Annual Report of the Slavic Room for 1951
[This report appears as part of the annual report of the General Reference and Bibliography Division for 1951, on pages 35-38. Ed.]
During the course of the year the work of this Section proceeded at a modestly accelerated pace. Service to readers was recorded in 11,494 instances (although the actual number of readers served was 6,892 - an increase of 4% over the number served the preceding year). Materials issued to readers, including books, pamphlets, periodicals, and newspapers, amounted to 39,403 pieces. This is a 35% increase over the number of similar items issued last year. The 1.738 volumes of periodicals and newspapers prepared for binding and which were delivered to the Binding Office represent an approximate three-fold increase in this area of the Section's operation. The Section's reference service also included response to more than 2,200 inquiries received by telephone.
Decreases in service were noted with respect to the number of pieces received, sorted, and distributed (77,673 in 1950/51 against 79,300 in 1949/50 - a 2% decline, probably a chance fluctuation), and with respect to books and other materials issued to the Loan Division for interlibrary loan, or to research workers or units within the Library. The latter decrease stands at 7.6%, reflecting a change from 13,299 items so issued during the previous year to 12,285 items issued during the course of the year under review. These figures do not disclose the actual use of materials in the custody of the Slavic Section. The very large volume of circulation of these materials to some of the governmental agencies has resulted in their assigning individuals to represent them at the Library. These representatives now do the checking and selection of materials directly and in many instances secure the final identification of desired items through the assistance of the Section's Curator. They inform their agency library of the titles indicated as a result of such investigation and the consequent inquiry from the agency library to our Loan Division includes direct request for such materials. The result is that the Section's statistics do not include these items. Similar relationships have developed with the expansion of study activities in the Slavic field within the Library of Congress itself. Although such expansion increases the pressure on the custodial activities of the Section, and the reference functions directly related to such custodial activities, the actual clerical work involved in charging out materials is diminished and the statistical record is observed as a decrease.
Up to the time of the formation of the Slavic Division, in January, the Section contributed markedly towards the Library's acquisition program with recommendations for the purchase of some 1,466 books and the preparation of the report on Slavic materials for the Quarterly Journal of Current Acquisitions. Cooperation in the Departmental bibliographic program was rendered with contributions to the compilations on Korea, Indochina, and Manchuria. A bibliography on the Fuel and Power Resources of the U.S.S.R. and Their Utilization continued to be prepared. At the close of the fiscal year it was delivered in part to the Air Information Division for the attention and review of its specialist on natural resources.
The establishment of the Slavic Division has brought about adjustments on the part of this Division's procedures which have special reference to the Slavic Section. Reference correspondence is now routed to the Slavic Section directly in those instances where the subject of the inquiry pertains to aspects of the collection, identification of specific sources or materials, etc. Other inquiries of a broad reference character are referred to the Chief of the Slavic Division. The latter also has principal responsibility for guidance of the Library's acquisitions program in the fields of Slavic literature. Current arrangements in the channeling of national bibliographies, dealers' lists, etc., do not include the Slavic Section. The Section will, however, continue to advise on the needs for reference copies, required number of duplicate copies of new materials, and other items that may be indicated as necessary and desirable for the more efficient performance of the Section's own activities.
The Slavic Section is also pleased to report the reading and rearranging of the Slavic collection on Deck 8 of the Annex, which had been badly disorganized largely because of repeated shifts in its location. The increased attention to custodial activities which was a precondition to the satisfactory progress on the rearrangement of the collections on Deck 8, derived much help from the extra man-power made available to the Section by the Reference Department administrative working funds. In addition to the GS-4 deck attendant already serving in the Section, another position at this level was made available. We have been fortunate in securing young but relatively good people to fill these positions. Our use of the plural derives from the turnover we have experienced. Work in these positions, which requires a good knowledge of Slavic languages, also provides the incumbent with valuable experience in Library of Congress practices and procedures. The combined knowledge and experience makes such individuals attractive candidates for better positions in other activities in the Library.