Antique angling book Complete Angler finds home at Montana State University
BOZEMAN--An 18th-century leather-bound edition of "The Complete Angler," given decades ago by one Montana brother to another, has found the perfect home: the new Trout and Salmonid Collection at Montana State University-Bozeman.
"Nobody said, 'Don't do this. You're crazy'," said library dean Bruce Morton about starting a special fish book collection that he said will rank among the best in the country. "It was, 'Why haven't you thought of this before'?"
So far the collection has more than 5,000 trout-related pieces, from the rare copy of that British classic to a 17th-century ichthyology of fish written in Latin to cookbooks with titles like "Trout on a Stick."
Children's stories, master's theses, agency reports, how-to angling books, literature, diaries and periodicals are among the titles. So are scientific studies, environmental impact statements and a 1554 edition of "The History of Aquatic Animals," published in Rome.
To date the collection comprises the library's purchases plus two large donations. For now, just 1,563 titles are catalogued and shelved while the library undergoes a renovation and expansion. But starting this winter, the remaining 245 boxes will be unpacked and available to anyone under the hushed archival conditions of the library's second-floor special collections room.
Morton, whom everyone assumes fishes but does not, said he got the idea for the collection while pondering how to keep his library relevant in a digital age.
"We liked the notion of Trout U," he said. That's a nickname MSU recently claimed owing to an historic curriculum in fisheries science, proximity to several blueribbon trout streams, and a longstanding physical education course in fly-fishing. Added to those factors is a recent scientific assault on whirling disease by Bozeman scientists as well as recognition from Sports Afield Magazine as the No. 1 university in the country to attend if students want to wet a line.
"Considering where Bozeman is and why people come here, this is trout mecca for people who live here and worldwide," Morton said. "Our goal is if people do research on trout studies, MSU is one place they have to visit."