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Annual Report of the Slavic Section for 1928

Report to the Librarian of Congress for the fiscal year 1927–1928

During the fiscal year 1927–1928 there were added to the Slavic Section collections by purchase, exchange and gift 384 books and about 6140 pamphlets, making a total of 6524 publications. The events that followed the European War and the changes which took place in Russia since 1917 gave a new direction to Russian literary thought, furnished it with a new material for study and reflection, gave a novel impetus to Russian book production in its many phases, and created a demand on the part of the users of the Slavic Section for modern literary productions. This demand has been answered within the Library means and in the face of somewhat irregular Russian book market facilities.

Among the new acquisitions may be mentioned the works of Aldanov, Andreev, Artsybashev, Bielyi, Bezsonov, Bieliaev, Block, Bunin, Burtsev, Chirikov, Esenin, Evdokimov, Galich, Gorki, Inber, Karavaev, Kozakov, Kozyrev, Krasnov, Kryzhanovskaia, Kuprin, Melgunov, Merezhkovski, Mintslov, Shishko, Shmelev, Shulgin, Sollogub, Sytin, Taneeva, Trenev, Veresaev, Veselyi, Volkonski, Voloshin, and Zaitsev.

Through the courtesy of the New York Public Library the Slavic Section has secured a number of interesting and valuable additions in the field of Russian history, description and travel, literature, philology, social and economic science, and fine arts (in Russian). Among them are Borodkin's History of Finland, Olenin's Archeological collections, Rovinski's Russian iconography up to the end of the seventeenth century, Presniakov's Rise of the Russian empire, Koialovich's Diary of the last expedition of Stephan Bathori, Grum-Grzimilo's Expedition to Western China, Brandenburg's Old Ladoga, and Dobtrovolski's Smolensk dialect dictionary. A numerically imposing body of exchange material, chiefly in the form of pamphlets, came from Soviet Russia, through the Document Division. Its value will be determined in time by impartial investigators.

Containing material exclusively in Russian and other closely related languages, the Slavic Section ever since its establishment more than twenty years ago attended to its own classification, to the labeling and distribution of books on shelves, and to their binding. It also performed the functions of the Reading Room in all their details, from reference work to the issuing of books for outside use. In addition to its immediate work, the Section freely gave its time to other divisions of the Library, whenever its language and other service was sought. This multiplicity of functions may partly account for the fact that up to October 1927 out of 120,000 volumes on its shelves only some 7,000 items were catalogued and classified. The rest of this collection, though mechanically accessible, could not always be readily located and its individual items put without delay in the hands of students and readers. Beginning with the month of October of the fiscal year the Slavic Section has been centering its attention on obviating this difficulty in promptly serving the public. During the year 1927–1928, among other material, about 10,000 volumes of recent Russian publications were briefly catalogued, classified and properly shelved, bringing the immediately available counted total of catalogued books to 19,217 titles. This work, together with the reshelving and rearranging of portions of the original Yudin Collection, and putting the Slavic Section in a library like condition in general, constituted the chief effort of the staff during the year.

The Assistant in Charge of the Section with pleasure acknowledges the intelligent interest taken by his assistants in their work and their devotion to their duties. Being graduates of Russian universities, they are well equipped for their task. One member of the staff regularly attended a course in library science in George Washington University during the winter and spring terms of 1927–1928, and thus further insured an increased efficiency of his work.

A course in elementary Russian was given by the Assistant in Charge of the Slavic Section to a limited class from the Library staff during the second half of the fiscal year.

Respectfully submitted,
Assistant in Charge, Slavic Section
July 23, 1928

Report on needs to the Librarian of Congress
July 1928

During the fiscal year 1927–1928 the Slavic Section experienced some difficulty in keeping the work of perforating, labeling and marking catalogued and classified books abreast with cataloguing and classification. This work was formerly done by its proper division of the Library, namely, the Classification Division. But upon my accession to the head of the Slavic Section I found that perforating, labeling and marking, — a purely mechanical work requiring no training and no educational qualifications to speak of, — were done by my highly paid assistants, graduates of Russian universities, whose time could by no means be spared, without sacrificing the interests of the Library, from cataloguing the Slavic Section collections — a work that had been much neglected in the past. I naturally turned to the Classification Division with a request to resume the perforation, etc., of the Slavic Section books, but received only an assurance that the division's force was too busy with other material to do anything for the Slavic Section of the Library. The situation was relieved, for a while, only by securing the services of a young man, paid by the hour, for two days a week.

After my last year's experience I become convinced that the minor clerical work of the Section cannot be done with this limited help. I therefore request that a full time subprofessional minor clerical assistant be assigned to the Slavic Section for the above mentioned work as well as for any other work that will increase the Section's efficiency and usefulness.

In the fall of 1927 deck 19, where the overflow of the Slavic Section material is stored, was given a coat of paint that did away with its former aged and almost dilapidated appearance. The reading room of the Section proper, apparently never freshened up since the establishment of the Section, would also gain much from a new coat of paint, an application of which is requested.

Respectfully submitted,
Assistant in Charge, Slavic Section
July 23, 1928

[Report not signed; most likely submitted by Alexis Babine – Ed.]
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