Polar Reading was published in December 2019 and won Honorable Mention for the William James Mills Prize of the Polar Libraries Colloquy. It was one of three books cited from among thirty-six 2019 polar books considered for the prize.


"A Bibliography of the Published Writings of Harry Miller Lydenberg, 1942‑1960."  Bulletin of The New York Public Library LXIV (1960).
Turgenev in English:  A Checklist of Works by and About Him.  Compiled by Rissa Yachnin and David H. Stam.  With an introductory essay by Marc Slonin.  New York, New York Public Library, 1962.

Wordsworthian Criticism 1964‑74:  An Annotated Bibliography.  Compiled by David H. Stam.  New York, New York Public Library, 1974.

"British Studies at the Newberry Library," ­British Studies Monitor IV (Winter 1974).

"Leigh Hunt & ­The True Sun," Bulletin of The New York Public Library (Summer 1974).
England's Calvin:  A Study of the Publication of John Calvin's Works in Tudor England­.  Ann Arbor, University Microfilms, Inc., 1978.

"Scholarly and Research Services of Research Libraries."  ­ALA Encyclopedia, 1986.  Revised from 1980 edition. 

"'Prove All Things:  Hold Fast That Which is Good'; Deaccessioning and   Research Libraries," College & Research Libraries (January 1982, pp. 5‑13), from a speech given at the Brown University Conference on  Deaccessioning, June 1981.

"Concluding Unscientific Postscript:  Reflections on Selectivity from a Non‑Technical Perspective."  (A paper given at the Rockefeller Foundation Symposium on Scientific Information Systems, October 1982).  In: Selectivity in Information Systems, ed. Kenneth S. Warren (New York, Praeger, 1985).

"National Preservation Planning in the United Kingdom:  An American Perspective."  ­British Library R & D Report No. 5759.  London, March 1983.

"Think Globally‑‑Act Locally:  Collection Development and Resource Sharing."  Collection Building (Spring 1983).  Reprinted in ­The Best of Library Literature, 1984, and in Collection Building Reader, 1992.

"The Doors and Windows of the Library:  Leigh Hunt and Special Collections."  ­The Life & Times of Leigh Hunt, ed. Robert A. McCown.  Iowa City, Friends of University of Iowa Libraries, 1985.  Reprinted in ­The Boo­k Collector, (Sprin­g, 1986).  Reprinted in The Best of Library Literature, 1986.

"Finding Funds to Support Preservation," in The Library Preservation Program (Chicago, American Library Association, 1985).

"Collaborative Collection Development:  Progress, Problems, and Potential,"  ­IFLA Journal XII, No. 1 (1986).  Reprinted in Collection Building VII, No. 3 (1986).   Translation appeared in ­Bulletin des Bibliothèques de France XXXI, No. 2 (1986). Also reprinted in Collection Building Reader, 1992.

"Technology and African Studies:  Preservation; The Research Libraries Group Approach to a National Problem," in ­African Studies (London, The British Library, 1986).  British Library Occasional Papers 6.

"Cooperative Collection Development:  The RLG Experience," in ­Research Libraries:  The Past 25 Years, the Next 25 Years­ (Boulder, Colo., Colorado Associated University Press, 1986).

"The Bibliography of Modern American Literature:  Ein Beispiel für nicht‑deutsche Literaturerschliessung," in ­Bibliographische Probleme im Zeichen eines erweiterten Literaturbegriffs­ (Weinheim, West Germany, DFG, 1988).

"Sharing Resources:  Do We Have Valid Models?" in Collections: Their Development, Management, Preservation, and Sharing; ARL/SCONUL Joint Meeting, University of York, September 19‑22, 1988 (Washington, Association of Research Libraries, 1989).

"Plus ca change...: Sixty Years of the Association of Research Libraries.  October 22,1992."  [Printed and distributed by the Association of Research Libraries, 1992, and on its website, www.arl.org]

"The Questions of Preservation," in Research Libraries--Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. William J. Welsh, editor.  Kanazawa, Japan: Kanazawa Institute of Technology and Greenwood Press, 1993.  Pp.
(Presented at Kanazawa, May 1984)

"'A Glutton for Books': Leigh Hunt and the London Library, 1844-46," Biblion, New York Public Library, Spring (1998) 149-190

"'Can the Research Library Teach?' A North American Perspective on   the Teaching Library," The LIBER Quarterly, VII (1977) 427-436
International Dictionary of Library Histories.  Edited by David H. Stam.Chicago/London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001.  2 Vols.  1053 p. 

