Collection of European Union Documents To Be Named in Honor of Barbara Sloan

Issue Date: 
March 3, 2014

The University of Pittsburgh’s library collection relating to the origins and present-day affairs of the European Union—the most extensive collection of public EU documents and publications in North America—will be formally named in honor of retired EU librarian Barbara Sloan.

The collection will be officially designated the Barbara Sloan European Union Document Collection at a public ceremony to be held at 2 p.m., March 6, in the Thornburgh Room of Pitt’s Hillman Library.

Remarks will be delivered by Ambassador João Vale de Almeida, head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United States; Rush Miller, Hillman University Librarian and director of the University Library System; and political science professor Alberta Sbragia, vice provost for graduate studies and past director of the European Union Center of Excellence and European Studies Center, who was heavily involved in a 2007 bid that brought the EU collection to Pitt.

Granted to Pitt’s University Library System in 2007, the collection dating from the early 1950s is an invaluable resource to scholars of recent European history. It includes a virtually complete set of all official publications and documents produced by the European Union along with those produced by the European Economic Community and European Community, international organizations that preceded the 1993 establishment of the European Union.

The naming of the collection recognizes Barbara Sloan’s 45 years of service to the collection, which was first housed in Washington, D.C., in the library of the Delegation of the European Commission—now the European Union—from the mid-1950s until the collection’s transfer to Pitt. Sloan worked in the Delegation library for 35 years, 22 of them as Head of Public Enquiries, until her retirement in 2004.

Sloan also played a major role in designing the structure and content of Pitt’s Archive of European Integration, a digital version of the EU collection. It is currently the largest non-European Union depository of documents online, containing more than 24,000 European Union documents and nearly 6,000 documents from private organizations.

“Barbara Sloan was largely responsible for compiling the collection—over 16 million unique pages—from 1969 to 2004,” said Phil Wilkin, social sciences bibliographer in the University Library System. “In 2007, she helped administer moving the collection to Hillman Library. Since 2007 she has played a vital role in the growth of the Archive of European Integration. During this period she became the most knowledgeable person on European Union documentation in the Western Hemisphere. It is fitting that the collection bear her name.”

Scholars from across the United States and abroad have visited Pitt to conduct research in the collection. The European Union Center of Excellence and European Studies Center offers a Summer Scholar Research Program designed for scholars to come to Pittsburgh and use the European Union Delegation Collection. In both 2012 and 2013, there were at least 25 applicants, a majority from Europe. For one of the scholars, Alex Grigorescu of the University of Loyola, University Library System staff located a secret memo written by Alain Peyrefitte, one of French statesman Charles de Gaulle’s aides, in the early 1960s. The citations he found led Grigorescu to believe that no one had read this memo since the 1960s.

In addition to speaking at the naming ceremony for the Barbara Sloan European Union Document Collection during his visit to Pitt, Ambassador Vale de Almeida also will deliver a lecture during an invitation-only luncheon hosted by Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg and Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Patricia E. Beeson. 

João Vale de Almeida was appointed Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United States in 2010. He has also served as the Director General for External Relations at the European Commission, the European Union’s executive body. From 2004 to 2009, Vale de Almeida was the Head of Cabinet for European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, acting as Barroso’s personal representative for the negotiations on the Treaty of Lisbon and assisting in the launch of several G-20 summits, including the 2009 summit held in Pittsburgh. Vale de Almeida, who is Portuguese, joined the European Commission in 1982 at its delegation in Lisbon after spending seven years as a journalist.

The ambassador’s visit is hosted by Pitt’s European Union Center of Excellence and European Studies Center within the University Center for International Studies. One of only 10 centers in the United States to be designated a Center of Excellence and receive funding from the European Union, the European Union Center of Excellence and European Studies Center are directed by Ronald Linden, professor of political science.