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Annual Report of the Slavic Division for 1951

(For the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 1951)


The present Slavic Division of the Library of Congress was established officially in the middle of the Fiscal Year 1951 by General Order No. 1462 signed by Verner W. Clapp, Acting Librarian of Congress, on January 15, 1951. In announcing this step, the Library Administration made it clear that the new Division was to be part of the Reference Department and "shall have acquisitions, reference, bibliographical, research and liaison responsibilities." The Division has no custodial duties. Its area of responsibility comprises the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia, and as a matter of administrative convenience, certain non-Slavic areas of Eastern Europe such as Albania, Hungary and Rumania.


No special funds were placed at the disposal of the Division at the time of its establishment. During Fiscal 1951 the staff of the Division consisted of the Chief of the Division, one Slavic Research Analyst, partly paid from funds transferred to the Library by the Rockefeller Foundation for Preservation and Distribution of Rare Soviet Materials in the U.S.A., and one research assistant who functioned simultaneously as secretary of the Division. Through special arrangements within the Reference Department and in cooperation with the Copyright Office the Division was able to employ, further, for the duration of circa six weeks a part-time consultant on the Library of Congress Yugoslav collections and make good use of the services of a Bulgarian expert on a contractual basis. A full-time clerk-typist has worked in the Division from June 11th through June 30th on processing the bibliographical arrearage accumulated in the Division. The budgetary situation of this Division remains precarious. The two positions of reference assistants (one at GS-9 and one at GS-4 level) asked by the Librarian for the Division for the Fiscal Year 1952 and described by him in House Appropriations Hearings as a particularly "small" request were not granted by the House Appropriations Committee.


The very nature of the Division's functions puts it in direct contact with a great variety of the Library's activities and, in fact, since its inception, the Division was able to establish and maintain close cooperation with other units and divisions of the Library.

On a number of occasions the Chief of the Division was asked by the Chief Assistant Librarian and the Deputy Chief Assistant Librarian to participate in discussions on matters pertaining to the Slavic field and of interest to the Library Administration. He was also, appointed member of the International Library Relations Committee (Special Order No. 587, February 24, 1951).

The General Reference and Bibliography Division has referred to the Slavic Division for special attention the most significant inquiries in the Slavic field. These were received by the Library even from such remote areas as New South Wales, Australia and the Philippines. The following division of labor in reference work has been established between the Slavic Division and the Slavic Reading Room. Inquiries regarding the availability of books or other reference materials, identification of authors or titles, photoduplication of articles or other text passages and similar services are being referred to the Slavic Reading Room. Correspondence is being assigned to the Slavic Division in those instances in which specialized reply and qualitative guidance in research are indicated. In compliance with a request received from the General Reference and Bibliography Division the first draft of a bibliography on Fuel and Power Resources of the U.S.S.R. and their Utilization, now in preparation by the Slavic Reading Room, was reviewed by the staff of the Slavic Division. At the outset of the activities of the Slavic Division a card index with pertinent information on Slavic bibliographies and reference materials was established and it is being currently developed and expanded.

Extensive advice and assistance was given by the Slavic Division to the Air Information Division, particularly, in regard to procurement problems and preparation of specialized bibliographical and other reference tools.

Since the Science Division had no staff members with a command of Slavic languages during Fiscal 1951, assistance had been rendered to this Division with reference to acquisition of scientific and technical materials and other problems in the Slavic field.

A review of a Soviet publication was submitted for inclusion in the Handbook of Latin American Studies compiled by the Hispanic Foundation.

The staff of the Slavic Division, also, cooperated in identifying 300 Slavic recordings for the Music Division.

A number of translations from Russian was prepared by the Division for the Legislative Reference Service in response to Congressional requests. The Chief of the Division continued working, on a part-time basis, for the Legislative Reference Service as Senior Specialist on Russia.

Of particular importance was the understanding reached in April, 1951, by the Slavic Division with the Order Division regarding procurement of materials within the area of responsibility of the Slavic Division. The initiating and formulating of East European procurement programs is now recognized as one of the chief functions of the Slavic Division. All national bibliographies, numerous catalogs, and manifold lists of publications printed in Russian, Ukrainian, White Russian, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Serbian, Croatian, Slovenian, Rumanian and Albanian are now being referred to the Slavic Division for expert review, selection and purchase recommendations. The only exception made was in regard to Hungarian material due to the lack of a Hungarian expert on the staff of the Division. Between April 1 and June 30, 1951, several hundred book offers and catalogs were reviewed by the Division. Well over 2,000 book recommendations resulted from this important, though laborious and time consuming operation. Upon its own initiative the Division had submitted to the Order Division a variety of want lists of Czech and Yugoslav publications compiled from recently published special bibliographies and book reviews printed in French and English professional magazines. In addition, the Slavic Division recommended for subscription a considerable number of newspapers and periodicals issued in the Czech, Polish, Yugoslav and the Rumanian languages. Upon advice obtained in the Division a New York bookseller is now completing his preparations for a visit to Belgrade. It is hoped that his exploratory trip will bring to light a good number of Yugoslav publications badly needed by the Library for government and university research.