Review: John Barnard and D.F. McKenzie, eds. The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain (Vol. IV, 1557-1695.) New York Cambridge University Press, 2002 Reviewed in Albion 36 no. 2 (Summer 2004), 307-08.

"Arctic Survivals: the Restoration of Records from Lost Polar Expeditions," Proceedings of the Twentieth Polar Libraries Colloquy, June 7, 2004, Ottawa, Canada (with John Dean, Cornell University Library).

Obituary, Richard W. Cooper, Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, Vol. 116, part 2. Dec. 2006

"Innocents on the Ice": the Evolution of an Exhibition. Gazette of the Grolier Club. New ser. 57 (2006 [i.e. 2007]) p. 50-60

"Bibliography." in Matthew A. Henson's Historic Arctic Journey. Explorers Club edition, with Deirdre C. Stam. Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press 2009

"Henry W. Howgate: a Scandal in U.S. Arctic Exploration," New York Times Online [Times Topics] December 2009: www.nytimes.com/info/henry-w-howgate 

"Polar Libraries," entry for Oxford Companion to the Book. Ed. Michael Suarez et al. Oxford:Oxford University Press, 2010

"Henry W. Howgate," New York Times Online. Retrieved December 15, 2010 www.nytimes.com/info/henry-w-howgate/

"First International Polar Year," New York Times Online. Retrieved December 15, 2010 www.nytimes.com/info/first-international-polar-year/

"Adolphus W. Greely. New York Times Online. Retrieved December 15, 2010. www.nytimes.com/info/adolphus-w-greely/

Timothy Dye, Heather Lane, and David H. Stam. “Dreadful to Behold”: Frostbite on the 1910-1913 British Antarctic Expedition. American Journal of Public Health  100, No. 12 (October 21, 2010) p. 2364-65 and online at  http://ajph.aphapublications.org/cgi/content/extract/100/12/2364

“The Lord’s Librarians: The American Seamen’s Friend Society and their Loan Libraries, 1837-1967. An Historical Excursion with someUnanswered Questions.” Coriolis: An International Journal of Maritime History III (June 2012) p. 45-59, appendix p. i-xiv (Published online by Mystic Seaport Museum). Awarded the George Morris Prize by Mystic Seaport for best essay in Coriolis in 2012.

What Happened To Me: My Life with Books, Research Libraries, and Performing Arts.  Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2014. Electronic Version available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

“Publishing in the Age of the Selfie,” a self-review of What Happened to Me.” SHARP News. 2015.

“Making the Most of ALS (Veteran’s View)”, in VA Biorepository Brain Bank News. Issue 3 (Summer 2015) p. 2-3

“Byrd’s Books:  The Antarctic Libraries of Little America, 1928-1941.” Published in Coriolis: An International Journal of Maritime History (Mystic Seaport May 2016) Vol. VI No 1 pp. 26-44.

Letter. “Give Self-Published Books a Chance,” New York Review of Books (Nov. 24, 2016) p. 74

“The Enduring Books of the Endurance: A Reading Community at Sea.”  [On Shackleton’s Endurance Expedition, 1914-17. Forthcoming in 2017 in Mystic Seaport’s Coriolis: An International Journal of Maritime History.

Review: Capelotti, P. J. The Greatest Show in the Arctic: The American Exploration of Franz Josef Land, 1898-1905 (Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press 2016). In Journal of Historical Geography. November 30, 2016. Copyright 2017 Elsevier. 


