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Annual Report of the Slavic Room for 1953

[This report appears as part of the annual report of the General Reference and Bibliography Division for 1953, on pages 28–31. Ed.]

The record of service rendered by the staff of the Slavic Room has continued to show a steady increase. The number of readers counted in the Slavic Room during the year increased 46 percent, from 10,383 in 1951/52 to 15,135 in 1952/53. This increase was accompanied by a corresponding increase in services rendered to readers which increased 44 percent, from 19,100 in 1951/52 to 27,550 in 1952/53. In addition, more than 6,500 telephone inquiries were received and serviced, mostly from agencies of the Federal Government.

The increased reference service is explained in part by the continued occupation by Russia and peripheral areas of a central position in the scholarly and day to day research and fact-finding carried on in governmental circles, and the related emphasis on Slavic studies in research centers and universities. This expanded interest cannot help but be reflected in the demands placed upon the resources of this Library and the staff of the Slavic Room, which provide access to collections that are unique in many respects, including their distinguishing characteristic of size alone. To round out the explanation for the increase in service, we would point to the continued implementation of the directive given by the Director of the Department that the servicing of the collections, in order to place them at the primary disposal of the reference operations, was to maintain a high priority on the part of the available staff. As an additional result, more serial publications have been prepared for binding than heretofore. An increased intake of current Slavic serial pieces (65,822 periodicals, newspapers, and other serials as compared with an intake of 56,700 pieces during the previous year) resulted in the collation and preparation for binding of 1,423 volumes of serials and newspapers. The binding effort has been directed toward maintaining currency over incoming materials, with the result that serial sets received for the completed calendar year 1952 have been fully processed for binding, and others are being treated as they are received.

Another aspect of intensified work related to reference service is the examination of materials currently arriving in the Library and their addition to the reference collection maintained in the Slavic Room. The development of this collection, of necessity limited in its size by the confines of the Slavic Room, has required cooperation and advice from the Slavic Division. At the Director's request, recommendations for additions to the reference collection have been screened by Dr. Yakobson, Chief of the Slavic Division. Natural differences of opinion between individuals recommending and screening, have not always been resolvable to every one's satisfaction. But our endeavors to develop satisfactory cooperation between the Slavic Room and Slavic Division are being praised. It is not always easy to develop clear lines of demarcation between interests and responsibilities, and this type of difficulty has been reflected in occasional divergent approaches and attitudes manifested on the part of the Curator of the Slavic Room and the Chief of the Slavic Division. In the long run, however, the overriding need to provide optimum service will, in our opinion, prevail in enlisting cooperation towards mutually desired goals.

It would appear unnecessary to describe in detail the work and accomplishments which have entered into the above record of service. Suffice it to mention that over 300 new reference works were selected from copyrighted or other Slavic acquisitions; that more than 400 volumes were selected for addition to the collections from among the 1,200 duplicates examined by the Curator; that the expanded collection of Slavic and Eastern European (including Baltic) serials were arranged in serviceable order on Deck 8 to facilitate their current use as well as their processing for binding; that measures were instituted, such as providing a gate at the south-east entrance to Deck 8, which permit control over persons requiring access to the varied collections housed there; and that the carrier on Deck 8 was put into service in order to provide more rapid transmission of materials to the Slavic Room upon request by its readers.

The staff of the Slavic Room has had to provide seven-day a week service on occasions during the year, frequently at personal sacrifice due to the turnover in personnel of its staff. Mr. Gorokhoff was promoted during the year to become head of the Slavic Language Section in the Descriptive Cataloging Division and was replaced after considerable delay, and with temporary substitution through service of Mrs. Elizabeth G. Dorosh, by Miss Julijona Lissyte. Turnover of Deck Attendants has also made necessary extra effort on the part of the available staff to maintain its customary level of service. This extra effort has frequently necessitated intramural substitution of staff members, each one doing another's work at one time or another, and each one serving at highest possible level of competence.

These activities, and the overall changed emphasis of service, have required attention to the organizational relationships within the section, and have resulted in the transmission to the Classification Office of redescriptions of the positions assigned to the Slavic Room.

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  February 22, 2017
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