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Annual Report of the Slavic Room for 1957

[This report appears as part of the annual report of the General Reference and Bibliography Division for 1957, on pages 13–16. Ed.]

The continuing reference services provided by the staff of the Slavic Room, under the direction of its Curator, John T. Dorosh, require no special comment except to say that the same level of service was maintained despite serious interruptions in the steady staff complement due to resignations and other causes of staff turnover. Approximately fifteen thousand reference questions were answered; more than seventeen thousand readers availed themselves of the facilities of the Slavic Room during the year, and more than 10,000 inquiries were answered by telephone. The principal emphasis during the year was placed on the improvement of the processing operations and the organization of the collections on Deck 8.

Nearly 150,000 units, including unbound serials and newspapers, were received in the Slavic Room during the year. An innovation was introduced in the utilization of the visible file in which all incoming serials are recorded. The effect was to note the number of duplicate copies of individual serial issues received in order to avoid forwarding copies to Deck 8 for shelving if such copies are in excess of a predetermined number. Instead the surplus copies are forwarded immediately to the Exchange and Gift Division for further disposition. Together with the pieces found to be duplicates as a result of the collation effort for binding, a total of 51,479 pieces were discarded as surplus to the collections of the Slavic Room.

Extensive inroads were made into the unorganized collection of corporate serial publications on Deck 8, through brief cataloging and assignment of fixed location numbers. The present organized collection of this type of material now comprises nearly seven thousand volumes. The collection has increased through the addition of some 6,000 pieces as a result of a sorting project which eliminated from Deck 8 many hundreds of miscellaneous pamphlets, translations, and others items which were first screened by the staff of the Slavic and Central European Division before they were given final disposition by the Library's Selections Officer. Progress was also noted in reducing the collection of United Nations documents issued in the Russian language as a result of the receipt and acceptance of microfilm copies of these documents purchased from the United Nations Library.

The binding effort remained at a high pitch, recording 2,154 volumes forwarded to the Bindery. The concentration during the present and immediately prior year has been on the binding of Russian serials with the result that currency was achieved. A further consequence was noted in the decrease of requests for these materials in interlibrary loan and from study rooms and other divisions of the Library. The permissible presumption is that more of this type of material is now to be found in the organized collections of the Library, thus testifying to the value to be gained from the investment in this type of effort.

In order to assess the further requirements for currency of binding of the remaining language and area materials on Deck 8, a piece-by-piece count was undertaken of the unbound collection in the custody of the Slavic Room. The earlier estimate of a collection of approximately 30,000 pieces was modified by the surprising count of 127,000 pieces. A considerable portion of this number will not be destined for binding, but will eventually be discarded as unsuited to the organized collections. The sheer effort required to review the material leading to such decision is one which the present staff is not capable of producing. It is an effort which will ultimately have to be expended and which will also pay for itself in terms of space economies, and reduced manpower requirements to service the collections when found in their proper organized locations.

The reference collection in the Slavic Room also came in for its due share of attention. A thorough inventory of the reference collection, checking the individual volumes against its shelflist record and securing printed cards where they were needed, improved the controls to a measurable degree. Considerable weeding will be required since space must be provided for the continuous influx of new reference materials of a high order of excellence. The alternative is the development of additional space for this collection.

There is ample evidence, and representations have been made, that the addition of a subprofessional assistant at the GS-4 level would aid the Slavic Room staff in its drive to perfect the organization of the collections in its custody. The goal is to develop a self-liquidating situation in which an adequately organized service would require less staff than it now possesses. This would assume a continuation of reference demands at the present level. Such assumption can only be tested in time. We do maintain that the reference service which is now provided, regardless of its excellence, is less efficient than would be the case if it were rendered in connection with a current and properly organized collection of unbound serials and newspapers. The proposed investment of one additional GS-4 position would contribute significantly to the desired improvement.

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  February 22, 2017
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