Teaching Appointments

Syracuse University University Librarian Emeritus; Senior Scholar, History Dept.­ 1998-
Syracuse University University Librarian  (retired August 30, 1998) 1986‑98
The New York Public Library Andrew W. Mellon Director of The Research Libraries 1978‑86
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.  Librarian, Milton S. Eisenhower Library, the principal library of the University. 1973‑78
Newberry Library, Chicago, Illinois. Head of Technical ServicesDepartment (Aug. 1967‑Sept. 1971).  Associate Librarian (June 1969‑Aug. 1973).  1967‑73
Marlboro College Library, Marlboro, Vermont. Librarian.  Also taught courses in English literature and research methods, including a course in printing and printing history. 1964‑67
The New York Public Library.  Served as clerical assistant  (Technical Services); assistant editor, library publications; reference librarian (Information and Music Divisions); and Manuscript Cataloger (Berg Collection). 1959‑64
Active duty, U.S. Navy.  Discharged as Journalist 2nd Class.  Duties included librarianship of U.S.S. Galveston. 1956‑58

Recent Invited Lectures

Bibliotheca Universalis: Some Common Themes in Library History.” Stephen Harvard Lecture, Dartmouth College, October 2000. A lightly revised version was presented at the Grolier Club on April 4, 2001.


“Silent Friends – Books and Reading on Polar Expeditions”: By David and Deirdre Stam. Presented at the 19th Polar Libraries Colloquy, Dansk Polar Institute, Copenhagen, June 20, 2001. Similar presentations were given in Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska (November 2002), and Edinburgh, Scotland (March 2003). 

“So What’s So Special?”: Keynote address for “Building on Strength: Developing an ARL Agenda for Special Collections,” Brown University, June 28, 2001.

“Anticipating the Past; Retrospecting the Future”: Global Guesswork. Yale University Library Conference on Global Collection Development. May 24, 2005.

“An Army without Ammunition”: Books and the College Library.” The first annual Richard W. Couper Phi Beta Kappa Library Lecture, Hamilton College, Clinton, NY, September 9, 2005.

“Books on Ice: Hot Books from Cool Climes.” Presented by David and Deirdre Stam. Dartmouth College Library. October 16, 2006. Similar talks were delivered at the University of Toronto, the Mercantile Library of St. Louis, the Smithsonian Institution, 

“The Hedgehog and the Fox: on Polar Book Collecting.” Auction Talk, Swann Gallery, New York, on the occasion of the John Levinson Polar sale, May 27, 2007.

Talk for the Centennial Celebration of the Carnegie Library of Syracuse University, October 4, 2007.

 “Bending Time: the Role of Periodicals in 19th-Century Anglo-American Polar Expeditions.”  With Deirdre C. Stam. Victorian Periodicals Society Annual Conference, Richmond, Virginia, September 14-15, 2007: Repeated with revisions at the University of Edinburgh Centre for the History of the Book, October 19, 2007.

Chair. Session on Presenting Archives, “Waking the Dead: Archives in the 21st Century.” Museums Association (UK) Annual Conference.  Glasgow, October 21-24, 2007.

“Creating the Archival Future: Finding and Funding the Hidden Archives,” lecture delivered at Emory University, February 1, 2008, at a symposium in honor of Salmon Rushdie and the acquisition of his literary archives by Emory University.

Visiting speaker, Prof. Clare Flemming’s course in Archival Management, Pratt Institute, Manhattan Branch, March 4, 2008

HMS Terror and Books on Ice”: A Talk Inaugurating the Exhibition, Ice: a Victorian Romance, at the Linda Hall Library, Kansas City, Mo., May 1, 2008.

“Congering the Past: the Books of the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition, 1881-84: Before and After.” a lecture delivered at the International Polar Year symposium (North by Degree) at the Philadelphia Museum of Natural Sciences, May 23, 2008.  See (c above.

“Luck is the Residue of Design, Or Vice Versa, or Not: My Life in Special Collections,” invited lecture at the University of California Los Angeles Rare Book School, August 6, 2008.

“Bassett Jones, The Grolier Club, and the 1932 Polar Exhibition: Two Thousand Items and Counting,” a talk delivered at the Grolier Club, New York, on May 11, 2009.  

“The Shoulders of Giants: RBMS at Fifty,” keynote address at the 50th anniversary conference of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the American Library Association, June 6, 2009.

Invited Lecturer and panelist at University of Southern Illinois, Carbondale in an interdisciplinary series on Antarctica. Title: “Silent Friends: Explorers’ Reading in Antarctica” April 23-26, 2012.