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Former student accommodation block transformed into new library

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A former student accommodation complex in Wrexham has been transformed into a library featuring more than 13,000 books collected by a New York scholar who was forced to leave the United States in the 1960s due to his left wing views.

The Goldstein Library documents the vast literary interests of Leonard Goldstein and his wife, Marilou.

Professor Goldstein, who left the United States with Marilou during the McCarthy era, arranged the bequest of his library to Glyndŵr University in 2011 through a desire to keep the collection together.

Following his death, aged 89, in March 2012, the books were transferred from his home in Kentish Town, London, to safe storage.

They were relocated to the refurbished Plas Coch Hostel, at Glyndŵr University’s Wrexham campus, in December 2012 and have now been organised into the Goldstein Library.

The collection is predominantly made up of literature, social and political history texts but includes books on topics as diverse as photography, architecture, crime fiction, theology and philosophy. Around one third of the collection is in German.

The bequest came about through Glyndŵr University Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Scott’s continued involvement as Professor of English and Theatre Studies in his subject area and discussions he undertook with fellow Shakespearean scholar Professor John Drakakis, a fellow of Glyndŵr University, three years ago.

This led to Professor Scott having a number of meetings with Professor Goldstein.

Professor Scott said: “It was an honour to have met Leonard Goldstein who was a scholar of great distinction and a man of immense courage. That he saw fit to leave his library to Glyndŵr University was testimony to his faith and confidence in a new University which has a social justice policy of creating a university for all.

“As Professor John Drakakis opens the new library this week I'll have mixed emotions of pride for the university, gratitude to Professor Goldstein but sadness at the passing of such a great man.”

Once catalogued and properly organised the Goldstein Library will be open to all genuine researchers. It is of particular interest to students of the humanities and social and political sciences.

Eventually, Glyndŵr University hopes to arrange seminars and lectures which will promote and link to the Goldstein Library.

Paul Jeorrett, head of library and student services at Glyndŵr University, said: “Professor Goldstein wanted his collection to be made available to those interested to study and learn from the books which represented he and his wife’s diverse research interests and passions.

“In addition to this wonderful collection of books the library is enhanced by such things as Leonard’s own notes on tissue paper glued into the pages of many of the texts. There are also woodcuts and engravings, bookmarks, postcards and memorabilia which he and Marilou collected.”

Professor Goldstein, who was made an honorary fellow of Glyndŵr University in October 2011, was born in Brooklyn, New York, on 19 May 1922, the eighth of nine children.

He studied at the Universities of Iowa and Wisconsin before joining the US forces. He was a soldier with the first American troops to enter Nagasaki after the dropping of the atomic bomb. It was an experience that lasted throughout his life.

 In 1946 he returned to his studies at the University of Washington, Seattle where he met Marilou whom he married in 1947.

After leaving the USA in the 1960s he settled in Berlin, in the former East Germany, and taught English Literature in Potsdam University up until his retirement in 1987.

He and Marilou moved to Kentish Town in the early 1990s where he remained for the rest of his life.
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