The Slavic Division presented a number of recommendations to the Processing Department regarding the cataloging of Slavic and, particularly, Czech materials.

It further cooperated with the Exchange and Gift Division and the Descriptive and Subject Cataloging Divisions in a program which aims to ensure the earliest possible processing of Slavic and Rumanian books and periodicals. To this purpose incoming publications are periodically reviewed by the staff of the Slavic Division and priorities are established for their cataloging.

The Bibliography and Publications Committee has approved the recommendations presented by the Division regarding the reorganization of the Monthly List of Russian Accessions which will in the future include also a survey of current Russian publications known to be in existence but not available in the U. S. Libraries. Upon another suggestion of the Division Mr. Novossiltzeff of the Exchange and Gift Division was commissioned to prepare a second edition of A Preliminary Check List of Russian Dictionaries Published in the U.S.S.R., 1917–1942.

In addition to activities within the Library the Division has rendered assistance to the White House, the Department of State, Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, the Treasury Department, Veterans Administration, the Federal Civil Defense Administration and other government agencies and units, as well as the Associated Press.

University teachers and students are another group of investigators who have received specialized advice from the Division staff.

The Division has also operated in close contact with the Joint Committee on Slavic Studies of the American Council of Learned Societies and the Social Science Research Council. At its last meeting in New York City on April 8, 1951, the Committee passed the following resolution regarding the establishment of the Slavic Division: "The Joint Committee on Slavic Studies welcome the establishment of the Slavic Division in the Library of Congress, believes that it will be of great importance as a center of development in an area vital to the national interest, and trusts that every effort will be made to support and expand its work."


Besides carrying out of its regular functions, the Division was entrusted by the Library Administration with implementing a program for "Preservation and Distribution of Rare Soviet Materials in the U.S.A." sponsored by the Joint Committee on Slavic Studies and financed by the Rockefeller Foundation. The aim of this program is to microfilm Soviet materials, particularly, newspapers subject to rapid deterioration and, thus, to preserve them and at the same time to make them more easily accessible to institutions and scholars interested in Slavic studies and research. In executing this program the Slavic Division was engaged in 1951 in compiling a list of post-revolutionary Russian newspapers to be found in major U.S. libraries. A survey of the sources of information available in the Library of Congress has already produced more than 700 titles of such newspapers. The titles identified in this way were incorporated in a preliminary list which will, when finished, enable the Joint Committee on Slavic Studies to select the most important items for microfilming. It will, also, facilitate the checking by other libraries of their Russian newspaper holdings. Concurrently the preparation of a list of available microfilms of Russian newspapers was undertaken by the Division in which The Philadelphia Bibliographical Center and Union Library Catalogue has generously cooperated.

The incompleteness of the Library of Congress Yugoslav and Bulgarian holdings and the desire to find out more about their shortcomings led to the initiating of two further projects by the Division. First, Dr. Bogumil Vosnjak, consultant on Yugoslav collections from May 15–June 30, 1951, was entrusted with a detailed examination of available Yugoslav bibliographical sources covering Yugoslav publications of the period after World War II. He was, also, asked to single out significant items published in the Serbian, Croatian and Slovenian languages between the two World Wars but which, for one or another reason, were never received by the Library of Congress. Purchases recommended by Dr. Vosnjak covered 1,171 items. Secondly, a similar operation with regard to the Bulgarian printed materials was carried out by Dr. Marin Pundeff. His task was to examine the Bulgarian bibliographical bulletin, the Bulgarski Knigopis, for the years from 1930 through 1948, giving special attention to bibliographical and reference works as well as publications in the field of political and social sciences, geography, history, philosophy, religion, literary criticism, fine arts, philology and belles lettres. Purchases recommended by Dr. Pundeff amounted to 700 items.

Finally, important negotiations were initiated and carried out by the Slavic Division in the Spring of 1951 with the National Committee for Free Europe and the Department of State regarding the establishing of new and significant bibliographical and research projects in the Slavic field at the Library. It is expected that as a result of this effort a publication of an East European Accessions List similar to the Monthly List of Russian Accessions will be undertaken in the very near future.

In 1951 the Chief of the Division delivered several lectures on domestic developments in the U.S.S.R. at the American University, the Washington Author's Club and at the Vassar College. He was, also, interviewed by Mr. Tris Coffin on the DU MONT Television program entitled "Washington Report" in connection with the release of his publication on tensions within the Soviet Union, prepared at the request of Senator Alexandra [sic] Wiley for the Legislative Reference Service.

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