Annual Report of the Slavic Room for 1956
[This report appears as part of the annual report of the General Reference and Bibliography Division for 1956, on pages 15–18. Ed.]
The general trend of the year's work in the Slavic Room is one of marked increase in processing activities, stability in circulation of materials, and apparent decrease in reference activities.
During the year, about 500 volumes were added to the reference collections as compared with 355 volumes the year before. Two hundred seventy-six dealers' lists were scanned for reference works as compared with 163 last year. The examination of 12,924 duplicates in the Processing Department led to the selection of 7,129 volumes for addition to the Library's collections; last year's figures were 6,540 and 4,356 respectively. Over 190,000 units of current serials and newspapers were received as compared with 108,000 last year. Five hundred seventy-four microfilm reels were received, the majority for processing and forwarding to the Photoduplication Service.
Organization of Materials
The shelf list of the reference collection has been improved and is now accurate on a current basis. The visible file for current Slavic serials has continued to expand in size and usefulness. Eight hundred ninety-nine cards for new titles were added during the year as compared with 471 new cards the year before.
In December the staff started to organize the older Cyrillic corporate-entry serials on Deck 8. Previously arranged only by author, the volumes were difficult to locate and serve. Under the system now in process of development, each title is given a consecutive number (i.e., fixed location), the key to which is an author catalog. This catalog consists of preliminary cards prepared by the Slavic Cataloging Project in 1946–47, and of simple author-title entries now being prepared by the Slavic Room staff. A total of 1,604 volumes have been processed to date.
The largest group of unsorted material remaining on Deck 8 consists of approximately 10,000 pieces in the southeast corner. A special project was undertaken this Spring to organize this material. Compensated for overtime work by the Reference Department, Mrs. Anna Smislova of the Descriptive Cataloging Division began to sort this material into approximately thirty categories such as duplicates, translations, reprints, maps, Church Slavic, medicine, agriculture, etc. Serials which have been sorted out by this means have been integrated with the regular serial collection on Deck 8. Measures will be taken to review the categories for variable disposition such as disposal by exchange, disposal by pulping, suitable for regular cataloging, etc.
The completion of these two projects and the completion of arrangements for receipt of microfilm to replace the United Nations documents in Russian on Deck 8, will find the "unprocessed" collection here in essentially useful arrangement with ancillary controls wherever needed, and will also generate space in which we can integrate the remaining Slavic newspapers currently in the custody of the Serials Division.
Binding activities have achieved a new peak for the Slavic Room staff. A total of 2,301 volumes of serials and 74 volumes of newspapers were prepared for the Bindery, compared to 1,402 and 10 volumes last year. This signifies that the arrearage of material requiring attention for binding has been virtually eliminated and that during the forthcoming fiscal year we should reach complete currency in the binding work despite the fact of increase in incoming material. Incidental to the work in arranging material for binding, the staff forwarded 50,841 duplicate pieces to the Exchange and Gift Division.
The increase in the effort devoted to organizing the collections on Deck 8, requiring the presence there of staff normally on duty in the Slavic Room to serve readers and respond to telephone calls, may be the reason for the significant decrease in reference services which were marked by a drop in the case of personal assistance from 19,320 to 15, 803 this year, and in the case of telephone assistance from 15,483 to 10,999. Another factor, very subjective however, is adduced by the members of the staff in that they believe more of the steady users of the Slavic Room are familiar with its facilities and collections and require less individual assistance than formerly. The decrease in translations has an obvious explanation which derives from the fact that in prior years many requests came from the Exchange and Gift Division which now has personnel able to translate incoming Russian letters. Replies to written reference inquiries stayed at the same level, 137 reference letters this year against 133 the year before.
Material circulated for use in the Slavic Room amounted to 25,247 volumes and units, compared to 27,858 the year before. Material charged for use outside the Slavic Room (within or outside the Library) amounted to 16,099 volumes and units, compared to 15,198 the previous year.
The major special effort during the year involved the organization of the so-called Plotschew Collection of some 800 19th-century Bulgarian imprints. A bibliography of Bulgarian works of this period, compiled by Pogorielov, was annotated with respect to the items in the Plotschew Collection and is now available for consultation in the Slavic Room. The collection itself is kept in the locked enclosure on Deck 8. Suitable entries have been prepared by the Descriptive Cataloging Division so that information about the collection is accessible in the Library's general catalogs.